Why does it seem to be that the people we should love the most – our family – are also the people we can be most irritated at? Our family members are able to strike a nerve that no one else can, and their words can carry much more weight than words from anyone else. Siblings bother us to no end. They push buttons until you can’t handle it, and then they push some more. Parents seem to always want to be right, and they boss you around. They make you do what they say, and most of the time you don’t like it, but they just don’t listen. What ends up happening is you get overwhelmed, irritated, and lash out. You yell or throw a fit and break something. Then, you are the bad guy! You get in trouble, and no one can seem to see the part they played in it.
“Ugh, why can’t we be just a normal family?”
Like it or not, that is a pretty normal family. The one pictured above isn't how all families are all the time. There are tensions, misused words, pushed buttons, irritating siblings, and stressed out moms. No one’s home is without fault. So instead of trying to fix it, let’s try to work with it.
First, it’s important to understand that your parents have a lot of pressure you don’t have to deal with. They have bills to pay, groceries to buy, a house to clean, jobs to go to, and you to take care of. Sometimes, when they are short tempered or stressed out, it’s because of something else going on in their life, and it’s not your fault. Understand that they are trying to do the best they can. You can’t control them, but you can control you. You can control how you react and how you invest in a relationship with them.
The best advice I can give you is to be honest with your parents. Tell them the worst parts of your day, the things you feel like hiding. Admit your faults, ask for advice. Don’t try to hide things from them, it will only cause a rift to form between you. Secrets cause tensions that create problems in many other areas of your life. If they have hurt you in some way, be honest about that too! Admit your anger and your hurt the same as you would to a friend. You can cultivate an awesome relationship with your parents, but it has to start with you.
Another great piece of advice is something my dad used to say: maximum freedom is found under authority. I know that doesn’t seem to make sense, but I have found that there is tremendous truth to that! Let me give you a scenario, you have a curfew at 10:00. You’re out with friends, having a grand old time and want to push the boundaries of your freedom a little, so you come home at 10:15. As a result, your parents shorten your curfew to 9:45. They don’t feel like you can be trusted with the freedom you’ve been given, so you shouldn’t be given any more. Sound like a familiar story? Try this on for size.
You have a curfew at 10:00. You’re out with friends, having a grand old time, but want to honor your parents. You come home at 9:45. As a result, your parents are impressed that you honored their boundaries, and feel you can be trusted with a bit more freedom. They lengthen your curfew to 10:15. Over time, you continue showing respect to the boundaries your parents set, and eventually they begin to trust you to make your own decisions. Now doesn’t that sound nice?
Maximum freedom is found under authority. Try it out sometime!
Lastly, I’d like to offer a challenge, if I can. Over the course of this next week, try to offer the same grace to your parents that you would offer to your friends, or even to strangers. Be more patient at home with the people you’re most familiar with than you are at school or work. Love your family first, and cultivate stronger relationships with your siblings and parents. It will take work, but the results will be hugely beneficial to you. Parents and siblings might be a big pain sometimes, but they can also be the best friends you’ve ever had. God wants us to honor our parents, and I used to think that was one of the most selfless commands He asks of us. However, now I know that it does more for us than I thought. A great home life means a lot of stress taken off you, and you have built-in friends for life! Try it and see. It might take some time, but you won’t regret making the effort.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord [that is, accept their guidance and discipline as His representatives], for this is right [for obedience teaches wisdom and self-discipline]. Honor [esteem, value as precious] your father and mother [and be respectful to them] – this is the first commandment with a promise – so that it may be well with you, and that you may have a long life on the earth.” Ephesians 6:1-3 AMP