- My parents were in their late 60s when I finished high school and died after I graduated college.
- They never pressure me to do better or study harder; they supported me through it all.
A lot can differ about the experience of having older parents. Some children become frustrated they don’t have more time or annoyed their parents can’t be as active as their younger counterparts, and although I did experience these moments, the support my parents gave me outweighed all the negatives.
While a lot of my friends’ parents pressured them to get better grades, get into the best university, or force them down a path they didn’t want to be on, I sat watching gameshows with mine over dinner. I was in charge of all the pop culture questions, while they teamed up to answer the ones about events that happened long before I was born. For the questions none of us could answer, my parents would ask the Google home I got them one Christmas, but only ever calling it ‘goodle,’ no matter how many times I corrected them.
My parents were in their late 60s when I was finishing high school
It wasn’t until my later teens I truly realized the divide we had. They were in their 60s, in a completely different generation, thinking more about retirement than where I was going to go to university.
In my school years, they helped with homework sometimes, but once it got a bit out of their league, they still helped in every other way they could. They made me snacks, encouraged me to take breaks, and joked about my brain leaking out when I’d lock myself away for hours on end studying.
In a way, I always found this to be better than them being able to help with my schoolwork. They became my cheerleaders on the sidelines, supporting me whenever I needed it, regardless of whether or not they understood exactly what I was doing. Not once did they pressure me to do better or work harder. If anything, they wanted me to slow down, take a break, and enjoy life away from the books.
They wanted me to be happy above it all
When I got into university, they didn’t realize what I meant. I’d rushed downstairs delighted, saying, “I got in,” only for my dad to look at me like I wasn’t making any sense. Once I clarified why I was so happy, he sprang from his seat, gave me the best hug in the world, said congratulations, and offered to make me a cup of coffee like he did every morning.
I knew it was a good university, but they didn’t — they just knew I was happy about it, and they were always excited for me to be happy.
This reaction is what I think of when I think of my parents being older, how they responded to my happiness rather than their own expectations. I truly believe the generational divide between me and my parents allowed us to understand each other on all the things that actually mattered in life. My parents didn’t care what I chose to study or what career I wanted, or how good my grades were. All they cared about was who I was and if I was happy.
They died when I was in my early 20s
I lost them both within two years of my early 20s and since then, I realized how much they were my cheerleaders. I went from having this constant influx of unconditional support and love to not really knowing where to find it.
I’ve discovered it’s unique. Not all parents are supportive.
What made my older parents so special was that they’d lived so much of their lives already, they knew what was important, and they instilled that in their parenting style. They knew I wouldn’t understand the complexities of their lives before I came along, nor could they fully understand growing up in the Internet age, but they knew they could support, empathize, and provide a safe space for me, no matter the circumstances.
Being older parents didn’t stop them from having a great relationship with me. We had inside jokes, spoke about everything and anything, and, most importantly, answered all the questions on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.”