Holidays that honor parents can bring up a lot of contradicting emotions for those of us who have grown up with disappointments and conflicting messages from one or both of them.
Not all of us can wholeheartedly celebrate days like Father’s Day or Mother’s Day. The “Norman Rockwell” ideal is not the reality for most families today. We wish we could buy those Hallmark cards that say, “Thanks for always being there!” and have it be true, but the truth is not all of us have had that experience.
When a parent disappoints us, we feel gypped, deprived and angry, but part of figuring out who we are takes reflection on where we come from. Our parents have so much influence on who we become, so if we're endlessly blaming them for things, it can be difficult to find out who we truly are. Those negative experiences from childhood, or in our recent lives, never really leave us.
There are two ways to look at it: You can either carry around anger and bitterness and punish them for what they did, or you can try and understand them, forgive and be at peace.
Some events you will never get over or get closure from, but consider these reasons for why you should forgive the one that let you down:
Parents Aren’t Perfect
Since our parents are generally the first people who teach us what to expect from the world, when we’re young, we unquestionably trust what they believe or do.
It’s human nature to assume that these people are looking out for our own best interest and we can rely on them. We assume they should know exactly what we need and want. They brought us into the world, after all.
It isn’t until we start to get older and become more aware that we discover their flaws. Our parents are not all-knowing beings. Despite our high expectations, at the end of the day, they're just human.
There is no guidebook that explains how you can unequivocally avoid letting down your child. Raising a family is a learning experience all on its own. Our parents come from their own screwed up families and may carry their own sadness and bitterness into the next generation -- aka us.
I’m not saying it’s not painful, but I think we have to recognize that our parents aren’t perfect; they are capable of making mistakes.
They Were Doing The Best They Could
We all have individual ideas on how love should be measured. Some might say you must tell someone you love him or her every day; others would say it’s about the amount of time you physically spend with someone.
Again, it's important to consider things from your parents' perspective. Since most of us are in our 20s, our parents are mostly in their 50s and 60s. Growing up in their generation, it was socially appropriate for the man to just earn the paycheck and be hands-off with his family; being a provider was equated with love.
Times have changed in this generation, and being so distant just doesn’t fly these days.
We expect parents to be providers AND make time for us. Sadly, our parents just may not have the ability or capacity to express love the way we want them to. This doesn’t mean they don’t love us with everything they have; they just demonstrate it in different ways.
You Can’t Change The Past, But You Can Change The Future
So you didn’t get the dream childhood or the perfect upbringing your friends got? There’s nothing you can do about the past, but I think it’s possible to rebuild the relationship for the future.
Salvage what is left. Educate your parents about what is going on in your life today, this present moment. Get to know them as the people they have become.
Be flexible in your expectations. Time is valuable, people change and at the end of the day, everyone -- even parents -- just want to feel accepted and loved.
Forgive your parents so you can set yourself free and rediscover who you are without all of the baggage. Make peace with your past and let it go.
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