“I HATE YOU!” I screamed at my parents and stomped out of the room, up the stairs, and into my bedroom, with a satisfactory and pointed slam of the door for good measure. I sat on my bed, stiff and angry, until eventually the anger broke down and I simply burst into tears. “They just don’t understand me!” I thought.
Once again my dad and I had gotten into a fight. Once again what should have been a simple conversation had escalated to the point where we were yelling at each other. Now I was in my room sulking, my parents were angry, and the dog was hiding under the desk.This time it was about homework. Last time it was about youth group. I don’t even remember what it was about the time before that.
I wanted to spread my wings, express my independence. My parents didn’t think that was such a good idea. Last week Dad had snapped at me and I responded rudely. Mom wanted me to clean my room but I thought I just didn’t have time. On and on the arguments went. Sometimes I couldn’t even stand to be in the same room as them. I wasn’t sure if I felt any love for them anymore.
But it hadn’t always been like this.
Ten years ago things were different. Ten years ago I was begging Daddy to come play guitar for me at bedtime. I loved to sit on his lap while he read me stories. I watched him work in the garage as he showed me how to use his tools. We rode around the backyard on his gas powered commuter scooter. One time he even took me on a special trip to the pool. Mom was never a fan of me riding on the back of that little motorcycle, but we had a blast.
Ten years ago mom and I were different too. I helped her in the garden and wore a hat just like hers. I loved to bake cookies and cook dinner with her. She taught me how to read and sing. I picked her the prettiest dandelions and she put them in a vase on the table for dinner. Every night we had the same exchange, “Good night, sweetie. I love you.” “I love you too, Mommy.”
But that seemed so long ago now. As a teenager I could barely remember those days of joy and a good relationship with my parents. Instead of dandelions, stories, and I love you’s, our relationship was identified by fights, arguments, and eye rolls.
We both complained to our friends about the other’s complete insanity and insensitivity. It didn’t seem like the hugs, laughter, and I love you’s would ever come back. Eventually I accepted that this was just the way things were and couldn’t wait to move out. My parents grieved the time and relationship they were losing.
No matter how hard we tried to make things better, each day the relationship got worse. Each fight made the likelihood of change seem more and more distant. When I finally went to college, I viewed it as an escape and rarely went home, even though college was only a half mile away. As I was so apt to do, I ran from the problem of my parents.
Teenage parental relationships are difficult. It’s often so hard to see a future in which things are different. I, at least, didn’t believe that anything would change. But little did I know that once again ten years would make a big difference.
Ten years later we’ve all mellowed out and learned to communicate better. We’ve both learned to apologize for present and past hurts. We’ve learned to respect and listen to each other more than we ever did before. We’ve even managed to disagree about politics without starting a huge fight!
Once again, we enjoy spending time together. We watch movies together, play games, and sometimes even go to a concert or a musical. My dad sends me goofy cartoon emails and is the main person I call when my car breaks down. My mom is the first person I call when I get a promotion or an article published. We chat about life, love, church, and friends. We have differing opinions on the world, politics, and religion, but sometimes we’ve even changed each other’s mind.
Ten years later, like so many disruptive parent/teen relationships, the brokenness has been healed. We have a supportive and restored relationship. We have found forgiveness, peace, and love. Ten years after the fights, arguments, and eye rolls, our relationship is now defined by I love you’s, games, and discussion.
“I never really hated you. I’m sorry I said that. I love you.”
“I know. And I could’ve done things better. I’m sorry I’m not a perfect parent.”
“Oh Mom. No one ever is.”