Forgiving Our Parents
There are no perfect parents.
For many of us, there are things that our parents have done that we could never imagine doing to any child, let alone our own. This can include abuse and neglect, addiction issues, being emotionally unavailable to our children, abandonment, being ignored, being emotionally unavailable....the list goes on.
The simmering rage and resentment that comes with this can be overwhelming, yet in some cases, we cannot or do not want to cut our parents out of our lives. So how do we deal with this? The process of forgiving our parents is similar to forgiving others, except that it cuts to the very core of who we are.
The other wrench is that our parents, who are used to being in a position of power in our lives, are often unable or not willing to fully take responsibility for what they may have done. For them, it may hurt them too much to even admit how much they have hurt us, so they push it down, ignore it, blame others, downplay it, or even blame their children. Their lack of accountability of the past often leads to even more anger and resentment.
So what can we do?
An important step is to thoroughly explain to our parents how these feelings are affecting our lives and our relationships. Chances are, their unresolved "stuff" from their own childhood is the exact reason they have done what they have to us, and it is important that we stop this cycle so we do not do the same to ourselves and in our relationships.
Chances are, we may not be able to have this conversation with them. We may not be able to afford to bring this up. And what if what they've done is unforgivable? They may not be available, or it may hurt too much to hear. Even if they are willing to hear us, they may never "get" it the way we need them too, and we may never get an apology. The important thing is to get this resentment off of your chest, even if it means writing a letter you can't send. If you're lucky, you may even get some insight into who they are and what led them to make poor decisions for you.
Working with a counselor can also help your process these feelings, and help you figure out the right way to move on. Carrying such deep resentment will undoubtedly affect every relationship in your life, and burden you with anger, resentment, and stress. You deserve relief.
Leana Sykes is a Relationship Counselor and the owner of Leana Sykes Relationship Counseling in Oaklyn, NJ. In-person and online appointments available.
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