Forgiving your parents for mistakes to your inner child

There comes a time in our lives as adults when we have to understand that our parents can NEVER make up for some slight or misunderstanding we had with them when we were 5-7-9, or even 15. At some point in adulthood we have to take responsibility for the choice we make to be happy or unhappy.

And, unless said parent physically harmed you, they did the best they could with what they knew and we have to let it go. I am so sick of hearing people whine about not having “stuff” as a kid, or parents being too strict; it’s all relative. Adults who can now verbalize how they don’t trust their parent because that parent didn’t explain why he/she made the choices they made, which made the kid feel robbed of something, need to get over it and move on.

Our parents made mistakes just like we do. How can we think to not look at our lives as a parent and think our kids will not eventually bemoan some slight we made when they were young? Do we really believe that we’re now the perfect parent and can do nothing wrong? We aren’t; we do. Just because we let our kids run wild because our parents were too strict on us, does not make us a better parent. In fact, research shows that those same children malign parents who give their children no boundaries when they get to be adults because they provided no feeling of safety for the child.

Kids will like it in the moment, but they will hate you as an adult if you let them drink, or have sex (as long as you’re going to do it) at home. Kids won’t love you more because you bought every toy you could find for them, either. A few toys that are special to them are much more desirable to a child, and much less overwhelming.

When you speak your mind regardless of how it harms another person, it is just as bad to your child as it was when you were young and your mother/father never spoke up to defend you when you felt someone was damaging you in some way. Extremes in behaviors are not an improvement of those behaviors.

And stop patting yourself on the back exclaiming that you are a much better parent than your parents were to you. Repeat after me, it is ALL relative. The phrase “my kids can come to me about anything” only works if that kid has had the exact same thinking process and experiences as you did, and that’s impossible.

As much as you protest, it is highly likely that your kids will never tell you some of the things they have heard or are experiencing as a kid (including rape, abuse, bullying, or violence), no matter how you brag that they tell you everything. No matter how open you think you are as an adult some kids are just not going to tell you that someone groped them inappropriately because of the shame they feel, or the internal guilt that they brought it on themselves. They are just not programmed to do that. In your adult mind, you cannot determine how a child will interpret something they hear, feel, or experience.

A parent experiencing deep depression can’t possibly be mentally available to their children, and being angry if your parent was one of them and wasn’t available to you is the same as being angry because they had cancer or leprosy. Nothing short of medication (usually) can bring someone out of depression and all the wishful thinking won’t make it so. This is one of those times “just do it” can’t happen naturally.

Saying, “get over it” is too simplistic, but adults need to let that internal kid out, slap it on the back, and repeat, “from now on I am going to be the adult I dreamed I would be.” Then, become that adult.

The joys of purging

[Originally posted July 2010]

In purging out old paper I find I’m discovering my old life. There are papers in all that mess that I’m sorting through, I’m discovering that I did great, even though small, things. I can see how much money I earned since I left high school; am reminded of jobs that I can just vaguely remember; and, even discovered there might be a small savings account that still might be inactive somewhere.

Everyone wants to feel as if they matter, have value, and/or have made a difference. As you age and stay in the moment, you tend to forget what happened early on in life, at least that applies to me. I have read letters that I wrote to people to help them advance in school, or helped them with information vital to some point in their lives. There are even a bunch of writings from poems I thought I’d lost because they were stored on those 5 1/2″ floppy disks that I don’t think there make machines for any more.

I’m finding letters from inmates thanking me for my help in learning new computer or typing skills, or even giving references that would help them in their next facility or for a job waiting for them when they got out. It reminds me of the many types of people I worked with like thieves, murders, drug lords, hit men, transvestites, or just innocent pollos who are waiting to be shipped back to Mexico; it’s good to see that I treated them with respect so that I know that my memories weren’t skewed by believing I possessed a behavior that I really didn’t have. Evidently I treated them better than they expected and/or got in the penal system.

I have several notes from inmates who would write me when they were transferred, or when I finally left the job. One inmate’s letter just tickled me to no end so I’m going to print it here (exactly as written): “Ms. Bronson, I was going to wait until the classroom cleared yesterday to say goodbye buy yu dissappeared. So this note will have to do. Enjoy! Thank you for helping me to get started using computers. The knowledge should prove invaluable. It was alledged in court that my bank robbery notes said ‘Robbery–please don’t make me have to shoot you.’ Now I will be able to just hook up a computer to a phone modem, call up the banks computer, and send the followign message: ‘Robbery–please don’t make me have to unplug you!’ ”

This recollection of memories, added to my recent discovery of former classmates, is cathartic. It has given me a wider perspective of my life and what I have contributed to it.