If you have a good relationship with your parents, you probably know that all they want is for you to be happy. They told you that when you brought home a bad grade on a math test and when you went through a tough breakup. They reminded you after arguments in which you all said some things you shouldn't have. Really, chances are they've been thinking about your happiness since before you were even born.
And don't you want the same for them? You can't guarantee that anyone will be happy every minute of every day, but if you knew you could add more joy to your parents' lives, wouldn't you do it? Here are 17 ways to get started:
1. Talk to them when you're upset, but call them again when you're feeling better.
In an ideal world, you wouldn't have days where you call them sobbing that your life sucks and everything is terrible when the problem is mostly that you're overtired, but because these days are inevitable, your parents want you to feel comfortable calling to vent/discuss/continue sobbing. When you do, though, they will worry, and they won't know you calmed down an hour later unless you call back to tell them.
2. Accept their generosity.
You're an adult, and with any luck gainfully employed. They shouldn't have to buy you clothes or give you extra spending money. Realize that they may not be doing it because they have to. They want to. Say thank you as Mom pays for that new dress at the register. Say thank you again when you wear it to dinner and she compliments you on how nice you look.
3. Remember that gifts shouldn't go one way.
You don't have to buy anything extravagant, but it's nice to give them something from time to time. You're an adult with a salary, after all.
4. Acknowledge the ways in which you've become them.
At the end of the day, all you want to do is wash your face and brush your teeth, just like Mom. You get overly excited over airfare deals, just like Dad. Let them know that you recognize just how little distance there is between the apple and the tree -- and you're good with that.
5. Call your grandmother just to say hi.
Yes, you should call your parents. But in addition, just think about how pleased your mom sounds when she says, "Grandma told me you called –- that was nice of you."
6. Talk through big decisions with them.
They bought a house. They changed jobs. They had children. Basically, they've been there. You will ultimately make the choices that are right for you, but by consulting them as you're making a major decision, you not only gain perspective but also make clear that you still value their insights.
7. Reference childhood jokes and memories.
Mispronounce Haagen-Dazs as "Hazel-Dazel" the way you used to. (Or was that just me?) Do the hand motions to a Passover song subtly across the Seder table. Ask about your favorite stuffed animal. With just a little remark or gesture, you can tell your parents that you have fond memories of your childhood.
8. Meet someone who makes you happy.
This one is tricky because it's not something you can just check off your to-do list when you have a little downtime. And it's not something you should rush or force. But when you find the person whose mere existence delights you, the person who cares about you in the way that you deserve to be cared about, there's no way your parents won't be delighted too.
9. Share photos.
Your parents can't be there for every joyous or fun or just silly moment of your life, nor should they be. But because they get joy out of your joy, it's worth taking a few minutes to send them a picture from your recent hiking trip or that priceless image of your kid's spaghetti-eating fiasco. Do you have time to check Facebook? You have time to do this.
No one doubts you're busy. No one would argue that plane tickets are cheap. But if you don't make it happen, one day –- a day you don't want to think about at this point –- you're going to admit to yourself that you could have. And wish you had.
11. Embrace the family vacation.
It doesn't have to mean Disney World anymore, though it certainly can. Because quick weekend trips to your hometown can be stressful, it can be really nice to schedule a longer trip together. Concerned about too much togetherness? Pick a destination where you can all do your own thing during the day and meet up later for dinner.
12. Be affectionate.
Give hugs beyond the ones that bookend a get-together.
13. Introduce them to your friends.
Show them you've moved past any embarrassment you felt as a teen. Now you feel it is important for the people in your life to know them. And vice versa.
14. Ask them to dance.
It doesn't have to be your wedding for a father-daughter dance, and the song doesn't have to be slow and sappy. When "Poker Face" comes on, grab your dad's hand and pull him to the dance floor. He knows all the words anyway.
15. Gossip with them.
There are few things more enjoyable than sitting around and talking sh*t with your family. By telling them about that friend who caused an utterly unnecessary scene at a recent dinner, you're essentially saying, "You get it. You understand why this is absurd." It's not the kindest way to bond, but it's likely to lead to laughter.
16. Have a meal with your sibling(s).
They always hoped you would be friends one day. Text your parents a photo of the two or five of you eating sushi together.
17. "I love you."
Do you use the guidelines above to make your parents happy? Do you have more ideas to add? Tweet your thoughts @HuffPostWomen using #gooddaughter, and we'll include them in a slideshow below.
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