Why is it such a cliché to complain about our parents?
You hear it from friends or in films all the time…”damn, I have to go to my folks for dinner. It’s gonna be rough.” It’s a tale as old as time.
As our parents age (and retire), they inevitably participate in the world less. They interact with the world far differently than their children, thus often making it more difficult to connect.
As we age our energy wanes, priorities change, and we have fewer face-to-face interactions in the world. We become content in our comfort zone, playing less offense and opting to hold down the fort. It’s not necessarily bad; it’s just the inertia that bisects the generations.
Contrarily, as we come-of-age, we tend to go at the world with more fervor. There is more energy to be burned. Life is novel and unexplored. We strive to advance our careers, take risks, and expand our social world. These are beautiful opportunities, but they can also distort priorities and distract us from the people that matter most. The “hamster wheel” is a cliche, but we sure do get stuck on it. It’s the inertia that bisects the generations.
I get texts from my mom like “what are you watching on tv tonight?” or “did you see the weather report for Thursday?” My first inclination is to think, “who cares what I’m watching on tv.” But really this is just my mom trying to connect with her son. She’s cracking the door open to go deeper.
Sometimes when my dad walks by me, he pokes me really hard in the ribs and says “how’s it going, buddy!” This always startles and annoys me so much, but he’s just trying to connect and show affection.
We have to look for these signals to connect with our parents. They are everywhere. We move thru the world so fast that we miss most of them.
Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a relationship with their parents or have parents that want to connect at all. But there is often an opportunity to bridge that divide, even when it seems impossible to connect. As our parents age, we can start to do the math on how many more times we will see them. (ex: 2x per year times 15 years. Only 30 more times!)
It’s key to not miss out on the opportunities to connect. Because as much as small talk can be frustrating, there is gold underneath those basic questions. And looking back, we will be so grateful that we dug a little deeper for it.