“Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.” ~Oscar Wilde
Forgiving your parents is the most difficult, yet crucial task of an adult. In the process of forgiving, the first obstacle you have to remove is within yourself. As adults, who have experienced some possible trauma as a child, in order to live a meaningful, happy, productive life you need to go through the process of forgiveness.
Unforgiveness brings you both emotional and physical pain. If you don’t release this pain, you will live a life of continued rejection, depression, and anger.
By forgiving your parents, it doesn’t mean you are letting them off the hook. It means you are starting your journey to happiness, acceptance and self-love.
Here are some suggestions to help the healing begin:
Remember the good times
Most parents love their children unconditionally. However, no parent is perfect – which indicates that everyone has childhood trauma. If you are fortunate, your parents were good enough to hold on to the knowledge of their love for you, and yours for them, even in the face of things they did to hurt you, things they may not even be aware of.
Open your heart
When you open your heart, you can begin to understand the position and restraint they strained under, recognize the virtue in them that their pain has been neglected too, feel some empathy perhaps, not only for the hard journey they had, but because they did the best they could, with what they learned from their parents. It’s time to break the cycle.
Have realistic expectations
Every child craves the attention of their parents whether it is positive or negative. The heartbreaks of parents are among the hardest to forgive. Children expect the world of their parents, and you do not wish to lower your expectations. Year after year, you hold out the hope, often unconsciously, that they will finally do right by you. You want them to accept their transgressions, to apologize, and to ask for your forgiveness. You want your parents to embrace you, to tell you they know you are a good child. But, that may never happen. Remember that you are not doing this for them, you are doing it for you.
Dedicate yourself to the journey
Arriving at a forgiving place, finding forgiveness in your heart, is a long and difficult journey. You have to be ready to forgive. You have to want to forgive. The bigger the trauma, the harder the process—which makes forgiving parents especially difficult. Along the way, you may have to verbalize your emotions, you may have to be angry and resentful, you may even have to punish your parents by holding a grudge. But when you get there, the forgiveness you achieve will be a forgiveness worth having. It’s time to let go and be free.
Like catching a spark that flips out of the fire, catch your negatives and extinguish them with any of these:
- I am willing to go beyond my own limitations and judgments.
- I forgive them, whether they deserve it or not.
- I release myself from prison. I am safe and free.
- I give myself permission to let go.