Your Relationship With Your Parents

Consider the relationship with your parents during their sunset years.


  • I spoke with a friend who is counseling his 20-year-old son through a relationship. It was a delicate situation, but the fact that his son was calling his dad about it was admirable.
  • I learned from another friend that he talks every day with his daughter as she works her way through college in another state. Every day. He’s not checking up on her; she calls him.
  • My daughter Cynthia came into my office to ask some advice. She’s juggling several commitments (lots of exciting things going on in her life) and she wanted my thoughts. It was an hour long – not all that uncommon nowadays – and the both of us treasured the time.

What is awkward about these three situations? Adult children seeking advice from their parents, that’s what’s awkward. I didn’t act this way when I was 20-something. Did you?

As a young man, I desired to break free from my parents, figure out life for myself, stake my claims. The same was true for my siblings and virtually all my friends. Independence was a virtue for us, and situations like these above were perceived as weird – even manipulative or controlling.

So in my 20s, my folks weren’t all that important to me. Don’t get me wrong, I still appreciated them some. Wendy and I had kids and clunked along the first decade of our marriage, and we saw my parents dutifully at holidays, reunions and such. But we didn’t really enjoy each other’s company. I just didn’t think my folks were all that important. Call me thoughtless if you want. Perhaps I was.

It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that I began to rethink this idea of “independence” from my parents. We’re now rooted in Colorado, but we make it a point to visit Minnesota at least once per year. My folks make it out here about the same. We Skype often and keep tabs on each other. My parents stay connected with the kids with birthday presents and phone calls.

Bernie and Judy Jeub are in their sunset years. I enjoy them now more than I ever have in my life. I love them, as I think every parent should love their parents.

I’ve got more to say on this next time. Please share below: what is your relationship with your parents?

About Chris Jeub

Chris is the father of 16 children, busily running the family businesses and learning the depths of love along the way.

  • Evan Brammer

    Nearly two decades ago, my mother went to prison.  Since then, because a realistic mother-son relationship wasn’t going to happen, she has become my best friend after my wife.  I look forward to her weekly calls and am sad when I miss them.

    My father and I didn’t have the best relationship growing up, but since having children of my own (our fourth was due five days ago) it has grown into a wonderful friendship.

    • Chris Jeub

      Wow, you have quite a story. Sounds similar to mine, but with more intense circumstances. Proves the point that mountains can be moved!  
      Question: do you have siblings who feel the same? Or different?

  • Destiny

    My parents are my best friends I could not imagine not talking to them on a daily basis. When I was in my 20’s and having children I loved having my mother coming and staying with me she was great fun and helped me greatly.  My parents give me my Independence but they have always let me know that if I need anything they are there for me. I have friends who’s parents have made it clear to their kids that if they did not call at least 3 times a week they were not doing their job. my parents were not like that when I turned 18 they talked with me about being an adult and making the hard life decisions that we all have to make but it was never made a requirement by them for me to spend time with them I feel that this made me feel better about a relationship with them that they valued the time we spent together rather than demanding it.  

  • Emily Accavitti Klakulak

    I believed the same as you when I was in my 20s. I wanted little to do with my parents. Independence was the goal. Thankfully, I met a friend in my late 20s who shared with me that life should be spent *together* with our families as that is who God gave us to spend our lives with. because of her influence, we decided that as exciting as it might sound to move away and spread our wings and set up shop in another state, it was better to stay here in Michigan where the weather is stinky and the roads are even worse. This way, the children have their grandparents weekly. The relationships are strong. And when our parents grow old, they can come stay with us and be taken care of, instead of going to a nursing home. This whole goal of independence thing is really not wise and makes no sense at all *for most people*. (there are exceptions of course, but I think we are put in our families for a reason) and we plan on teaching our kids the same.

    • Chris Jeub

      You are SO right on. Very well said.
      Deep thought: I know friends who try to explain away their distance from their parents. “Let me tell you how bad they are…” and then they go on to explain some pretty insignificant things, one-sided at that. I really hope they come around and start rebuilding their relationships with their parents.

      • JJF

        They confide in you, and you judge them? Have you walked in their shoes? How would you know if the incidents were insignificant or not? Perhaps they stopped sharing with you when they sensed your judgment.

        • Chris Jeub

          Have I walked in their shoes? Yes, that’s the point of the article. How did you miss that?

          Adults who struggle with this attitude toward parents is common. Talking about the depth of the problem is not “judgment.” It’s being honest and truthful. Perhaps helpful.

  • j*e*n

    My situation may be a bit different than most, as my parents worked together in a large family-owned business for as long as I can remember. Dinner conversations frequently were about the business, new opportunities, problems in the factory, and the like. My sister & I often went on business trips with them where a family vacation was tacked on for a few days at the end. I got to go more places & see more things than any of my friends then, and even most of them now. I went to college with the plan to get an education, work someplace else for a few years (their requirement, not mine), then come back & join the family business. I met & married a wonderful man in college, and he proved to be such an asset to the family & family business that our first move after I finished my degrees was to come back home to join the business. We live half a mile from my parents’ house, and see them frequently. We go to church together, they help watch the kiddos, and we consider them great friends. They are actively involved in my kids’ lives and we love having my parents (and grandma) living in the same town. 

    • Chris Jeub

      Wow, sounds like a dream!
      I hope my children appreciate the value of small business. They, too, have enjoyed the helpful vacations/write-offs over the years. Whenever we’re tasked with traveling cross-country for work, we try to figure in the family.

  • Ninabi

    My husband’s career took us far from family and all around the country.  We kept in close contact with our parents and relatives- sometimes being fortunate enough to live within a few hours of a parent or aunt and uncle.  Family is visiting as I type.
    But because we had such a wonderful experience living in many places, I encouraged that in my own children.  Go.  Do not stay.  It’s an amazing world out there, full of adventure and opportunity.  My parents felt the same way and used the same words and in turn, I said them to my kids.   Of course, email and Skype make it easy to stay in touch no matter how many miles separate us.  Currently my daughter is above the Arctic Circle, manning an engineering research station under the northern lights.  
    I guess I find this post interesting because I am noticing a trend on Facebook with my peers.  I’m seeing a lot of parents with young adult children still living at home and they are doing family activities in a way that suggests a younger parent-child relationship.  Are children leaving the nest at a later date than we did? Why is that?  A lot of these same parents-we were all public school students together back in the late 70s- put their kids in private school and all activities are heavily supervised, even to the point of parents going along to the restaurant when the seniors are going out for dinner before Homecoming or Prom.  Can these kids become confident, secure adults who will be good leaders in their own adult lives when every step is monitored?

    Just curious about the trend I am seeing and wondered what your thoughts were.

    • Emily Accavitti Klakulak

      I have noticed a trend in this too, but I think its a good thing, not a bad one. Well-the monitoring thing before homecoming dances is a bit odd, but the adult children at home thing *I think* is a very wise thing. I have no intentions at all of telling my kids what your parents told you and what you told your kids. I plan on telling them a little of the opposite actually-that the family is most important, and that if possible, it is best to stay close and live life with them. I encourage my own children to have strong relationships with their Aunts and Uncles and Grandparents and teach that this is far more important than spreading their wings and flying away from them. I think it is a tragedy that it is almost expected that children will grow up and leave home-and I don’t mean leave home and live in their own houses close to family, but leave home and go far far away. Grandparents never know their grandchildren. The elderly rot in nursing homes while their children and grandchildren are off having “adventures”. Where’s the accountability and responsibility and respect and love for family when the family separates like that? I don’t think it is good at all.

      Should one of my children decide to spread their wings and “fly away” from us, I wouldn’t hold them back, but I do hope that I am able to teach them and instill in them a love for family closeness, instead of a love for independence. We are never really independent anyways. We still always depend on people, why not our families? They are the ones God gave us.

    • Emily Accavitti Klakulak

       Alos, my kids at least will be encouraged to stay home and become financially secure before leaving the nest. I left home at 21 and as soon as I did, my debt snowballed. I was not ready. It is wise to stay home until really ready.

  • Grace

    What choice does Cynthia have? Is she able to go away to school? Does she have job skills so she can get an apartment and a job? Is she permitted to date?

    She lives an isolated life and has a limited education, without access to many peers. That might explain her dependence on her parents as advisors. She doesn’t have college counselors, resident assistants, a boyfriend, older peers.

    • Chris Jeub

      Grace, you have no idea what you’re talking about. You’re off topic, too.

    • Elizabeth

      Good grief Grace, Cynthia goes to the University of Colorado, a real college with an excellent reputation.

  • Sheila (UK)

    Hi Chris,
                 My parents divorced when I was 14 and my mother remarried. I had a difficult relationship with her and my step-father which resulted in me leaving home at the age of 20 (not my choice). I struggled for years with my relationship with them. My step-father was diagnosed with cancer a couple of years ago and also has other health issues and it was really throught this that he apologised for his part in the difficult relationship.
               Since having my own children I can understand that my mum did not have an easy time of it when my father left and we get along really well now.
                I have always had a good relationship with my dad, with just a few minor disagreements along the way.
                I have spent a lot of time researching my family tree and have uncovered so many sad family stories about people that I shall never meet but who are part of my story. I believe it is so important to spend time with not only our parents but grandparents too.  When they are gone it is too late.
                I think most young people like to think they can make it without too much advice, I know I did, but when we get older with our own families we realise how important it is to seek counsel from those closest to us.

    • Chris Jeub

      Sheila, you hit on something that I was holding back from saying: “When they are gone it is too late.” That thought haunts me. I’ve seen friends bury their parents with bitterness in their hearts toward them, and it isn’t worth it. 

  • Salamander99

    Really  needed to read this today. I lost my dad in 1997 when I was only 24 years old.. I was in a grief so deep that it took me years to climb out.  Now looking back I am so thankful that I was reconciled with him for about 6 months before his death.  I had made some terrible choices at the time and my dad, although he strongly disapproved, allowed me to find my way and allowed me to learn from my choices.  His cultural background (from rural india — born in the 1930s) wasn’t one where I could easily ask for his help on “adult” issues, but we came to a good understanding of one another and I know that he was proud of some of the good choices I had started to make as an adult (finally!).  

  • Laine

    Actually my siblings and I all regularly go to our mother for advice and we’re in our mid 30’s to late 40’s.  I speak to my mother on the phone almost every day and don’t find it awkward at all.  Since she’s got more life experience than I do it just makes sense to go to her first.

  • Laine

    I should add that I don’t find going to my mother for advice awkward at all. Never have. 

  • Elizabeth

    I was very close to my Dad. I became closer to my mother later in life. I didn’t look to them so much for advice once I was an adult but I shared a lot with them. My dad and I talked several times/week on the phone. I was always asking them to share stories from “the old days”. I have 3 adult children. They seldom ask for my advice and I don’t offer it if it’s not asked for. We see each other often and talk on the phone a few times/week. I think we have a relationship similar to what I had with my parents, and that is good.

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  • Amrodd

    Independence is not abandonment. It is not disrespect. We all have to earn our own way in life. The Bible says when man leaves his parents he should cleave to his wife Gen2:24 .However, we are to care for parents in their old age(1 Tim5:4-8) and  the desires of the spouse are second if they are not willing to care for aging in laws.. Now the elderly have several options unlike in those times. It could be they don’t want to depend on their family.  This still does not mean to neglect them.    Regardless  a relationship with Christ is most important Luke 14:26.  

    • Chris Jeub

      Hi Amrodd. I agreed with you in my 20s: I needed to find my way, needed to cleave to my wife, etc. I suppose I could have made the same arguments you’re making: they’re fine without me, they don’t need my care, etc. 

      Standing on this side of my 20s, though, I’d argue (with more confidence) that such excuses are just that. Excuses.

      I have to respectively disagree. You should love your parents and give them the honor they deserve. Don’t make it a legalistic chore. Just love them and see how the Holy Spirit restores your relationship.

  • Deb

    Struggling here as my mom grows older with this very topic. i love my mom and we do talk,some. I have forgiven her of the past and worked hard for a decade to restore the relationship in my single years. I guess my struggle is my  mom desires to spend her time and visit my like minded unsaved sisters and brother. She will not visit us (I think the biggest issue is the light shining in us but she always finds an excuse)and we are not in the position w/ my hubby’s injuries to travel and see her. So we talk, write on fb, etc. She is healthy,73, and travels on cruises and vacations to many places. She has never met my baby-who is 8 . While I desire to get and stay closer to her so I can help her as she ages,it just seems impossible. We have tried to skype.

    Our young adults do consult with us and enjoy talking to us but I know that isn’t typical today.