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How to Stop Blaming Your Parents

Updated on January 6, 2011

Scar Tissue and Shoulder Chips: How to Stop Blaming your Parents and Get on with your Life

Your parents did the best they could with what they had at the present moment.

Two year olds often scream to their parents about how much they hate them. Decades later, many of us are ashamed to admit that the extreme words, “I hate you” still cross our minds.

It is not uncommon for young (or not-so-young) adults to harbour resentment, frustration and perhaps even hate towards their parents.  If you’re lucky, this stage won’t last long, because it is utterly miserable.  The hate we feel for our own parents is often accompanied with a feelings of failure, futility, self-disgust, shame and guilt.  Who are we to hate the very people who made us?  We must be monsters. 

That said, you might also feel as though your emotions are entirely justified and unavoidable.   They were the monsters who fucked you up forever.  If it weren’t for them, you’d be married with children.  Or you wouldn’t have gotten yourself knocked up with that asshole who won’t pay child support, but keeps calling you to tell you what a piece of shit stroke of luck it was to meet you.  You would have become a filmmaker, instead of caving into your parents’ expectations and going to law school.  You wouldn’t have such unmanageable hair.  Your legs wouldn’t be so short and stubby.  The ways in which your parents could have ruined your life are infinite.  Maybe they never praised you and so you are constantly working your ass off to try and acquire the approval you didn’t receive as a child.  Or they inflated you with praise to such an extent that anything less than a complement leaves you devastated and inconsolable.  You tell me why you get to join the “My parents screwed everything up and now my life sucks” club.

I don’t mean to say that all of your parents’ mistakes were trivial and deserving of immediate forgiveness.  Parents say and do horrendous things.  Like each person on this earth, they possess the capacity to create immeasurable pain.  Being impressionable and sensitive, children often bear the brunt of their parents’ shortcomings.   I agree that parents come with all different levels of competence and sadly, there are people who do not possess the emotional or intellectual resources to take on the responsibility for something as precious as a child.  However, I think that there also is a wave of grown up children (which might include myself) who mistakenly attribute our childhood wounds to our villainous parents.  Our days might be less painful if we could truly accept and believe that our parents did the best they could with what they had at the present moment.

Of course, it’s easy to acknowledge this with the relative wisdom of a twenty-something person, but logic is difficult to reconcile with a distressed or disappointed eight year-old.  It’s inconvenient that I become this disenchanted eight year old every time my parents fail to fulfill my expectations, which don’t always take into account their humanity.   Alas, no one makes us regress more than our parents… 

I find it helpful to remember that once upon a time, my parents were children too.  Maybe they didn’t always get what they hoped and dreamed of, or even what they deserved.  They’ve probably experienced the same bitterness and anger towards their parents, as you feel towards them today.  But despite this, either consciously or unconsciously, they came to the conclusion, that their lives were worthwhile enough to create another one:  yours.  Sometimes I wish that my parents hadn’t come to this realization.  I have known myself to wallow in self-pity and dwell on all the hardships my parents caused me.  Certainly, my mind can create an unlimited supply of justifications for doing so.   However, as long as I continue to mourn the perfect childhood I never had, I will never be able to appreciate the extraordinary people who are my parents and the imperfect wonder that is my life.


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