Understanding our parents

It’s only when we start to raise our children that we begin to have a newfound respect and compassion for our parents, unless you were subjected to a different form of parenting that made you indifferent to your experiences, growing up.

We tend to gain a perspective of our childhood with our parents and siblings, but even with a perspective it’s not easy to change what we see. If through your childhood you had a sense that your parents were self-absorbed and inattentive, then you were not alone.

It’s only when we have our own children that we begin to grasp the significance of our childhoods. And where we may have once been in denial over our parents, having children brings our lives back into perspective so that we’re no longer seeing our parents through rose coloured spectacles.

It is possible that with this kind of parenting you’re looking at being the victim of childhood neglect and although neglect is deeply unsettling, it is still possible to find understanding and healing.

Perhaps it’s necessary for us to give up any expectation that our parents might or will acknowledge any part in how they parented us, or that they will go on to change their behaviour in any way. Sadly, we tend to model our lives on how we think our lives should be, which is far removed from how our lives turned out.

In those circumstances, our parents’ version of events through their own distorted view, will be very different from our own. But it’s important that we stop internalising the life we’ve had and instead begin to create the life we want. Healing can only start when we take ownership of our lives.

But looking and understanding the bigger picture on our childhood will go some way to us understanding our parents and their parenting. It doesn’t make what they’ve done right, but self-compassion goes a long way to help us with the healing processing.

20 Feb, 2018

6 thoughts on “Understanding our parents

  1. This blog makes a lot of sense to me. Since becoming a parent myself I do look at how I was parented.

    It’s taken a while and I think the ‘penny dropped’ when my children were old enough to make decisions for themselves and in doing so, challenged how they were being parented.

    I haven’t got a problem with that. It has help me understand why I was parented the way I was and that has improved my relationship with my mum and siblings.

    1. The point to my blogs is that they bring understanding in aspects of our lives that we didn’t have before.

      Everything in my world is either black or white. It either works or it doesn’t work and if it doesn’t work I usually walk away. It’s very rare I have to work out why.

      But as you point out (which will be different for everyone) it’s when your children started to make their own decisions that you realised how you were parented. When reality beds in, it doesn’t always sit comfortably.

      I get that. For me it started with the whole parenting thing. My children’s lives were too far removed from the life I’d lived.

      It became clear as soon as they were born that everything needed to change. That is what I have worked to achieve and feel I have.

  2. Unfortunately, I understood my parents all too well from a very early age. My mom wanted to live like a queen, while my dad was content with doing whatever he could to try to make her happy.

    The problem with that was that nothing he could ever do made her happy, so eventually she turned to me for that job which I was highly unqualified for.

    The term I learned for it recently was emotional incest, which seemed pretty appropriate under the circumstances. She demanded 100% loyalty and obedience, but when I didn’t do exactly what she wanted, she systematically worked on breaking my spirit and very nearly destroyed my soul.

    She should have worked for the CIA with how good she was at brainwashing and manipulation. The reality was that even though I tried so hard to not be like either one of them, I turned out to be just like them and so much worse.

    I haven’t had a lot of self compassion, considering how bad of a job I did with being a parent for my own daughter. I allowed her mother to raise her, which she has done a very poor job of. Sadly, my daughter has missed out because her mother hasn’t helped her to learn how to live her own life.

    I had thought that moving to a new place would have been good for her, but what good did it do when she doesn’t have much of a life where she lives now? I’m now having to figure out how to break free from a toxic relationship myself, so that I can finally be the dad that she needs me to be.

    Both my parents are finally dead so I’m done trying to figure them out, seeing as it only drives me more insane than I already am. They did what they did and that can’t be changed as much as I wish that it could.

    My own daughter needs me now more than ever, seeing as her mother isn’t going to help her to live any kind of a life that she deserves to live, while she is still young enough to enjoy it.

    I need to learn how to do the same thing, since I have always lived to do what has made others happy rather than live my own life, like other people do without a seconds thought.

    I blindly made the choice to be in this toxic relationship so long ago, rather than to be with the person I really wanted to be with, since my daughter didn’t seem to approve, but now I need to finally live my own life for a change.

    1. The difference is Randy, you’re more than capable that your parents were and I say that with the utmost respect for your parents.

      You understand your parents and their lives and where they went wrong with you and your siblings. And it’s because you understand that you can change certain aspects of it. You know what you need to do, now you just need to do it.

      Although it’s hard for any child to accept their parent’s relationship has ended. Perhaps that was the reason for your daughter’s disapproval of your new relationship, but it’s still up to us to make sure children understand and that they’re okay with things.

      It’s never easy, but extended families are very much part of society now. I still maintain though, ‘it’s easier to come from a broken home than live in one.’

      Speaking from experience, if parents get on better apart that has to be the better option than children expecting to fall into line around their parents arguments, disagreements and squabbles.

      It’s too emotionally damaging.

  3. Thinking that way Ilana, acknowledges that your heart is widening and compassion is beginning to relax you a bit, whether you’re ready to forgive or not.

    I’m going to stay tuned and watch you bloom even further.

    1. Awe thanks Tim that’s so kind of you. I think compassion is more important than forgiveness and choosing not forgive doesn’t make you a bad person. We have to ask ourselves whether those we’re choosing to forgive deserve to be forgiven and that will always depend on the deed.

      Understanding why is the key to compassion. We can have compassion because we understand, but that doesn’t mean we should or have to forgive. There is a difference.

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