Getting Along With Parents

A spiritual look at issues of interest to young people

Have you ever felt that your parents are too difficult to deal with? Maybe you think your discussions with them go one way - and they're doing all the talking. It's frustrating when people won't listen to what you have to say or consider your point of view.

What can you do in those moments? You can listen to God. You can listen for what will bring solutions.

One time my dad and I got into a very bad argument. We just didn't see eye to eye on whatever it was we were talking about. Suddenly, he was furious, yelling and throwing things around. In the past, I have to admit, I might have just yelled right back or ignored him. But I had been praying a lot about our arguments, and this time I just felt in my heart that there was no cause for the anger. I stayed calm and quiet. I prayed right there. I did my best at that moment not to think of him as anything but God's loving child.

I told my dad that I thought it was OK for us to have different opinions. It didn't mean we had to be mad at each other. Or that I was rejecting him or his standards. And I could hardly believe it. He calmed right down! And that was a real turning point in our relationship.

Healing a family rift in this way means loving and respecting one another. That's easy enough to say, I know. But it takes recognizing that God is the only legitimate motivator of us all - which isn't always easy. And parents, because they are God's children, deserve respect. Even if you know love is not the basis from which they're acting at a given moment, your actions toward them can still be loving.

This never means needing to just endure harsh words or abuse. But even if the hurt you feel someone has caused is deep, that person is still God's child. Praying can help you find ways to express love for that person - and yourself - even in the most impossible moments.

God gives each of us dignity. God's love is right where you are. It is dignifying, genuine, and kind. Keeping this in mind brings the strength to stay calm, listen for Him, and act thoughtfully.

Ending anger usually involves ending fear, and fear can be subtle. Thoughts like "I'm going to be missing a good time if they don't let me go with my friends" and "This is my only opportunity to do this" really point up fears you and I need to guard against for ourselves. Prayer will show you that opportunities, good times, and freedom can't be limited for any reason, because they come from God alone.

Sometimes when parents say things that make you mad, it's because they, too, are really afraid. And what can you do to help them? Well, you can pray in a different way; you can let your actions kindle their trust in God and show them that their fears are unfounded. This supports them in understanding that you are God's child and that you are in His care.

Another thing that helps is your willingness to correct yourself - to do better when you know you can. To be honest with yourself. To ask questions: "What are the messages I've been sending my parents? Are they messages of care and consideration or of willfulness and pride?"

The woman who discovered Christian Science wrote, "No reproof is so potent as the silent lesson of a good example" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Miscellaneous Writings," Pg. 126). When your actions have been honoring our Father-Mother, God, they do set a good example. They follow what the Lord's Prayer says to do. This prayer of Christ Jesus can be found in the Bible, in the book of Matthew (see 6:9-13).

You can be your own good example, and show self-control. If you feel like just arguing with your parents when they've lost their cool, hold your guard. Make sure you're on a solid spiritual foundation - that you're being honest with them and yourself, and that you're treating them with the same respect you want. Don't just go to your room and crank up the music. Don't just take off to your friend's house to blow off steam at him or her. (And, if the situation is really serious, don't let fear stop you from getting the help you need.) No matter what, love - and heal the situation.

You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.

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