Over the years I have met so many people who have decided not to talk to a parent or parents. Some are valid since they are predicated on being victimized in ways that were extremely abusive. Unfortunately there are others who have been hypnotized by reading too many self-help books that attribute everything from acne, bad grades, substance abuse and more to so called “toxic parents” that were negative influences. I agree in part that consistently being around individuals who find nothing good about the world they live in can be disturbing. However, many of those people could become our greatest teachers.
My mother and grandmother were always pointing out situations that they thought were troubling. They could find fault with anything, yet they also had many values and traits that have served me well. Their negativity has been the source of many of the examples I share with the participants in my stress management workshops. They have also filled many a chapter in my books.
This past sunday was Mother’s day and Father’s day will soon follow. Cards filled with beautiful sayings are sent, and there are visits and dinners that are shared. Yet how often have we blamed and reproached our parents for the mistakes they made and use that blame for our own foibles.
I know I used to discuss my own mother’s parenting as an excuse for some of the mistakes I’ve made in my own life. But if it’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that we can only carry the corpse of the past behind us for so long. It get’s very tiring and boring.
We go through life with good intentions hoping we will do the right things. But many things happen along the way. One metaphor I love is that “God laughs while we make plans”. I wanted to be the perfect mother and wife, and I’m sure my mother did too, but children don’t come with manuals and being married is not like a fairy tale. Sometimes the Prince does turn into a frog and sometimes we become the wicked witch in order to deal with the frog. The end result can be divorce and the problems that ensue. We are not all blessed with the ability to understand how to create “conscious uncoupling”
It would serve us all to try to see our parents, family members and friends through the lens of compassion. Try to let go of blame, and begin to see that you have the choice to either follow in your parents footsteps or to choose how to learn from their mistakes. You may be one of the lucky ones whose parents walked right out of a Winnie the Pooh story. If not, you’re still lucky because you can write your own story.