Parents Need Forgiveness Too
Committed mothers and fathers are fully aware of their responsibilities. They not only provide their children's material needs, but they also serve as their guides even when they often spend the day working away from home. Every milestone their kids achieve is memorable.
But when it comes to mistakes their children make, not all parents are easy to let go. Some penalize their kids either verbally, physically, or both. They believe in the power of the rod to correct a wrong. On the other hand, there are parents who would rather spare the rod than hurt their own.
Regardless of the nature of these transgressions, many children morph into adults with serious emotional baggage caused by their parents. Most of them would rather not share their pain, but the quality of their relationship with other people and with themselves is influenced by their past.
Effects of abusive parents on kids
In "Corporal Punishment in the Educational System Versus Corporal Punishment by Parents: A Comparative View", Benjamin Shmueli (2010) narrates how his grandmother vividly recalls the teacher who beat her and her classmates with a cane. The act bore not only a permanent damage on her hand, but as well as on her psyche.
Shmueli identifies Sweden as the first country in the world that put value on a child's human dignity when it criminalized corporal punishment in 1958. Other states followed as incidents of physical abuse against minors increased.
What happened to Shmueli's grandmother was a form of corporal punishment. In the family setting, not a few parents are guilty of hurting their children in different aspects - physically, emotionally, verbally, socially, and economically. Worse, some even resort to sexual abuse.
Though kids need discipline, the manner of instilling it makes the difference. And many parents imitate the kind of disciplining that they were subjected to when they were still young.
Abuse and punishment then has serious repercussions on a child's overall development and how s/he relates to other people, including own family members. These effects can range from insecurity, aggression, anti-social behavior, poor academic performance and school attendance, and even death.
Moreover, the trauma caused by the pain carves a deep space into a child's long-term memory. Undoubtedly, many adults bear grudges against parents and other people who abused and severely punished them when they were still young.
Forgiving the Abuser
Children may seem easy to forgive and forget people who hurt them. However, many do remember. As adults, memories of abuse haunt them and affect their relationships. As Life Change Coach Dr. Hiyaguha Cohen says, "We relate to our own children in reaction to our parents."
How can an abused adult child then forgive her/his parents?
- Acceptance. Like other problems, accepting the fact that the abuse happened, is the first step towards overcoming a problem. Aside from this, one has to accept the fact that parents are flawed humans too.
- Grieve, but set a deadline. It takes time to forgive somebody, especially a loved one who has hurt us deeply. If it is possible to go on a spiritual retreat, go. But one cannot go on grieving. It is best then to determine for yourself as to when you would like to stop that. The longer we carry the grudge, the angrier we get and blame others, especially parents, for your own mistakes.
- Love yourself. Forgiving others enables you to forgive yourself too. Being able to do that is beneficial for your overall health. Forgiveness will help you get rid of your spiritual toxins.
- Spend time with your parents. Not all cultures encourage this, but this is one way to prove our love for them in spite of all the hurts. You also give them the chance to compensate for their shortcomings when you were younger. Remember that they also need to forgive themselves. Help each other then.