Should I spend more time with my parents as a teen?

I am 15 and i am wondering if i should spend more time with my parents. Should i stop gaming to accomplish and also get better grades to make them proud?

Yes, you absolutely should spend more time with your parents.

This article by Tim Urban on the Wait But Why blog called The Tail End provides an eye-opening visual account of how little time we actually have left with our parents when we get older:

I’ve been thinking about my parents, who are in their mid-60s. During my first 18 years, I spent some time with my parents during at least 90% of my days. But since heading off to college and then later moving out of Boston, I’ve probably seen them an average of only five times a year each, for an average of maybe two days each time. 10 days a year. About 3% of the days I spent with them each year of my childhood.

Being in their mid-60s, let’s continue to be super optimistic and say I’m one of the incredibly lucky people to have both parents alive into my 60s. That would give us about 30 more years of coexistence. If the ten days a year thing holds, that’s 300 days left to hang with mom and dad. Less time than I spent with them in any one of my 18 childhood years.

When you look at that reality, you realize that despite not being at the end of your life, you may very well be nearing the end of your time with some of the most important people in your life.

It turns out that when I graduated from high school, I had already used up 93% of my in-person parent time. I’m now enjoying the last 5% of that time. We’re in the tail end.

Man, that last stat was really powerful.

Here are Tim’s three takeaways from the article:

1) Living in the same place as the people you love matters. I probably have 10X the time left with the people who live in my city as I do with the people who live somewhere else.

2) Priorities matter. Your remaining face time with any person depends largely on where that person falls on your list of life priorities. Make sure this list is set by you—not by unconscious inertia.

3) Quality time matters. If you’re in your last 10% of time with someone you love, keep that fact in the front of your mind when you’re with them and treat that time as what it actually is: precious.

How to spend more time with your parents:

You can call them more frequently, but I believe in-person time is much better.

In order to have the opportunity to spend the most in-person time with them, living closer to each other is really the best option.

You can move closer to them.

My parents currently live about a 5-hour drive away from me, which is close enough that they can visit me a few times a year and I can visit them a few times a year.

Sometimes, I wish we lived even closer together, within 2–3 hours, but I’m still very thankful. It’s certainly better than living across the county from them or living in a different country.

My dad’s family lives in Kenya and he’s fortunate to be able to see them once a year. My mom’s family live in Japan and she sees them much less frequently.

I’m assuming you won’t be able to convince your parents to move closer to you, although that might also be worth a shot.

If living close is not an option, you’ll have to save up money to travel to them or pay for them to travel to you, if they agree.

Prioritizing it is really the most important thing.

No matter how close they live, if you don’t prioritize spending time with your parents, it won’t happen.

You should definitely read the Wait But Why article [1]. It will give you a totally new perspective on time spent with your parents and time in general.

I suggest making an effort to spend as much time as possible with your parents. If you don’t, you’ll probably regret it.


[1] The Tail End – Wait But Why

Featured image by Asaf R.

First published on Quora.

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