Why is it important to open up to your parents and how to do it?

A mother comforting her son and daughter by holding them close to herself.

Do you remember the last time you went through an emotional breakdown? Whose face popped into your mind when you felt like reaching out? Was it that of your parents? For many - certainly not. 

A child’s well-being can be influenced by many factors, but the parent-child relationship is undoubtedly the most significant aspect governing it. Adverse childhood experiences, different parenting styles and a parent’s own mental health define the mental growth and development of the child in early years but the manner in which the conversation takes place between the parent and child continues to shape the mental well-being of children into their teenage and adult life.

It is very important for parents and children to be able to communicate openly and effectively with each other. When the communication is done effectively, children begin to feel that they are respected, heard and understood by their parents, which is a boost to their self-esteem.

Talking things over with a parent can help the child feel less stressed. Together, they can think of ways to cope, solve the problem, and feel better. Knowing that a parent understands and cares about what the child is going through can comfort the child to a great extent but often, it doesn’t comes easy. Parents are often guilty of imposing their own ideas and personality a little too much on their children making it slightly difficult for their kids to foster their own creativity and bloom as an individual.

If only parents started to share their own struggle, not only those setbacks in which they triumphed but also those in which they failed miserably and have talks about their own mental health, it would naturally motivate their children to be comfortable to open up to their parents when they feel like reaching out.

Every parent wants the best for their child but not every parent is patient, not every parent is willing to rethink and revaluate their own belief if challenged by their children, and not every parent will be able to make time and understand their child despite wanting to. However there are still ways through which opening up to parents can feel less arduous and less daunting a task.

  1. Take some time to think about what you want to tell them: Put your thoughts together and if you feel overwhelmed, you don’t have to go through it all at once. Just sharing some of what you’ve been feeling is a great first step, and you can continue to talk over the next few days or weeks as you open up more.
  2. Choose the right time and the right mode of communication : Choose a time when your parents are free to talk or start off by telling them that you want to talk to them about something important. Let them know that you are worried about how you have been feeling; at a time when they’re not busy and you won’t be interrupted. Apart from this, if you are someone who can’t talk well, let words talk for you. Choose the mode of communication that is most comfortable to you.
  3.  Be honest and open: If you have decided to speak, speak with your heart. You may hesitate about bringing emotional or mental health issues to parents, worrying that they won’t take you seriously, the conversation could be embarrassing, or you’ll be stigmatized. It’s understandable—expressing your feelings to parents that you’re going through anxiety or depression can be tough but, it’s not impossible.
  4. Don’t be discouraged : Mental health is often misunderstood and this can cause people to have unhelpful responses. This is not ideal, and does not in any way reflect on you. It’s important that you don’t let this put you off talking about your mental health, as just because one person might have reacted badly does not mean everyone will have the same reaction.
  5. Be patient : Your parents might have lots of questions for you. They might want to know how long things have been like this, or what they can do to help. Be prepared for this, and let them know if you’re feeling overwhelmed and need to take a break. It might take time for your friend or family member to come to terms with what you’ve told them, so try to have patience with them. Let them know you understand this might shock or upset them, but that you came to them because you need their support. You can also direct them to information available online to help them understand.
  6. Tell them how they can help : Unfortunately, parents can’t be saviours all of the time. Let them know that they don’t have to try and fix things but simply lend a listening ear to you. Also reach out to the other people you trust and feel confident to confide in. Don’t be afraid to seek counselling. Ask your parents to help you book an appointment with a doctor. You might also ask your parents to accompany you to the therapist. Seeking help from your parents and professional help is a better option than passing each day alone in your room and continuing to burden your mind. At the end of the day, remember to take actions and have hope for mental well-being. No matter what goes wrong in life, with just a little bit of embarrassment and a little bit of trouble, you can survive it and you will.

What are some other things you would do to communicate effectively with your parents?