Like many kids going off to college, my parents decided to implement a strict “you must call home” rule before my first quarter. And though I thought that calls home would be a tedious once a week chore, I have been surprised by the cathartic experience of sharing my life details over the phone. I call my mom to gossip and my dad to complain about the lack of money in my bank account — and the best part is when I find myself getting annoyed with their typical parental nagging, I can simply use the good ol’ “whoops gotta run to class,” excuse and hang up.
However, from learning about my roommates’ and friends’ relationships with their parents I have learned that some of my conversations with home, specifically with my dad, are quite different from your average father-daughter dialogue.
A typical call home to my father might include a full survey of the mass of homework that I have to do and all of the things I am doing instead of said homework. Another conversation might be an hour long discussion on the current contents of my fridge. However, just as common is a conversation that includes the debaucherous details of my weekend and, yes, even the details of my sex life and which substances (and in what quantities) I have consumed. Cringe.
Yes, I am aware that the idea of sharing these details with your father brings a shudder to any normal young adult. But however aware I am that this particular arrangement is odd, it also feels so normal. I have been sharing all of the details of my life with my dad for as long as can remember, so why would I suddenly begin to keep things secret from him? Particularly since I have discovered that sharing details with my father allows me much more freedom to do such “debaucherous” things.
My dad has explained to me that his number one concern is always my safety. In sharing with him the details about what I am up to, he knows that I am being safe about the decisions I am making. Because he is comfortable with and aware of the way I handle myself around boys and booze, he is more willing to accept some of the more experimental decisions I make while navigating new college experiences.
My father’s golden rule is that there are two types of mistakes in this world: revocable and irrevocable. The wise old man always discusses how irrevocable mistakes, such as getting in a car with a drunk driver or getting myself killed in any way, are mistakes that he could never forgive me for making. However, in life you are allowed to make as many revocable mistakes as you’d like. Don’t get me wrong, revocable mistakes suck, they are dumb and hurtful and we all have to deal with these decisions that come back to bite us in the ass in our lives. But knowing that my dad doesn’t fault me for making these mistakes means that I am able to have a person who supports me through these sometimes difficult circumstances.
I think this is the most important thing I have gained from being honest with my parents. It has taught me that honesty lays the groundwork for strong relationships.
This is the other advantage of being able to share my most intimate life details with my father. It is comforting knowing that there will always be someone in my corner, somewhere to look to for guidance in these moments whom I trust.
I think this is the most important thing I have gained from being honest with my parents. It has taught me that honesty lays the groundwork for strong relationships. This has been a value that I have brought into all of the new relationships I have formed in college that has allowed these relationships to flourish. It has allowed me to create friendships that will hopefully be with me for the rest of my life.
I have found that being honest in all of my relationships has allowed me to feel more free when making debachorous decisions. Hopefully I will learn to make less dumb mistakes, but until then, I know that the strong relationships I have with my friends and parents has created a support system that will be there for me through all the important moments, good or bad.
Emily Smith encourages you to bring more honesty into your relationships.