Respect Parents Day

Across Canada we celebrate August 1st as a civic holiday.  But a colleague of mine shared that it is also “Respect Your Parents” day.  The National Today organization provides the history and meaning of the day.

My first thought was why do you need to be reminded to respect our parents? And yet, my mind went to feelings of my own parents and my less than respectful attitudes I held for them for many years. My mother passed away 25 years ago and I know I demonstrated disrespect to her more that I care to admit.  I wish I could do so some of those years over.  The culture and choices I had in life were very different than what my parents had.  My regret stems from how little I understood their world, demanding that they understand mine was my priority.

Now that I am a grandmother, my determination is to ask more than tell.  Science and research and its distribution through the internet provides new parents with current and actionable information.  My advice or storytelling is not that useful. 

But that doesn’t discount my experience.

Respect is not about having the same opinions or accepting the advice given.  It is about taking the time to listen, acknowledge and be curious about how and why those ideas and opinions took shape.  And be open to the possibility there might still be something relevant.  But if not, that is OK too!

New parents have the tendency to sound like their own parents, despite their best efforts.  So, the best advice I can give is (and the irony is not lost on me), don’t give advice.  Grandparents and parents will gain more respect by asking questions first and listen to understand, better still, listen to connect.  Our children, including adult children, will do better from our listening than anything we tell them.  Respect will not require effort or tongue biting; it will flow easily.

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