What is the Best Way to Thank Parents?

My parents recently did something very nice for us. I wouldn’t go into details here thank-youbut I’m very grateful about it. I’ve been wondering what I can do for them, besides sending a thank you card, to express my appreciation. Generally speaking, my parents and I have a really good relationship and even though we go through the usual ebbs and flows like many parent and child do, we still communicate regularly, we love each other, and also as important, we like each other – a lot.

Of course, they are my parents. They raised me to the person that I am today, and while some of the growing was almost entirely up to me after I left home, the values that they taught me helped to establish a solid foundation from which I took off to explore the world. Yesterday I was talking to someone I just met, she’s from Iran who grew up in London, and she now lives in the United States. Even though we just met, we quickly connected and discovered our life experiences were somewhat similar. At some point I shared with her my religious/spiritual view of the world. She then told me that I am very fortunate that I have been all over the world – I grew up in Japan for the most part until I was 23, but I’ve then lived in Europe and in the United States and have been to many other places. I agreed with her, I am truly blessed to have the life that I do, and for that I am forever grateful to my parents. Even though we Japanese are known to show deep respect to our parents, I am sure that this sense of gratitude for those who raised us is universal.

After pondering the original question (“What can I do to show my appreciation?”) for a while, I tried to put myself in their shoes. After all, I now have my own kids. I will do everything I can to raise them so they can be self-reliant, confident and happy adults and find what they love to do in life. When they grow up and had a similar idea of thanking us and asked us how they could express their appreciation towards us, what would I say?

I’d probably tell them, “It was my pleasure”. Would I want them to do anything for us? Probably not, except that they keep us in their lives and spend time together, call us when they need help and let us know when they are happy. If they are blessed with their own kids, pass on whatever life lessons they learned. I think that’s probably what all parents need and want. Anything beyond that is icing on the cake – right? Would you share what you’d do or have done to show them that you are grateful for all that they have done for you, especially that “icing” part? I need some ideas!

2 comments on “What is the Best Way to Thank Parents?

  1. Hi Etsuko,

    Glad to see a post I can read 🙂
    But I encourage you to keep crushing it in Japanese.

    I know the best thing one can give their parents, but is one of the hardest for some circumstances, is one’s time.

    Especially once they’re retired, parents usually have a lot of free time on their hands, and reminisce about their children and earlier memories alot.
    This is coupled with the fact that the children are now grown and gone, off living their own lives. The irony is that this is when the parents are now most available to spend time with their children.

    Seems like you’re able to meet with your parents at least 2 or 3 times a year Etsuko, even though you’re on the other side of the world. That’s pretty good!
    I’m about the same frequency but am only a three hour drive away. :

    So I guess my advice is, however much you see your parents while they’re still alive, consider seeing them a little more than that if you can.

    Good luck!

  2. A big fear and frustration with parents might be that they will be mostly forgotten by their children.

    Mostly at my wife’s insistence, I visit my parents about once a month. If I were to analyze my parents’ intent in our conversations, there would probably be a lot of my parents either trying to make a difference in my life, or searching for evidence that they’ve made a difference in my life.

    I think that a lot of parents are deathly afraid of becoming irrelevant to their children. Remaining relevant seems to be a major issue with older people in general.

    Honestly, I don’t do this a lot, but I like to think it means something to my parents if I mention something or tell a story which gives evidence that they have been making a difference in how I live, what I believe, and how I relate to my work or society. Even if I don’t talk with them often, it might provide a feeling of constant connection and relevance for my parents to simply know that they have contributed to my life whether I’m always telling them or not.

    One major obstacle in my showing gratitude to parents is the feeling that they are trying to make a difference in my life by influencing or even controlling things. It’s a challenge, but I’m now starting to consider that maybe it’s best to try focusing on the many ways that they have ALREADY influenced me.

    If I were to live more with that focus, then maybe it would be a lot easier to think of ways to show appreciation to parents in a meaningful way.