Forgiving Our Parents

When we’re young, our parents were everything. As a child, they are our source of wisdom – protection – nurturing (or lack thereof) – safety – education – security – love.  If we had a less than stellar upbringing, we may have built up some anger and/or resentment towards them.

When we repress anger, it just means it’s too painful to bear. As children we don’t always have the best coping skills and many times it’s just too hard to understand the intricacies of the adult relationships happening around us. We stuff things down deep leading to long term consequences.

Sometimes we unwittingly tend to re-direct this anger onto others who have nothing to do with the situation. And those who are not responsible for having created it can suffer the consequences. Irrational anger/road rage/low tolerance for frustration can sometimes be directly traced back to the way we were raised.

So, in effect, we need to get our forgiveness ‘on’. The baggage that we carry around can impact our most cherished relationships… like the ones with our spouses/partners and our children.

What can happen if we don’t forgive our parents?

Depression

So the “father of modern psychiatry” (Freud) thought that depression is anger expressed inwardly towards the self. He believed that exploring the causes of the anger would bring it from the subconscious (unaware) to the conscious (aware). Basically that we need to accept the anger, validate it and NOT feel guilty about being angry.

Sarcasm

Yes sarcasm can be an art form on the internet. But sometimes it can stem from repressed anger (hostility towards our parents) and cause problems. Biting words never helped a person or situation.

Choices

Ever wonder why we pick the same type of relationship and then wonder why it falls apart? Over and over again, if we have unresolved issues surrounding our childhood, we seem to pick a partner that reflects what we grew up with. Unless and until we resolve those feelings, we will continue to make the same choices.

Fear of Rejection

Extreme sensitivity to being rejected . If our anger was caused by our parents rejecting us, this is very likely to make it a extremely hard for us to deal with rejection in our adult life.

So what do we do about it? 

Forgive Them for Being the Only Thing They Knew how to Be.

Parents are people too. They seem all powerful when we’re young but we seem to forget that they’re human and make mistakes. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting and it certainly doesn’t excuse the things they’ve done.  But many times we forget that our parents have lived a life and have had struggles too. We don’t always know about their trials and tribulations.

Stop expecting perfection.

No one is perfect, so why do we expect our parents to be?  When we’re very young and they are our source of “everything” we treasure that.  However, do you remember the first time you witnessed or heard your parent(s) make a major mistake?  How did it feel?  Parents do make mistakes too. Of course verbal, emotional, physical abuse and violence is never okay, but parents are just grown up children, and they will make mistakes.  Holding grudges hurts no one but ourselves.  Once you’ve reached a level of maturity to understand and accept that, stop expecting perfection and let the grudges go.

Take the first step.

If we want to heal a relationship, sometimes we have to be the one who makes the first move.  We have to be the ones to step up, otherwise, who ever will? Learning to trust again is really difficult and is going to take time. There is no magic cure or short way around it.  There’s no secret or shortcut. Start by being honest with one another, even if it hurts.

Skip the judgment.

It’s hard. It’s exactly the opposite of what we’ve felt for so long. To learn to accept them for who they were, to accept that maybe they couldn’t love us the way we needed them to, to accept that they couldn’t or wouldn’t care more… that is what this whole forgiveness thing is all about. When you accept them for who they are, you’ll bridge that gap into accepting who YOU are.

Here’s a short clip with Iyanla Vanzant and Oprah about forgiving fathers. This is just a little snippet of what Iyanla discusses further in her book Forgiveness: 21 Days To Forgive Everyone For Everything. Which just so happens to be the very first book we’re reading for my reboot of Angie’s Book Club.

 

I hope you’ll join ABC (Angie’s Book Club) and we can explore the riches that a good book delivers.  Just look to the upper right side of my website and enter your info – I solemnly swear that your information is safe with me! 

 

 

 

 

This September I’ll be hosting an event featuring Iyanla Vanzant’s amazing book Forgiveness. Every week I’ll be posting a video and having a discussion on Facebook about where I am with the book and what resonated with me… I hope you’ll read along and join me. 

 

2 Comments

  • Reply
    Kirsten
    30th July 2017 at 3:33 am

    I have forgiven mine but sadly my apologies for hasrsh words (albeit truthful ) have not bern accepted to the level that my mother coukdntveven speak to me at my daughters funeral. How am i supposed to deal with that?

    • Reply
      Angie Greaves
      6th August 2017 at 9:35 pm

      Hey Kirsten, I can’t imagine what you’re going through, being caught in between the harsh words of a parent and losing your daughter must have felt like being stuck in the middle of a vice! BUT you’ve come through, you’re holding your head up, you’re sharing your experience. I wish I had the words to ease your pain. You are probably a lot stronger than you realise and will hopefully be in a position one day to assist someone else who has been through a similar situation. Continue to strive, continue to be strong taking life one day at a time. Thanks for stopping by. Angie.

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