Relationships

Are You Friends With Your Parents?

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.)

  1. Stacy Kirby says...

    Well coming in from the parent side of the issue I gotta say this parent child relationship is a complicated stuff. I got two daughters, the older is quiet, sensitive and self conscious much like her father. The youngest is out-going, open, and engaging much like myself. I love them both unconditionally and while I welcome the extra time I have in my life for my work, interests and hobbies, I also look forward to the time in my life I share with them. I do find there is a special bond between a mother and her children and being an adopted child myself and never having had the benefit of a relationship with a biological parent (I had a poor substitute….a long sad story) I do realize how deep that bond goes and how unique and special it is. Children are like dimensions of our own personality that take on a life of their own. It is through the prism of their lives that we learn so much about ourselves and feel every triumph and every wound they must experience in order to grow and be their own people. But life is a journey and we all have our own road to follow and in the final analysis, it truly is not the end that matters but the wisdom we have gained from the journey itself. Its a long road (if we are lucky) so if we can get along and share the best of each other with each other along the way then that is the best we can do. Remember how you look at things now may not be the way you will see things in ten years from now or even twenty, time will enhance your vision and the relationships with your own children will open up new doors to you. In the mean time, continue to learn and grow (that continues up until your very last breath) and love yourself for who you are and your children for who they are and remem ber your parents did the best they could as parents and now they will do the best they can as friends. They are finding their way too.

  2. Tracie M. says...

    I dream of having a great relationship with my mom, but I don’t think we ever will. We are complete opposites in personality and there are too many hurtful things in our past (really hard to silence the ugly comments she said about my personality growing up). I try so hard to find common ground, but there’s just not much there. She adores my children and sees them often, but when we’ve tried to have lunch dates, it almost always spirals down into political arguments or about my brother (which is a really long story). My dad died 2 months after my oldest was born, in 2004, and I miss him like crazy. As I got older he was turning into a friend. I really wish I could call him and ask him questions and oh how I would love to get a text from him! I am crazy fortunate, however, to have in-laws that I love and enjoy spending time with.

  3. Sarah says...

    Reading this made me tear up! Thank you for putting to words what I’ve been experiencing lately with my parents.

  4. Amy says...

    No, we are definitely not friends. My mom seems to think if we do any activities together that means I don’t have enough friends so that has always been out of the question (I am a shy person, but I have always had plenty of friends). So I am always jealous when I hear of families doing “family fun” type activities. Also my parents must have read some parenting book that said not to spoil your children so I am extremely unspoiled. I’m in my 30s now so I just want to say to them, feel free to start spoiling me anytime! I’m totally sufficiently unspoiled so you don’t have to worry about that anymore! But no. I understand not wanting to spoil me with material things but I could really use some attention. My mom does not think before she speaks (#nofilter, but in a bad way) so I have many verbal gems that stick in my head forever (if a random person said these things, it wouldn’t stick, but since it’s my mom, I will never forget them). Like the time when I finally got out of a five-year abusive relationship and went to my mom for some motherly comfort and when I told her he had been abusive, all she said was “oh i thought you stayed with him because he’s really good in bed or something.” Also my dad works with developmentally disabled people and if affects his ability to talk to people who aren’t developmentally disabled. For example when my cousin Joel was getting married (a cousin I know pretty well, we used to spend every Christmas together when we were kids) my dad called me and spent what seemed like 5 minutes checking if I remembered who my cousin is…. I tried to cut him off saying, yes I already heard that Joel is getting married, of course I remember him, he’s my cousin, I know him! My parents are hoarders and their house desperately needs organized, I would love to help them because interior design is kind of a hobby of mine but I can’t be around them long enough to help. They live in a bubble and don’t seem to realize it.

    • Amy says...

      And here was the moment when I realized my childhood was a sham. My favorite toy growing up was this wooden dollhouse. I would spend hours making miniature items to put in it. Well my mom said I couldn’t take it (or any of the stuff that goes in it – a lot of which I made) because it “goes with the house” (her house). I did get a sympathetic look from my dad on that one, but I wasn’t in the mood to argue. I still do want that dollhouse. But really I couldn’t believe she even laid claim on the things I made for it.

  5. Vera from Lisbon (Portugal) says...

    Hi Stella! I found your article incredibly touching. Probably because I’ve always had a very good relationship with my Parents, even through those ‘tough’ :) teenage years!
    They were and continue to be very, very cool parents, so my house always felt like a real home :), my safe haven. My brother shares the same feeling too and it remains as such today, despite the fact that both of us no longer live with them anymore.
    I grew up thinking that they had ‘all’ the answers and that, in times of ‘crisis’, they would know how to make things work out. It felt so reassuring…
    Today, in my (late) thirties, I know more of their vulnerabilities, tastes (basically, personas) and, although it has come to my realization :) that they cannot actually fix everything, they are here, by my side, as I am by theirs, and that feels great too.
    I feel that they count on me as well and I just want to make the best of the time spent together. Because, no matter what, they will forever be part of my life. :)
    Thank you for, with this comment, allowing me to remind THEM how important they are to me and that my existence is definitely better because of THEM. :)

  6. I wrote about how my mom here http://mamanushka.com/my-mama-before-me/

    Your post and all the comments reminded me so much of it…

    Here I write about my mom as a mom of four girls navigating a new country and a new language and customs :

    “Once all of us were in school she enrolled in ESL classes and learnt to drive. Much like people do after they have had their first child and realise what their parents must have gone through, no child in sight for me yet but in sudden appreciation of her experiences – I called her and said

    ‘How did you do it?’ “

  7. AnotherOne says...

    my father spend his life showing how good, smart & beautiful other kids were and he was also a verbal/emotional abuser. my mother has no personality and prefers to smile and carry on with her/their life. i spent my entire life (until i gave up on them) feeling so sad. i actually made a huge effort in the last 10 years to ignore all the abuse and restart from zero… didn’t work.

    my greatest goal in life is to have a close relationship with my kids. i want them to be able to call me when they need or just want to chat. come home for the weekend for no reason. discuss with them during the long teenager years. take them to games/practice/movies/whatever. i want to be a real mum and have a real relationship with them.

    • Sarah says...

      You should read ‘Peaceful Parenting, Happy Kids’ by Dr. Laura Markham (if you haven’t already). She also has a website called http://www.ahaparenting.com
      She is very good at acknowledging the difficulty in not having had supportive parents and providing scripts or step by step instructions for those who would like to do better but have no experience in what this looks like and cannot use their parents as a template.

  8. Courtney says...

    What a fun post! I loved reading through the comments and am saddened that not everyone can relate. I have always been very close with my parents. During my last week of college, my mom came and visited. She slept in my bed with me in my apartment that I shared with three other girls. She got ready to go out to the bar with us, took us to dinner, and watched TV in bed with me. I was never annoyed that she was there-I was just happy she could be there for my last week. We are so close that sometimes the boundaries blur between my own family now and my family growing up, as my parents tend to take over. But I am a new mom and especially now I realize, more than ever, just how much my mom needs me as much as I need her. Love this post!

  9. Colette says...

    I have a rather strange situation, can anyone else relate? My mom was an absolutely fantastic mother, loving, confident, strong, nurturing, an actual supermom……*until* I became an adult (post-college). Then she became a different person (to me). A very needy person, with low-self esteem who needs constant reassurance. I think she rooted her identity in mothering her children, and found such pleasure and fulfillment in it that it filled all of her internal voids. When she no longer had children to mother, her needs were no longer being met, and that left two human-sized holes in her. It’s been 10 years, and it just gets worse. But I realize I can’t fix her. I can’t cater to the neediness, it drains me to no end. I miss the mother I knew, the one who raised me. I don’t recognize the person she has become. It’s utterly baffling to be mothered by someone for 22 years and then suddenly they reveal themselves to be a conpletely different person. So, a warning to mothers: please don’t derive all of your fulfillment from your children. Realize now that they WILL grow up. You will have to live without their constant presence someday. Prepare for that in advance. Put your oxygen mask on first!!!

    • Jen says...

      Wow, I can relate! I never thought of it this way until I just read your post! I just knew that when I read the article it didn’t really match my story. You expressed it in such a clear way. I also find our relationship can drain me and therefore I distance myself and I feel a lot of guilt over that. Thanks for sharing.

    • Nina says...

      I’m so glad you said this, because your words describe my feelings/situation more perfectly. My mother (and now father) have morphed into needy, clingy versions of themselves, and I don’t quite know what to do with it. But I’m trying hard to ensure I don’t fall into the same trap as my daughter ages (although she’s 2, so I have time, I think?). Thanks for so eloquently describing a challenge I never thought I’d face. (A small PS – I recognize I’m very lucky to have such attentive parents! This is not a major problem.)

    • Callie says...

      I can relate to this too, Colette, though maybe not to the level that you are experiencing it. My mom has found positive ways to fill her life without kids at home, but she has shared her insecurities and anxieties so much more openly. I’m glad she feels safe to do that with me, but there are also times that I wish I was spared of some of that. For instance, her complaints and oversharing about my dad (they’re still married) have really influenced and hurt my relationship with him. I’m glad we are such good friends, but she will always be my mom first.

  10. Helen says...

    I really loved this post. My dad passed away when I was 20 and the only silver lining is that my relationship with my mom blossomed much more quickly into a relationship of equals/friends. You can’t help grow up pretty fast after such an event. I loved hearing about what she was going through when she was my age and she always had the best arms to run into after a tough day or a sad break-up.

  11. lindy says...

    My relationship with my parents is complicated and stressful, but I’ll not go into it in detail here. Reading through the comments has made me wonder about something though, and it’s something like this: I’m really surprised, given how conflicted and divided our nation is politically, that more people in the comments section aren’t experiencing that strain in their relationships with their parents (the majority of relationships described here sound unbelievably perfect). I certainly am dealing with this strain, and I know others who are. Maybe it’s because I was raised in a red state/conservative household and have radically changed in my views as I’ve aged, but as cliche as it may seem, politics has become an albatross around the neck of my relationship with many people in my family, my parents included. It would actually be really interesting for you to write more about this – to explore how the culture of constant conflict we’re immersed in as a nation is affecting personal relationships and maybe some strategies for dealing with that. Or maybe some first person stories about how people are navigating this. It’s not a happy or peaceful country we live in right now, and some of us are experiencing that in really intimate, painful ways.

    • Lindsay Lew says...

      I recently was talking to a close friend about this. She and her sister experience political issues with their mom. They are both liberal and her mom very conservative. Her sisters relationship is strained while she and her mother carry on. I asked her how she manages that because me and my folks share politics. She very simply stated that she only has one mom, and her relationship with her mom is more important to her then what they don’t agree on. It’s not to say they don’t discuss it or she simply doesn’t share her mind. She refuses to let it get in the way of love. I watched difference of politics break my own mothers family. What wasted hours and time. No ones mind was ever changed. I know that relationships were fractured beyond repair and everyone loses.

    • Suzieq says...

      A friend recently died of in her thirties, leaving behind two children. Although she knew she had a terminal cancer diagnosis, she did not speak to her parents or allow them to speak to her children for the final 7 months of her life because they voted for Trump. That was the sole reason. According to her, they were generally quite good to her throughout her life: no abuse, no trauma, no rubbing their politics in her face. The vote itself was her only complaint; she saw it as a repudiation of who she was. In light of the circumstances, it seemed cruel to her children and parents alike, but I am certain that there are many things that I cannot understand about what it was to be her in that moment, from the effects of the medicines to the trauma of imminent death.

  12. Ana says...

    No, I’m not friends with my parents. My parents are good people and while I have some qualms with the way they raised me, I think they were doing their best. But now that I’m an adult, it’s just clear that we’re different people, living different lives. I call them once per week and we have a friendly, sort of perfunctory chat. It feels as though we have nothing in common – no similar hobbies, different values and worldviews, nothing of substance to discuss. Which it nuts, because we shared a home and 18 years of life experiences. The generation gap, culture cap, age gap just feel huge.

  13. AG says...

    What a beautiful post and I’m only half way done reading through the comments but I just had a thought. I am very close with my mom – and I just realized that I might be crushed if my future children and I don’t share as close of a bond. A little silly to be worried about something so far in advance (28 years old but still not close to having kids), but reading through the comments it dawned on me that it isn’t a given that my children will just magically become my best friend when they become adults.

    Similarly, my mother’s mother died when my mom was just 16. So my mom constantly checks in with me about how she’s doing as a “mother to an adult” because she didn’t get to experience that with her own mother.

    So she didn’t get to be her mother’s best friend and my children may not become mine, but at least I can relish the fact that my mom and I got that with each other.

  14. Growing up, my parents were the “cool” parents, but I always struggled to see them as friends. While we were close, got along, and did lots of things as a family, they were still my parents. They had (some) rules and yelled and did all the parent things. And, let’s be honest, most of us were embarrassed by our parents at some point. I found that, as I got older, I became closer to them in a friendship way. Like calling or texting just to say hi rather than asking for something or needing something. I think it helped that I moved away from home, and we only see each other once a year or so. The distance makes the bond a little stronger. We often joke that we could never live in the same city or even state again. The hardest part of living so far away is watching them get older and not being there. I find myself worrying about them and undergoing the weird transition to feeling more like a parent and wanting to take care of them. They’re often go out drinking and have way more fun that I do now!

  15. Sarah M says...

    My parents are easily in my closest inner circle of best friends aside from my fiance and my best girlfriend. I have a special relationship with both of them individually and them together. When I think about my dad and how hard he worked to give my family the life that we had growing up (and have today), I get emotional. I realize it even more so now as an adult that my dad has a unique ability to speak to my heart and mind at the same time in such a flawless way.

    • Liz C says...

      My thoughts exactly! And I’ve become much closer to my parents now that I’ve become a parent myself.

  16. Katie says...

    I’m 38, divorced for 10 years, own my own home where I live alone, have a job and live a lifestyle of crazy dating, outdoor adventure, and travel. My mom at my age was a stay at home mom with 5 kids, me being the youngest. It’s been interesting as I’ve developed my own lifestyle over the years to still call my parents and ask them advice or sometimes even permission to do things. It’s gone from parent to friend as our lives took different directions. I remember the first time I asked what they’d think of me going to Argentina at the last minute with an old friend soon after my divorce. My mom said she didn’t think it was a good idea, but that I paid my own mortgage so why did I need her permission anymore? It really hit me, my mom no longer had the “been there done that” life experience to give me advice as a guide. She was now a friend watching from the sidelines giving advice and cheering me on. What a difference it makes still, but what a change from what I’m used to. I do stuff all the time that she may disapprove of, but instead of her old mom replies, they’re now, “I don’t know what life is like for you, do what you think is best I guess.” It gives me an openness to share my experiences with her that I’d normally have kept private for fear of getting in trouble. And sometimes I know she’s a little jealous of the freedom she sees me have, something she knows she would have loved, but couldn’t have in the 60s. My dad is the same way, having given up a pretty adventuours outdoors life for a career and a family. He eats up every detail of my trips and ends every time with, “Boy that’s a life I’d have loved.” They both live a little through me and that brings us both a little extra happiness we can share.

    • Jill says...

      Your comment made me cry. There is something so beautiful about your dad’s statement, “Boy, that’s a life I would have loved.” Heartbreaking because he didn’t get to have it, but so lovely that he gets to see his child live it. Thank you for sharing.

  17. Brier H says...

    I’m an only child and I have been very bonded and close to my parents throughout every stage of life so far. My mother and I have had some strained months, years etc but I think that bond can be difficult to navigate sometimes. I am very lucky that they are genuinely my bestfriends. Even my friends love hanging out with my parents! There’s been so much fun and life wisdom passed down during late night drinks around bonfires with them.

  18. Michelle says...

    This is such a thought provoking and lovely post, Stella! My family dynamic is really different in that my grandparents adopted me when I was a baby, so they have always been ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ to me. My dad died when I was in my early 20’s and we always had a very formal (i.e. not friends) relationship. I’m super close with my mom (grandmother) and while I wouldn’t have considered her a friend as a child, I do as an adult. She has developed dementia in the last few years, which has forced a role reversal in which I feel responsible in a parental sort of way for her wellbeing. It often feels really weird but there are still many moments where she mothers me. I think that’s what is so unique about the parent-child relationship is that it’s constantly changing throughout one’s life. I just feel really damn lucky to have a mother who loves me absolutely and unconditionally. Though I have a sense my mom and I would have been great friends in another life if we were the same age. :)

    I’ve really enjoyed reading all the comments and thought another great topic for a post would be about people’s relationships with their in-laws!

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Thank you so much for your kind and insightful comment, Michelle! Your words about your Grandmother are so loving and sweet. I am so sorry she’s going through that. You are spot-on about how the relationships constantly change throughout one’s life. Beautiful words.

      Great idea about the in-laws topic.

      Stella xoxo

    • Lisa says...

      Second that! I would love to hear about people’s relationships with their in-laws. In particular: How do you navigate healthy boundaries? Especially in the beginning years of marriage? Especially if you live close-by, or in our case (temporarily) with them!

  19. Lily says...

    I love my parents, but I would never consider them my friends. I think cultivating a relationship with them has been strained by a language barrier (and, if I’m being honest, different worldviews and values). They both immigrated to the US decades ago, but never really learned English. I can speak their native tongue (Chinese), but not fluently enough to convey emotions, hopes, and aspirations, which I think is really necessary to have a relationship that’s not just purely transactional.

    I have a five-year-old now, and while I appreciate my own mother in a way that I didn’t when I was a petulant, surly teenager (so, you were right, mom! I did just have to wait until I was a parent myself to understand!), I’m sometimes struck by how much more emotionally deep my relationship with my young daughter is than with my 60-year-old mother.

  20. Emily says...

    In our house, my mom did the majority of the nurturing throughout my childhood. My memories of my dad from that period were of an often stoic, grumpy man – perpetually coming home from work tired. We loved our dad, but also tip-toed around him. He mostly showed his love for us by bringing us home treats after work or through his love of baking – making us cookies or cakes or pies and passing us beaters and bowls to lick.

    But in high school, I took an interest in photography and I had always loved visiting my parents at the horse racing track where they worked. My dad spent 32 years as the Track Photographer for three horse racing tracks in our area. At 17 I became my dad’s second employee and began working for him as an assistant track photographer. It was then that I began to see my dad in a completely different light.

    My dad was a different person at work. Outgoing and funny – constantly joking with the endless cast of characters that were in and out of our office. He. loved. his. job. It was his entire social life and suddenly I was apart of it. He was also kind and fair. Constantly going out of his and above-and-beyond for customers and friends. When people would realize that I was my dad’s daughter, they’d always launch into a story of some time or some way that my dad helped them out and tell me what a good guy he was.

    Today, at 65, my dad is permanently disabled and incredibly ill. He’s confined to a chair and a true shadow of his former self – completely unable to carry conversation.

    But I am SO THANKFUL every day that I got to spend those 6-10 hours a day with him for 7 years, both before I enrolled in college and then after in between my class schedule. I got to know my dad in a way that none of my other siblings ever got to experience. He became my friend.

    I learned so much about my dad not only through countless hours of conversation with him and hearing all his stories but also through observation – watching him interact with customers, colleagues and friends. That experience and relationship has shaped my personal and professional values more than I could have ever anticipated.

    Reading all these stories of people who have close relationships with their parents makes me so happy. We have so much to learn from them. They are so much a part of who we are that it’s like learning something new about yourself. You are all so lucky! Make sure cherish them. You’ll really miss them when they’re gone.

    • Nancey says...

      Absolutely beautiful story, I treasured every word. How wonderful, my Dad was a photographer as well and he loved the movies like I do, that was our bond, we could talk movies for hours. You have to find your something and run with it.

    • Maureen says...

      Beautiful. I am so glad you had that special time with your Dad.

  21. Tamara says...

    Great post!
    My parents are both retired school teachers, and growing up, two of my sister’s closest friend’s moms we my teachers- 8th grade English, and an elementary school substitute teacher. I grew up in a very casual home, friends referred to my parents by their first names, etc. I loved having that regular connection with some of my teachers that most of my peers didn’t have, it was like being in on a secret.
    As for being friends with my parents, they are honestly two of my best friends- I know I can call them any time and they will give me good advice, or just listen (we live on separate sides of the country). However, I will always see them as my parents, and I don’t want to be privy to any of their drama (they divorced when I was 22, married, and moved away). I admire them and love spending time with them, and am forever grateful for them for giving me a great childhood and being good role models.

  22. Cazmina says...

    I was raised by my father as a single parent, and he definitely had an authoritative rather than friend style of parenting. Now as an adult, we have an ok relationship but I wouldn’t say we are friends. We differ greatly in our social/political views, and he is not an easy person to have a civil discussion or debate with. I live overseas and we skype about 4 times per year, just to check in on how things are going.
    Funnily enough, these days he’s pretty much best friends with my eldest brother, who was a rather difficult teenager and with whom he constantly had massive arguments and screaming matches.
    I’ve often felt envious of friends who had close relationships with their parents, but I guess our experiences make us who we are.

  23. Amy says...

    This is beautiful.

  24. SCG says...

    Thank you. Like so many others I never really appreciated my parents until I went to college. We still have those mini-power struggles with my mom, now as a mother with a pre-schooler and she as a doting grandmother to a pre-schooler, but I guess I understand her more and more.

  25. mi mom and i have gone through multiple grieving phases. our relationship is far from perfect but the strongest mom-daughter relationship, unlike any relationship with anyone ever, and i know she feels the same. she tells me.
    life has been quite challenging, to say the least, however somedays a text from her, regardless of how shitty my day is, is all i need for that moment to keep going.

    she rocks. she is my rock. i can only hope to be half as strong as she is, one day.

  26. Alex says...

    I recently had a fascinating discussion with my mother about being a woman in the workplace. I’m a millennial and she’s a boomer and we both talked about our colleagues from the other generation. It was really great to hear about how she’s acting as a mentor to women my age. I told her about how relieving it is to have women of her generation as role models who have pre-charted a course on how to navigate motherhood, family and work gracefully. I love having her as a sounding board–I don’t know if friend accurately captures our relationship, but it is intimate and I really love that this is where we’ve landed. It makes me hopeful in considering what my own future as a mother might look like and to see what it can grow into.

  27. JN says...

    This was so beautiful to read, Stella. You know that kind of warm, glowy feeling you get when something reminds you of home or those you hold dear? This article did that for me. Thanks so much for that. :)

  28. My mom died on February 1st of this year, and I feel like I’m seeing my dad in a whole new light. He’s been hanging out with a lady – ok, I guess we’re calling it dating – and … it’s like seeing my Dad as, well, a single guy. It’s beyond weird, but it’s interesting to me to finally see him for himself, and not something that he was with my mother. It was hard to see where one stopped and the other started, for so long, and now? Well, it’s a reminder that all of us are humans trying to navigate our lives as they come. It’s a far cry from being a child and thinking that the grown-ups have everything figured out.

    • meli says...

      thanks for sharing that, and your perspective. i lost my dad 12.5 years ago and have wondered at times if i will get to see mi mom through this or similar to what you express here, it hasnt happened yet. not sure if it will..

  29. Katrina says...

    I’ve really enjoyed this post, given how thought-provoking it is. I think I realised my parents were just people at rather an early age, in my very early teens. I realised they made mistakes and that they didn’t have all the answers and that yes, they could let you down. I realised it wasn’t always us children who could be disappointing and not live up to expectations.

    The years from mid-teens to early twenties were very strained with my parents. I was the youngest of four children and the last living at home. At times it was quite depressing to be honest. I felt trapped in my parents world and not able to be in my own. My mother was/is very religious and by the time I was 21, I had to figure out a way to let her know that I didn’t want to be a part of the religion she had chosen for me. It resulted in some very difficult times. She couldn’t accept it, I couldn’t see a way out that didn’t result in a fight. So we weren’t friends.

    Now, almost 10 years on from that, I would say my mother and I are friends. I don’t find it difficult talking with my mother in the way that I would have in my early twenties. We don’t talk every day because I would find that unnecessary and time-consuming in my busy life. I realise how that sounds. I only live about 20 minutes away from my parents and we see each other about once a fortnight, which is enough for me at this stage of my life. Whilst I get on very well with both my parents, I wouldn’t say I was friends with my father, because I have trust issues with him that prevents me from being friends with him.

    I think being friends with your parents is a difficult thing to navigate. Once you reach adulthood, there’s no doubt the relationship changes dramatically. In most cases, you cease to live with them therefore you cease to live by their rules. You are living your life and they are living theirs. You are all on a more even playing field. In some cases, you start to have children and then you become a parent and a whole scope of understanding starts to open up. You suddenly realise what your parents endured and how hard they fought everyday to be good parents. But your parents are still your parents and you are still their child. That never changes.

  30. Yakov says...

    I thought I was in a good place with my parents. I thought we’ve gone through our moment of zen when they realized I was an adult in my 20s when I moved 800 miles away from them, and their … stuff. After a 18 months away I came back to the area and actually lived in my childhood home for 6 months, and soon began to realize why I left. After getting my own place, and then years later getting married, and having my own kids, I thought that my parents were not necessarily my friends, but my parents who I could talk to, and not have that — while under my roof — stuff. Now that I’m almost 40, I’d like to deal with them on an equal footing, but that’s not possible, and recently some things happened which brought back the reason why I did move away in the first place — nearly 20 years ago. The guilt trips, the passive aggressive, you should know why I’m upset, we don’t feel welcome in your house when we show up unannounced. I wish I could say we are friends, but if a friend was constantly reminding you that he helped you move back in 2001 — would you keep being friends with them, or just say, ok how much do I owe you for the move so you’d stop bringing it up? Or if a friend would get randomly pissed off at you because you didn’t call them for 2 days. And those are just the minor things. My parents would go to the end of the world for me, and give me the shirt of their back, but I’d never hear the end of it, so I’d rather ask anyone else. I guess that’s sad, and again that upsets them that I don’t ask…so I guess it falls under it’s complicated? Right? As a father of 2 small kids, I know that guilt tripping your kids into a relationship will eventually backfire. And constantly bringing up that one time you needed my help and I was there… That’s not a friendship — not sure what that is

    • Sal says...

      My parents are exactly like this and I’m 38. I am living in my hometown (never lived more than 2 hrs away) with plans to move to another state in the next year or two permanently almost purely to get a real break. Everyone seems to just love their parents and mine are extraordinarily petty, immature and manipulative.

    • You are most definitely not alone. I only live 90 minutes away from my parents, and I regret ever moving that close to them. The passive-aggression, the guilt trips, the martyr moments, the self-centeredness – it was all a lot easier to handle when I lived far enough away that they couldn’t easily visit. My relationship with my parents is the exact opposite of a friendship – it is a guilt-inducing, anxiety-laden relationship that constantly makes me feel like I have done something wrong to cause it.

  31. Sarah says...

    Many times on CoJ posts I struggle with jealous feelings of others’ “better” circumstances, i.e. their socioeconomic status (I make 30K in a mid-sized city with student loans to pay), marital status (I’m envious of married women), etc…

    But… this is one subject where I can truly say I would never be jealous of anyone else. I hit the parents jackpot. My mom and dad are my two best friends. One dreary day last winter when I was in a terrible fight with my boyfriend, she picked me up and told me we could go wherever I wanted to go. We ended up just cruising around the entire city for hours, and she listened. Truly, actively listened. She has always been my steadfast advocate.

    • Wendy says...

      You are blessed.
      This post has actually made me feel very sad.

  32. regan przybyl says...

    Love this post – my mom and I talk daily and she is one of my best friends. As a kid I thought that moms just NEVER got sick (because they are moms?). I never saw my mother with any sort of weakness. It led to an almost SUPER HUMAN/MAGICAL quality that once I grew up – and reality shifted – I realized was probably just her having to power through being sick and still having to be a parent.

    • Nicole says...

      Same here! I also never noticed if my parents were ill when I was young (thankfully, this was because they really rarely are). I remember being totally confused at elementary school one day because my teacher was congested and I truly didn’t know adults got sick :)

  33. Silver says...

    My mother is rather proud of a memory, I was a teenager and we were having a fight and I said “why can’t you be a friend like my friend and her mother are?” My mother responded “I am your mother, not your friend – and one day you will thank me”. She is really proud of this particular moment in time, thinks of it as a wonderful proof of what a great mother she was. The thing is it is my least favourite memory of our relationship. And we’re not friends – and I know that she wishes we were closer. But I don’t enjoy relationships where one person raises their tone to indicate authority. She never learned to be my friend, and is sad that we have not found our way. I try to fake it, I really do and most of the time I think there is success. But we are not friends. To be friends with your child I believe is a great and masterful experience, and I try very hard to develop a true friendship with my son. My mother has never been my go-to person, because she was never my friend. I know she loves me and will do anything for me, but it’s different.

    • Paola P. says...

      I relate to this so much. I feel exactly the same. My mother never tried to understand me as a person (or so it seemed). She found being that authoritative figure more important or necessary….or she just didn’t know any better. But today, as an adult and as a mother myself, I wish (and I’m sure she wishes as well) that we were better friends in life. I too “fake it” and I suspect, she does as well. We get along fine but like you say, she is not my “go to” and I really wish she was. Even with years of therapy, I have not been able to move past certain aspects of my childhood relationship with my mother instead, I have made it a tenet of my parenting with my daughter(s- I have one on the way) to respect my girls as whole people and not just children that must follow my rules. I am not necessarily looking to be their BFF but I hope that the respect is mutual, and that one day my girls realize that I am the same as them- a human, figuring life out as it comes.

    • Ally says...

      It’s literally impossible to be friends when one of the parties involved can “pull rank” like this. Sadly, that feeling of power and control (and Pygmalion-like interference) is more important to many parents than kinship and mutual support.

    • Ana says...

      Silver, I have a similar experience with my parents. Very well written.

  34. RT says...

    My mom died when I was in my early 20s, so it is a question mark how our relationship would have evolved. She was always pretty private, so I’m not sure if we would have gone from mother and daughter to buddies. My father is definitely my friend though. I’m only child and lived with him all through my 20s til I got married. I know a lot of people do it now, but I’m 42 and my friends were most definitely not living with their parents after college. I was frequently teased by friends about when I was going to move out and of course I thought about it but I don’t think my friends realized that I actually enjoyed living with my father, watching tv and movies, just hanging out. Of course he is still my father and he will still encourage me to do certain things in a fatherly way (investing etc) but otherwise I will talk to him just like any other friend and I’m happy we have that relationship

    • Lauren says...

      Aw! It’d be a lot easier as a 26-year-old to tell people that I still live with my parents if I was actually friends with them!

  35. Caity says...

    I am that teacher, and I constantly run into my students at the on-campus gym. I’m embarrassed, but they seem horrified. I’ll wave and say hi to a student by name working out on a machine three feet away from me, and I’d call their tactics almost artistic in the way that they acrobatically avoid making eye contact or acting like they heard me. This semester I decided to announce the first week of class: “If you see me at the gym or the grocery store buying Oreos or walking my dog in my pajamas, it’s OK if you say hi.” I remember once seeing a professor of mine on a treadmill wearing jorts when I was in undergrad, so I get it. But hey, I don’t wear jorts and my students still won’t say hi!

    • Diana McNeill says...

      this made me lol

    • Emily says...

      This makes me so sad! It definitely didn’t happen with all of my professors, but I largely credit my success in college to having a close relationship with my Journalism advisor and professor. Anyone in college who isn’t finding that person within their program to be their mentor is cheating themselves! She helped me navigate the ins and outs of college, internships and my editorship for our independent student newspaper. I shudder to think how adrift I might’ve felt without her guidance and advice! And staying close with her also afforded me more opportunities than my less engaged colleagues in the program, as I was always top of mind when it came to unique or cool opportunities. I’ve stayed in touch with her post college and we continue to meet for drinks. It remains one of my most valued relationships that I cultivated while in school.

  36. Lorena says...

    I found this post and the comments to be so comforting. I so identified with everyone commenting on their strained relationships with a parent. While my dad and I had a great friendship before his death two years ago, my relationship with my mother has been strained for a number of years. I was inspired by the comments from all those who are friends with their parents. I have a 3 year old daughter and you all give me hope that she and I can have a close relationship and friendship in the future. Thank you!

  37. I just want to say that my husband is a high school football coach and teacher, and he still gets that reaction when he is “spotted in the wild.” Even 18 year-olds are surprised that teachers have a real life outside the school!

  38. YP says...

    I’ve never commented on A Cup of Jo before, despite being a long-time reader, but Stella – I HAD to share this. My dad also ends every. single. text with “love, Dad” as well and I think it is adorable. Didn’t know other dads out there did this as well.

    Thanks for a wonderful post!

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Aw, YP, you made my day. Love knowing that so much.

    • Sarah says...

      My dad does this too! His signature sign-off for a text is “Love- Dad [heart emoji] [old man emoji] [american flag emoji]”. hahaha. I find it so endearing.

    • Sarah says...

      Mine too! Only he shortens it to “ly” e.g. love ya.
      He used to sign his emails “lol” until I explained that it meant laughing out loud… he thought it was “love you lots”!

    • Yvonne says...

      I always sign my emails to my kids love you, Mom because I want them to hear me say it with their eyes. I’d feel horrible if I didn’t close with love.

  39. Maureen says...

    My four year old sometimes says I am her best friend which makes my heart melt. I have given up on my mom ever being my friend, but I can be the mom I always wanted and love my kids with all my heart. :)

    • Anna says...

      Yes! That’s what I think too :) My 4yo is also in that stage and I hope she’ll be like that forever- even if I know she won’t, because teenagers!

  40. Saz says...

    I remember the exact moment I began to be friends with my mum, as opposed to just mother-daughter. I was maybe 18 and we were playing badminton together in the back garden. Nothing serious, we never had a net or anything, it was just a knock-about.
    Well, I hit a shot, which mum failed to return. I licked my finger, touched it to myself and made a hissing sound, like I was red-hot. Well, mum had never seen anything like that, and started to literally cry-laugh. She was laughing so hard she fell down on the grass, which made me laugh as well. And before I knew it, we were both cry-laughing, and rolling on the grass together. And at that moment, I realised, we were going to be friends for a long, long time.

  41. Taylor says...

    Currently I am on a trip with my mother and two sisters to Iceland and Copenhagen. I’m 30 and my sisters are 26 and 23. We are having a blast, but often times find ourselves asking why is our mother not being the mother! Wandering downtown Reykjavik we kept losing her as she was taking pictures and wandering into shops and lagging behind, definitely not taking charge and leading us while we were trying to find the grocery store that closes in 20 minutes! We are having a great time and I’m sure many more of these instances will happen along the trip.

    • Anna says...

      Awwww I love this! Hope you’re having the best time :)

  42. To this day, every time I walk into a Target (which is often) I remember seeing my 2nd grade teacher there once, and because I thought I was so grown up at that point, I said “Jane? Is that you?” I was 10. Such a random memory from my childhood, but it has never left me. How funny! And thank you for your sweet words about be-friending your folks. I am in the thick of raising an almost-13-year-old, and it. is. hard. I am 36, but to her, I may as well be 110. I still feel pretty cool! I am weathering this storm in the hopes that one day, she realizes I was her age not too long ago!

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Kelly, I have tears in my eyes from laughing at that Target story. Thank you for your wonderful comment. Really appreciate it. xo

  43. Cynthia says...

    My dad was only 53 when he died from cancer, and we were close. I was a sophomore in college when he passed, and he was so proud of me because I was going to college and doing well. I had my ups and downs in my relationship with my mom, but as she grew older, she really mellowed, and our relationship was wonderful. She really loved my 2 daughters who were her only grandchildren. When I had my own children, I realized my parents did the best they could with the resources they had. My mom passed away last October, and there have been times when I got ready to call her and realized she’s gone. I talked with my oldest daughter last week, who told me she got the job she wanted, and she said she was going to call my mom and tell her, then realized she couldn’t. I have a great relationship with both of my daughters who are in their 30’s. Last summer, my youngest and I were having lunch in a nice restaurant and having white sangria, when she said it was so fun for us to have lunch like two friends. She said it was something she imagined growing up, and now it’s happened. They both call me just to say hi or ask for advice or just want someone to listen.

    • Ally says...

      That’s lovely to hear! Good on you for offering a warm, calm space for your kids. I hope they do as much for you, too. (:

  44. My parents are basically the BEST friends I’ve ever had. Sometimes it seems like society has this unwritten rules for us to think it’s uncool to hang out with our parents, but at the end of the day I will never regret spending extra time with them or choosing their company over someone else my age. We don’t get to keep our parents forever so it’s these moments I’ll continue to cherish the most.

    • Sarah says...

      Same here, Katie! My parents are funnier and cooler than most of my friends ;)

  45. Blythe says...

    I’m lucky to have solid relationships with both my parents, but I do wish I could be more honest with them about my life and what I believe now – religion, politics, sexuality, disco cigarettes, mysticism, etc. In working through these emotions with my therapist she asked me two incredibly thought provoking questions.

    “What percentage of you do your parents really know?”
    “What percentage of you would you like them to know?”

    Answering those questions for myself was a great way to gauge where I see our relationship now and where I’d it like to grow. Now, all I have to do is get there :)

    • Maggie says...

      Hear, hear. Great questions to ask in any relationship. But, the perhaps more important question: what is a disco cigarette?

  46. Aliya says...

    I really hoped this would be the case, because my mother and I have always had a tense relationship, but as i got older (now 31) things didn’t seem to change much. I can’t decide if it’s because we’re too similar, too different, or if the hurts from the past too indelible. Either way, we’re not friends. I hope to be friends with my daughter once she is an adult. Definitely not happening until she’s grown and out of the house! :)

  47. Wendy says...

    This is a beautiful post Stella. I don’t know why but I teared up reading it!

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Thank you so much, Wendy. That means so much. xo

  48. Paula says...

    I love this post! I can totally relate to what you wrote. Growing up I did not feel like my parents were my friends, I felt like they were my parents and I am extremely grateful for that. I always knew they will be there and support me, but they did not try to be too involved or act like if we were buddies. After the teenage/college years I started to see my parents as friends and right now my parents and siblings are probably my best friends. I am so grateful that we managed to be that close emotionally. Right now my sister lives in London, I live in New York and my other siblings and parents in Barcelona… we do not talk or text every day necessarily, but I know they are the most important pillars in my life :-D

  49. Sara says...

    YES! The opening paragraph of this post reminded me of the children’s book “My Teacher Sleeps in School” (http://amzn.to/2xC8CpX).

    My 4 year old is crazy for this book, and I remember having those exact questions/thoughts about teachers (all adults!!) as a kid.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Sara, I am laughing so much.

  50. Anne says...

    Love this post. And from the other side, I am a mother to 3 beautiful people in their 20s and one teen. Just this morning, I had funny, thoughtful, and loving chat/text/FaceTime with each one. (All in one day!) I feel like we are friends and I hope they feel the same. They still ask for advice and they still sometimes roll their eyes, but friends do, too, right?
    Also, I thought the photo was of your parents and was amazed at how much your dad looks like Paul McCartney. Haha!

  51. Kelly says...

    i try to be close to my parents! it’s not super easy or natural for us though. my mom and i are very different personalities – she is easily overwhelmed and prone to self-pity – she probably would have been somewhat overwhelmed by parenting in general and then i had a mentally ill brother, so i mostly remember just fending for myself as a kid. also she was/is a huge hypochondriac – i can divide my childhood into eras by the health issues she was experiencing: the sinus years, the stomach issue years, the menopause years….there was also a ‘we are poor and everyone else is rich’ era (really not true). with all these issues i’ve never felt like i could go to her with my issues…plus there is a self-centeredness that is just hard to swallow (when i told her of my infertility issues, she responded: i’m so glad you told me, all my friends have been asking when you were going to have kids and now i know why it’s taking so long). so we’re not ‘buddies.’ but she and my dad love my girls, and i’m close with my mom’s siblings and my cousins, so we spend a lot of family time together. every once in a while there is some dramatic blowout (usually drinking is involved) when all these issues get on my nerves. sometimes i envy people that live further away and/or are just comfortable keeping their distance! and sometimes i’m grateful to be part of my messy imperfect family. families are complicated…..

    • Jess says...

      Sounds like we have the same mom! I asked mine for advice this summer and walked directly into the fire of “You aren’t grateful,” “your husband is tired of you” and “You should see a psychiatrist.” She went on to discuss how no one respects her, how she worked 60 hours a week to avoid being “One man away from welfare” (a common refrain I heard as a child), and more. It was one if the worst conversations of my life. She then tried to pretend it never happened. I just evacuated the state during Irma and talking to my mom in Boston was easier due to the circumstances, but the argument this summer solidified my opinions of her and I don’t think I’ll ever confide in her again.

  52. AJ says...

    Loved this. Such a lovely read, Stella. My dad signs all texts ‘love, dad’ too! Does make me laugh!

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Love knowing that, AJ. Thank you so much for your sweet comment. xoxo

    • Sarah says...

      My dad has always signed cards and notes “XO, me” so naturally it transferred to his texts!

  53. Quincy Mason says...

    My mom is my best friend! We talk often and always have to chat after the dateline episode on Sunday nights! We enjoy a lot of the same things and I know as I become a mother one day, our relationship will get that much stronger. But my daddy will always be my daddy and I will always be his little girl :-).

  54. Jillian says...

    Last year, I was feeling a bit sorry for myself because a trip I had planned for New Year’s had fallen through and most of my friends had vacations planned with significant others or their families. As I was thinking through my close friends might be someone available to share in celebrating the past year and ringing in the new one with, I remembered: my mom! That moment of epiphany was well-paired with the holidays, as my mom is absolutely impossible to shop for, while also being the person who I want to give the most as thanks for being the hardest-working, most resilient, and most superfluously loving person I know. I ended up splurging and buying us both a trip to a gorgeous resort in a small town on the west side of Puerto Rico. We spent an entire week lying on the beach, reading, having heart-to-hearts, people-watching, drinking champagne at all hours of the day, staying up late watching The Office sleepover-style, having three hour dinners at the resort restaurant, and just hanging out, and then rang in New Year’s together dancing on the beach next to a bonfire beneath fireworks. A waiter at the resort was so tickled by our mother-daughter vacation that he gave us a free bottle of champagne after midnight just because he loved the idea of our trip so much! It was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken, and one I would consider as a big, fun landmark within one of the greatest friendships of my life.

    • Rachel says...

      Jillian, a lot of these comments had me tearing up a little, but I full out [happy] cried when I read your story! This past winter I went on my first mother/daughter trip to the Bahamas (I have a sister, so most of our trips are mother/daughters trip) and it was truly an experience I’ll never forget! Next year it will be the three of us again, but I will always cherish the trip with just the two of us.

    • Lauren says...

      This is what I always wanted with my mom and envied those who had a relationship like this. I have a 1 and 1/2 year old daughter, and have been thinking about this a lot recently…. How do you cultivate a relationship like this? What can I do to maximize the possibility that I can be friends with my daughter when she’s grown?

  55. Harriet says...

    A lot of the comments made me smile and some made my heart shed a few tears. Thankfully, my mother is my very best friend and outside of God is the only constant in my life. I’m actually crying as I type this and think of all the pleasant times we’ve spent through the years and God willing will spend in the future. I don’t believe I’ve gone a day when I haven’t talked to my Mom. We talk several times every single day. We do have our squabbles and as I’ve grown older I’ve come to see that she is still that little girl adulting as she best knows how.

    Quite frankly, I can’t remember a time when my Mom hasn’t been my friend. She’s always been there and even now in my mid-thirties – I’m single – I simply cannot imagine what my life will be like without her. We talk about almost everything; life, family, her marriage (she and my dad are still married), work and even money, I even have the log in access to her bank accounts.

    My Mom has always been there for me, always. We have traveled the world and the United States together. My mom is extremely kind, a great cook, super fashionable, incredibly determined and just all around amazing. I moved to England a few years ago for work and when my Mom came to visit, I requested for some soup and she not only cooked it but traveled all the way from Georgia to London with the frozen bowl of soup as her hand luggage. Imagine my joy when I met her at the train station.

    I can tell so many stories, of this sort, each more touching than the last. I am convinced my mother is so special because I am one of six and she shares this same relationship with all my siblings. I know I am so blessed because my Mom values me a GREAT deal and she says so all the time. I can’t count how many times she’s told me I’m very beautiful, or praised my skills or let me know that her aspirations for me are grander than the heavens. I remember giving the tribute at her 60th birthday last year and saying that if I even wanted to be someone, if I ever wanted to succeed in life it was for one reason; to make her proud, not that she isn’t already.

    I can only hope that the hearts of everyone who doesn’t have what we have is some how filled with a love so deep via a different source.

    • Tori says...

      This made me cry, what a sweet relationship and what a wonderful mom! The part about making her proud… I’m so glad to hear of such love.

  56. Tiffany says...

    I have been a reader for awhile now, but haven’t posted until now.

    I loved reading this post, and I always admire/envy those who have strong relationships with their parents. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for me. I have always hesitated to speak about it because on a logical level, it would sound as though I am a drama queen or unable to let things roll off my back. I just don’t like my parents. I wish that my calls or visits with them were out of want and love, but it is more to fulfill a “good daughter quota.” My mother has such low self esteem that it drags down any possibility for a happy/healthy relationship with anyone. My father was so incredibly harsh to live with as a child and now that I am an adult I find him to be very self-centered, indulgent. As you might imagine, the combination of the two in one house was difficult. Even though they are now divorced and are better people without each other, years of that kind of unhappiness and being used a pawn in their divorce makes me never want to be around them. I wish I could let it go, forgive, and take to heart that they were trying their best, but I really just don’t think they did their best. Far from it.

    I don’t have kids myself, and honestly am not sure if I want to. I echo the sentiments of other comments I have read where they fear their children will feel about them the way they feel about their parents…and if I ever choose to go down that road, that will likely be one of my biggest fears as well.

    Anyway, I have taken comfort in reading these comments and feel a little less alone about this… :)

    • Emma says...

      I don’t like my parents much, either. They aren’t terrible people but they are so conservative and religious it overshadows every conversation. Their support of Trump has never wavered, despite the groping, scandals, and blatant racism. I haven’t talked to them since the election and I don’t feel as though I’m missing anything from my life but extra judgement and guilt for not having kids yet!

    • Tiffany and Emma, I’m so glad both of you posted comments about your difficult experiences with your parents. My mother was my best friend, but she died of cancer when I was 23. My father is my only living parent now, but we have always had an extremely difficult relationship. I always hoped we would get over our differences and become close, and I truly believe I did what I could to make that happen especially after my mom died and I worried about him being lonely, but now that I’m almost 30 years old, I’m realizing our relationship is what it always has been. Hard. And even though I love him, I don’t like him. He’s just not a respectful person, especially of people who believe different things, have different experiences, and like things that he doesn’t like. And Emma, the election was very hard on us too. I just can’t respect or trust someone who is capable of believing such cruel things about people, and buying into such a hateful worldview. It’s so sad to me. I feel like I’ve grieved the death of two parents – my mother, who was my best friend, and my father, who I have never been able to get close to. As painful as that is, it’s taught me a lot about the kind of parent I want to be when I’m ready to have kids.

    • Caitlin W says...

      I scrolled through the comments to finally find another person who doesn’t have a friendship with their parents. My mom treats me as her friend and often crosses boundaries such as gossiping about my step-siblings/other relatives, telling me details of her relationship with my step-father, etc. It’s hard because I’ve had to set limits recently and she is not able to understand why these things make me uncomfortable. My father has been MIA for majority of my life and my step-father is loving but dogmatic and treats me like a child. Tiffany, I have the same feelings about wanting to forgive, forget or let their comments roll off my back but it’s impossible. Therapy helps.

      It’s difficult now because I have a young daughter and I realized recently it stresses me out to spend time with them and I battle feelings of guilt constantly. They are “good” people by most standards so I want my daughter to have a relationship with them but also don’t want her exposed to the underlying racism and other behaviors they exhibit.

      This post made me feel sad and I would love to have another one from a different perspective to keep things in balance. Great conversation starter.

    • Sarah says...

      You’re not alone – I feel similarly. My parents did not have a good marriage, my mother had many issues while I was growing up and has struggled with her mental health for a long time. I have two siblings and I think being the oldest, I’m the one that has had major issues with all of it as an adult. Therapy has helped immensely. I do keep in touch with my family, but not in a super close way. I too question having children because of the way my parents were and how I grew up. Just know that there are more of us out there in the same situation :)

  57. Courtney Prizer says...

    I completely relate to your experience. My mom and I butt heads a ton when I was growing up, and having her as a teacher in my high school didn’t help matters. But as I’ve gotten older, and especially now that I am a mother, we’ve become so much closer, and I’ve come to appreciate how she pushed me to be my best and was always there to help me (even when I refused it). We recently escaped to the beach for a few days with my young son, and while spending days in the sand with him were a blast, my favorite moments were sitting outside the room after he fell asleep, sharing a bottle of wine and laughing with my mom. I only hope I can grow to be as wonderful a mother as she is.

  58. Katie says...

    Hmmm. Yes and No. One of the upsides of my parents divorce was getting to know both of them very individually and less as an entity in my burgeoning adult-ish years (I was 17-18). Twenty years later, I am friendly with each of them, if not friends. In some ways, because of some stuff that happened during harder times, I draw a hard line at calling either of them friends because I already found out waaaaaaay more about them then I wanted to as a kid, and I prefer some parental remove. And yet I still want (and sometimes need) my parents to be my parents, no matter how old I get. As they age, though, I see that our roles will soon reverse and I’ll be taking care of them. For now, I love that my Dad still clips articles for me & sends them via old fashioned mail, then badgers me via email until I’ve rec’d said article so we can discuss it on the phone. Hilar. My Mom, sister, and I recently took a trip to Santa Fe and Taos together to celebrate her 70th birthday & had a blast hiking, art grazing and drinking beers in the hot tub at night. Embracing relationships as they evolve seems to be a chunk of the pain & joy of life.

  59. Kirsten says...

    I feel really lucky to have the relationship that I do with my mom. I would not call her my “best friend” by any stretch of the imagination, but she is absolutely my friend and I’ve loved how that friendship has been able to evolve, especially in the last few years. My parents went through a very messy divorce just as I left for college, and that feeling of my family falling apart and my childhood home being sold and no longer having a recognizable “base” was rough but also allowed me to see my parents more as regular flawed human beings. My mom did a ton of self work around that time that changed both her personality and her way of relating to me in a way that made the current relationship we have possible. I just had my first child and she just moved to a town an hour away from where I live after living abroad and I’m so happy that I’m able to share this new part of my life of being a mom with her.

    Still working on things with my dad. I feel sad sometimes that I’m not as close to him as I am to my mom, especially as I get older and recognize that he’s not going to be around forever.

  60. Anne says...

    This post felt eerily well-timed as it is a subject I’ve been considering a lot as of late. I would place myself somewhere in the “it’s complicated” category when it comes to my relationship with my parents. Particularly my mom. As a daughter of a mother who struggles with depression and other mental illness, I’ve really resonated with a lot of the comments here. I find it so encouraging and it makes me feel a little less alone. This community is really great for that–so thank you!

  61. Louisa says...

    I’ve never been close to my parents, and to my mother in particular. I’ve always felt this was my fault and I’ve felt incredibly guilty about it.
    Then I got diagnosed with breastcancer at the beginning of this year. She didn’t visit when I got my operation, or when I got radiotherapy (luckily no chemo). Although our relationship was already strained, I had expected her to support me during the most difficult time of my life. Nope! It still makes me so sad.
    Today, it feels like my life changed completeky and all my energy goes to raising my own daughters and to dealing with my work. It’s hard to pick up my life so there’s no energy left to deal with my mother, but I still feel some guilt.

    It would break my heart if the relation with my daughters went wrong. It’s so great now. They think I’m as hilarious as Lorelai Gilmore. :) I’m so proud of them.

    • Christina says...

      You sound like a great mother! Wishing you health and happiness with your own family. xo

  62. Annie says...

    Waxing and waning, I would say. A very rocky time a few years back but better now. Hard to be a mother, wife, teacher and daughter all at the same time, all with demands and limited time to do it. I now deliberately refuse to engage with flash points and just try to do my best. Can’t do more. Won’t do more.

  63. I got so lucky with my parents, sometimes I wonder if we didn’t already know each other in previous lives. When I studied abroad in France (something they were both supportive of since they left their home country in their early twenties to live in the US), they came and visited me and I got to show them around and be their tour guide. My parents also planned a road trip through France and Spain, and it was the most fun I’ve ever had with them. I love traveling with them, and they’ve been my best teachers all my life.

  64. Claire says...

    As a type this my parents have just come to join us on the last two days of our holiday! I know I’m so lucky to have fab parents that I genuinely like as well as love, it’s a rare thing and makes me very happy.

    I also totally get the teacher thing! I’m in a theatre group and one of the members was my teacher when I was super young, like 8 or 9. I sometimes wonder if I turned out the way she imagined. She is very different to how I remembered and definitely not as cool as I used to think she was! But then that was 30 plus years ago…

  65. Andrea says...

    I have a philosophical issue with the idea of being friends (or best friends) with your parents. I am friendly with my Mom (my father left our family), and appreciate her as one adult can appreciate another. However, I am still her daughter and she is still my mother. There are webs of expectations and history that are not present with friends. There will always be a power dynamic that is not equal, and I’m OK with that. I don’t think the trend of parents as friends is that honest or healthy.

    • Katie says...

      I hear you, Andrea! Agreed on a many fronts.

    • Sasha says...

      I’m not friends with my parents, nor do I consider my grown daughters my friends, but I wonder if the folks who describe their parents as their friends are really just expressing that they have a very close and loving relationship? I agree that parent/child is always going to be significantly different than other friendships.

      I do get all worked up when I see parents of young children-teens whose relationship is friendship instead of parental. Incredibly unhealthy and harmful to children imho.

    • Andrea says...

      Sasha, I also get creeped out by young adults who tell their parents everything and turn to their parents as their front line emotional resource. It’s infantalizing on both their parts.

    • Sarah says...

      It’s interesting to hear a point of view so different from mine. I think the parent-child relationship can be both. Why not? To me, all relationships are complicated and imperfect, and if I have warm, hilarious parents I’m not going to steer clear of hanging out with them. I’ve never had many friends, and there were points in childhood when I was so shy, I had no friends. As I cried about it at night, dreading the next day’s school, she would pat my back and wipe my tears. Sure, that’s a motherly thing to do, but she was my friend, too– when I really needed one.

  66. I’m lucky to say my mom has been my best friend ever since I can remember. We are like two peas in a pod. I was never really a typical teenager, because I’ve always been super close to my parents.

  67. Laurel says...

    All four of us siblings have unique but close relationships with our parents. My mom and I are the quiet ones in the family, and we lean on each other for advice and perspective. My dad and I butt heads at times, but we have the same sense of humor and basic philosophies. I tell them often how lucky I know I am to have such good relationships with them. Many of my friends have difficult relationships with their parents. My dad says he has enjoyed his role changing from parent to consultant.

    And yes, I remember running into my 5th grade teacher at the grocery store. She hated me (not in my head, she tried to have me kicked out of her class), and I was with my brother, who at the time was a 17-year-old with a mohawk and a bad attitude. Full body cringe just thinking on it.

  68. me says...

    Not sure if this has been said already, but while being best friends with your parents is lovely, it may not be the healthiest relationship. I imagine if you feel your parents are your best friends it is because you already have a solid, nurturing relationship with them and this “friendship” does not violate the appropriate boundaries. My mom over the years has demanded that we be friends where as I feel I need a mother instead. I am adamant that I am a parent first to my children and a “friend” second. I cannot replace the role of friends in their (children’s or parent’s) lives just like friends cannot replace my role as a parent/child.

    • Kate says...

      I think you make a very valid point and your experience is one that I’ve heard others share before, but I also think Stella is specifically talking about once the parents and child are all “adults” and can now relate to each other in a new way – which is different from a parent who wants to be a friend from the beginning.

  69. Caitlin says...

    I am very lucky to have always been very close to my 3 parents but the best part of getting older with them is watching our dynamic evolve. My dad and I are basically the same person, which has always linked us; my stepmom and I have been through a lot together and although there are times it’s hard for us to relate to one another, we find common ground that makes our relationship feel stronger because it’s our choice to do that for one another. And my mom and I have always had a close friendship. Out of the 4 children, as the middle child I’ve just usually been the one to agree with my parents the most and keep a level-head; plus I was hardly ever rebellious. That’s not to say we haven’t had knock down, drag out fights in our lifetimes….
    When I was in college, I distinctly remember having this A-HA moment when I finally saw my parents as PEOPLE and not these perfect models of adulthood. They’ve made mistakes. They’ve gone completely off course. They don’t have all the answers. And seeing that vulnerability has given us a breath of fresh air to our relationships. It took them some time to come to terms with as their egos were slightly bruised from my realization but we can chat now as adults. We can feel OK when we don’t see eye to eye. We can accept the flaws and choices of one another instead of trying to control them into what we think the other should be or do. It’s such a relief and like a new life together (not that childhood wasn’t!).
    Now that I’m newly married, we’re still trying to settle in our new dynamics. It’s taken time and things were quite rocky during a brief period but everyone’s trying, which is all I can hope for!

  70. Julee says...

    Having recently lost my mom (and my Dad two years ago) this post struck a chord with me. I love hearing about other people who consider their parents friends. My parents were (and my siblings are) among my favorite people to hang out with. I know it’s easy to say and almost impossible to do, but please, please, please cherish this time. I thought I appreciated it all when it was happening—when we were renting a limo for my Dad’s birthday and trying to determine the best hamburger in Los Angeles, or when we took my mom to Paris for her 75th birthday and all the family dinners and grandkid sporting events in between. Not to get all Ferris Buellery, but it really all does go way too fast. Stella, I’m glad to hear you get how special it is!

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      I am so, so sorry for your loss, Julee. Your comment is so touching and heartfelt. Thank you for your beautiful words. (Oh my goodness about the limo and Paris. The sweetest.)