Were you one of those lucky people who grew up in a two-story house behind a white picket fence? You know, that house that all the neighborhood kids loved to come visit? Where your mom greeted everyone at the door with a tray of lemonade and cookies and dad played catch with your brother in the front yard? Those were the type of parents who supported your every move and are there for you today as much as they were back then. Some of you may be able to relate and smile fondly at these memories. But many cannot.
Some of us had less-than-perfect parents: parents who were strict, abusive, absent, too young to properly parent, or for whatever reason just couldn’t give much of a damn. Although we’re no longer under their immediate guidance and *two finger snaps* fully grown, our childhood relationship with our parents has manifested into one full of unresolved resentment, bitterness, and unspoken anger. Or maybe it’s not even that serious for you. Today you may not have the best relationship with your moms or pops, and you may feel that it’s alright. No need to dredge up the past right? Wrong.
Although you’re *two finger snaps* fully grown, there are several reasons it’s important to build, rebuild, or strengthen healthy relationships with your folks. First and foremost, it’s the right thing to do. While it’s true that you “didn’t ask to be brought into this world”, you gotta recognize they did YOU the favor by breathing life into you, and for that simple reason alone you have to respect their role as parents. Yeah I know, I just went there. Secondly, you’re doing your part to help break the cycle by strengthening your family’s foundation for your own children. This helps ensure that the relationship you had with your folks (that left much to be desired) is not the same as the one your children will have with them. Lastly, you’ll be a better person for it. You not only owe it to your folks and your offspring, but you owe it to you. Don’t kid yourself by thinking you’ve moved on and are no longer impacted by their deeds. You are. So deal with ‘em. Here’s how:
- Dredge up the past. Doing so and honestly conveying your feelings of hurt and anger will actually enable you to release it. Let it go girl. That’s not to say your experiences are suddenly invalidated, but instead that you’re able to acknowledge them without being controlled by them.
- Understand that no one is perfect. Easy enough right? Here’s what I mean by that. Forgive your folks. Forgive every misdeed, every missed birthday, every late school drop-off/pick-up. Forgive the lack of money for cheer-squad, a fresh-do every two weeks, and hand-me-down clothes while they stayed dressed to impress. Forgive them for putting their job or boo-thang before you. Forgive the unfortunate incidents when they truly tried and just fell short, as well as the … now wait for it… the crap they still don’t consider themselves wrong for doing. Forgive them for causing the pain they feel you just need to get over.
- Move forward with the best of intentions. I have to admit this is the hardest of all. It’s quite easy to gripe about the past and in the same breath proclaim to forgive, however it gets a bit trickier to actually give them a 4th, 5th , or whatever chance to be the parent(s) you wished they always were. If you want a better relationship, you truly have to put your best foot forth and be open to one without reminding them of the past. You’re on new ground. Rise to the occasion.
Now some of you will just have those folks who resist every single attempt at mending a relationship. Yup, some parents still won’t give a damn. The above still applies – you still have to accept the past, forgive them, and move forward – only you’re consciously moving forward without them. Here’s where you lean on some of your social capital. Maybe it’s an aunt, an in-law, a sibling, mentor, or even your bestie. Allow a trusted confidant to love you unconditionally, whom you can confide in and who offers guidance and support. It is them that become your go-to to share moments of joy, pain, fear, and uncertainty. All the while knowing they only seek to bring the best out of you. Don’t mistake it – you’re not replacing your parents and you never can. But you can decide to move on without them. Move on knowing you’ve done everything you could to mend your relationship, and even if to no avail, you’re all the better for it. Because at some point you just have to do you – even if it means without them.