- If your relationship with your parents isn’t the best, it may help to speak to them or a school counsellor to discuss your problems
- Each week, we respond to a question from our readers, and our team of clinical psychologists gives advice and resources you can turn to
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I didn’t have a good relationship with my parents growing up. Although it seems like my mom and I have gotten much closer over the last couple of years, I still hesitate to involve them in personal aspects of my life.
My new best friend, who is a boy, constantly asks to meet my parents. I agreed to lunch, but I’ve never been more anxious about anything in my life. I know my parents won’t be awkward (except my dad, but that’s normal because I am a girl and my friend is a guy), but I would much rather run away from this situation. Why is this happening to me? What should I do?
Thanks, Worst Lunch Ever
Dear Worst Lunch Ever
We understand the awkwardness that comes with sharing bits of your personal life with your parents, especially when you weren’t very close with them in the past. Don’t worry about feeling this way!
It’s good that you have been building a better relationship with your mom over the last couple of years. Obstacles in life are always easier to overcome when you have someone in your family that you can rely on and trust. They’re your safety net, and you can be theirs too.
Have you ever spoken to your parents about your relationship with each other? It might be an awkward conversation to have, but it could be useful to approach them and say, “I feel like we didn’t have a good relationship when I was younger, and this makes me nervous about involving you in my personal life now. Can we talk about this?”
You can discuss why you feel this way, and it might help them understand you better and create a fresh start.
If you think your parents wouldn’t be open to this conversation, seek out a school counsellor for a chat. You could talk to them about your childhood, and they could give you advice to help you navigate your relationship with your parents now.
Even on your own, it might be worth taking the time to go into your memory and pinpoint why you feel this way.
Is there a grudge that has not been resolved? Do you think you’re ready to let go of the past and work towards a better relationship with your parents? What will you do if they don’t put in the same amount of effort as you? It’s easier to latch on to something that has hurt you in the past than to let it go. But if you can’t let it go right now, you don’t have to.
Remember that you don’t need to pressure yourself to tell your parents everything. You are allowed to have privacy. Take baby steps – instead of diving into the deep end right away, dip your toes in and test the waters.
Try talking to your parents about your mutual interests. Do they like to watch the same films as you, or read the same books? If you feel like your parents are trying to make an effort to bond with you by making conversation, lean into that.
Find out what you can do as a family, or even with just one of your parents. By spending more time together, you’ll end up feeling more comfortable around them, and having a group lunch with your friend may not seem as scary.
However, if you really don’t want your friend to meet your parents, you don’t have to arrange it. Explain your reservations to him, and if he really is your friend, he will understand. Nobody should force you into doing anything. Put yourself and your comfort first in these kinds of situations.
It is also worth noting there may be a scientific reason for why you’re feeling awkward about bringing a guy friend to meet your parents. As a teenager, you’re transitioning from being a kid to an adult – which is a pretty big step – and your brain is developing along with you, as well as the hormonal changes taking place.
So if you’re feeling confused and anxious, know that a lot of other people around you likely feel that way too. It’s really just science!
Hope this helps, Friend of a friend.
This was answered by clinical psychologists from the Department of Health under Shall We Talk, a mental health initiative launched with the Advisory Committee on Mental Health.