Do you feel like your childhood could have been better? Join the club. Even those of us with average upbringings feel like our parents did a crummy job at times. Unfortunately, no one taught your parents how to do it well, unless they happened to have good parents themselves. The pain you still carry today regarding your childhood is a barrier to happiness and success.
If you are one of the many that hold onto negative feelings toward your parents, you’re not alone. But you’re not condemned to live a life burdened by resentment and anger. You can let it go and move on.
Try these strategies:
1. Be concerned with the here and now. Maybe your dad didn’t have a clue how to deal with a teenager, but he might prove to be an excellent friend in adulthood. It’s necessary to redefine relationships over time. The relationship with your parents is no different.
2. Use your childhood as a guide of what not to do. The great thing about having bad parents is that it’s a learning experience. You can do much better with your children. Keep the good stuff and get rid of the bad. Take comfort in the fact that your suffering will benefit your children.
3. Realize they did the best they could. Given your parents’ upbringing, knowledge of child-rearing, personality, and so on, they did they best the could.
4. Don’t expect to gain any satisfaction by venting your anger. It’s likely that your parents would be dumbfounded by your criticism. After all, they may think they did things the right way. Otherwise, they would have done them differently. You’re likely to create an awkward situation going forward. Why destroy the present to deal with the past?
5. Your parents’ parenting flaws are the result of their own parents. Bad parents had bad parents. Who are you going to blame? How far back can you go? Be glad that you can put an end to the madness.
6. Avoid blaming your current circumstances on your parents. They may have been awful parents, but that doesn’t mean you can use it as an excuse for your own challenges today. It’s over and no longer has to influence your life. If you believe your parents are to blame, your ability to change your situation for the better is severely limited.
7. Assume the best of intentions. For your own sake, believe that your parents were doing their best, but made some bad choices along the way. Remember that no one is taught how to parent. Even the experts disagree on the topic.
- There’s a human tendency to believe that our own intentions are pure, and those of others are evil. Everyone is more similar than different.
8. Realize that you’re only hurting yourself. Realize that the past is over. Your parents don’t even remember 90% of the negative childhood experiences that are seared into your brain. All those slights that you carry around with you aren’t even remembered by your parents.
- You can only heal by letting it go and moving on. You’re not doing them a favor by forgiving. You’re doing yourself a favor.
It’s natural to have a desire to punish those that you feel have harmed you. Our society favors fairness. However, you’re only hurting yourself by carrying a grudge toward your parents. Take a deep breath and let it go. Leave the past in the past and focus on today.