Acknowledging that your parents are normal people -- just like the jerks you work with or your own bossy spouse -- and that they too are on a path of growth, can ease your mind a bit. A guest-post by Lodro Rinzler. There comes a time in any young man or woman’s life when they realize that their parents simply do not have it all together. Sure, they go to work and can cook a good meal and host a barbeque but when it comes to the big lifestyle how-tos they are learning along the way, just like we are. For some of us, this news can be devastating. The realization may come as the revelation that your parents do not, actually, have a good marriage and they have chosen to get a divorce. Alternatively, you may come to understand that one of them has squandered decades in a job they have no real interest in performing. The question quickly rears its ugly head: If they don’t have it together to have a successful relationship or enjoyable career, what chance do I have? If you are like me you might turn to your Buddhist practice for solace. Meditation has a grounding quality that can aide us when we have had the rug pulled out from under us and feel, well, groundless. It provides us the opportunity to relax with our breath and encounter difficult emotions as they arise. You have to realize that your parents don’t have a how-to book entitled Growing Up: Marriage, Career, and Family and, as a result, you will not be inheriting it. This realization that we will not hit a magic “I’ve got it all figured out” point can be heart-breaking. If that’s the case for you it might be best to sit with that emotion before engaging your folks in this topic. In your meditation practice you can work with that heartbreak, dropping the storyline around the emotion and just resting with it. There are many other ways to explore your sadness or disappointment. For example, you can contemplate where it resides in your body. Is it that tightness in your throat? Is it a weighing down of your heart? Is that what disappointment looks like? Notice if you can pinpoint where it exists. If you see that it does not have a physical location then you may realize that this sadness is not as real and solid as you thought it was. It's actually just another fluid emotional experience that will ebb and flow throughout your life, just like the waves in the ocean. While we may have come a long way from idealizing our parents when a major issue such as an affair disrupts the usual family dynamic it’s pretty shocking. Who knew mom or dad had that in them? Acknowledging that your parents are normal people, just like the jerks you work with or your own bossy spouse, and that they too are on a path of growth can ease your mind a bit. In the Buddhist tradition teachers have a habit of bringing up the idea that we have been through countless lifetimes and, as a result, every being has been our mother. That means everyone we encounter has shown us incredible kindness, raising us and putting our needs before their own. We too have filled this function for other beings. As paradoxical as it sounds there might be a time when you need to play mother-being to your mother. Not in some future life where you nurture her as a baby koala but in your twenties, thirties, or older. While it’s important to work with whatever emotional experience accompanies you realizing that your parents have major personality flaws, it’s also crucial to keep in close communication with your folks, offering them support as they encounter their next stage of growing up. At a certain point the relationship between a child and parent shifts. You don’t have to be horrified that your parents aren’t perfectly together beings; you can relish it. Your communication can become a two-way street. You can show them the same unconditional compassion they have shown you. Part of showing our parents great compassion involves being willing to listen to them even as they go through potentially painful topics for both of you. We know as Buddhists that our life falls apart in a million ways all the time. Whatever illusion of security we think we can find in external circumstances can vanish in a moment’s time. Our parents experience the same thing and unfortunately, the only thing we as children can do at times is be fully present with them as they struggle with these challenges. Leaning in and listening fully to difficult conversations not only helps our parents as they go through their own path of growth but it allows us to grow as human beings. When we listen and learn what our own parents are going through we drop any pretense of who we thought they were and see them fully for who they are. We stretch our hearts beyond our own discomfort and embrace the present reality of our relationship with them. While there may not be a reliable how-to book for growing up there are tools such as meditation and deep listening that help us write our own story, our own how-to book on staying present and opening our heart to the people that matter the most to us, even if they are a little nuts.