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. t says...

    Not really. We spend happy holidays together and they are amazing grandparents to my kids but I don’t call them to discuss problems and we don’t go shopping together. Nothing strained but I have other friends. My parents are my parents.

  2. Laura Greenwood says...

    I consider my parents two of my closest friends. Most days I really love it, but some days (like on my birthday, sometimes Christmas) I just really want to be treated like their daughter and not their cool, younger friend! Our friendship did not come effortlessly, though. The day I realized my father was not the stoic, constantly confident and everhappy man I always thought he was, I was totally perturbed ! It took a good 6 months for me to start talking to him regularly again, as my initial reaction was to avoid him. I was so confused! Now, I see both my parents for the beautiful humans who, like stated above, are just trying their best like everyone else. XOXO

  3. Kit says...

    I was never a Lorelai/Rory with my parents or siblings, but when my mom died when I was a teen our whole family had to reshape and change the way we were with each other. Our dad became our rock and someone we could share our grief and (mostly) uncensored teen experiences with. He knows who we are without having to put on a face, and as adults we all interact as friends with lots of honesty, back-up, and humor. It isn’t a chore to hangout with my dad because I can be myself and he accepts the kid he ended up with.

    • Elizabeth says...

      I love that – my favorite thing about my relationship with my parents is that we all know each other for who we really are. Definitely not perfect, but real.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      This is so beautiful, Kit. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Danielle says...

    Loved this post! My parents are truly my best friends. I don’t live with them but we’re in constant contact — it’s kind of our routine. I call my mom while I’m walking to the train in the morning and my dad when I’m walking home from it in the evening. It’s nice to hear about each other’s days, plans for the weekend and feelings about current events, other family members, etc.

    It’s funny because as someone who was a horrible teenager, it’s nice to be at this level now where we genuinely like to be around each other/miss one another. We talk about life, relationships, work, politics, etc. I really value them and get emotional thinking of the day when they’re no longer with me.

  5. DZ says...

    absolutely love this post

  6. Linsey says...

    I was always very close with my parents growing up, but recently, have shifted into more of a typical teenager relationship… and I’m 32. I’m going through a life change at the moment in that I am pregnant with my first child, which has forced me to look back on a lot of what my own parents did/did not do when I was a child. I know they did their best with their means. The election did not help either as both of my parents voted for he-who-shall-remain-nameless, which has also made me rethink a lot of my admiration of them as they were/are in support of a lot of the negative campaign promises that I don’t agree with.

    • Em says...

      I’m going through the same problem. I’m about your age and have been fighting like a teenager with my parents ever since the election. :/

    • Christina says...

      Yeppppp. I haven’t been fighting like Em, but I have been a lot less likely to call, and I just don’t really have the desire to talk to my mom anymore. We haven’t even discussed it really, though we have discussed politics in the past. I just feel my energies are better spent elsewhere. So I do my dutiful call every few weeks and we talk about superficial things, and it all just feels very strained.

  7. My dad and I had a complicated relationship from the time he and my mom divorced when I was 8. It wasn’t until I had kids of my own that I started to see the situation clearly and my relationship with my dad grew exponentially, while unfortunately, my relationship with my mother declined. The two were not interrelated, though they both stemmed from my childhood experiences and life.

    My dad, stepmom, husband, and I became best friends, traveling together, running races, taking turns with our kids, sharing advice and life goals and it was an amazing five years. I mourned the relationship I could have had with my father for those early years (especially the teen years, but who does it right as a teen anyway?) but loved what our relationship had become.

    My dad passed away unexpectedly at 53 this May and it’s been one of the hardest things I’ve gone through. We had just become friends and were having so much fun together, making up for lost time. I miss him every day and on bad days I really mourn for what our relationship should have been. I still consider him to be one of my greatest friends.

  8. This is very sweet, and I really love to read it, Stella. Yes! I’m extremely close with both of my parents. My mom is like my best friend. I tell her everything and vice versa. We can talk for hours talking about nothing and everything. My dad and I shared lots of the same interest. I was the only one who was so into F1 and went with him to watch every game on the weekend. He always told me ‘Our hearts are close, even though we’re miles apart.” His words will always live with me.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Thank you so much, Niken. Your friendship with your parents sounds so meaningful and sweet. (“Our hearts are close, even though we’re miles apart.” !) xoxoxo

  9. Millie says...

    I realized early in my adolescence that my parents were just people trying their best. My mom, especially after my father abandoned us, sacrificed so much for our little family. Now that I have my first child, and I’m not in my 20s anymore, it’s become devastatingly clear to me that my mom never had the realization that I’m also a person trying my best, not just her child. She just won’t quit (s)mothering me! The acceptance of one another as adults, and cultivating adult relationships while shedding those parent/child roles, goes both ways. I so hope that we can make it past this because she’s really a fabulous person whom I want in my life.

    • Linsey says...

      Your comment stuck out to me. My mother is similar in that she is struggling with the fact that both of her adult children are… adults. My brother will be 36 in October, I am 32. I got engaged right around the same time my brother’s girlfriend became pregnant with the first grandchild. My mom did not handle it well – lots of drama, etc.

      The person that she is now is not the same person that she was when I was growing up. She tells me that she hasn’t changed, but I see it.

  10. H says...

    If only! I too am firmly in the “no” category. My religious parents were taught by their church to be extremely authoritarian in how they raised their children and always to be “THE PARENT” no matter how old their children became. As I reached adulthood/finished up college and desired some independence to make my own decisions about jobs and romantic partners our relationship became strained to the point that they stated they didn’t care to see me ever again and told me to leave and also lied to my extended family and friends and told them I had left home and severed the relationships of my own free will. They made sure I started my adult life alone and depressed. Some time has passed and we are trying to patch up the relationship, but lasting damage has definitely been done. Due to them insisting (to this day – to my face) that it was my decision to leave and it left THEM brokenhearted I’m not sure how much repair will actually get done. I know I will never have anyone in my life I can truly lean on emotionally and that burden has become a lot to bear. I hope those that have a good relationship with their parents really treasure it!

  11. Louise says...

    My father died a few years ago, just when my firstborn son was 10 months old. My mother had been taking care of him for many years, unfortunately he was sick with Alzheimer’s. Many things my father did were aggravating, hard to understand, irresponsable. But he loved his family so very much and he was so proud of all of us. He left a legacy of love and admiration (and chaos, including a financial disaster) and we always say that our million-dollar inheritance has been that we have eachother, our mother and my brother. I wouldn’t call my mother my best friend . But I am grateful to her for having been such wonderful wife to my father and I respect her tremendously for the upbringing she gave us. And whilst I grieve that my kids never really met their grandfather, they have a wise, kind and generous grandmother who makes the best cinnamon toast ever. And she has a really nice boyfriend now. I feel very fortunate.

  12. Ari says...

    This may seem a little off topic, but after reading most of these comments (such a gorgeous community here) I noticed that a lot of women fear they will make the same mistakes as their parents. I just wanted to say that my parents both came from very difficult homes where they suffered emotional and/or physical abuse. I know this affected our household, which was simultaneously endlessly loving, joyous, and volatile.

    There are plenty of things in my childhood that caused me pain, and plenty to talk about with my therapist. But what overwhelmingly eclipses my parents mistakes is how HARD they tried to be better than their parents, how hard they worked to love each other and to be good parents and to make themselves better every day. There is nothing that has made me feel more proud or more loved than the fact that my parents never gave up. It would have been so easy to not change, and they never ever took the easy route.

    So to all you parents out there fearing you will make the mistakes your parents made, this child wants you to know that I would take my parents with all of their mistakes and all the pain it caused over a “perfect” parent any day.

    • Karen says...

      that is really an amazingly specific and heartfelt perspective . Thank you for sharing that.

    • Eliza says...

      This made me tear up immediately. You just described my relationship with my parents to an absolute T. Thank you for expressing this complicated sentiment so gracefully, and you’re not alone.

      Sometimes I feel cheated out of the experience of better equipped parents who might have provided a less turbulent childhood, but I am acutely aware that they did the very best they could, and I also love and adore them so fiercely that it hurts. I believe my bond with my parents and my brother is so incredibly deep and strong because we have struggled. Without the hurdles we wouldn’t know what lengths we were willing to go to stay connected. So yes, we are that family who has too many feelings and is either yelling at each other, or hugging and crying happy tears at how much we love each other. And to answer the question, yes, my parents are my friends, but we are linked in a way that cannot be described so simply, and I’m grateful for that.

  13. Rachel says...

    Man I love this community and all of the women/men/etc in it. I have to say that the older i’ve gotten, the more i’m at peace with my parents just being humans. I think that has majorly helped my relationship with my mom.

    Unfortunately my parents went through a really nasty divorce when my sister and I were growing up. I was extremely resentful for constantly being put in the middle or even feeling like I had to be the parent rather than them being the adults and putting my sister and I first. My dad had a lot of his own issues including alcoholism and unfortunately that claimed his life before we were ever fully able to realize that adult child-parent relationship. It’s something that I think i’ll regret for a long time. My mom and I have become much closer in the more recent years and I think a major part of that is her finally realizing and treating me like an adult as well as me also realizing that parents are just humans doing their best.

    I’m getting married soon and thinking about starting our own family in the future I think has me feeling a lot more gratitude and forgiveness towards my parents. I mean, they were both way younger than I am now when they got married and had kids. I can’t imagine facing down raising kids at the ages they did. I think that helps.

  14. Erin says...

    i do have a pretty good relationship with both my parents. it’s changed a lot over the years. I’ve always perceived myself as the black sheep of the family – married outside my race, no kids, went to school as an art major….not a whole lot of friends/social life.

    One of the major turning points in our relationship was when my parents had a massive falling out with my mom’s dad and his wife (they were really close friends). This was nothing new because my grandfather has always been controlling, and my dad was done with it. Then when I had dinner with my grandfather and his wife, they tried to pit me against my own parents. From that point on, I do not really have a relationship with my grandparents.

    Its brought me closer to both of them. we try to have open communication about a lot of stuff including financial conversations, and we try to be respectful of each other. it’s also brought out a lot of information as to why they did what they did when we were growing up! and it really helped my sisters and i understand them a lot better. They did the best they could. They’re actually better grandparents than parents, and they know that! but they did what they had to do!

  15. Courtney says...

    When I moved back to the U.S. in my late twenties after several years abroad, I started calling my dad, like, every other day. I was still in a different city and a different time zone, but now that the difference was 1 hour instead of 12, it was like, why not? I would leave class, call dad, take a meandering walk home, and we’d go over life.

    Then my dad died a few years ago, and I started to call my mom at 7 pm every Sunday. Again, not planned; just a response to our sadness. Now it’s our standing date, just as used to be hers with her parents, when we go over life.

    And then I had a daughter, and, holy hell. I’m simultaneously annoyed with and grateful to my younger self — for not calling when I didn’t, for calling when I did. All I want is to be a part of my child’s life, always! So beguiling, this life, unfolding and revealing itself across decades.

    • “So beguiling, this life, unfolding and revealing itself across decades.” <3 this!!! Also sounds like a great writing prompt for a novel :).

  16. KimV. says...

    I have an OK relationship with my parents, but when I think of the possibility of my children growing up and feeling the same way towards me…it makes me very sad. I’m trying to do better but I worry that history will repeat itself.

  17. Robin says...

    This is the first time I have posted anything here, but these comments are beautiful and strong and cutting so here I am. I grew up in an abusive household and am not close to my parents (although I have made peace with our current relationship). Sometimes it is hard to consider what I’ve lost, but I know that I wouldn’t have the rich friendships I have today. My friends have supported, inspired and encouraged me and have taught me to be a better friend and ultimately a better person. I love them fiercely and try not to let the tides of familial grief sweep me away.

    • Jackie says...

      Thanks for sharing this.

  18. April says...

    When I become a mother is when I realized everything that my mother did for me. Everything from amazing family vacations, to homework, to teaching me life skills like crackers and cheese are a wonderful summer supper. It’s amazing how clueless you think your parents are until you actually become one and you can appreciate all the sacrificing they did and all the unconditional love they gave you!

    I lost my mom almost 5 years ago to a car accident and I wonder to this day if she thinks I am a good mom or not. She was here for the births of my first 2 sons, but since then we have added a third boy.

  19. Kylie says...

    Oh, I love this so much. I remember the moment I started looking at my parents as well, people, and not just “mom and dad”. What an interesting switch to start to see them as people with missed dreams, hopes, their own histories. As a child I never considered these. As an adult, it’s made me much softer towards them.

  20. Cooper says...

    What a sweet article, and I loved the opportunity to reflect on my own relationships with my parents. I’ve been married for three years, and honestly, marriage has made such a difference for me. I used to constantly feel disappointed that I wasn’t closer to my parents, but now I no longer feel like I “need” my parents emotionally in the same way, which has freed me to enjoy the relationship we do have – one of amicable companionship. Having a set of in-laws also helped me appreciate my own family more :) It’s also helped to realize that my parents are still growing and changing as people (as am I!) and our relationship will grow and change, too.

  21. Annie says...

    My mom has been my rock, confidante and cheerleader throughout my life…many people have commented on how unique our close relationship is. She went through a cancer diagnosis and very aggressive chemo last year (she’s in remission now) and the whole experience drastically changed her personality. I’m struggling with having a senior citizen mom all of a sudden. While I love taking care of her and providing her with support, I selfishly really miss my best friend.

  22. Ingrid says...

    Unfortunately no – I cannot describe my Mother who brought me up alone as my friend. Moving far away almost 20 years ago from the city she and I lived in was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life.
    Now we meet three or four times a year and talk on the phone twice a week, sometimes even these conversations make me very sad, she is so moody and you never know how you find her, gross at nobody knows what but I am generally to blame or quite nice and agreeable, – she does not want to know me at all and has little interest in my life, sometimes I feel like a puppy that has been kicked so often ( horrible image ) and still tries to be friends, but to no avail … every time I try to help or to make her life a bit easier she declines, nothing is right, I stopped sending parcels with things she might like as it is too much bother for her to wait for the delivery ….grrr

    I so do like reading the comments here where Mothers are best friends – enjoy !!!

  23. Annie says...

    My parents are my best friends. We moved when I was in high school and, while there were times when I lashed out at them because of it, I had to lean on them so much that it led to the close relationship we have now. Reading some of the comments made me so sad that not everyone has this relationship with their parents, especially since I fear my sister feels the same way. I know that they are two of the people I can rely on no matter what, and I’m definitely their daughter—sometimes I make the dumbest joke that anyone else would only chuckle politely at and my dad almost dies laughing. That always makes me the happiest.

  24. Meg says...

    This is a tough one. I wish with all my heart that I could be friends with my mom and dad in this way. It has taken 10 years for me to be OK with not being friends with them. They still disapprove of my life choices. I’ve felt like the parent in our relationship as I’ve tried to help them open their eyes and understand more of the world and of me.

    My relationship is still weird with them, but I’ve decided to stop trying to “help” them and change them. They are who they are and I wouldn’t be friends with my mom, even if we were the same age. Surprisingly this has improved our relationship. Internally, I still roll my eyes at their asinine judgments, but it has become less personal. Really, I’ve stopped giving any F*cks about what they think about me and it has been beautiful.

  25. Meredith says...

    Comforting to see all the others that don’t have good relationships with their parents. I figured out at a pretty young age that my parents weren’t ‘doing the best they can’. They were actually doing whatever was easiest for them at the time without regard to their children. And then they went through a violent divorce, (yay! police at the house all the time my senior year of high school)! And my dad just disappeared. And my mom got remarried to a weirdo racist that loved guns. And the older I got, the more it became clear how weak and pathetic my parents were. So my dad died after 18 years of estrangement and I haven’t spoken to my mother in 15 years. I am so envious of people that do have normal parents and healthy relationships. But I’m not willing to suck it up and be disappointed over and over by my remaining parent just for the sake of saying I have a relationship with my mom. Every mothers day I am secretly glad that all of that toxic drama is out of my life. My in-laws are also a huge disappointment, so my husband and I have this somewhat in common.

    • Sarah says...

      Thank you for sharing this! I think having a good relationship with my parents is lovely and all, but I do not believe that anyone should suffer through abusive and toxic relationships with anyone just because those people happen to be their relatives.

  26. The comments on this post are so honest and vulnerable and true. I’m really glad this was a blog topic. It’s hard, especially as the holidays get closer, to see the picture perfect idea of adults getting along just fine with their parents when I have an incredibly tenuous relationship with my own. I’m so glad in this space that everyone is being honest and true about the spectrum that parental relationships can take. It’s so refreshing to not feel alone when friends call their mom everyday and I can only text mine a few times a month without getting negative responses. I don’t know if our relationship will ever truly flourish.
    Thank you for building such a great community here and thank you everyone for really speaking up.

  27. Sasha says...

    For everyone here whose answer is “um, no,” I highly recommend the book Hold On To Your Kids by Drs Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate. I was lucky to attend a seminar many years ago based on their work (attachment and the proper relationship of power within families), and it changed my life. For the first time I was able to choose to really understand who they were as humans and why they parented the way they did. Empathy, then forgiveness, and finally both for myself as a mother too. It was the first time I truly understood that they were doing their best.

    No, we are not friends, and because of this work I can allow myself to feel the sadness for what I need and do not have, but also accept what is and feel the love that is there.

    There are many counselors trained in this teaching and if thou are struggling with your parents or with your children, I highly recommend. It changes everything.

  28. I love this! I recently moved home with my parents after being away for 8 years and was so concerned it would feel like I was 16 again, and to be frank, I didn’t have the best relationship with my parents when I was in high school. And even though the transition was strange, now I feel like I live with two close friends instead of my parents, which has been the most pleasant experience. It’s amazing how the relationship changes for the better when your parents start to see you as an adult AND you see your parents as flawed but wonderful human beings.

  29. alison says...

    I’m 32 and currently living with my parents while I transition to a new job/new house back in my hometown (after being away since I was 18). It’s only been a few days, and while I’ve been VERY lucky to have fantastic relationships with both my parents, and 100% consider them my friends, this has been VERY interesting so far… only a few more weeks to go, but I hope this doesn’t do any permanent damage in the meantime!

  30. My mother, whom I’m very close to, is currently considering moving into my building, and we’ve been discussing whether that will be the ruin of our friendship! She promises: “I’ll just invite you over once in a while. You know, like if I’ve made too much soup.”

    • Katherine says...

      Aww this is adorable!

  31. Sarah says...

    I can honestly say that my mom was my best friend! She was always willing to hop in and come along on many of my adventures. She passed away this summer and it’s so hard to not be able to text her or call and ask for advice or just to chat… especially now that I’m a new mom navigating parenthood.

  32. no. my parents were very authoritative – i do not have much of a relationship with them. my interaction with them could be described as banally pleasant & impersonal.

  33. Katie says...

    This is so sweet! My parents got divorced about 4 years ago and my mom had never lived by herself and always had been very dependent. To see her go through the divorce and come out happier, stronger, courageous and indepent, I couldn’t be more proud. She is however never off the hook now for break up advice. :)

  34. Tess Williams says...

    This one made me tear up. I am absolutely friends with my parents- my mom is one of my best friends in the world- and I know I am so lucky to have that relationship with them. “People just trying to do their best”- so well said!!

  35. Taylor says...

    Powerful comments on this post.

    I’ve never understood the relationships where people were best friend’s with their parents. Sometimes envious and sometimes bothered by those relationships. For multiple complicated reasons, I’ve had on and off strain in my relationship with my Mom. I know she has always tried to give me and my siblings the things she didn’t have growing up. It is fascinating to see your parents as people instead of parents because that isn’t how you view them growing up. Or at least I didn’t. Wish my Mom had a place like this growing up to see many different views on life. We are lucky to have this platform to learn from each other.

  36. Mags says...

    I have never been able to be friends with my parents and unlike many of you who commented (whom I feel for) I know it is entirely because of me. It sounds awful, but my parents just aren’t “my people”. We don’t have many shared interests and our lives look very different because of jobs/geography (even though I’m also a mom which means that we do have the parenting thing in common). Every time I talk with them for any length of time I start feeling like they are judging me or that I can’t share everything (even though I know on some level they are super proud of me, my choices are not the choices they would have made).

    I also think I have a little problem with authority figures — I’m also not close to my parents-in-law because I keep wanting to assert my independence and that interrupts our relationship. Am I disfunctional? Maybe. Sometimes I think I want to be friends with my parents or in-laws (this essay sounds so amazing) but then when I get around them I just get super annoyed.

    • Renee says...

      Yes to this. I don’t have a relationship with my parents, not because they are terrible, but because we don’t get each other. Their behaviour drives me up the wall and mine they find absolutely baffling. When I moved back to my home town, we spent 3 months arguing about absolutely everything. My mom is fairly controlling and judgemental, and I’m still rebellious at 28, and no amount of communication makes things any better. Its hard to explain to people why I don’t talk to my family, but I’m so much happier without them.

  37. Maranda says...

    I have gotten much closer to my parents as I’ve grown up and gotten older. I grew up in a very small town where everything felt very claustrophobic and so when it came time for college I just wanted to get away! But after four years of being hours away from home, I became really close to my family. We would talk on the phone regularly and I would savor trips home during school breaks. I’ve been out of school for four years now, but I’m happy to say that our good relationship has still continued. My parents are very kind and supportive people who are my biggest cheerleaders. I feel bad about some of my younger/teenage years, but I think we’re all happy with where our relationships are at now.

  38. Niamh says...

    I have actually been too close to my parents, in that I have been a confidant from an early age, and now that they are in the process of seperation, it makes it very difficult. I have been told to let parents be parents, and I think it is actually good advice. It is difficult. Thanks to all for sharing not-perfect-parent-relationships here. It helps!

  39. Ruth says...

    Lucky you! Nope, I’m at the stage where my parents have become something of a burden as I try to navigate my own life and build my own family. I was close with my mom when I was in high school but haven’t really been since then. I’m mostly OK with the fact that we’re not friends as I have a wonderfully fulfilling life, and while it would be nice, I don’t feel a void or gap by NOT having that friendship. I know that they still love me and care about me and for me, that’s enough right now.

  40. JB says...

    I love my mum so much, but we live 3000kms apart. I know it breaks her heart (only daughter), but she never shows it to me, which I’m so grateful for. I couldn’t be doing this life (career, husband, opportunities) if both my parents weren’t the MOST supportive.

    One interesting side effect of having a mum who is really cool, chill, has the best advice, best cooking, best world view, is that I have NOT been able to get close to my MIL at all. I know this sounds weird, but I just feel totally fulfilled by my own mum and every time my MIL tries to take on a “motherly” role (she lives nearby), I get super defensive. Maybe some guilt for moving away!

    • MB says...

      It makes me feel better to hear you say that! I’m super close with my mom, and I feel extremely fortunate for our relationship and my parents’ support. I live abroad and similar to you, my MIL lives nearby and I find myself almost resenting that she gets to be more involved in our lives and my daughter’s life. I have a word with myself every now and then about it but then I find myself still doing it…. I have nothing to hold against my MIL except that she is not my incredible mother!

    • JB says...

      So tough, and probably even tougher to navigate with grandchildren involved, MB. It’s something I worry about with future kids because the resentment is REAL! (Having a baby without my mom nearby…heartbreak) Glad to know I’m not alone in that :)

    • Rosalie says...

      Oh my gosh…I could have written this myself! I’m also an only child who has always been close with my mother. I’ve lived abroad for over 10 years now and have two children. My husband’s parents live nearby and I do feel some resentment toward my in-laws, who are so blasé about getting to spend so much time with the kids. It’s especially difficult knowing that my parents would give their right legs to spend even a little bit of time with their only grandchildren.

      I miss my parents so much everyday, and I’m almost 40!

  41. Karen says...

    Sadly, my parents are missing the “empathy gene” and thus we are not close. Sure, I see my parents frequently – but it’s all tied to family gatherings (I have two little girls, my sister has three young boys) or when I need something (my dad’s coming over next weekend to hang a curtain rod). I never spend time with my mom one-on-one. My sister still tries to cultivate a relationship with our mom, and she’s constantly let-down: my sister recently cut her hair – it was long for 27 years, and she cut 8″ off – our mom DID NOT NOTICE!

    Two verbal gems from my mom:
    1.) When my sister was pregnant with her first baby (my parents’ first future grandchild): “I like kids the most when they’re about 8 years old.”

    2.) About 6 months ago, at a dinner table (to me): “The best part of being a parent is when your kids turn 18 and leave the house…..b/c you know you’ve done a good job raising them.” Um yeah, say that to anyone EXCEPT your own kid!

    Harsh, harsh….utter lack of empathy. I will die if my two girls feel this way about me…..

    • Bean says...

      “Harsh, harsh….utter lack of empathy. I will die if my two girls feel this way about me…..”

      I feel this way, too,

    • SRK says...

      I’ve spent roughly one gazillion dollars on therapy to deal w similar things. I’m sure you know but wanted to confirm – this is narcissistic behavior that usually just sadly means your mom never had what she needed from her own parents. It’s not about you. The most frustrating thing for me is the lack of self awareness – but I’ve learned to try to move on. My mom just refuses to be vulnerable. I try to focus on feeling lucky that I was able to break the cycle, and support a good enough relationship between my kids and her – sounds like you’re succeeding at that as well! I’m also so greatful to have siblings to commiserate with!!

    • Julie says...

      Sister chiming in…it was 10″ off my long hair and yup, I cannot believe she didn’t notice such a major change! And the first born grand child is now 8, the magical age she mentioned when I was newly pregnant and she still barely sees the kid, so there ya go.

  42. Meg says...

    I wish we were buds. My mom is not have close chummy relations with anyone.

    I am a mom now if school aged kids. I hope whatever I am doing leads to lasting & close relations with my boys. Any tips?

    • Linsey says...

      Be honest. Be kind. Treat them like individual people. Don’t be a hypocrite.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Love them, listen to them, take their joys and fears seriously. I’m sure you are a wonderful mom! Even just asking the question makes you a wonderful mom. :)

    • Maria says...

      I would love a post on this with concrete suggestions. The one I focus on is to make sure I apologize when I’m wrong or when I am short with my kids. We had a stressful car trip the other day where between bad traffic and demanding kids, I was cranky and it showed. After we were home, I made a point of apologizing to my kid – trying to explain why I was cranky without excusing it, and to tell my child that it was not fair to him and that I would try to be calmer in the future. It’s a good way for me to say (quite expressly) “I’m trying my best, but sometimes this adulting thing is hard, but even when my best isn’t ideal I still love you so much.”

    • Bea says...

      I think its a lovely sentiment that you can have concrete tips to parent young children in a way that leads to adult parent-child relationships, but I also find it unrealistic. Of course being thoughtful loving parents can lead to a thoughtful loving relationship, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be friends. People change throughout life (parents and their children) and become individual adults that may or may not have friendship-things in common. My mom was all the wonderful things mentioned here–caring, loving, supportive, etc– and we were very close growing up and in my twenties. We had the relationship Stella describes in this post, and my friends were envious. But as time has moved on, I’ve carved my own identity in my thirties (including basic world views of what’s right and wrong being so wildly different it can be hard to relate on common things) and her personality has changed a lot following the death of my dad/her husband. We’re all fluid people, and we can do the best we can, but you can’t force friendships, even with your parents/children.

  43. You’ve put into words what I’ve been feeling. Our relationship had some massive boulders in it, but leaving home was the best thing that happened to it. Now I love going home and sitting at the kitchen table chatting about what we’ve been reading, as my mom tries to feed me everything in her fridge.

  44. Lauren says...

    Shew this was hard to read. After lots of work, and lots of therapy on my part, I have a (barely) cordial relationship with my mom. I’m pretty sure she has a narcissistic/borderline personality. It’s a tricky situation to navigate, and not get pulled back into the damage of my childhood.
    I try and be as kind as the situation allows, but have had to put some serious boundaries in place, and cut down on contact with her.
    This is sad for me daily, as my husband and I raise our little girl.
    Im lucky to have a lovely mom-in-law but wow! Imagine having a mom you could go to when you needed help.
    The one thing I take from this is how thoughtfully I am trying to parent our daughter – something that may not have happened if I hadn’t experienced what I have with my own mother.
    Sending love to all the other daughters out there who need it x

    • Tara says...

      Lauren, are we long lost sisters?! I could have written this exact comment! It’s a constant battle of wanting her to just be a mom and the distance you have to implement in order to stay sane. There have to be boundaries because of the lies and constant deceptive behavior. My grandfather always said, “why lie when the truth will do?” And that is my mother – lying for no reason other than to manipulate. Equally frustrating is the game she plays to try and pit me and my sister against each other, I’m guessing so that we’ll run to her with our problems and secrets, instead of each other. I second your sentiment, “wow! imagine having a mom you could go to when you needed help.” I’ve said this to myself many times.
      I do not have any children (yet) but completely fear having a daughter because of the difficult relationship I had and continue to have with my mother. I love your perspective on “thoughtfully parenting” your daughter and I’m hoping that I will eventually look at it this way when and if the time comes.

  45. C. says...

    Sad to say, my mom is not trying her best. She is making life choices which I don’t agree with, like cutting her relationships with her siblings and my in-laws just because “she turned a page of her life”.
    I have always thought that if she wasn’t my mother, I would never become friend with her because our personalities don’t match. But what do people say? You can choose your friends but not your relatives.

  46. Alex says...

    It has been wonderful to see my husband’s friendship with my parents change and grow. The relationship with his own parents has been strained by his mum’s mental illness and his dad’s expectations and emotional disconnect. With my parents he can be vulnerable and affectionate. The other day I heard him say “I love you too, night.” to someone on the phone. It was my dad. Apparently this has been going on for awhile.

    • Olivia says...

      This broke my heart for the best reasons. Your husband is very lucky! I feel the same way about my in-laws and treasure those relationships.

  47. Jessica says...

    I really enjoy this post! It’s so well described. I had the luck of being very close to my mom since I was a teenager, I lost her when I was 22 and i still miss our late night talks. She was the greater friend I could have and i’m pretty sure that our relationship would have been better and better in time.

  48. Katherine says...

    One of my friends has a great relationship with her parents and her sister. They are very supportive of her, proud of her and help with her children. I am a bit envious.

    However, when I look at my friends in general, she is the exception. One of them, her mother has never told her who her real father is and her supportive stepdad died when she was in her 20s. Another is an orphan whose parents both died of cancer when she was in her teens, and she does not speak to her sister. Another has a lovely sister, but parents who do not understand her and whose ways of life are alien to each other.

    There is a tendency to feel that everyone else has a great relationship with their parents if yours is hard, but actually I think a great relationship-and particularly great friendship-with your parents is more uncommon than common. It involves both sides accepting that the child is now an adult and transitioning that relationship across involves love and effort.

    • Jackie says...

      This made me feel a lot better. Mother’s Day is tough because of all the social media aggrandizing of mothers. My father has become a real disappointment, too. I’m sorry that so many of us are in this position, with difficult parents we are not close to, but it’s helpful to remember that we are not alone.

  49. Loribeth says...

    I almost lost both of my parents within a two year time span (cancer, severe heart attack) that also coincided with me moving across the country. Navigating the realization of their mortality, even though they’re only in their early 60s, has been really hard. They have a tendency to be overbearing and rigid people, so moving across the country got them out of the details of my everyday life which helped a lot. Now I definitely appreciate them and enjoy my time talking with them a few days a week, but I also feel like I’ve abandoned them. There’s a little bit of guilt there and they definitely don’t let me forget it haha. When I visit home, it does feel like they’re my friends now, just ones who you can’t share everything with maybe.

  50. Laura says...

    My sister and I often joke that our parents are at the bottom of the scale of “good parents” – they fed us, cleaned us, housed us, educated us and gave us siblings we adore – and they never slipped off the scale to “bad parents” – but they were not particularly interested in our lives and were never there emotionally for us at all. I guess that’s part of the trials of having a large family and a small income so I try not to judge them, but we’ll never really be friends.
    Now that they have the time and energy though, they’re very good grandparents to my kids.

  51. Teresa says...

    I really enjoyed reading the comments on this post. Such a complicated topic. I am definitely not best friends with my parents. But we are close, I guess. It’s such a strange bond.

    They raised us to be very stoic and that led to a relationship where we don’t share anything that make us feel vulnerable, so everything feels superficial. Luckilly I am very close with my brother but there is just so much of our personalities that our parents are missing. Sometimes when they are talking about my brother with me I wonder if it is even the same person. We were raised for sucess and success is what we give them, everything else (and it is so much) we keep from them.

    On the other hand, they always accepted our choices, they raised us to be very independent and growing up that was great.

    I try to do better with my kids. They are very close with each other and I am very happy about that but I hope they can feel the same unconditional support and acceptance with me.

  52. Anna says...

    I am a teacher… it’s kind of bizarre meeting pupils in the grocery store… i never know what to say… ;-D

    • virginia says...

      How about a genuine “hello” and perhaps, “how is your (insert time of day here)?”

  53. M says...

    My relationship with my parents varies between the two. I’m one of the lucky ones to have a great relationship with my Mom. I consult her on all my big decisions, but she raised me to be independent enough to make my own choices. We travel together whenever we get the chance, and take care of each other instead of the typical parent-child dynamic.

    I’m close with my Dad, but not in the same way. In the last few years we were approaching that type of friendship, but challenges in his health have made it harder to connect (failed kidney transplant resulting in dialysis again, and a double amputation due to infection among other problems). I want to have that friendship but he’s in the elderly stages of his life, as others have alluded to, which makes it that much harder to find common ground.

    One aspect that hasn’t been touched on is how your relationship with your parents, mother especially, can affect your other friendships. My closest childhood friend and I no longer speak because of her difficult past with her mother (we were mother-daughter best friend pairs). She resents my “perfect” childhood and that I’m still in contact with her mother due to my own Mom’s relationship with her. It’s sad enough to not have contact with your parent, but to let it ruin other relationships because of refusal to let the past go is another kind of misery.

  54. Jeanelle says...

    “one of my greatest experiences has been to finally appreciate my parents for who they’ve always been — two people trying their best.” –> this line made me tear up.

    I have always had a pretty good relationship with my parents but it stemmed from respect that only fostered into a true “friendship” when I graduated from grad school, 8 years ago. They were strict, and it felt like a shift in our relationship where my parents breathed a sigh of relief and felt now I could handle the world. (As immigrant parents, they held education in the highest regard.) This has only evolved 10000 fold since I became a mom to our new baby girl, Elena. I mailed my own mom a card where I wrote “I finally get it now… Thank you for everything.”

  55. Lorraine says...

    This is such a sweet post, Stella! It was definitely a little baffling when my relationship with my parents changed in my adulthood, first in my 20s but also more recently when I became a mother. One very interesting thing that I realized is that my Dad is such a little boy at heart. Naive at times, irrationally stubborn at times just like my 4-year-old. It first clicked when I was 23, and at a family reunion in the Philippines. My dad always looked up to his oldest brother, Nick. I don’t know my relatives all that well since we are so far away. But as my Uncle Nick lit up a cigarette he quickly put it out and whispered to me “If your father sees me smoking, he will want a cigarette too.” I then noticed that my dad’s quirky fashion sense is absolutely based on Nick’s. My dad is this little boy who just wants to be like his big brother. I think since then it has slowly sunken in that my dad has really just tried his best, and the stern Asian dad he was in my childhood was kind of this little boy trying to make sense of fatherhood in a new country.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Oh my goodness, Lorraine. Tearing up at my desk. You sound like such a wonderful daughter. Love your kind insight. “…Was kind of this little boy trying to make sense of fatherhood in a new country.” — Beautiful.

  56. Simona Morachioli says...

    Such a beautiful piece. well done!

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Thank you so much, Simona. That means a lot. xo

  57. Laura C. says...

    It gets worse with my mum. We don’t understand each other and I have always felt that she didn’t love me. My siblings don’t have the same feeling though. It’s a very bad thing in my life, I don’t have a real good relationship with my mother. I think that she could go to a therapist because of her light depression, as I am going, but she does not want to.
    Well, that’s life.

  58. Shari says...

    I’ve always been extremely close to my parents. My dad is an awesome husband to my mum and I’ve married an equally good guy. It’s helped knowing ‘how’ to be married even when it’s hard. My mum is a rock star. When I was struggling with my first baby as a newborn, she flew to where we were living, slept on the couch for more than a week and got up with me in the middle of the night, made cups of tea and helped me get the breastfeeding going. Extended family relationships are worth the effort to maintain if possible . I hope to do the same one day for my sons.

    • Shari, I just want to say how touching I think it is that your mom came to stay with you and got up with you in the middle of the night when you had a newborn. This made me tear up. What a wonderful way to love and support you. Reading all of the comments on this post is alternately heartwarming and heartbreaking.

  59. Alice says...

    I am SO close to my mum, and we’re definitely friends. She and I are actually going on holiday together tomorrow! We live hours apart and don’t get to see each other as much as we’d like, so every year we book a sunny holiday together in September. It’s my favourite tradition, and we’ve already decided that we’re going to go to NYC together when I turn 30 in three years!

    My dad and I have a special bond too. I’m his middle child, and middle daughter, and I know he’s proud of me for how well I’m doing with my career. He’s an amazing career man, and whenever he comes to London for work, we go for dinner and chat about everything- but recently, I’ve started asking him for work advice when I’m stuck, stressed, or just can’t see a way out of a tricky situation. He gives SUCH wise, sage advice, and all of it works a treat. I phoned him, nearly in tears, on Tuesday morning after a difficult start to the day, and he just went “okay, have you thought about this, this, this, and this? Who can you escalate to?” etc etc, and it all worked WONDERS.

    I think my favourite part of growing up/ becoming a functioning human adult has actually been seeing my parents as PEOPLE, rather than just mum and dad. It’s lovely :) (and even better when you’re hungover and they start telling you stories of their worst hangovers!!!)

  60. jess says...

    Sheesh,my parents are very complex and unfortunately it has affected my relationship with them. My dad left my mom for another woman when I was 18. My mother committed suicide when I was 23. I had a happy childhood for (the most part) and felt very loved, but then the shit hit the fan. So here I am, 32, with one parent who is largely out of touch with me and who I am. He is a wonderful man but very flawed and from a different generation to me (very old school, white South African from a boys’ boarding school background) so in many ways we are quite foreign to each other. We live on other sides of the country and rarely spend quality one-on-one time together, so I don’t really know how to remedy the problem.

  61. Annie says...

    For those of us who are grieving the impossibility to have a safe, sane and equal relationship with parents, I just wanted to say – it’s not your fault. Any relationship takes two parties involved – you cannot blame yourself if the other party is unwilling or incapable of the effort it takes to make things work… It’s hard to accept, but there it is.

    Someone was mentioning in the comments that it would be great to have a positive spin on the other side of the story – I have found that reparenting myself has helped a lot, and made me feel more complete. Learning to give yourself the care and respect that lacked in early life is both a challenge and a way to heal.

    • Jackie says...

      Great post. It would be great to have a featured CoJ post on reparenting (by ourselves and/or with the help of therapists).

  62. Riley says...

    I, too, join the chorus of nos. So lovely to read about late-night snacking with your mom, Stella, but also my heart aches. My mom passed away 2 years ago, but even before that was so lost in her addiction to alcohol that we were never able to have anything close to a friendship. I really can’t even imagine that type of ease and intimacy you’re describing. It sounds wonderful.

    The most comforting thing I’ve found that I can do with my mom-grief is to think about the type of mom I hope to be one day. I bet it’ll be such a treat to watch my kids grow into adults with apartments and careers and heartaches of their own. I imagine that night was very special for your mom as well. <3

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Thank you so much for writing and sharing, Riley. You sound so insightful, loving and wise. You make such a wonderful mother. Thinking of you. xoxoxox

  63. Andrea says...

    My parents both had very unlucky accidents a little over a year apart. They have always been crazy active, and outdoorsy, raising my skiing, camping, hiking and rafting. It was a shock to take care of them, I even ended up moving home for awhile and it was a glimpse of the future- prematurely. Luckily, they both lived to tell about their crazy experiences and now I easily call them my friends as we had many night nights binge watching TV, eatting whole food sushi and getting comfortable with the idea that I’m not just their youngest daughter anymore.

  64. Julie says...

    The longer I was in college the more I missed my parents and didn’t live near them for some time after college. Since then, I’ve been making up for lost time. I see them at least once a week. After I moved home, my grandpa had died and my grandma needed to be moved to assisted living. My mom and I spent 12 Sundays in a row cleaning out my grandparents house and I think that helped us connect even more. Becoming friends with my parents has been the best part of growing up.

  65. Stella this was really great writing. I really enjoyed reading this piece.

    Parent/child relationships all come with their own baggage don’t they? My mother thinks she’s my ‘best friend’, but then our adult relationship has always sort of been about her (apparently childhood me used up my turn).

    My relationship with my mother’s mother however was one of the greatest relationships of my life. My grandmother understood me as an adult, and I her, in such a significant way, it helped to balance out the scales.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Thank you so much for the kind support, Adrienne. Means so much. Your comment is so interesting and perceptive. Love hearing that about your grandmother. What an incredible bond. xoxoxo

  66. Theresa says...

    I’m 45 and my parents are in their early 70’s. I’m an only child and I am my parents sole focus, although they divorced when I was 7. I have a complicated relationship with both of them. Close, but different. I often feel like I let my mother down, especially recently when my husband and I decided to move farther away to raise our daughter in a small, coastal town and she does not approve. Her only granddaughter is now much farther. I feel like I am guarded a lot with my Mom, so can’t really be myself all the time, since at some point I’ll dissapoint her. Shitty feeling, but it’s complicated. I’m close to my Dad, but we’ve also had our ups and downs. With all that said, I honestly don’t know what I’ll do when they are no longer here. It will be hard. Complicated relationships, but they are my biggest supporters and love me so much and I, them.

  67. Kelly says...

    I wish :/

    • Simone says...

      Same ?

  68. Maggie says...

    Omg, this +1,000,000!!
    When you see them as real people and likewise they can see you as separate the world cracks open. Just wait until you have kids! My boys are 9 and 5 and i think i spent the past 8 years apologizing. I still just drop by to see what they’re up to. Its a great gift of life if you’re lucky enough to experience it.

  69. Jodi says...

    Haha, I used to be a teacher & whenever I bumped into students outside of school they would FREEZE and become the shyest kid ever! Even the chattiest ones!

    I have to say I am surprised & weirdly heartened to see how many others do not share close relationships with their moms. My mom estranged herself from the entire family bit by bit, including her parents, brother and finally my sister and I about 4 years ago. I often feel alone in my situation, and I used to even feel at fault. Realizing that there are others out there making their way without their mom as a foundation in life makes me feel much less alone or odd. It really felt like having the rug pulled out from under me. After a year or so with a great counselor, learning to take SUCH good care of myself & embracing all the other wonderful women in my life, I am mostly at peace with the situation.

    • Brittany says...

      I have never read a comment on the internet that resonates so much with me

    • Jodi says...

      It feels good to know we’re not alone, Brittany. I hope you’ve also found ways to love & care for yourself ?

  70. I’ve always been very close with my parents but now at 28, we are closer than ever. After four years of living in Southern California I am moving back to Boston and my parents are coming with me on a two-week road trip back East. I can’t imagine anyone I could or would want to travel with for two weeks in a car.

  71. Tiana says...

    This is difficult to read. My mom and I had a good relationship when I moved out and went to college, but now, 10 years later, I feel like she’s so disappointed in me and it hurts. She wishes I had pursued PhD; I opted for not doing so because I figured I didn’t want a career in academia. She wishes I had a good job, which I don’t, and a boyfriend. I actually have a girlfriend and I keep it a secret (as if it was easy navigating falling in love with a girl for the first time and building a relationship!) – because I’m scared she will add it to the list of things that I do wrong, or say I’m unable to find someone (=a man) to love me. That totally sounds like something she would say. She criticizes my every move and I’ve grown to be so scared of her and her opinion, and I wish I just realized I need to live my life and make my choices for me, not for my mom. But it’s hard.
    As for my dad, we’ve never actually had a meaningful relationship, but the past few months we somehow grew closer and it means so much to me.

    To put this in writing is… strange. I read these sentences and I know if I read them written by anyone else, I would think that the person needs to learn to shake it off. I would tell it to her, I would say there’s nothing wrong about her and she needn’t feel like a failure just because (she thinks that) her mother sees her so. I know that on the rational level. On the emotional though… impossible.

    • Alexandra says...

      I can relate to you and guarantee you’re not alone. Mother-daughter relationships are so complicated and few people talk about it. I have similar problems with my mom, her expectations and her making me feel like I’m never enough.

      I’ve tried talking to her about it several times but she’s always the victim. I decided to take a break from a relationship that has resulted in me not loving myself. It’s been two years now and while it has not been easy, I realize that feeling good about myself is more important at the moment.

    • Pamela says...

      Please don’t feel alone. I could have been you, word for word, some years ago. Ultimately, I decided to cut the cord and it was/is drastic but I’ve been happier and more at peace than I have ever been. Not advocating for you to do the same (!!) but sharing my story and hoping you find comfort in a stranger’s once-similar plight.

    • Nic says...

      Yes… same here. I read this article with wistfulness. A year after my wedding, my mother suddenly brought up something which she was silently unhappy about the whole time which led to a huge blow up and silent treatment from her for 2 months. And during my pregnancy which ended in a miscarriage, she was upset that I had not told her about the baby first (she was a close second, we had told my parents-in-law first as they had picked us up from the airport.) When the miscarriage happened, she didn’t say anything for 2 weeks, which really really tore me apart because I needed so much comfort then, and when she eventually got around to talking to me, she had decided that the miscarriage was my fault. It’s been a really hard journey and even now our relationship is alright, with my baby daughter being a topic of discussion for us. But I read these mother-daughter articles on CupofJo fondly and really yearn for something like that with my mum.

      On the other hand, I’m also sometimes terrified that I would do the same to my baby girl and I try my utmost best to let her know I love her. I tell her about 20 million times a day and I will do that for as long as I live.

    • J says...

      Tiana, I could have wrote a very similar comment myself. My mother is so painfully critical and manipulative that I feel deep anxiety and stress whenever I know I have to be in her company. Everything is game for her…education (even though it was decades ago!), my looks, my weight, my makeup, my family, anything under the sun. I learned that my mom has textbook borderline personality disorder. Her motives are driven by this deep insecurity and uncontrollable need to hugely impress those around her…hence all the criticisms. Please take a look at the behavior symptoms for this issue (as well as it’s sister disorder, narcissistic personality disorder) to see if it applies. While it won’t stop her actions, you may feel comfort in understanding where it’s coming from and determine if you need to build some space from her toxic behavior. Ethernet hugs to you.

    • I can relate as well. My relationship with my mother has never been good and I feel that her expectations of me (and as a result noted failures) have always been at the heart of the conflict. She was a very successful doctor (now retired) and I am a writer. She always makes snide comments about how successful my peers are and it will always sting no matter how much I pretend not to care. The best thing I can do now is to distance myself from her and enjoy the life that I’ve created on my own and feel so lucky to have.

    • Janet says...

      Tina, Alexandra – I’m in the same boat. My birth mother and I ‘parted ways’ many years ago and although I wish we were able to have the kind of relationship described in this post we quite simply aren’t.

      It’s better for my mental health that we’re not in touch right now. I’m open to that changing some day but I’m also prepared to put myself first and that’s okay too.

    • Sara says...

      I just read your post and have zero desire to tell you to shake it off. Family relationships are so complicated, and the relationship with your very own mother is the most complicated of them all. It feels like it informs every fiber of your being, and navigating a relationship that isn’t what society considers to be “the norm” feels like travelling alone in stormy uncharted waters.
      All I would say is that it sounds like your on your path to making peace with it, and I think you should be exceedingly kind and loving to yourself. You’re doing the best you can, and you deserve kindness. Good luck to you, Tiana. And much virtual love and hugs from me.

    • Laura says...

      Hi! My husband is in his sixth year of his PhD. It’s been an extremely difficult road for both of us to navigate. We know we won’t be able to see if it was worth it until he finishes and we get to see the benefits….but I can say that if it’s not something you really wanted you made the right choice to choose another path! Maybe you already know that but I thought it might be good to hear it from someone else. Sending encouragement :)

    • Tiana says...

      A big thank you to all the women who commented here and sent me warm thoughts. I might have worded it poorly, I don’t have a desire to shake off my relationship with my mother, just what she says, and not let it get to me. Thank you again, your encouragement means to me more than you can imagine.

  72. Lily says...

    Love this story! I became friends with my parents after they divorced. Then I saw them as fellow humans, and now we talk about dating! It has been a funny complicated mostly great thing.

  73. kim says...

    Nope. Another strained relationship here with lots of issues.

  74. Tara says...

    Sometimes I think about my parents getting older (they are almost 70) and I think how will I survive? They are my biggest cheerleaders. I’ve had a really awful summer with a miscarriage and my husband just left me out of the blue. My parents are there, always. There is something to be said about have a “home” in life with those that love you regardless of life’s messiness. It’s also a privilege. My dad is an extreme couponer and his weekly coupons keep me going. I really am the luckiest girl even at 31.

    • Christi says...

      That sounds so rough- so much all at once. You are enough. Sending love and warm thoughts your way, dear one.

    • Loribeth says...

      I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. Here’s hoping for brighter things for you <3

    • Cyn says...

      You will be ok without them because of who they are now. Strong people beget strong people. I lost my “biggest cheerleaders” in 2006 and 2009. I will always be grateful for the strength of character they gave me and the love. Passing it on to my grown boys.

  75. Sara says...

    Unfortunately, I have to join the no group as well. My mother left us and my fatheris … hard to relate to. BUT the whole situation makes me excited to have some super cool in-laws some day!

    • Pamela says...

      Oh my goodness I hope you do too! My own family situation … um, it’s a long story; we can leave it at that. But my mother-in-law! Lucked out big time! Can’t imagine my life without her beautiful presence. So cross those fingers!!!

    • Laura says...

      Sadly, it’s not the same. I love my husband’s family, they would do anything for us and having a child brought me even closer to them. But there is this whole dynamic, all these years you weren’t there and you know nothing about that doesn’t really allow you to be part of these kinda intimate moments. And still, after nearly 9 years, there is always the thought that maybe one day the relationship couldn’t work anymore. And on this day, even in a politely manner, the in laws are more likely to be on my husbands side (it seems dumb and basic saying this, but having no ‘normal’ family on my own, this seems to be what a normal family would do : support their own child first). And people like us, with bad relationships or no parents at all, are kind of lonely. And that what’s scares me the most.

    • Tricia says...

      I really hope you do as well! Unfortunately my mother-in-law really disliked me, which made me sad. When I realized that it was because I wasn’t easily manipulated I felt less sad about it.

      My own parents don’t really have my back either. Early on in our marriage my dad pulled my husband aside and told him how important it was that the husband in a marriage make more money than his wife. Thanks dad! Good thing we weren’t close to begin with or I may have been devastated. My mom told me at 18 that she’d wished I’d never been born. I was a quiet kid who always got good grades. I had all honors classes at a very competitive high school. It took me a really long time to figure out that the problem wasn’t me. My husband and daughter are truly the greatest people I have ever known. We make a great little team and I’m so very grateful for it. Best of luck to you :)

    • Sara says...

      Thanks for the replies… Love our little CoJ community!

  76. This made my heart ache a little. I so long to be friends with my mom. She was older when I was born (39…and now she’s 67) and now we have very little in common. Sometimes she feels like my grandmother instead of my mom because she doesn’t take care of herself. She doesn’t understand the things I love (e.g., a good rose, hiking, excellent coffee, visiting new cities, running) and doesn’t seem to want to understand. I try so hard to relate to her but between her ongoing struggle with depression and bipolar disorder, she seems to stay stuck. And nothing we do can pull her out of it. I’ve finally had to move on and invest in my relationship with my older sister. I wish I could make my mom better. What a gift that your mom wants a close relationship with you and attempts to meet you where you are. She sounds like such a wonderful mama! :)

  77. Yaya says...

    I’ve had a strained relationship to my mother because of my father and his abusive nature. Now they are no longer together but my childhood still affects the relationship I have to my mom. Now that Im 30 and getting closer to having kids, i want to do everything I can to have a strong relationship to my future kids, like many of the commentators have. Would be lovely to hear their advice. What have their parents done/not done to help foster a great relationship to their kids?

    • Jasna says...

      Yaya, you sound like a wonderful woman and I am sure you will be a great mom! I have awesome relationship with my parents and one of the most important things for me personally was the fact that the atmosphere at home was always warm and I felt safe and loved. Also, they never crticized. If they thought I should do something else, instead of saying “don’t do this or that” they would say “hey, check this out, maybe you would love to try this”. It is also important to let kids know, especially teens, that they can count on you, no matter what. I remember that I was always comfortable calling them at 3 o’clock in the morning (if I didn’t catch the bus for some reason) to come pick me up and still remember my dad always coming with the biggest smile, like it was his pleasure to come and no big deal. Now that I am a parent myself, I can see what a sacrifice it was. And yes, I am repeating their parenting ways with my kids and look forward to my kids calling me to pick them up :-)

    • Kate says...

      Hi,

      My situation is very similar and now I’m a mother of three kids!
      Just wanted to comment and say, even though you maybe haven’t had the best example you know what mistakes NOT to make.
      Because I know how damaging some things are, I’m trying my super best to parent my children in a way that is positive and safe.
      And lots of cuddles and listening and positive support.
      Giving attention to the children separately. Lots of floor play and reading and doing crazy spontaneous things,
      Seeing and encouraging their characters instead of pushing them into this mold of how I want them to be.
      This sounds so complicated but true my children I’ve realized I’m nothing like my parents. Your past isn’t all that defines you.
      Take care!
      Kate

    • Yaya, I just wanted to say that I’m sorry for the pain you have from your childhood. While I wasn’t abused as a child, I did want to make my relationship with my kids much stronger, warmer, and more open than the one I had with my parents growing up. Here are some things I did and do to try to have a good relationship with my kids (who are now teenagers).

      My parents had a punitive, adversarial approach to discipline. I chose to approach it very differently. I saw myself as a teacher and partner with my children in their growth. I needed to teach them about kindness, good behavior, societal norms, good manners, etc. They were still growing and learning, and my job was to support and encourage that growth. There were times when I had to enforce boundaries and it was less than pleasant, but for the most part it was about communicating expectations, modeling values, and nurturing their abilities to be their best selves.

      The second thing I wanted to do was keep communication open. I wanted my kids to feel as if they could talk to me about anything, even if that thing was how something I did made them angry or sad. I wanted them to be able to express emotions without judgment. When I was growing up there were things that happened in a cyclical pattern in our family that were painful and frustrating, but we didn’t talk about it or do anything to change it. I did not want my kids to live that way. All parents make mistakes. Sometimes I don’t handle things well. Occasionally, I lose it and yell or say things that are hurtful, and I feel absolutely awful. In those times, I apologize. I admit that I was wrong. I acknowledge that I should have handled things differently. And I ask for forgiveness. I’ve found that this empowers my children. They know that expectations for respect and kindness are for everyone, adults and kids alike. It has been an amazing way to keep our relationship open, but also to teach them that they are valuable and worthy of respect. They expect others (teachers, friends, significant others) to treat them with respect. I love this so much!

      I want to be my kids’ biggest supporter (along with their dad). They know that if they have a problem at school, with friends, etc., they can come to us to talk about it, and we will listen with empathy. Kids can learn resilience and handle a lot more in life if they know they have someone who unconditionally supports them and they have someone to talk to about problems.

      This is getting so long, so the last thing I would say is that I tried to help them find interests and passions in life, and to support their pursuits. When they were young I tried to give them a lot of different experiences and let them explore interests (music, art, sports, hobbies, etc.). Of course I was excited to share with them things that I love (e.g. classical music, art museums, literature), but I also tried to expose them to a variety of things and to allow them to pursue what they love. I’m trying really hard to let them be the people they are. I think a lot of times parents want their kids to follow the same path they did, or they want to live vicariously through their kids and have them accomplish all of their own unfulfilled dreams. I try not to do this. I’ve learned so much about the world from them because they do have unique interests and ideas.

      I don’t know if any of this has been helpful, but I wish you peace and healing, and the hope that you can make your parenting different from the way you were parented and have a good relationship with your kids.

    • Mags says...

      This!! As a mother who is not close to her mother, how do I try to maintain a relationship with my children as they grow. It feels so impossible since I don’t have it myself (but I do hear it exists) — often when I hug my kids (ages 1 and 4) I think this will only last for a few more sweet years.

  78. Jo says...

    I believe having a warm friendship with your parents is the result of how they parented all those years growing up. My goal is to provide a warm, secure family for my two children. Since I didn’t have that myself growing up I’d love to hear details from readers who did. What did your parents do (big and small) that forged such a wonderful relationship that you can be friends with them now? Thank you’

    • Jess says...

      Yes! Ditto! I desperately want my twins to be friends with me and my husband when they grow up. I’m terrified we’ll end up repeating the strained relationship with my parents.

    • KylieO says...

      I’m the eldest of four, and very close to all my siblings and my parents, even more so now we’re all adults. I guess what my parents did really well was push the idea that our family was a team – it was ok to fight, but we had to forgive; we holidayed & travelled together; ate dinner every night at the table & discussed our days, even as teenagers; no topic was taboo and we could ask questions; we had to have each other’s backs, always, and they’d have ours, but they would also be very honest – when we were acting like jerks, they’d tell us. They were open about their own relationship and never pretended they were perfect; they apologised when they messed up, so I guess we always saw them as “real people” right from the start. All of this is what I hope to give my own children as they grow.

    • Bec Barnett says...

      I always felt loved by my parents, through their divorce, step families and my Dad’s move overseas when I was 12 I have never doubted their love for me. They’re not perfect and there were rough patches in the teen years but we nearly always sat at the table to eat as a family, our opinions were encouraged and accepted, my independence was allowed. But it does help that we didn’t have personality clashes which can damage parent-child relationships. Good luck,
      I’m sure you’ll do great :)

    • Alexa says...

      I second this!

    • Allison says...

      i feel more of a sense of friendship with my dad than i do my mom, but both were wonderful parents in their own ways. i think the one thing that sticks out about how my dad parented differently than my mom is that he never made it about him. my mom had some mental health issues that likely influenced her parenting and caused her to project her own mistakes/regrets onto me & my sister. she would often seek affirmation that she was a good mother, or compare herself to other moms or be critical of how they mothered .. whereas my dad just made it about us (my sister and i) and never about how *he* was as a dad. i have a very innate trust in him that he will be there no matter what.

  79. Anna says...

    I’m lucky to say that my mom is my best friend. We bond over our shopping trips and shared love of Hallmark movies :) I go to college out-of-state and make a point of calling or texting her every day to stay in touch. I always took our relationship for granted until I saw other friends who fought with their moms, lost their moms, or came from difficult families. I feel blessed to have a mom who was a parent to me first as a child so that she could become my beat friend later.

  80. Catherine says...

    I deeply wish I could’ve had the opportunity to become adult friends with my sweet mother. Unfortunately, she took her own life when I was 18 years old and in my first year of college. I was oblivious to the extent of her depression, as she always showered me with love and support while shielding me from her sadness and hopelessness. It has been 16 years since her passing and, as I await the arrival of my second baby, I yearn to have my mom by my side. I only hope that throughout my journey as a mother, that my children feel my love for them, just as I always felt it from my mother.

    • Gabrielle says...

      I’m so sorry for your loss. xo

    • Becky says...

      I’m so sorry for your loss, Catherine. Your mom sounds like she was a wonderful person who loved you deeply. The compassionate way in which you discuss your mother’s death makes me feel sure that your children will always feel adored by you.

  81. Lynn says...

    I am on the later side of 50 and my parents are 78 and 80. They have been married 58 years, they are truly amazing people. My dad hikes or goes to the Y daily. My mom plays water volleyball and loves bus trips to the casinos! Growing up, it was the ’70’s and we didn’t have much money, but we belonged to the Y, my brother and I always got to go to summer camp, we had what we needed, and often what we wanted. As I went thru my teens my mom was my best friend, after I hit my 20’s I neglected that friendship. I can say my mom kind of made me nuts for many years…but a major health scare several years ago brought everything into perspective. We don’t have all the time we think we do. Cherish your parental relationships! I love how you said “they did the best they could”…so very true. I spent a lot of years blaming them for my mistakes. They were just 2 people who married very young, and did the best they could. And I love them dearly. I talk to my mom almost every day, dad not as often. My day often feels incomplete if I don’t check in with them!

  82. Diana says...

    I had a spring break trip to Portugal planned with a friend, and 2 hours before we were supposed to leave for the airport, my friend had to be rushed to the hospital to have her gallbladder removed! None of my other friends could come on the trip so last minute, and as I was on the phone with my parents debating whether I should go solo or not, my mom suggested using her airline miles and meeting me there the next day. She ended up staying the whole week and we had the BEST time in Lisbon. I’d love to make it a tradition… we were the best travel partners and had a blast! I feel so lucky to call my parents my best friends… I actually tear up thinking about it!

    • Diana, I love this story! My daughter is a teenager now, and we had the best trip to NYC last year, just the two of us. It is a memory I will treasure forever. This gives me hope that maybe when she is an adult, she will still want to travel with me. She is a very fun, warm, lovely person, so naturally she has a lot of friends, but this kind of story gives me hope that she will still want to spend time with her mom, even when she is grown and doesn’t have to. Thanks for sharing.

  83. bisbee says...

    Of course you become friends with your parents! It is definitely affected by your relationship with them growing up, but I think it is more unusual NOT to be friends with them once you reach a level of maturity and separation.

    My children are fast approaching middle-age (39 and 42), and we are great friends. It’s a natural progression of a good parent-child relationship…the next step.

  84. Chelsi says...

    When I read this I didn’t think of my own parents, but of my five year old daughter. Everyday I think, please stay little forever. But then she grows and says things like, “Dad this isn’t Katy Perry. It’s Adele like a-dell-pickle.” And I love and cherish her even more. It’s bittersweet to think of her realizing we don’t have it all figured out but hopefully someday she’ll think of us the way you do about your own parents Stella, trying our best. Beautifully written.

  85. C. D. Santos says...

    Well, my father always worked out of town and never talked to me except to give me orders so he was always a complete stranger to me; now he has retired but I moved out to a different city years ago and since he can’t give me orders anymore there’s little to say I suppose. My mother on the other hand has explicitly told me several times through my life that she will never be my friend, because she is MY MOTHER (as in mutually exclusive categories). I do call them regularly to fulfill my role of “good daughter”, but we only talk about things to be done or how things should be. So no, I don’t consider them my friends. Your personal experience sounds nice, though. Congratulations.

    • Blandine says...

      I am a bit in the same boat unfortunately. I don’t feel I can be myself really when I speak with my parents or when I am with them.

  86. Ash says...

    I had every big plan for after college but none of it worked out and I ended up spending two post-collegiate years living at home. It wasn’t all smooth sailing but mostly I remember a lot of great shared meals and fun excursions. Late into the night we’d sip wine and swap stories and I realized that I had more interests in common with them than most of my peers. In that time, my parents and I forged our adult friendship and I wouldn’t trade those years for anything.

  87. APM says...

    I have a good, though not especially close relationship with my dad. My mom died when I was eighteen and I still grieve for the friendship I lost. it would be nice to have a strong emotional friendship with my dad, but I feel like I inherited his tentativeness when it comes to opening up to people. I know he still misses my mom a lot, though he remarried a wonderful woman.

  88. Kathryn says...

    My parents are truly two of my best friends. I adore them. They moved to the same city as me four weeks ago and I swear my heart bursts on a regular basis knowing I can see them every day. I love that I can go to Starbucks with my mom in the morning or my entire family can go to the movies together or that I can just go over to their house to hang out. We never run out of things to talk about and they make me laugh so much my stomach hurts. I’m only 24 and I’m very fortunate to have always had a close relationship with them. They are just really cool people and I would rather hang out with them over anybody else.

  89. So, I’m 31 and I never moved out. I love being home, I’m an only, and for the most part I’ve always gotten along really well with my parents? We’re a really good little team! I sometimes say, you know how in Moonstruck the implication is Loretta and Ronnie will get married and just move into that amazing Brooklyn home with her parents? I wish I could do that (I mean, our house isn’t big enough and idk that my boyfriend would be into that once we’re married although, he is living with us rn while he get settled into a new job here). My parents are really cool. Like, sometimes my friends come over to hang out with my parents when I’m not around! If there is a movie out and my friends are going to see it but I can’t because I have to be up at 5am for work my dad will go with them! There was definitely a dynamic shift, or maybe a few, through the years but my parents really are my best friends. I have always felt, even when I was a grumpy teenager, that they understood exactly who I am. We cook and watch movies together (Mom and I are currently doing an audiobook re-listen and re-watch of Brideshead Revisited), and just hang out sometimes, but also each have our own space. I know I am incredibly lucky–I have friends who aren’t very close with their parents, or who have strained relationships–my parents are super cool, interesting, exceptional people and yeah, they’re def my best friends (I do have other close friends but, you know!).

  90. Margaret says...

    My parents just left after a week-long visit, and the whole time I loved having them here, but also felt farther away from them than ever before. As they get older I find it much harder to connect with them. They’re not elderly, just stubborn. I wish we could be better friends, but I’ve learned I can only really connect with them on a handful of topics. There is love, but it is a love removed from everyday life, based more on our shared history than current lives.

    My point is that there are many types of parent-love. Sometimes it is disappointing.

    • I completely identify with this. Sometimes I think it’s my fault that I can’t relate to them. But I think the older they get, the more inflexible and intolerable they get. It’s so hard. It’s all I can do get them to go out to eat at someplace other than a chain restaurant. They don’t want to talk about hard or vulnerable things. We bond over shared memories mostly. And the older i get away from home (10 years now), the less memories we have. Sometimes I wonder if it’s because I’ve lived in big cities since I moved away and they’ve stay in a tiny, conservative southern town. I don’t know, but I totally understand your feelings!

    • Mags says...

      This is how I feel too. I do think it is because I have lived in more metropolitan areas while they remain in a conservative small town. It makes me sad that we don’t have a close relationship, but I also know I am not close friends with any of the people that I grew up with who haven’t moved out of these towns.

  91. Andrea says...

    I’ve always been close with both my mom and dad but after giving birth to my first child a month ago I feel even closer to them. I keep (half) joking with my mom that she can move in with us whenever she wants :)

  92. Holly says...

    This totally took me back to Joanna’s post, The Joy of Having Boys. Do you guys remember Nicole Young, who talked about how she was close to her boys because she invested in their interests? I was riveted to that picture of her and her son because it is everything I want for my relationship with my boys. I’m not close to my parents and will never really be friends with them, but I really want to change that in the next generation. Both of these posts (and their comments!) are helping me figure out how to achieve that, so thanks CoJ community!!

  93. Lisa says...

    the last paragraph is spot on!

  94. Bianca says...

    This really resonated with me. Growing up, my parents were very clear at making sure me and my siblings knew they were our parents and not our friends. As we grew out of our teens they tried to create a friendship with us but it took us more than a decade and going through a lot in life to get over seeing them just as an authority figure and actually build a friendship with them. I am now going through a separation with my husband and the relationship I have with my parents has been essential in making me feel supported and loved and keeping me sane. I now know that throughout the years they were just trying to do the best their best and feel lucky to count both of them as some of my closest friends.

    • Emily says...

      Bianca, I relate so heavily to your upbringing with parents who “made sure me and my siblings knew they were our parents and not our friends.” I was raised mainly by my mom & stepdad (my parents divorced when I was young due to my father’s struggle with alcoholism). Before my mom remarried, she was an authoritative parent but not overwhelming so. When I was 10, she married my stepdad and suddenly our blended household became something like a military regime. There was no room for two-way dialogue between parent and child. It was a “follow the rules or else” mentality. Now, at the age of 26, I’m realizing just how detrimental that environment was to my siblings and I. My sister and I speak about it often and agree on the damage that it has caused us.

      This past summer, an awful fight erupted in my family. Neither my sister or I have spoken to our stepdad since. My mom has repeatedly reached out in an effort to mend the relationship but I know my stepdad will never admit his wrongs (I have never heard him udder the words “I’m sorry” in my life). I am tired of being on the receiving end of his disciplinary ways. My mom knows this and understands but still chooses to stand by his side. I can see my mom wanting to have a friendship with her kids but I’m doubtful my stepdad will ever give up his role as authority figure.

      It warms my heart to read that you have found a friendship with your parents. I wish the same for myself and my siblings.

  95. Sandra says...

    I am in my late 40s and while I love my parents (and feel completely loved by them in return) I don’t know that we’ll ever have that BFF kind of relationship that many people have. It is very parent/child in that there is a ton of stuff I just can’t tell my mom, and she definitely oversteps boundaries with her opinions. And my dad isn’t the easiest person to get along with. I love them, but I SO can’t live with them! We live in another state and talk on the phone a couple of times a week, but put us all anywhere 24/7 (like when we go visit) and things get a little testy.

    • Blandine says...

      I could have written this comment. It is exactly my experience.

    • mel says...

      This is almost exactly my own situation!

  96. Margaret says...

    I echo the comments of the others with less than ideal families of origin – for those of you with close relationships with your parents or siblings, and for those who still have parents who are alive and healthy, please cherish that blessing every day. It is a special and (for those of us who are not quite so lucky) enviable gift.

  97. Aubrey says...

    I lost my father recently, and I miss him terribly. He was this incredibly calming and grounding force in my life. I’ve never had a close relationship with my mom, and despite my best efforts, she continues to be hurtful, judmental, and controlling. I’m so grateful for my friends and my siblings and all the healthy relationships in my life, but I’m watching my adult friends become friends with their parents while I’m grieving a future I won’t get to have.

    • Alice says...

      I’m so sorry for your loss, that sounds incredibly hard. I hope you find a way through it with those good relationships in your life x

    • M says...

      I’m so sorry and can relate. After my Dad died, I grieved twice.

  98. Liz C. says...

    My mom says she had kids so we would grow up and be her drinking buddies, and it happened! Together with my parents, my siblings and I and all of our spouses vacation together, go to concerts, the beach, throw parties together, have cocktail hour together regularly, and just genuinely enjoy one another’s company. My friends are their friends, and it’s like one big happy family. People have often said, they wish my parents could adopt them! We consider ourselves very blessed.

  99. When I was a few months pregnant with my first child I suddenly realized that my mom didn’t actually know everything. I called her right away and told her my realization and she started laughing, saying “of course I don’t know everything. I made most of it up!” She had always had all the answers I needed and when I became a mother I realized that I was now the person with all the answers for my child… until, of course, he has a child of his own and realizes I don’t actually know it all :)

  100. J says...

    I love this blog because I am really enamored with Joanna’s writing – it’s so earnest and normal in the best way possible, not try-hard or like she’s trying to market or sell anything. And I love posts like these, because I’m halfway trough before I realize it’s not Jo writing at all, it’s Stella. Such a perfect complement to the blog, it’s style and content. Thank you for this!

  101. K says...

    my mom is basically my best friend. we live 1200 miles apart but i call her on my way to work every single day. she’s hilarious; we gossip about each other’s coworkers, laugh at the same stories, and chat about the teen mom cast as if we knew them in real life. we’ve also been playing game after game of words with friends for a solid two years now. such a fun, lowkey way to stay in contact… and the trash talk is pretty great too.

  102. Celeste says...

    That must be so nice! :)

  103. Claire says...

    My relationship with my mom has been one of the most fulfilling and transformative relationships of my life. Though I think of my sister as the biggest blessing in my life, my mom is a close second. People think the three of us are sisters, which she loves haha.

    Total side note: It would be interesting to do a story on cultural differences around relationships with parents. I’ve noticed this while dating my bf of three years. He once casually mentioned that I’m, essentially, incapable of making decisions without consulting my parents. As we’ve since discussed and witnessed each other’s relationships with our parents, I’ve noticed that I’ve internalized a lot more east asian cultural philosophy around parent-child relationships than I initially thought, with respect to things like the extent to which I involve my parents in professional decisions and our involvement in the everyday changes in each others’ lives (moves, friend groups, travels etc). Maybe it’s an effect of me being 1.5 generation with one sibling versus my bf who is from PA and the oldest of five kids, but this difference in perspective has certainly made for interesting conversations, especially as we think about our parents aging (e.g. I fully expect to give my parents a monthly allowance after they retire (normal in Asia) whereas he does not). I’ve been really surprised with how strongly I felt in these conversations, considering I typically feel very “American” about things and grew up in the US.

  104. tuesday297 says...

    Now that I am 50, my mother is more competitive than ever, sadly, so no, it is unlikely we will ever become friends. But it makes me really happy to hear of other great parental relationships! In this instance, I live vicariously for all it’s worth!

  105. Claudia says...

    Oh well, I always had a hard relationship with my mum. She always had emotional issues and led me to often think that she never wanted kids. She could be the coolest mum on one day and vindictive on the other, or screaming at me just because of something stupid. After I moved out things got easier with her, because I moved to another city far away, but never on the best-friends-talking-for-hours-easier. I would really love to know what that must feel like, having a mum that you can be friends with. Now that I’m almost 37, I see myself having a lot of her behavior at first, but then I try my best to fight it and be a better person than she was. And eventually this also led me to some understanding of her as a woman. I’m really grateful though that I have an older brother with whom I can share all sorts of memories and we can talk for hours about growing up with our mum. I was a lot closer to my dad though, but he fell ill with dementia when he was around 60 years-old, so I kind of lost him, though he didn’t pass away. That was quite hard to deal with… for a very long time. Now I’m actually thankful that he was the one who got sick and not her, because she does everything to take care of him and the household and I know my dad wouldn’t be that good in dealing with the opposite situation.

    • mel says...

      “… led me to some understanding of her a woman …”
      I think this might be the best it gets for some of us. We get some insight, perhaps even reach some level of respect and appreciation for them as people, and if we can learn to keep things civil, we’re doing pretty good. :)

  106. Nadja says...

    I always say that my mom and dad are good people, just not good parents. As I grow older and move into more of a “peer” relationship with them, it’s hard not to cling to those grudges from when I was a struggling kid in desperate need of her parents and they simply failed to be there for me, much less notice that I needed them. Am I supposed to forget that pain and make friends? Am I supposed to hold them at arm’s length to avoid being hurt again? There’s a clear blueprint of how to behave in a healthy parent-child relationship, but no such thing for the rest of us.

    • Blandine says...

      Those are exactly the questions I grapple with in my relationships with my parents. Thanks for articulating them so clearly Nadja.

  107. I didn’t become friends with my parents until I moved away. I let go of my childhood resentments and discovered a whole new relationship with my parents. I enjoy it so much! While they still drive me crazy, they’re hilarious and I talk to them several times a week. As they age and I think about the future, I know I’m lucky that I love them and like them.

  108. Caitlin says...

    Such a lovely post! So glad you appreciate your parents. My dad died suddenly when I was 23 (11 years ago) and I feel like I was *just* getting to the point where he was becoming a friend. It still breaks my heart. Soak your parents up and keep on appreciating them!

  109. chelsea w says...

    It’s a hard thing because now that I’ve been diagnosed with a chronic illness and am living with my parents yet again, you would think I’d have flashbacks of my teenage years spent with them. Somehow–even with them taking care of me–we have made it work out. I would call my parents my best friends. Not because they’re basically the only people I hang around with these days (lol), but because we have bonded so well together. Some around us say it was my chronic illness that brought us so much closer. I don’t know. What I do know is that we have spent many nights up together so that I was not alone while in pain, many long car rides have been taken to see lots of doctors (with Dad making playlists including at least one song by Lil Wayne), and hands have been held in many a scary situation. Through it all, my parents have been with me all the way, and I wouldn’t be here without them. True besties.

    • Sophie says...

      Much love to you. So sweet that your parents are with you all along the way and that you know they’ll be by your side no matter what.

  110. Sarah says...

    The very hardest part about losing my dad when I was 16 and losing my mom to dementia not long thereafter (from a mental/relationship standpoint for my mom, she is still physically with us) has been realizing that I never will have an adult relationship with them. Holidays are hard, my wedding was hard, but I think it is the absence of getting to really know them, apart from their role as caregivers, that haunts me most.
    There has, with my mom, been a sweetness to getting act as her caregiver to some degree. As dementia regresses her capacities back, so my siblings and I are able to meet some portion of the love and devotion she poured into us.

  111. I think what happened for me is that while I have always been close with my mom, I started listening to her more after I moved out. I don’t just mean listening like nodding along, I mean actively listening to her opinions, her viewpoints, her thoughts on everything. I try to soak up every ounce of advice and wisdom I can get during our short visits now more so than when we lived together. She is her own person aside from being a single mom, an older mom, MY mom, and I want her to tell me everything she can while we still have time.

  112. Capucine says...

    No. I don’t understand that kind of bond.

    My husband’s family stays in constant touch, and my best friend as well. I watch their family patterns in fascination. Sometimes I think they never fully individuated, sometimes I think they are living out ancestral patterns my family lost, but by and large…I hope my kids stay involved more than I have with my parents, even if I have no idea why people stay so close to their parents.

    My parents were not monsters, but I started college at fourteen and that was the end of my time with them. We’re a self-sufficient lot in our family. At forty with two kids, I see them five times a year and we live in the same town.

  113. Yes, this is whole post is spot on for me, especially where you say: “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.”

    I’ve always been close with my parents, but as I’ve grown up the relationship has evolved. Aside from my husband, they’re the first people I call for advice, share news with, and I actually look forward to hanging out and having dinner and/or drinks with them. Some of my most cherished times spent with my dad are the Saturday morning walks we take with my dog, followed by coffee. Now that I have a new baby of my own, our bond has only strengthened – As a parent myself now, I finally REALLY understand what it means to love someone unconditionally and, as you’ve said, do the best you can for them. I hope to someday cultivate the same relationship I have with my own parents with my son.

  114. Jeannie Rodriguez says...

    I loved this post, and I loved reading the comments as well! I have a young daughter (1.5 years old) and I’ve heard a few times overs the last month or so that “mother-daughter relationships are always complicated” … it sent me into a panic! I have a great relationship with my mom, but I wondered if it’s normal for mother-daughter relationships to be complicated. I feared for my future relationship with my daughter! Reading comments here, it seems that, yes, relationships between mothers and daughters can be complicated. BUT there are also many beautiful relationships. Something to look forward to :)

  115. Mollie says...

    I was raised an only-child of a single parent, so my mom and I have always had a very close relationship; but my dad… he’s always been “around” but never really in my life. I came to a realization in my early 20s that my childhood was over and my dad was never really a part of it. He missed everything, really. And now, in my 30s, as I have a child of my own, I’ve come to the realization I could never be friends with someone who would not pursue a relationship with his/her child, regardless if he’s my dad or not.

  116. Julie says...

    My friends and I recently had a discussion about this very topic – it’s such a bizarre and fun discovery to see your parents as individuals and friends. I recently enjoyed a summer evening on the patio at my parents’ house with my parents and sisters. We sat outside talking, sipping wine and listening to music for hours, and in the midst of it I enjoyed a moment of complete gratitude. It was overwhelming to feel so content and fulfilled by a simple evening with these wonderful people.

  117. Mel says...

    You know, my mom and I have always had a somewhat strained relationship and while I definitely miss her (I feel living faraway is even harder because we don’t have much of a friendship) the friendship we both want is still hard. Same with my stepdad. I love them so much but we seem to be very different people. But, I have always been able to talk to my dad about anything. We are almost too much alike. Thanks for sharing!

  118. Veronica says...

    I respect and love my parents a great deal, but I don’t feel that I will ever be friends with them. My parents represent a lot of what I don’t like this country right now; today for example my mom posted a link about the “myth” that Hurricane Harvey was influenced by climate change. I feel that my parents are at an age where I’m no longer going to change their mind about things, and I think they still sometimes resent that their twenty-something daughter has differing opinions on how to conduct her life. I’ve made peace with it though, and we can still enjoy spending time together in the context of family get togethers.

  119. Alex says...

    I was so surprised when, while talking with a group of friends, I heard that most of them had a very clear “time limit” for being around their parents. Whether it was two hours, a half a day or a week (ex. if parents were visiting from out of town), they all seemed to get fed up with them at a certain point.

    I have never encountered this at all in my adult life. I am constantly wishing I could spend more time with my parents. I moved cities when I graduated from high school (begrudgingly for my career) and often go back in the summer for several weeks at a time and I never feel like it’s enough. When they come to visit me, we have such a wonderful time together and even my husband agrees… my parents are pretty exceptional people. I just genuinely appreciate their company and our conversations.

    My sister recently moved to my city and she made me laugh when she told me, “I just wish mom and dad could move with me to wherever I go!”.
    My sentiments exactly!

  120. The older I got, the more I realized that while my parents and I will probably never agree on many things (religion and politics being the major heavy-hitters), I wanted to be friends with them. However, they were both raised that being a parent means being in that role at all times; it’s not really a two way street where I can also teach them. Recently my dad told me that no matter how old I get it’s still his responsibility to point out when I’m wrong because that’s his job as a parent and that will never change. While I suppose that could be true to some extent, it’s always felt like a wall that I’ll never get past; that I can never share who I really am (because of the aforementioned large issues), and therefore they can’t ever learn anything from me. At 31, I’d love to have the kinds of parent/child relationships it seems many here have, but it just won’t happen for me, and it’s definitely been something I’ve had to grieve. We get along fine, and are even beginning to just casually chat more, but it does feel fairly surface level. I love to go deep, so to be denied that is really difficult.

  121. Beth says...

    Through my twenties, I had very close friendships with my parents until one of them passed away in my early thirties (a few years ago). The living parent’s grief swallowed them (and me), and the emotional toll of that has impacted our friendship. They leaned so heavily on me that I wasn’t able to process my own grief. We’re still close, but I feel a deep strain that my parent perhaps doesn’t even know exists.

  122. Wow, I’m so happy to read this. I haven’t lived in the same state as my parents since high school and never had any homesickness, and all of the sudden I miss their company deeply. I’m actually thinking of leaving my life in San Diego to live in rural New England again to be close to them, am I crazy?! I just feel that I don’t like most people nearly as much as I like my mom and hanging out with her :) Thanks for the post!

  123. Stacy says...

    I must admit, I dreaded reading this. After an extremely abusive childhood that lasted into adulthood (until I was 39), I made the painful decision to cut my parents out of my life for good 7 years ago. It’s been a painfully lonely road, but best for my emotional health. I’m jealous of friends (still!) when they tell me about their chats, lunches, and vacations with their parents; especially their moms. The sadness of knowing what could have been is overwhelming at times but I’m so happy for those who have this sort of bond. I’ll have to live vicariously through all of you who have healthy and happy relationships with your parents and consider them friends! You’re so very lucky.

    • Becky says...

      Stacy, I’m so sorry that your parents weren’t what they should have been. I’m just an internet stranger, but I’m proud of you for making the choice to move into a life without them. I wish you the very best in finding your own happiness.

    • Stacy says...

      Becky, You are very sweet and certainly NOT an internet stranger. This blog feels like a bit of a sisterhood. The first year was the hardest…it’s gotten a bit easier as time has gone by. Though every couple of years the “happy birthday” texts are a bit devastating. It was my parents or me…and I chose me. For the first time ever. Thank you for the kind comment. I appreciate you!

  124. Eve says...

    Short answer – no. I just need to put this out there, adding to the “no” count, so those of us with difficult parental relationships don’t feel overwhelmed by what we’re definitely missing out on.

    I know this blog is generally a positive place, so I don’t expect to see articles or essays on strained parent-child relationships, but maybe there’s a way to explore those that will make all us better friends and parents.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Thank you so much for your kind feedback, Eve! I think that is a great point.

      Stella xo

  125. My parents and I have a complicated relationship. I don’t think we’ll ever really be “friends,” but I know they love and support me, which is all I can really ask for.

  126. I’m very close with my Dad, and consider him more of a friend than a parent at this point. We’ve always really understood each other, but when I was graduating college, he was going through some significant life changes too, and we could turn to each other for advice more like peers than parent-child. I’m so lucky to have him!

  127. Jen says...

    One of my biggest challenge now as an adult is trying to become friends with my mom. We never had a mother/daughter relationship growing up. We were never close but she’s now living with me. It’s been hard. I’m hopeful that we can at least be friends.

    • Tiffany says...

      Jen, my mom was an addict while I was growing up, our relationship was extremely strained because I resented having to handle her responsibilities at home. She was hit by car while walking and had to move in with me. She stayed for 9 years and while it wasn’t always pleasant, we became friends. She’s still somewhat selfish but she’s matured and has become a wonderful grandma. Good luck on your journey. Be graceful with yourself. Be kind to yourself.

  128. Linds says...

    Just beautifully written, Stella. Your last line=everything!! Thank you for this!

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      That means so much, Linds. Thank you.

      Stella xoxoxo

  129. Alex says...

    Oof, this also hit me hard. I’ve never been close to my mom, for a lot of complicated reasons. Now she’s terminally ill and I’ve been trying hard to have a better relationship with her, but it’s not going so well. Really all I want is for us to be friends, and I grieve all the time for the relationship I wanted but that we’ll never have.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Thinking of you Alex. You sound like such a loving daughter. xoxoxoxo

    • I went through something similar earlier this year when I lost my mom. What I came to understand is that it’s hard to be close to someone when you worry they might hurt you. Once my mom was in the hospital, and her death was imminent, I was able to let go of a lot of the anger I’d held onto to protect myself. I remember our relationship now as a complete thing. I didn’t forget about the bad stuff, but I give it less weight because I don’t need it so much anymore.

      At her memorial, I made note in my eulogy that while neither of us had the relationship we wanted, she taught me how to have the life I wanted. And that was a gift unto itself.

      Sending good thoughts

    • Morgan says...

      I’m right there with you. I envy close, healthy relationships like this. I find myself thinking a lot about cultivating a relationship like this with my three daughters, who are still quite young. I may not have gotten this with my own mother, but perhaps I can have it with my daughters. Hope springs eternal.

    • Morgan says...

      Christine’s comment: “it’s hard to be close to someone when you worry they might hurt you.” This. Totally this. It makes me feel better to read someone else out there feels this way.

    • J says...

      Christine: Thank you for describing “hard to be close to someone when you worry they might hurt you”. That was perfect and I needed that. My mother was physically, emotionally and verbally abusive to me …the kind that would send cps over in a heartbeat. Now that I am adult, she can only be emotionally and verbally abusive. I long for the close mother daughter relationships I see around me. But that will sadly never be. I hope to have the relationship I never had with my own two children.

  130. Lindsay says...

    I feel like it was such a slow transition that I didn’t even notice. But all of sudden when something bad or exciting happened I wanted to call my parents and tell them about it. I’m closer to my mum, only because we are women and can talk about nothing and everything for hours. My dad is always there to talk about a New Yorker article we both read or talk through hard life situations. I feel so fortunate that my relationship with them was able to transition because it is rewarding for both parties. I see the relationship my husband has with his parents, and theirs never transitioned, they are stuck in the roles they have been since he was a teenager and they miss out so much on his life because of this dynamic.

  131. Kathy says...

    I just have to comment about the ‘joke’ link – literally lol’ed. Thank you.

  132. Laura says...

    I definitely did not feel close to my family until a few years ago (I’m 29). When I was younger I was very focused on leaving my hometown and experiencing new things, and my family is the kind that often forgets to check in on each other because we’re all off doing things of our own. But as my parents get older and I get closer to wanting to have kids, I’ve started to want to be around them a lot and pick their brains. The time we have just us is limited and I’m trying to enjoy it more often.

  133. Lulu says...

    I had the unique experience of growing up “with” my parents. There weren’t babysitters or day camps etc. in my childhood. I was on tour with my dad, I went to university with my mom and sat beneath her drafting table in Interior Design School. I even tagged along on their respective dates (they divorced when I was two). Sounds weird, I guess. But, it’s a pretty great screening system though!
    Do I sometimes wish I had that ideal “PARENT” vision of my folks? Honestly, not really. I’ve had countless and meaningful discussions with my parents over the years that make my “being parented” experience a more whole and satisfying experience. My mom and my mother’s day trips are epic. My dad and I hit up the coolest concerts together (including Lillith Fair back in the day, which is hilarious to think about now).
    I’ve helped nurture my mom’s later-in-life art career. I feel like it has helped me with coming to terms with their aging and mortality too, as I’ve been there right along side of them as they’ve lost their parents. Being their friend is actually really a helpful tool to being a better daughter.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      “Being their friend is actually really a helpful tool to being a better daughter.” So beautiful, Lulu!

      Xoxoxo

  134. Niki says...

    As I am getting older (mid-twenties), becoming friends with my mom has been one of the most amazing experiences. Seeing someone you’ve known your whole life in a new way is so enlightening. My dad passed away when I was 14, and I’ve realized I grieve for that same friendship type relationship I now have with my mom that I never and will never get to have with my dad. It’s so hard knowing there was a different side to him I’ll never know first hand. It definitely makes me appreciate it with my mom that much more.

  135. Colleen S says...

    I’m close to my mom, but not so much with my dad. To me, my dad is an emotionally abusive person who treats my mom, my sisters, and I like crap. To cut him out of my life (which can only happen when I move away), I’d likely lose my mom as well.

    • Bobby says...

      I’m so glad someone else doesn’t have a picture perfect hallmark greeting card relationship with their parents. I always say that the best thing in my life is that both of my parents are dead. I sometimes feel like I’m the only person who reads this blog who had horrible parents.

      I’m sorry that you need to keep your father in the picture in order to keep having a relationship with your mom.

    • Katie says...

      Bobby, you definitely are not the only one with crappy parents. Take heart, there are (unfortunately) probably lots of us!

    • Colleen S says...

      Thank you, Bobby. Yeah, I definitely don’t have a Hallmark life. My youngest sister cut out sister out of her life, which makes things awkward because we still live nearby our parents and our sister. Luckily, our sister knows why she was cut out, even though our dad thinks the youngest needs to go back to her therapist to fix her “issues.”

    • Lauren says...

      Bobby, I hope you see this (I didn’t see a button to reply directly to you). I just want to let you know you’re definitely not the only reader that had a less than ideal childhood. I know Joanna and her team try very hard at being “inclusive,” so I try not to take it personally, but posts like these can sting. Perhaps you guys can try writing “I” sentences (as in this was my specific experience) as opposed to “you” sentences (as in “when you become friends with your parents”), which will never happen for some of us, even if we desperately wish it could.

    • susieq says...

      Ditto. When I was home for vacation recently, I overheard my father say something so vitriolic to my mother that it literally took my breath away. Staying close to her, while protecting me and my daughter from him, is a constant struggle. But, she’s worth it.

    • Blandine says...

      I am in the same boat. I try to protect myself and my children from my dad because he can be so hurtful and damaging but it affects my relationship with my mother, who’s been with him the past 40 years. She was never really able to protect my siblings and I from my dad belittling words and of course a part of me resents her for it. I feel guilty as I sometime feel that I resent her more than I resent him which is very unfair.

  136. Glenda says...

    My mom was my best friend. She passed 13 years ago. I miss her every day. I can’t comprehend when parents drift away from their children.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      She sounded like a wonderful mother. Thinking of you, Glenda. xo

  137. Grace says...

    As an only child, my relationship with my parents was so special; we were The Three Muskateers. When my dad passed away I was 24 and even now at 27 I feel like a HUGE part of me is missing. Time passing has made his not being here worse than when he was sick. The older I get, the more I feel I need him here, even though I also feel like he gave me such an amazing toolkit for life. Growing up I never pined for a sibling, but now that I’m older I wish I had one to swap stories with and relive memories of my dad together.

    My mom is my best friend in that I can tell her almost everything. We are constantly hanging out and going on mini (or big) vacations whenever we have the time. My mother is my greatest gift in life.

    • Omaya says...

      As an only child too, I very much relate to your parental relationships. I am so sorry your dad is no longer with you.

      My husband can’t quite understand that I have no quota to reach when it comes to my parents. If I see them once or five times in a week, it’s never enough or too much. Our relationship is the kind where we regularly call each other to say “goodnight”. The kind of relationship where they stay on the phone with me as I walk from my car to my apartment to make sure I make it. It’s the best kind.

    • Oh Grace, what you have with your parents is so special! My husband and I have only one daughter and yes, we are like the Three Muskateers! She is ten years old going on 20: she is very mature, witty and kind. We talk about everything every night. She was never “sleep-trained”, so our nightly snuggle always ends up taking more than an hour :) I am so glad to hear that this kind of loving relationship can continue on! Enjoy your mom!

    • Bean613 says...

      I have several siblings and it is so difficult to foster a friendship with your mom when you have to fight for her undivided attention. I have a sister that is always around (along with her family) so if I want alone time with my mom we have to plan things and not invite anyone else. It’s like we’re sneaking around! i hate it and I think my relationship has suffered.

    • Eve says...

      Please tell me how they managed this! Being one of many kids is all I ever knew, but it looks like I may have a single child. It might be really hard to put your finger on it, but any advice on the ways they nurtured your special bond would be appreciated. I really don’t want my daughter (who is 1) to always wish she had siblings, but rather to love our little band of three and never want for more.

    • Oh Grace! I too am an only child in my mid-twenties with a dad who is very sick. My heart aches for you and as I stare down a similar path in my relationship with him as you had with your’s I’m filled with grief unlike any other.

    • Grace says...

      Omaya, yes, exactly, my SO doesn’t quite get our relationship either. For me, it’s so important to live close to my mom, especially after my dad passed. I know for him moving to another state or even country would be more like a big adventure versus heartbreaking (I’d much rather simply travel :)

      Diana, that’s so sweet! When we go on vacation, I still hang out in bed watching TV with my mom, except nowadays instead of snacking on popcorn we share popcorn and ONE beer (we’re lightweights :)

      I’m sorry Bean, it’s hard imagining having a sibling I tend to always see the positives, but it would be so hard to divide time up just to spend quality time together.

      Eve, I wish I could say what they did exactly. One thing I’ve realized is that all of our “love languages” were Quality Time. Growing up, my dad would take me on father-daughter dates (we never called them that but that’s what they were) at least once a week. Often times it would be a trip to the bookstore and dinner or movies and dinner, simple things like that. But always dinner where we would talk and swap stories. I always had the feeling that my dad was genuinely interested in my thoughts, without ever being pushy (he once let me talk about Harry Potter for an HOUR straight). Even at 10, he’d ask and talk to me about taboo topics like politics and religion. He was an amazing conversationalist and I like to think I’m not too shabby myself. My mom was a homemaker the majority of my childhood. As a kid, I think I was much more like my dad interest-wise and personality-wise. At 27, I’m still a lot like him but I definitely am a lot of my mom now too. My mom loved to spend time with me going shopping and taking trips. We definitely didn’t start having more serious talks until I was an adult. As a trio, we had a ton of family traditions, like putting lotto tickets in the Christmas tree, waiting to see movies in theatres together (which I definitely rebelled against in high school), going on vacation(s) each year, family take out dinners, etc. Both my parents took me on “coming-of-age” like trips. My dad took me to New York when I was 11, the year 9/11 happened. He had spent his college years there and it held a special place in his heart. My mom took me camping in Big Bear when I was 12. Bottom line, just spend time together :)

      I’m sorry Lindsey. Grief is lifelong but I feel so much gratitude even after the waves of it leave me spent. Thinking of you and your dad.

  138. Ashley says...

    Yes! Something changed in my twenties. I’m twenty nine. When my mother was my age, she had three children, a new marriage. Viscerally I feel what a struggle it was to raise us, but also the hopes she had for us. Everything I struggle with in my twenties – “How do I get my people to respect me? Do I dare dream big or should I be content? Am I fat? How much can I ask of others? How do I set boundaries with others?” – she also inhabited while wiping snotty noses and breaking up toddler fights, my dad traveling for work. Now I get to talk to her about these things. It is a gift to have such a friend.

    Also, we watch HGTV like men watch football. “‘C’MON, YOU CAN PAINT THOSE CABINETS! MAKE AN OFFER!”

  139. edie says...

    Reminds of Brene Brown’s belief that “most people are trying their best.”

    I’m the eldest in my family (late twenties) and every year, my birthday card form my parents says something to the affect of, “We love you. More importantly, we like you.”

    I’ve always liked that “like” at the end.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Love that so, so much, Edie. xo

  140. Alyssa says...

    My mom is my very best friend. We both agree that we are closer now that I am 27, even though we’ve always been close. But now, she’s more than just my mom. She’s my person, for everything.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      So, so sweet, Alyssa.

  141. Haylie says...

    It’s funny how hard this hit me: I don’t have a close relationships with either of my parents. My mom completely cut me out of her life for spectacularly shitty reasons, and my dad is awesome (they were never really together), but he has a lot of brain damage from cancer, so we can’t be close, per se. My lack of parents is both the defining feature of my life and, usually, more-or-less in the background. Sometimes random things, though (like this post) will make me realize all over again how intensely I miss those connections and always will. Cherish good parents, guys!

    • Bobby says...

      I’m sorry, I wish I read this before I posted above, I guess there are a few of us with awful parents. I think that might be an interesting post — who in your life takes the place parent, if anyone, if you’re a parent do you secretly regret having children?

      One other thing — please know this, if your mother cut you out of her life it speaks volumes about her, and probably very little about you.

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment, Haylie.

    • Chloe says...

      I read your comment above, Bobby, and wanted to chime in. I don’t understand many of the people posting here, either. I wish I did. I often watch mothers and daughters wondering what it must be like to really get along with your mom and respect your mom. My parents are not my friends–they’re my parents. It was a particularly defining moment of adulthood to realize that I wouldn’t choose my parents as friends. And it was freeing in its own way.

      Objectively, I know my parents did their best, but truthfully, it would have helped me and my siblings a lot if they had done better. Knowing that your parents did their best doesn’t always heal the wounds. For me, there is a grieving process letting go of the mother I wish I’d had.

  142. Ashley says...

    Someone once asked my sister and me what the best piece of advice our parents have given us is, and my sister got choked up and explained that there isn’t one single thing that stood out to her because she can go to them for advice about anything and they’ll always counsel her the best they can. I think the older we get, the more we’ve both realized how amazing our parents are.

  143. Jane says...

    I would love to read a post about parents divorcing as an adult. My parents have been together for 40 years and have decided to divorce. It’s a tough pill to swallow, for many reasons. Have others been through this? Did you struggle with resentment toward one parent, while also feeling extremely sad for them? I’m experiencing many conflicting emotions.

    • Lia says...

      My parents split when I was in my mid-twenties but didn’t finalize their divorce for years…my dad wanted to stay married, my mom did not. Long, horrible story short, I now have no relationship with either of them or my sister, and have no idea how to mend the rift (and little desire to do so). I wish they had divorced years ago. I think their unhappy relationship really impacted my relationship with them as individuals and they gave me a very negative opinion of family. Trying my best to do better for my own kids.

    • Meg says...

      Jane, I went through something similar. My parents got divorced after having been married for 32 years when I was 26 (I’m 29 now). I dealt with a myriad of feelings during the process including resentment, guilt about that resentment, and sadness for each of my parents. I still deal with these feelings. It is certainly not easy, and I am so sorry that you and your family are going through such an emotional period. Just know that you are not alone!

    • Amy says...

      I did go through this, and I was shocked by how hard it hit me. I felt like I shouldn’t be so affected by it, as I was an adult. My parents divorced after 30 years of marriage, and at the time I had a newborn and a toddler. Now, looking back, I think it saved my own marriage, as I had to rethink the value of the model of marriage I’d grown up with. It made my relationships with both parents difficult, but they’ve gotten better over time. Getting through those years was hard, though, and I needed an objective listener, a therapist, to help me figure out how to live in the new stage our family had come reached. For a time, it felt like someone died—maybe the idea of marriage and family we’d all grown up with?

    • Ann says...

      I too would really love a post on this. Jane, I have a very similar situation with parents splitting up after a 40 year marriage. Completely initiated by my mother, who I’m much closer to, but I have a good relationship with each. I feel terrible for my dad, but am also feeling slightly resentful he didn’t try to prevent this more. I also think they were just poorly matched from the get go, and that’s their own fault. It’s been a pretty sad summer. I’m in my mid-30s so am serving much more of a counselor/friend role than I have before, especially as they live really close by — it’s so strange!

    • Hey Jane,

      I was 19 when my parents split and while I may not have been an “adult” per se, I certainly wasn’t a kid, and I was given details about their separation that no child needs to hear. I definitely resented my dad, who cheated on my mom and left us for the other woman. He is now married to her and I was angry for a VERY long time about their relationship. At the same time, I was happy for my mom for being able to live her life the way she wanted to. She is obviously happier since their divorce, even though my sister and I were incredibly upset by it. The best advice I received was from my therapist, who told me that grieving a divorce is similar to mourning a death: it’s the death of your family as you knew it and all of the conflicting emotions that come with that loss are completely valid. I’m so sorry for the pain and confusion you’re going through. While things will certainly never be the same, just know that it gets easier! It might never be better, but it will be ok.

    • Niamh says...

      Yes – going through this one right now. So very difficult. Hope you are getting on ok.

    • Laura says...

      My parents divorced last year after 37 years of marriage, and it has been tough for our family. It was needed- my dad had been cheating for years- but it has only further damaged an already strained relationship with my dad and I’m not sure it’s repairable. My mom and I are very close and always have been, but there is some resentment in that she had kids (5 of us) very young and now wants to mostly do things for herself. I don’t mind this personally, but she never offers to help me with my kids or see them unless I ask and it can be frustrating. Growing up with 2 sets of wonderful grandparents, it’s sad for me to think that my own kids will only have one single grandparent (my husband’s family is an even bigger mess). While there was no messy custody to deal with for my parents, the emotional toll of their breakup and the way it changed our entire family has still been very difficult.

  144. Karina says...

    Oh I needed this. My parents are in the midst of applying for jobs and moving out of state. Although I’m well into my thirties, they have always lived relatively close to me and have been a huge part of my life. I’m struggling with how to cope with this life change but also excited for them to follow their dreams.

    • Jules says...

      Just because they’re out of state doesn’t mean your relationship will suffer! My parents (and my 5 siblings) all live halfway across the country, but I’m still very close to them all. I talk to my mom and my sisters multiple times a day, FaceTime with my parents each night so they can talk to my sons, and FaceTime with my brothers a few times a week too. You just have to put the effort in and it’ll all be ok!

    • Stella Blackmon says...

      Echoing what the other commenters said, Karina! It’s totally possible. And it makes for the best vacations :)

  145. Molly says...

    I love this article. Now that I’m in my 30’s, I’m starting to build a friendship with my dad. He and my husband are really great friends! It’s odd, interesting and so enjoyable. My mom passed away when I was 14 so it makes me really sad that I can’t have that type of full-circle relationship with her. I’m currently pregnant with my first child and I am equal parts excited and terrified for what our relationship will be like as he grows up…

  146. Kim says...

    When I was in third grade, my mom’s friend – an architect – designed a trendy bowling alley/nightclub in our city. With her friend’s blessing, my mom brought me along to the grand opening (at a reasonable time)…. and low and behold my teacher was out with her friends! I will never forget her shocked face at seeing a third grade student at a nightclub LOL, and my awe at her “other life” outside of school. As for my parents, I’ve been friends with my mom for my whole life, but it was definitely tricky in high school when I’d be confiding in her one minute and being grounded the next. We became even closer after I moved away for college and 10 years later, I find the advice-giving and confiding very much a two way street. Love my dad too, but he’s definitely the hard-ass career coach more than the bestie ;)

    • Katie. H says...

      Completely echo this experience and relationships!

  147. Abbie says...

    Love this! I feel very similar about my own parents. And I am now a parent myself to 2 young children so it comes full circle.

  148. Jill says...

    As the mom of a high school senior, this article gives me hope!

    • Carrie says...

      It’ll get better :) I’m 31 but those high school years were tough and I still remember then like it was yesterday. Now my mom is a dear friend of mine. My dad however… (inserting my high school senior eye-roll) hehe

    • Lauren says...

      As a 32-year-old who did not get on AT ALL with my parents in high school but now chats with them regularly, take all the hope you want : ) And best of luck!

  149. Katie says...

    Oof this hit me hard. My relationship with my mom has been deeply strained the last two years and I wonder if we will ever have a healthy, more adult type friendship. I hope so, really sweet to read about your relationship evolution with your parents!

    • Ling says...

      *hugs* me too. xoxo