I’m writing today – and over the course of about 3 weeks – some 2,000 miles from home … at my parents’ house, to be exact. Mom and dad are 74 and 80 years old, respectively. On some days I can really ‘see’ their age, but most of the time, they’re as they’ve always been – 28 and 34 years older than me. At 46, I know I’m blessed to have them here still – on planet earth. I’m full of gratitude that I can still spend time with them that positive. (I even do senior’s zumba and yoga with them!)
But it wasn’t always this way …
My guess is that many of you reading this have struggled with your relationship with your parents. Me too. Our values, priorities, communication styles and worldview are, let’s say, worlds apart. Childhood in the age of ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ was deeply stressful for a sensitive child like I was. Raising a teenage girl during the sex, drugs and rock-n-roll era was overwhelm for ‘old world’ parents as they were.
We survived those stressful years pretty much in-tact, but all of it came to a boiling head for me in my 30s. It was a painful time for me – but also, deeply transformative.
From personal experience, I can say there’s got to be more than a kernel of truth to the psychoanalytic idea that our buried crap comes to the surface in our 30s. When my childhood muck pushed toward the surface of my consciousness at 35, things spiraled downward fast. I literally cut off relations with my mom and dad for awhile.
In their defense, they never did anything outrageous. I know many people had much more frightful childhoods than me! I wasn’t ever ‘abused’ and certainly never molested. There was no substance abuse, no divorce, ‘cheating’ or other traumas I had to cope with early on. In fact, by comparison to many less fortunate than I, my life wasn’t bad at all.
But it wasn’t ideal, either. Parenting in the age of unconsciousness has a very ugly shadow, as so many of us can now attest …
The thing is, I let my parents’ push my buttons long after my childhood was over. Thankfully, I was able to get beyond it and now celebrate at how it’s transformed our relationship. How? It was a process, really, but essentially, there were 5 things that helped the most.
1. They did the best they could with the tools they had
Reminding myself of this regularly was critical for me. I would get so indignant sometimes over things they did, didn’t do, values they hold, opinions that seem small minded, etc., that it drove me nuts! What a waste of energy. I was a child of the 60s, in so many ways a completely different consciousness than my folks’ generation. Their insights, knowledge and spiritual understandings were far more simplistic and limited than what we have today. Truly, they did the best they could – but their ‘tools’ sucked.
2. Don’t take it personal
Wise guidance for any relationships, but especially with our closest ones. When I could finally stop taking their advice or commentary as a personal attack on my decisions and see them for what they were: my parents’ fears, concerns and values, I was able to simply thank them and move on. Phew!
3. No 2nd chances
Maybe one or both of your parents are still here, maybe they’ve already passed, but one thing’s for sure: you’ve got no 2nd chances to share happy times and create positive memories with them once they’re gone. If they’re still around and you can find things to share that aren’t controversial or stressful (for example: my dad and I never talk politics), you have the chance to create something beautiful before they move on.
4. The Law of Attraction works – with moms, too 🙂
When I stopped focusing on the things that annoyed me about my mom, I stopped, as Abraham-Hicks would say, ‘rendez-vousing‘ with those things. It appeared as if my mom became a happier, easier person to connect with. But here’s the thing: she didn’t change, Idid. In the end, it was all about me changing my attitude and focus. When I did that, my relationship with my dear mom was never the same because I attracted her loving, happy side … and woohoo! for that!
5. Forgiveness heals
Forgiveness is the greatest gift anyone can give – to themselves. I have no doubt of this at all. Why? Because I’ve lived it. When you truly forgive (which includes forgiving yourself for letting your buttons be pushed long after their ‘use by’ date), something beautiful emerges – acceptance with what is.