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How To Accept Your Parents For Who They Really Are — Now That You Know The Truth

Photo: Photo by Mael Balland on Unsplash
'I Hate My Mom & Dad': Advice For Grown Children Dealing With Difficult Parents
Family, Self

Who are your parents, really?

Wow. Getting to knowing your parents now that you're an adult ... that’s an eye opener for grown children, isn’t it?

You lived for many, many years with this whole story in your head about who your mom and dad are, or at least, who you thought they were.

There were lots of labels that you attributed to them. They were mean, nasty, unfair, unloving, uncaring, strict, and maybe even toxic and abusive. Or maybe they were kind, loving, supportive, and all-around great.

And underneath, they were, and are, people, with all their wonderful qualities, as well their failings.

Even once you're grown and have children of your own, that concept can be hard to comprehend to anyone we've attach the label of ‘Parent’ to. We have our own idealized versions of who or what we think mothers or fathers should be, and we measure everything about our parents accordingly.

Next thing you know, you're an adult with a mind and a life of your own, and you find yourself frustrated and angry as you see more and more signs of their humanity show.

You may even get to the point where you're thinking, "I hate my mom!" or "I hate my dad!", when what you're really feeling, above all else, is terribly confused.

RELATED: When Your Mom Is A Bully

What what would happen if you dropped the label? What if you could let go of your preconceived notions of what these two people should be like, and refocused yourself in seeing them for who they really are?

Your parents didn’t arrive with a "This Is How To Parent" database in their heads, full of preprogrammed knowledge of all the best parenting tips and tricks in the book.

They had you and however many siblings you have, and they learned the hard way what parenting is all about. You might be doing the same yourself at this point if you've become a parent yourself.

Your parents provided you with the foundations of your life's journey.

If you think that foundation was solid, great!

And if you think it wasn't so solid, what have you learned? What important life skills did you gain from being raised by your particular set of parents?

In order to find a greater sense of understanding and acceptance, consider the fact that your parents had their own ideas of love and connection based on their own childhood experiences.

What were their childhoods like?

I’m guessing you have at least some idea. If you pause to reflect on what you know, you're likely to see that their way of engaging with you mirrored either what they experienced with their own parents, or the polar opposite.

So, how could they be any different than they were and are? If you're honest with yourself, you'll see that they couldn’t be.

They’ve done the best they could with what they knew at the time, just as we all are doing in this world.

RELATED: 11 Signs You Were Raised By A Toxic Parent (And It's Affecting You Now)

Your mom and dad have their own stories about who they are.

Their stories are based on their childhoods, including where and how they fit in with their family. They were impacted by the way they were treated and what they thought their own parents should have been like around them, just as you're impacted by the consequences of that now, for better or for worse.

Remember that above all else, above being a daughter or son or mother or father, your parents are people.

I apologize in advance for talking in standard gender terms now, but your mom is a woman, first and foremost, and your dad is a man.

He was once a boy with wishes hopes and dreams, just like you. And she was once a girl with just as many of her own. Some of those may have come true, and some probably haven't.

They may have gone on to live the life they always wanted, or they may have struggled to achieve it but found that much more difficult to achieve than expected.

Accepting your parents now for who they really are requires you to see them as individuals.

RELATED: 11 Ways Adult Children Of A Cheating Parent Love Differently

They've had their own life journey, and they have their own stories they've gone on to create and edit about that.

They are people with a ton of life experience, some good, some not so good, and they have been there with you along your journey.

Take away your story book lens and you might just find that the character you see is a different person than the one you imagined.

Acceptance is all about meeting reality and looking it straight in the eye.

Instead of seeing things through your old filter, meet the reality of what's true about your parents.

These people you labeled have their own set of complex feelings. They hurt. They rejoice. They feel sad. They feel happy. They might feel confused. They may have done many things from a place of pure trial and error, and they may swell with pride and cringe with regret.

Don't belittle them for that.

We are all equals here. They have done things the only way they knew how to.

You may not have agreed with what they did, and that's okay. You are allowed to feel disappointed that it didn't work for you.

But, they tried. They parented and loved and laughed the only way they could.

Kindness, understanding and acceptance are the greatest gifts you can give them — and yourself.

RELATED: The Best Advice Ever On Moving Past Your Childhood

Karen Cherrett is a relationship and life coach, as well as a trained holistic counselor and certified facilitator of "The Work of Byron Katie", who brings a wealth of knowledge, expertise and life experience to her work with clients focusing on relationships, marriage, separation, divorce, parenting, and self-care.

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