I begrudgingly moved back in with my parents in 2019 after more than 10 years of living by myself, working in Makati City, the Philippines’ business district, and living an independent life. I was in my 30s, single, and felt I should be living alone. But due to personal circumstances, I swallowed my pride and went home.
Despite my reservations, my time at home positively impacted me and our relationship. Before, we shoved difficult conversations under the rug. Now, we can easily joke about each other’s funny qualities, whereas before, we didn’t even notice them.
Through a failed engagement, cancer scare, and financial difficulties, my parents were there for me, no questions asked. So, I decided I wanted to be more intentional about showing them love.
In living with them for three years, I found these simple and doable ways to express my appreciation.
Pay for what you can
In the Philippines, it’s common for working adults to support their parents financially. My parents, now part of the senior population, receive less than $100 per month as a government pension.
They enjoyed getting gifts, no matter how inexpensive they were. It could be as simple as a tool for house repair, throw pillow cases, or even treats for the dogs.
When I give to my parents, I want to send the message that I think about them and they hold a special place in my life.
Respond to their texts and calls, even if all you can send is an ‘okay’
When I was younger, I didn’t think answering their calls was important. I didn’t reply to their texts in as timely a manner as I should have. When I lived with them, I realized how much they valued my communication and made sure to talk to them all the time. Whenever I was out of the house, I answered their calls and replied to their text messages right away. Through constant communication, I found out what they needed. I also learned about their quirks, preferences, and stories.
Attention is a form of love. Whenever we give them our undivided attention by responding to them, it tells them that we acknowledge their presence.
Do things together
Recently, my mother asked me to drive her to Sunday Mass. These rides began to turn into a mother-daughter ritual, something we never had before.
During one of these rides, she shared that she prays for good health and prosperous lives for my brothers and me. It touched my heart deeply.
When we share experiences with our parents, we create more opportunities for genuine interaction and empathy with them. Doing an activity together is a way for us to get to know what they think and how they feel.
Clean the house
Back home, my morning routine consisted of exercising, walking and washing the dogs, and cleaning up around the house. It made me feel useful, as opposed to a burden.
Cleaning the house tells my parents that I cherish the space where we live. It always lessens the work that they need to do and they get more time to relax.
Tell them details about your life
After three years of living with my parents, I moved out of the Philippines and relocated to Vietnam. Now that I’m living alone, I tell my parents what I’m up to by texting and calling them. It’s a way for me to say I remember them.
They are genuinely interested and ask questions out of curiosity. To some, it may seem they are being nosy, but I don’t see it that way. Communicating about our lives keeps us connected.
Telling them about the simple or important life events – like finding a cool shop in your area or starting a new job — gives our relationships a sense of continuity. When we let them know about the mundane things that make up our days, it sends the message that they are still a big part of our lives.
These simple ways of loving my parents have enriched my relationship with them immensely. Now, we can talk openly about conflicts within the family. The way we communicate with each other has changed for the better.
Our parents are humans, just like us. Trying one or two things from this list can help improve our relationships with our parents while we still can.