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Our Favourite Ways to Maintain a Strong Relationship with your Parents

Tinies Relationship Special: Relationships are the glue that hold everything together. Over the next few months we'll examine the different relationships that affect us all. We start this week with the first relationship we have - the one with our parents


Without our parents where would we be? From kissing "ouchies" better to helping to prepare for exams, parents do so much to help us along the way. Our relationships with our parents influence almost every relationship we have as we grow up.

"Parents just don't understand!" Will Smith once famously sang. Now that he's a parent himself, he may feel a bit differently.

Everyone has a different relationship with their parents. While some people are best friends with mum and dad, there are those in their thirties and forties that still find themselves turning into sulky teenagers in their parents' presence, and in some extreme cases, those who have severed relationships with their parents altogether.

Retaining a strong bond with your parents benefits everyone

A different relationship

Now that you're an adult, and presumably no longer under your parents rule, you can enjoy them for who they are. Sure they're your parents, but they're also people too. It's nice to have a built-in friend who knows all about you, has your best interests at heart, and loves you unconditionally.

Why not flip the norm and take care of your parents every now and then. Invite them over for a nice lunch or dinner - prepared by you - or treat them to a meal out. Make plans to spend the day together... just because!

Some fun things to do with mum and dad:

  • Have your parents over for Sunday lunch - it's nice for them to know you want to see them and not just use them for childcare
  • Think about their interests and plan a day for them. Maybe theatre tickets or a boat show, they'll be chuffed you were thinking of them
  • Have your parents over for a movie day - think classic family films, maybe even a favourite film when you were growing up
  • Or just have a nice dinner out with your parents, no kids - take them somewhere they wouldn't normally take themselves!

Other than the positives of having a relationship with the people who raised you, parents/grandparents are a great source of advice and comfort when you start your own family.

Grandparental care

A poll conducted by Grandparents Plus found that 1 in 5 working parents (19%) would have to give up work if they didn't have grandparents to rely on for childcare. More importantly, there's a certain trust of leaving your kids with your parents. You know their style, and presumably it's relaxed a bit from when you were a kid.

So if you're lucky enough to have your mum and dad willing - and able - to help out with the kids, it's important to remember that your parents are not paid childcare experts. Sometimes it can be tough balancing the fine line between family and childcare. One thing you can consider is an informal contract between you and your parents so there's no confusion about what works best for you both.

While most grandparents don't want to be paid for looking after their grandkids - some do - it's important to make sure you don't leave them out of pocket as well. If your parents are feeding your kids or taking them around town be sure to offer some money for food and travel. A little thank you treat every now and then would also not go astray.

Little "thank you" ideas for mum and dad:

  • A nice candle - for use when the kids aren't there
  • Bottle of wine - something nice, not their old faithful
  • Personalised key chain made by the kids - with keys to your house
  • Special grandparent mugs - a picture's worth 1000 words
  • Plant some flowers in a homemade pot - or help them maintain their garden for a day
  • Frame a nice photo - find a nice picture of them with you and the kids
  • Bake a cake - be creative, not one of mum's specialties.

Why it's important for you

Everyone likes to know they did a good job and are appreciated. Parents are no different. Your parents will no doubt take pride is seeing you as an adult and parent yourself, possibly taking some of their advice and customs on board with your own family.

While you'll always be their baby, it's nice to be able to relate as adults and really who knows you better than your parents? Thankfully people are living longer and better lives, and you can help your parents to achieve that. Spending the day walking around is great exercise for both them and you. A day out doesn't have to be costly - a walk in the park is free and fun.

Spending time with your family will also allow you to keep an eye out for any changes that occur as they get older.

Why it's important for them

Grandparents thrive on being with their grandchildren. Dr. Roger Landry, the author of "Live Long, Die Short: A Guide to Authentic Health and Successful Aging" is a strong proponent of spending time with younger children. He says,

"When we can look beyond the complex parent-child relationship, with its focus on safety, discipline and providing for needs, we can then experience the juxtaposition of unbridled optimism and experiential skepticism; of boundless energy and growing fatigue; of curiosity and experience; and of innocence and wisdom."

Translation: kids make older people happy.

An international study of grandparents in 10 European countries by King's College London Institute of Gerontology, and Grandparents Plus, found that grandparents who look after their grandchildren for up to 15 hours a week tend to be healthier, even when taking prior health and socio economic backgrounds into account. That's really good news for everyone.

Why it's important for the kids

What's not to love about grandparents? They are adults who love unconditionally, they rarely tell children "no", and tend to give presents and sweets pretty much all the time. Well, for a child what's not to love about grandparents? For parents trying to impose rules, you don't always see eye to eye.

With their ability to leave at the end of the visit, Grandparents may also be more patient and more willing to play with the grandkids, than parents.

Grandparents also hold the key to the past and have fascinating stories about the family histories. Children love hearing about when mummy or daddy were children and the time they __________ (Add your own embarrassing story).

In fact, according to the charity, Grandparents Plus, 4 in 5 teenagers say grandparents are the most important people outside immediate family.

So now is the time to truly enjoy being with your parents, as mum and dad, grandma and grandpa, and just as people.

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