What If They Truly Did Their Best?

As adults, many times we walk around with unsettled trauma from childhood. We foster built-up resentment towards our parents in the depths of our hearts. These feelings can stem from us not receiving love the way we needed or from unsettled feelings from the abuse we endured. I empathize and understand how hard forgiveness can be when you’ve been wronged or hurt, especially by the initial people who were supposed to protect and nurture you.

The intention of this article is not to dismiss your perspective of your parent, but I do want to offer another perspective. Keep in mind that my viewpoint is from my own experiences. I came from a single-parent household where my mom worked long hours, and my father was inconsistent and pretty much absent for much of my life.

In a previous article, I wrote briefly about the lessons I learned from my mother. In the article, I highlighted the mistakes I didn’t want to repeat in motherhood with my own children. Shortly after publishing that article, I gained a new perspective through a personal real-life situation.

My teenager and I had a big blowout that ended with him saying “he wanted to live with his dad.” Any parent who has been separated knows this really hurt me on a personal level. I separated from his dad over a decade ago but these words pierced my heart like a dagger. And, honestly, I felt betrayed. I initially took those words to heart. However, I had to realize that he was hurt and also wanted to say something to hurt me.

After a much-needed cool-off period for both of us, we got to the bottom of his feelings. He was already feeling upset about a situation that happened earlier in his day that was unrelated. So by the time we had our encounter, he already had built up frustrations.

I mentioned this story to highlight that no matter how great your intentions as a parent may be, your child will always have their own perspective of what life is. Teenagers are great perceivers but poor interpreters. They know what they want but may have a hard time expressing it. Many times what comes off as bad behavior is actually miscommunication about how to achieve belonging. This can explain why everything in their world is a pressing emergency.

After encountering this firsthand, I reflected on my own childhood. My mother worked a lot which made it hard to connect with her. As an adult now however I see how important it is to take the time to also create memories and experiences with your children. I also see how she did her best. When you are in survival mode you don’t get the privilege of enjoyment. As the daughter of an immigrant, I attribute my work ethic to my mother. She has this amazing ability to get the job done with no complaints. So instead of wishing she was different and my life and upbringing were different, I am grateful that she tried her best. I understand her shortcomings and I adjust the narrative for the next generation. May they never have to be raised in survival mode but instead peacefully in patience and love. My bloodline deserves that and so does yours. May you be the one to change the narrative. I guarantee you can, you just have to unsubscribe to the idea that children need to be beaten or shamed into submission. Understand that the circumstances you may have endured may not be your fault. We can’t control the cards we were dealt, but we are responsible for healing.

If you read this and are looking to dive deeper into the principles of positive discipline I can link an article I wrote. It’s a great starting point. You may feel conflicted and unsure of what will happen if you adopt a new way of discipline. You may worry that it’s too late to change. I can’t promise that it will be easy but I know that you will see the relationship between you and your teen become stronger and more meaningful when you forgive the relationship you have with your own parents.

-Written by S. Arellano

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