1 Tammuz 5759
I recently graduated from college and now I’m working and living at home with my parents. B”H, there is nothing unusual about my family situation, but it’s hard living at my parents’ again full-time for the first time in almost four years after having gotten used to dorm life. Could you please give me some practical tips regarding Kibud Av Va’Em?
[Name withheld upon request]
It is definitely a hard thing to be an adult – and yet to be a child at the very same time. On the one hand, you are a mature and capable person – on the other hand, you are your parent’s child. How to balance the two? The 1st thing that I would tell you is to keep the lines of communication open. It is important to continually try and express your thoughts and feelings. When an argument could possibly be brewing, if you are open about how YOU feel [the famous ‘I message’], your parents will really be able to hear your position.
Although parents mean well, very often they are critical of us. Criticism can make us angry, hostile, and defensive. It is important to know that being defensive and defending our position, will usually bring about more criticism and prolong the confrontation. According to Halacha [Yoreh Deah 240:11] a child [no matter what age] must respond respectfully to a parent even if the parent is violating Jewish law in his own behavior. It is however permisable to question a parents statement politely.
Here are several ways to deal with criticism:
1] Don’t say anything at all. Just take it in and tell yourself some positive things at the same time.
2] Agree with your parents. Although they may be making the comment in a bitter tone, think about it, perhaps it’s a true statement, and something you could work on.
3] Tell your parents straightforwardly how the comment makes you feel. [ Mom, it really hurts me when you say……..]
When parents come down hard and make you feel like a child again – reframe the message into something good. Though what they are saying may come across in a yell, [ WHY ARE YOU COMING HOME SO LATE!!!!!! ] the bottom line is that they care and are concerned for you. It is important to acknowledge that in your mind.
Don’t forget to show gratitude to your parents for all that they do for you. When we are younger this unfortunately slides right past us and we take things for granted, but when we are older we can indeed truly appreciate our parents and show it. This concept of thanking them can bring terrific realizations into our heads, and give us an extra helping of love and patience in our dealings with them.
Interactions, especially in a case like yours, where you have been away for awhile, within the parameters of Kibud Av V’am, really give us a chance to work on our Middos and be better people, This flows from meeting the challenges that living at home again presents in our lives.
Lastly, remember that even though parents actions and words don’t always come across in the right way, ultimately, parents want us to succeed and excel as human beings.Though they have funny ways of demonstrating it, most of their actions stem from their love for us. Without their guidance in the many forms that it takes, just think…………who would we really be?