Why You Should Hang Out With Your Parents Individually As An Adult
As a kid, I spent a lot of one-on-one time with my parents: My dad drove me to school, my mom took me to play practice, my dad came to my soccer games, and my mom helped me practice piano. I talked to my mom about training bras, I talked to my dad about movies. I'd drink tea with my mom and go out for pizza with my dad. This wasn't an intentional compartmentalization of parenting for my family, this was just what worked for everyone's schedule. When one parent couldn't get out of the office, the other would cover. But what it meant for me was that we had each other's undivided attention when we were together and that I got to know them as individuals, not just one, two-headed parenting force.
As I got older, family time became more of an ensemble performance. When I went home for the holidays, we'd all be together. There was no one-on-one time with Mom and Dad; they were back to their two-headed parent form. And while spending time with family in any capacity is great, I realized that the dynamic we had when I was younger, though less fluid, was very rewarding. There were certain things that I'd talk about with my mom that I wouldn't talk about with my dad, and vice versa. That strange element of compartmentalization had actually made us individually closer with each other. Parents as individuals are often more accessible than parents as a united force. Mom and Dad become people when you separate them.
I was reminded of this dynamic when I took my dad to a baseball game last week. My mom didn't want to come because, well, she doesn't like baseball. But I do, and my dad does, so we went together. And as we sat there, rooting together and screaming our heads off (the Mets really know how to lose, right?), I was reminded of our car rides to school when I was a kid. There's a friendship that emerges between a parent and a child when they can relate to each other. And this friendship as an adult is even more valuable.
Up until now, for most of us, our entire relationship with our parents has been them showing us the way. But now there are certain things that we can show them. And instead of them sacrificing this and that to be with us, it's our turn. Now that we're old enough that we can support ourselves and do things like bring them to baseball games, talk to them about our political views, and clean up our own messes, we're old enough to become friends with our parents. And one of the best ways to ignite, rekindle, or inspire this friendship is to spend time with your parents individually.Think about who they are as people, and try activities that you can both relate to.
Take the time to pay it backwards. Don't just wait until Mother's Day or Father's Day to tell your parents that you're grateful for them. Make time for them throughout the year and give them the ultimate gift: a constant reminder that you're a freakin' adult and they freakin' did something right. If you'd like to spend some one-on-one time with your parents but have no idea what to do, here are some ideas:
Get some cheap tickets online for a baseball, basketball, football, or hockey game. Bring whichever one of your parents you think would enjoy it most. Cheer your brains out and eat all the foods together.
Find a band that both you and one of your parents enjoy. There has to be one! If you can't find a compromise, take the opportunity to get to know one of your parent's favorite bands. You might grow to like them, too.
Pick a play that your parents would be excited to see and get the tickets far in advance so you can get a good deal. Get lunch first and make a whole day out of it — the memories will be worth it.
An Art Exhibit
Hunt down an artist your parents love or discover a new one together. Sometimes even the worst art shows are a blast — free cookies and something to talk about.
Check your local parks and recreations website and find a hike or nature walk that suits your parent's health. Pack some snacks and head out into nature for the day. It's a great opportunity to chat and enjoy each other's presence while staying busy.
Go somewhere you used to go as a kid and relive the memories while making some new ones. Whether it was a theme park, a restaurant, a local attraction, or a store, head back and get the nostalgia going.