How to Get Over Blaming Your Parents

If the title of this post got you a little steamed up, then you’ve come to the right place. ūüėõ

Please note: Before all the parents out there (myself included) start feeling defensive, let’s just put it out there that this post was written in the spirit of healing and restoration, not blame.

So, who here has ever blamed their parents for something? Maybe you were that awkward preteen¬†who had to change schools during the middle of the year because your parents wanted to move? Or you were the kid who never attended birthday parties because your parents were overprotective? Or you’re the adult who has spent years in therapy trying to move past the¬†emotional and/or physical wounds you received from a broken family?

Let’s face it, there is a lot of hurt in the world, and too often those hurts originate in the place that hits closest to home – our families. I’ve seen¬†it from both sides of the counseling chair, so I know the reality of it. Even in the most loving and healthy¬†of homes, people get hurt. In families which have gone through abuse, divorce, neglect and addiction, the pain is magnified even more – much like¬†your reflection is multiplied in the presence of¬†numerous mirrors.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And who do children end up blaming for their hurt?

Their parents.

It would be easy to sit and dwell on all the ways your mother and father failed, neglected, hurt, disappointed and wronged you. It would be even easier to sweep those painful memories under the rug and not think about them. But choosing either of those ways will only leave you broken and battered and bruised inside.

The only way you can heal is to move on from blaming your parents.

How in the world do you do that?

First, by grieving your losses. The attention you wish your parents had given you. The acceptance and support you needed when you made mistakes. A childhood without fear. Whatever areas there were that your parents fell short in, acknowledge them. Mourn the could-have-beens and what-ifs Рthe ways in which your life might have been different had your parents raised you differently. Place those lost parts of your life in a casket lined with your anger, resentment and tears and bury them.

The step after grieving¬†is acceptance. Accept¬†your parents for who they are: imperfect human beings. Despite their “job title”, they are not experts at life, much less parenting. They don’t have it all figured out. They are likely products of faulty parenting themselves and have parented you the way they were parented. They have struggled and may still be struggling with depression, low self-worth, anxiety, guilt, resentment or perfectionism. Despite their best intentions, parents are sometimes not sensitive enough, patient enough, understanding enough or¬†loving enough. They do not always meet our needs or even have the capacity to do so – that¬†is the unfortunate truth. But¬†when we can accept our parents as the imperfect people that they are, we will¬†stop¬†keeping an account of all the ways they have hurt¬†us and perhaps be able to forgive them – not for their sake, but for ours.

It is quite possible that your life could have turned out very differently had your parents made better choices. It is also possible that they did make the best choices they were able to make given the circumstances at the time. But the fact of the matter is that those choices have been made, but you have a choice now to make: Will you continue to blame your parents or will you choose to move on from the blame?

I spent many years as an adult trying to untangle the emotional cobwebs of my childhood. In my quest, I have placed blame, kept my list of wrongs, studied counseling and been to therapy … but I still remained stuck in the past. Ironically, it wasn’t until I became a parent myself that I¬†felt free.

Because I now understand how hard parenting is. And I know that despite my best efforts at being a good parent, I will never be a perfect one.

And in seeing my imperfections, I see my parents, and all parents, in a different light. A light in which I can bask in the freedom to extend grace and forgiveness. To adjust my expectations. To hope for change. And ultimately, to see that God can take even the stickiest, most entangled webs in our life and redeem them for good.

The song for this post is Carrie Underwood’s “Wasted”. The lyrics are a good reminder to not waste time on the past.

What hurts are you holding onto from your family of origin? What steps can you take to let them go?

A Funny Thing Called Grief

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong/freedigitalphotos.net

Grief is a funny thing. It has a way of sneaking up on you when you least expect it and bowls you over with its crushing weight. It remembers too much and with more details than you can bear to swallow. It fades away too slowly even though days, months and years have passed.

Grief taps me on the shoulder each time my eyes glance upon a cranberry colored dress hanging in the closet; it reminds me of happier times during my last pregnancy. Grief grips my heart when I see a black and white ultrasound picture saved on my desktop, which shows the image of two babies in my womb. Grief knocked the breath out of my lungs today when I remembered this was the month, five years ago, when we lost one of our twins.

During these five years, there have been periods of sorrow, anger and guilt. I have gone through all the what-ifs and why’s. I have racked my brain wondering if there was anything I could have done differently. There have been attempts to fix things and then the stark realization that some things just can’t be fixed.

Grief has been present every step of the way. It is a constant companion, one I have never welcomed, but which has become like an old friend. Over time, I have come to understand its purpose better. It does not stay around to haunt me, but to remind me of a previous time and place, of something beautiful and pure. It exists solely because of love.

Because of love, I had been overjoyed to see two little hearts pulsing on the ultrasound monitor when we had only expected to see one. I had dreamed big dreams for both of our babies, my heart expanding with joy once the initial shock wore off. I couldn’t wait to meet and hold them.

Because of love, I researched and bookmarked countless websites about twin pregnancies. I focused on eating for three and getting enough rest. I worried when I found out about the statistics for Vanishing Twin Syndrome, but I also hoped for the best.

Because of love, I went to the following prenatal appointment with a pounding heart. I scanned the monitor for signs of life as feelings of desperation grew in me with each passing second. I wept in my car for an hour after the doctor confirmed my worst fears.

Because of love, I grieved. For not being able to protect my child and prevent the miscarriage. For all the what-could-have-beens. For the day we will need to tell C about her other half.

Over time, grief and normality become intertwined in the day to day course of life. I suppose that’s when they say you have entered the fifth and last stage of grief: acceptance. This has to be my least favorite stage; it is not nearly as idyllic as denial or as empowering as bargaining. Acceptance means looking reality in the eyes and not turning away from its honest stare. To surrender what your heart has been holding onto with every ounce of passion and despair. Not because I love any less, but because love tells me it’s time to start living again.

I miss our baby, someone I have never met, but who is as real to me as the little girl with my oval shaped face and my husband’s spunky personality whom we joyfully welcomed into our family four years ago. Her presence at times reminds me of what we have lost, but more importantly, she constantly reminds me of all that we have been so blessed to have gained.

That is where I am this day, five years later. A little less sad, a little less wistful and a lot more thankful. Surprisingly, I find myself in a better place, one that is tinged with subtle hues of grief, but also coated with vibrant shades of love.

Listen to the beautiful words of this song, “Heaven is the Face“, by Steven Curtis Chapman.

Please share your own experiences with grief. I would be honored and encouraged to hear your story.