Healing Family Relationships
A high school student describes how she was able to overcome her dread of going home and strengthen her relationship with her parents.
Categories: Jesus (Parables), Loving and Forgiving
"Why should my parents try to run my life? They don't know what it's like!"
I used to ask myself this every day, and I still occasionally do. Most of us teens don't want to be bothered by our parents. But as much as we might feel we hate home, our parents, or siblings, we must face them every day. Being a part of a family is just not something that can be dodged, no matter how hard we might try. With a little probing of the Bible and loving guidance from some close friends, I was steered in the right direction and have recently learned a lot about myself, my parents, and home.
Being a diligent worker and an avid trumpet player, I was doing pretty well in school. However, though I had comfortable grades in all of my classes, I was unsatisfied with the courses themselves and with some of my classmates. I became increasingly frustrated as schoolwork got more demanding, and I didn't feel I was learning anything of value. Now you may be asking, "What does this have to do with being at home?" We'll get there. I promise.
Band is definitely my favorite class. My band teacher is the most wonderful woman in the world -- happy and spontaneous in everything she does. Over the past couple of years, she and I have become very good friends, and I would talk to her about my problems in school because she had the most amazing ability to sympathize with me and give me great advice.
But I never liked to go home because I'd have to face my parents asking the same question: "How was your day?" Sometimes they'd throw a curve and ask, "How much homework do you have tonight?" But most days, no matter how terrible classes were for me, I'd just say, "Fine," or shrug my shoulders with a muffled grunt so I could hurry downstairs to vent to my friends online, which is what many of us teens do. So my parents never really knew about the struggles I was having, while my band teacher was already knee-deep in my problems. Soon, I started dreading going home because I'd really have to think about what I could tell my parents about what happened that day. Also, I was having so much fun with my band teacher that I never wanted to leave school. As long as she was around, I was happy. After a couple weeks of hanging around school until the latest time my mom could come pick me up, I realized it was time to face my fear. I had to go home, so I might as well learn to tolerate it, or even enjoy it.
I ended up talking to my band teacher about my dread of home. She agreed that it wasn't right for me to avoid going home, and she steered me on the path of success. After talking with her for a while and thinking about what we had been studying in a required freshman class at school called "Frontiers of Faith," I discovered how many references to "home" there are in the Bible. There are 50 citations in the King James Version of the Bible referring to "home."
In Jesus' parable about the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:10-32), the younger son asks his father for his share of the inheritance -- the money and items he would receive when his father dies. His father agrees to this request, and the son then runs away from home to spend all that he has just acquired. As we all know, this was a big mistake because the younger son was soon stuck with the pigs, having wasted all that his father had given him. Basically, he was a beggar on the street. Realizing that even the servants at his father's house have more luxuries than he does, the younger son sets out for home, expecting to be ridiculed and punished for his actions. Instead, he is greeted with a kiss from his father and a huge feast to welcome him back home.
Now, home doesn't seem so bad, does it? Just like the prodigal, we must recognize that home is our right place, and there is no avoiding it. Sure, our parents probably don't throw us a big party every time we come home from school, but they express that same kind of love for us all the time. They are always there to support us and care for us, even though we may not realize it. I learned this the hard way, and hopefully it's not too late for you to learn it the easy way. Our parents' love for us cannot be measured or compared to anything else, and it is in our best interest to give them back the love they deserve.
This parable helped me see my parents in a different light. I discovered one very important thing in this whole fiasco: our parents often feel that they are being sidelined in our lives. They want to know about our day or how much work we have to do at night because they care. They care about us more than we can even imagine, and answering their questions is the least we can do to show them that they matter in our lives. When our parents ask, "How was your day?," we can give them a big hug and say, "Mine was great! (or not so great!) How was yours?"
When you start being more open to your parents, they become more open to you and your ideas. Once I started sharing my day with my parents, answering their questions, and sometimes even asking them how their day was, I found that they were willing to compromise more. They were ultimately happier about their relationship with me, their daughter, which is one of the most important things in their lives, if not the most important. And, I was happier with my relationship to them.
I've had more struggles with my parents, but that doesn't keep me away from them. Almost every time, I get the courage to talk to them about something that I was hesitant to talk to them about, something I wouldn't normally tell them. But my relationship with my parents grows each day because I grow every day and because I continue to find more love and support from them everywhere I turn.