All parents make mistakes in upbringing. There’s no perfect parent. However, when the mistakes recur frequently, especially abusive behavior, it may lead to a toxic environment that causes emotional damage to the children.
As they become adults, some may minimize parents’ flaws on the basis of not being overtly abusive or dysfunctional. For others, it may lead to a deep-seated resentment.
“I have never met a parent who doesn’t want the best for their children. But, I have met many parents who do not understand the impact of their unchecked behavior on their children—including the negative impact of critical or dismissive words,” says Robin Stern, Ph.D., a psychoanalyst and the associate director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.
If you are one of those that harbor resentment for the way your parents raised you, then it’s time to let go and move on. But first, you need to understand that like everyone, your parents are flawed.
Acknowledge that your parents are imperfect, just like every other person
The first step is to have an honest assessment of your parents’ attitudes and behaviors. Parents are people. They possess their strengths but they also have their weaknesses. Like any other person, they have experienced pain, trauma, setbacks, and insecurities. All these have helped shape them into who they are.
Recognize, realize and understand that your parents are flawed humans, just like everyone else.
For your sake, forgive their imperfections
“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different; it’s accepting the past for what it was, and using this moment and this time to help yourself move forward.”
If your parents are unkind, spiteful and impatient with you, know that it has nothing to do with you and everything to do the kind of people they are. It’s all about them, not you. Whatever they do is borne out of the context of who they are and what they know.
Although this doesn’t excuse their flaws, it might give you a better understanding of why they behave the way they do and might ultimately lead to healing and forgiveness.
Choose to let go of all the anger and hurt your parents have caused you. Although it may not be easy, you need to be free from the weight of such emotional baggage.
If not for anything, consider the risks it poses to your health.
Psychologist Bernie Katz, Ph.D., and co-author of ‘Actually, It Is Your Parents’ Fault: Why Your Romantic Relationship Isn’t Working, and How to Fix It’ says:
“I see people from their twenties and thirties all the way up to their sixties who are still angry about what they got or didn’t get from their parents. They carry it around.”
“Often, these are patients who are struggling with depression, anxiety, or even physical symptoms related to their anger, like unexplained pains, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and back pain with no obvious cause.”
Reframing negative thoughts into positive statements
One of the ways Dr. Stern suggests is by reframing negative thoughts into positive statements and loosening the grip the anger has on us. For instance, if you have a mother that is controlling, you could redefine statements about her attitude in such a way that you see positivity instead of negativity.
“My mother is doing the best she can and I don’t have to follow her ideas about what is best for my life.”
Be Grateful for the Blueprint
If there’s any positive aspect to all this, it is the realization that you know what not to do when raising your own kid. So the next time you’re tempted to hurl insults or scream at your children, you might want to remember how you felt when you were at the receiving end.
Let your parents’ mistakes guide you into doing a better job as a parent.