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Parents Need Forgiveness Too

Updated on October 21, 2016

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.

Young and old parents may or may not admit it, but they also need to be forgiven for their shortcomings.
Young and old parents may or may not admit it, but they also need to be forgiven for their shortcomings. | Source

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.

Parental abuse may be cyclical, but it can be stopped with forgiveness.
Parental abuse may be cyclical, but it can be stopped with forgiveness. | Source

Think About This

Have you forgiven your parents for the hurts they have caused you?

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    • bokeh52 profile image

      bokeh52 4 years ago from United States

      I am 52 and my parents were strong in physical punishment. Beat first and ask later. And sadly many, in fact most times I was the victim of either misunderstandings or too young to know you were not to tell on someone for doing something wrong. Yep, in my family if you tattletailed on a sibling the punishment you received was far worse than the crime the other was doing...even though the crime would be serious & or dangerous. Many times I was even punished because they believed I was doing things only because my step siblings did them at my age & they never had evidence I was and sadly I never followed in my step-siblings foot steps. (never once). I also was the product of parents not stepping up protecting me when I needed it most as I was raped repeatedly by three adult family members during a weekend stay at the young age of 12. I was sent to my room, they were called but nothing else was done. Even today I keep being forced to interact w/these family members & tempers roared when I refused to have them at my wedding 33 yr ago. My oldest brother has taken all our childhood trauma and internalized it into his adult life and it has destroyed him. It angers me sometimes because he ran away and was gone half his childhood where I was left to receive his fair share of abuse where they took it all out on me. But now he just dwells on it all and his child is now seriously damaged emotionally because of his lack of parenting and refuseal of discipline at all. I can't go there, I can't allow my parents to destroy my life. They believed, in fact didn't believe in me, thinking I'd amt to nothing. They, even today, love their friends and respect my chldren more than me. They even come to the aid&support of my youngest son who has bipolar and has been abusing me emotionally and Physcially for years. As an older adult I now see my parents mostlikely were the product of the same type of treatment and really knew no better, but they do now. Slowly things got better in my adult yrs& sadly they now deny much of the treatment including the broken ribs, fingers and many bruises I at one time hid. They tell my chldren how they have always gone to church, never drank/smoke... They didn't start church until my late 17 yr when I had been going for yrs & had stood my ground against them. Over the yrs I have had to hide damaged emotional pain which I am good at burying. A great coping mechinism abusers give abusees. I learned to forgive and continue each day to forgive them, it really is a daily thing, and ask God to help me with that as they get older. Because the saying is true, when a person gets older their original behavior shines through. My step dad is becoming quieter & my mom is becoming even more judgemental and will never like me or end a call w/I love you because I will always remind her of her first husband that hurt her so much. I never knew how much hate she had for him until her recent visit. It all made sense, all the pain I have suffered through all my years have been her coping mechinism and her punching bag for all the pain she felt from her family deserting her and a husband that caused such pain to her and left her with a daughter that left a constant reminder of that time in her life. WOW! all I can say is I will always forgive you mom and always love you and I'll make peace w/it with God's help because I have to live a healthy life. I just have to.

    • Leann Zarah profile image

      Leann Zarah 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your story and insights, bokeh52. I can relate to what you said as I do have overly critical parents. Nonetheless, if it weren't for them, I and my kid wouldn't be able to live quite comfortably after I separated from her dad. I have to learn how to love myself in a health way and part of doing that is learning to forgive myself so that I can forgive others too.

      Thanks again.

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