Dear Style & Substance:
My mother leaves your column out every week and then asks me over (and over again) if I read it. My parents have these great expectations of me, but the way they act with each other, makes me not want to even try to succeed. They fight over the pettiest things and expect us kids to be polite and have nice conversations. What should I do other than hope that you answer this and I can leave it out on the counter for my mom to read?
Everyone has probably heard the response from a parent, “Do what I say, not what I do”. We find that it doesn’t work too well with anyone, it creates an almost hostile environment, where expectations are simply dismissed. Although they are your role models, they are still human. Bickering can be a comfortable, habitual style of communication, and your parents may not be aware that this has become their style.
To give you a little parental insight, without giving out too many secrets…parents are generally worried about a number of things of which you may be unaware. They worry about money, jobs, possibly aging parents of their own, and their own relationship. Sometimes the bickering about petty things is because of stress, time and inadequacies that they are struggling with. If you aren’t hearing fighting about this big stuff, kudos to your parents, in that they are not concerning you too deeply with adult situations that are beyond your control!
Parents can be the best role models you can have, so once you have identified this issue of bickering, it needs to respectfully be communicated. We believe that the role of a parent is to demonstrate and lovingly instruct good behavior, a strong work ethic, healthy choices for wellness, and to create a happy and secure home. Parents are supposed to be forming lifelong relationships with their children, and teaching them how to along the way.