04/08/2011 09:26 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Teach Your Parents Well and Begin a Life-Changing Conversation

In order to grow up, you have to take your parents off the pedestal or out of the ditch. Most of you have either written your parents off as awful and decided to focus on how you are different, or you still think your parents are somehow god-like and not subject to all the human phenomena that you are (like failures, mistakes, bad traits, humility, remorse, regret, wishes, hopes and the ability to change). Either way, you aren't talking to them, and you aren't teaching them, and you aren't grown up yet.

I challenge you to care enough to start talking. I challenge you to impress yourself in your own life enough that you would have something to teach. By that I mean to go ahead and surpass your parents (they'll ultimately be pleased). Go ahead, be smarter in love, be more patient with your children, pursue what you really want to do for work, stick to a budget, stop berating your body and start eating healthfully. Do the work to sort out something in your life that they never did. That will give you the presence of mind and courage to circle back to them.

In my life right now, I'm all about developing courage, believing that I can change the world. For some reason being able to talk straight to my father about my opinions, my feelings and my anger at his smoking has everything to do with my ability to be the leader I want to be in my life. Can you see the connection? If you can't be a grown-up with your parents, are you really a grown-up? If you can't claim, own and fight for your dream with your parents, can you ever fully believe it?

So many of you are stuck in a sort of vague sense that you cannot have what you want, that you are somehow not good enough. At the Handel Group we think this has a lot to do with how you've "connected the dots" of your life. Looking starkly at who your parents are and what you really have to ask and say to them is the beginning of "reconnecting the dots." Even just telling your parents about what you struggle with and what you are overcoming releases something in you. A next step would be asking your parents to tell you about their lives, either their past, the decisions you are curious about or even their present day. You have to want to start hearing and telling the truth for this to work. You have to believe it will help you, and you have to care enough to prove to them that it's safe to talk to you.

Once the ball gets rolling, most parents want to be human in their children's eyes. They want to explain things that might have hurt you, to own up to and be forgiven for mistakes, and to be free to tell you what they really think without shattering illusions or being looked down on. Imagine allowing your parents to be that with you and how much more mature it will make you feel.

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