There are very few of us who reach adulthood without being hurt by our parents. In some ways, they’re our first heartbreak. When we were children, our parents were God to us. They could do no wrong because they were “adults” and they were our parents. However, now that we are older and know that adulthood is a jumble of trials and failures with some success in between, we need to be able to see our parents in a new light. So, after hurt, pain, and disappointment, how does one accept their parents? Read on, my friend.
Accept their limits.
Your parents aren’t God. They are human. They have their limits. Maybe they’re great in one area and fall flat in another. That’s normal. Expecting perfection from your parents is setting yourself up for disappointment. Their most intense limit is most likely held in an emotional foundation. After all, we all have our boiling points before we just snap. Raising a child is no easy feat. There are times where your parents may have snapped and that’s a hard reality on everyone. For a child, it can be traumatizing. Minimally, it lifts the curtain and façade that they are immaculate people who can do no wrong. That’s challenging to accept, but it’s one that we have to realize.
Acknowledge their past.
Everybody has a past. Everybody has ugly parts. There are people who have terrible, horrifying pasts and then there are those that have a few blips. Everybody’s experience affects them differently. If you have a sibling, you know this well. How you reacted to a situation in comparison to your sibling can be as opposite as night and day. Your parents have a past. It might be a nasty one. If it is, then they’re battling a lot of demons while trying to “keep it together for the kids”. Regardless, acknowledge that they’ve lived some life and seize the opportunity to empathize with them.
Remember they tried their best.
Even the most emotionally handicapped and parentally inept parents have tried their best. Sometimes, their best is absolutely phenomenal. You feel loved and supported. You can conquer the world because your parents are home rooting for you. For others, your parents drew the short-end of the nurturing stick. The challenge is coming to the conclusion that a person can still try their very best and it’s not enough. I’ve experienced both types of parents, personally. I think they equally tried their best. One succeeded as a parent with flying colors and the other fell short until he fell off the map. Regardless of how your parent tried, they did try their best and it’s okay if that best is not satisfying to you, but it’s important that you acknowledge that they did try for the sake of your own sanity.
Enter into the cycle of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not a one-time occurrence. It’s cyclical. You may find yourself at peace and having forgiven your parents for one event only to have the painful memories of another event crop up in its place. You are not forgiving your parents for their benefit; you’re forgiving them to set yourself free. This is a crucial step to accepting your parents. Acceptance is not a chance event. It is intentional. By entering into an intentional cycle of forgiveness, you can focus on becoming more compassionate to the humanity of your parents and cater to the status of your own sanity.