I wrote the topic for this op-ed before knowing what I even desired to say. Then one day as I was scrolling down my timeline, I saw a post that stated the following:
“As you get older, you really understand your parents had trauma, too — in an era with less therapy resources available. I had to stop being so angry.”
When I saw that post, it was the extra push I needed to write this entry.
When are we going to accept that our parents were just trying to figure it out, too? Now, yes we can fully stand and acknowledge that some upbringings were better than others. Some had better resources; some families actually planned for their children and provided them with excellent opportunities through savings and more. Then there are those of us whose parents literally did their best. They aimed to provide us with home-cooked meals at least four out of the seven days of the week, did their best to bring us to church (Sunday school and bible class, if you were raised like me) and let us participate in at least one extra-curricular activity to keep our childhood fun.
When I look back on it, my parents really did their best to make sure my sister and I didn’t have “idle time.” Perhaps our parents thought, “If I keep them busy, they won’t have any time to focus on the things we lack, how hard I’m working or how stressed I am personally and professionally.”
With these sacrifices, why is it that we judge our parents so harshly? As a mother myself, I am over-learning that sometimes we don’t have the answers and we overthink (often) when it comes to the well-being of our children. With me going to therapy and uncovering my own inner layers, it’s helping me see how to be gentle with my parents and my parenting. I’m uncovering the sacrifice of being a good parent and understanding how necessary it is to nurse my own sanity, because while I am a mother, I am a person first.
Forgive your parents for not knowing what you now know and have engulfed yourself in during adulthood, which is positivity, poise and purpose. Perhaps your parents’ purpose was to make sure their child had a sense of belonging, but life became too much for them and they didn’t recognize how to be there for you and themselves.
Building a relationship with your parents in adulthood is a hard yet necessary thing to do. Here’s a checklist to help you get started: