There are no perfect people. We all try our best to navigate our way through life, and we all make our share of mistakes. As children, we look up to our parents and assume that they are infallible. While parents try their best to raise their children, no one escapes the process without some regret. Invariably, this leaves some people with “baggage.” When this occurs, we really have only two choices. We can live in the past and blame our parents for all of our failures, or we can choose to move forward with the acceptance that our parents are human and did the very best they could do for us.
Oscar Wilde has wisely said that, “Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.” If you have been living in the past for many years, what can you do to let go and move on?
The Path to Healing
Many people turn to a counsellor for help sorting through their feelings surrounding their childhood disappointments and hurts. While talk therapy can be immensely beneficial, the power to be free of negative emotions from the past lies in your own hands.
Here are some thoughts than can help you navigate through your emotions and learn to forgive your parents for things in the past:
Hurting people hurt people.
It is easy to become trapped in our own heads and fail to consider that other people hurt too. Parents are not immune from pain. They too suffer from regret. Unfortunately, the longing to do things differently does not mean they will be given opportunity to do so.
But more than this, children only see things from their own perspective. They fail to consider that their parents bore many burdens during the time they were raising their kids. Undoubtedly, there were sacrifices and hurts that you were never aware of.
Hurting people hurt people. They most often don’t do it on purpose, but it can sometimes affect their judgment. What you must remember is that most parents never intend to hurt their children, but because they are human, it is bound to happen. You may suffer with anger, but chances are very good that your parents also suffer with guilt and regret.
Parents aren’t perfect.
Even with the best of intentions, mistakes happen. People say and do things they wish they could take back.
Children often believe that adults always do the right thing, but the truth is parents are fallible too. Sometimes they don’t know what to say, and sometimes discerning the correct thing to do can be very difficult.
Parents are human, and they fail. But their motives are always pure.
Forgiveness brings freedom.
Sometimes very serious things happen within a family, and they leave lasting scars. Hurts run very deep and can feel impossible to move past. But forgiveness is critical to progress in your life. If you want to be whole, you need to let go.
Forgiveness is far more than a feeling. If you wait until you FEEL like forgiving someone, you may be waiting forever. Forgiveness is not a feeling that overcomes us; it is a choice. If you are nursing old wounds from your childhood, you can choose today to forgive. Each day thereafter when those old grudges rear their heads, you can remind yourself that you have chosen to forgive. By making this daily decision with your head, you allow time for your heart to catch up with your choice and agree. In time, your heart will reflect the fact that your anger and hurt have completely dissipated all because you chose to forgive when forgiveness was the last thing in the world you felt like doing.
Dwelling on the past makes us embittered and continues to fuel anger and hurt. Choosing to forgive brings freedom. Deliverance from the pain of the past is available. All you need to do is to choose to forgive.
Take the first step.
If you are waiting for an apology, it may never come. The truth is that the only person you hurt when you hold onto past wounds is you. Most often your parents don’t remember the incidents you are clinging to. They may not even be aware how you feel. But you can take the power in this situation and simply choose to forego your desire for an apology and forgive any way.
Choose to trust.
When you have been hurt in the past, it’s hard to trust again. After all, we don’t want to put our hearts out there if they are just going to get stepped on.
For a relationship to move forward, there must be trust. You must choose to trust again. You may need to be cautious and only share a little bit at at time until you feel brave enough for more, but learning to trust again is imperative to restoring a broken relationship.
The Bible speaks of not judging others if you yourself don’t wish to be judged. Nowhere is this more true than in a relationship between children and their parents. You did not have to walk the walk your parents did, and therefore, you are not qualified to pass judgment on the decisions that they have made. Perhaps in their shoes you would have chosen better, but chances are you might also have chosen far worse. Assume the best, forgive, and determine to leave judgment in the past. Judgement benefits no one. In order to be free from the past, you must let go of your need to be right and to be vindicated.
We are very good at nursing our own hurts but fall short when it comes to acknowledging our own role in them. Your parents may not have always made the wisest of choices, and that had an impact on you. But you must remember that neither were you the perfect child.
But more than all of this, whatever happened in your childhood is in the past. You are an adult today. You cannot blame your parents for who and what you have become because you have the power to change. The experiences of your past only limit you if you allow them to.
There is no doubt that childhood hurts can leave us smarting. Choosing to forgive, accepting our own role in the past, and letting go are key to restoring broken relationships. You can be free from the pain of the past. All you need to do is to make the choice to forgive.