Are You Friends With Your Parents?

When you were little, did you ever run into a teacher at a grocery store? It’s a life-altering experience. First, you realize they actually exist outside the classroom. Second, you witness a new side of them — a flip-flop-wearing, microwave-popcorn-snacking, slightly vulnerable off-duty persona. You are forever changed. Now in my twenties, I’ve found that it’s a similar feeling when you become friends with your parents…

The moment I handed over the deposit for my first off-campus apartment in college, something funny happened: I started talking to my parents more than I ever did when I lived at home. As curfew battles and homework questions became a distant memory, their ironclad facades began to soften, too.

Recently, my dad has come around to texting, although he still signs every message, “Love, Dad.” He sends me a weekly picture of our Italian greyhound Gregg (the duo just discovered Puppuccinos at Starbucks), and we chat about newspaper articles and the occasional neighborhood gossip. Sometimes he even asks for advice on navigating the murky waters of living with a teenager. Little brothers, right?

With my mom, we laugh at the same jokes, bond over Nancy Meyers movies and coach each other through career anxiety. She recently visited New York and stayed with me in my studio apartment. On her last night, after a nice dinner out, she kicked off her boots, crashed onto the bed and declared, “I’m still hungry.” We continued our snacking into the night with Trader Joe’s sweet potato gnocchi and too many P.B.R.s.

It’s an odd feeling when you realize your childhood superheroes don’t have all of the answers. It’s even tougher when you watch them age or struggle. Though these two relationships are more emotional than any of my others, one of my greatest experiences has been to finally appreciate my parents for who they’ve always been — two people trying their best. After all, isn’t that what friends are for?

What about you? Do you talk to your parents? Do you consider them friends?

P.S. Advice from Mindy Kaling’s mother, and how did your parents embarrass you?

(Photo of Paul and Linda McCartney with their daughter.)