One of the most difficult things about growing up is being able to see past the façades and realizing that everyone is just winging it. Sometimes this can be a relief, because you realize that nobody expects you to be an expert right away. But this can also mean that as you see the adults around you in a new light, you start to realize that the people who raised you have made mistakes too.
Some parents are so toxic that this sounds like a no-brainer. For many people, however, their relationship with parents is a bit more complicated. It’s a shame nobody really writes about this topic because it’s something one that needs to be discussed.
1. Parents aren’t perfect, they’re human.
There are a vast number of reasons why somebody might not be a great parent without necessarily being abusive. Having children doesn’t automatically grant people the instincts they need to properly care for a helpless and impressionable being. Some couples think that they’re ready to have kids and realize too late that they aren’t. Sometimes, babies are unplanned. And other times, people don’t realize that the things they do are hurting their children in the long run.
2. Smudges, cracks, and shatters.
In, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom writes: “All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.”
Maybe your parents taught you bad habits, or never understood an important part of your identity. Maybe they thought that they were teasing but left you with insecurities you’re still struggling with. Maybe they were not there when you needed them, or they were too intrusive when you needed space.
If you look back on your childhood and see the smudges, cracks, or even broken pieces, you might feel frustrated. The people who were supposed to prepare you for the world left you with damage that affected you as an adult, even if they didn’t mean to.
3. Make an effort to heal and mend, forgive and appreciate.
It’s important to leave the past in the past and work on improving yourself in the now. They might have caused you to develop bad habits, but it’s your responsibility to make sure that you’re the person you want to be. Nobody gets through life unscathed.
Chances are, your parents did a lot of things right. Maybe they taught you how to stand up for yourself or how to show compassion. Maybe they encouraged you to follow your dreams. Maybe, even if they weren’t always there, they tried their hardest to be there as often as they could. Despite their flaws, they still did the best they could. That’s all any of us can do.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is that your parents love you and want you to be happy. If they’re currently doing something that hurts you, talk to them about it.
Being an adult is scary and confusing, and we’re all doing the best we can, but we mess up. We mess up a lot. We mess up in big ways. Nobody is excused from this. Part of growing up is learning to accept this reality and be forgiving of ourselves and others.