Grin and bear it

How to let your parents off the hook

Although I have the impression that this matter is a common issue, I will give you an account of my own experience. Certainly, it can cause a lot of strife and pain in life. Today’s article deals with relationships of all sorts: relationships with a partner, colleagues, friends and also your own children, if you have any.

I observed myself as well as others, and I have found out that troubles in relationships, be it big or small ones, are directly related to the relationship with your own parents.

Not only through the conditioning at the toddler’s age, but especially the conditioning in your period of adolescence has a strong impact.

At the age of 18, I wasn’t quite grown up. In the presence of my parents, I took the role of a little boy who was dependent of his parents’ appreciation and benevolence. At the age of 19, I moved from home, and aged 20, I became a father myself. Yet, I had not become independent of my parents.

Considering the decision to move 700 kms away to the South of Germany, back then, it was what I would have called my own, free decision, but in-between I regard it as an opportunity to maintain a distance between me and my parents which was considerably more just than an arms’s length. This, in fact, was the thing that led me to that decision. I was still ensnarled in the relationship with my parents, but taking to the distance, I only turned my back on them. I became a rebel that fought against everything that reminded me of my parents. I would have opted for anything, as long as it did not make me like them.

There is no freedom, as long as you relate all your decisions to your parents. Just as much, neither in complying with expectations, nor in opposing them, there is freedom. It is not the sense for your own needs and your gut feeling that guide you, but you are controlled by external impacts. I very much felt under the sway of my mother and tried to prevent her from having influence on my life. But I deemed her to be responsible for taking control and influencing my life. So, I neglected my own share in the situation. Back then, I thought I couldn’t help it but accept that I had a domineering mother.

Today I know I let her take control and influence my life. And I have learned that I am in control of who can influence my life and who cannot.

When parents cast their shadow in your life

As long as you are trying to get your parents’ appreciation and attention, and you probably do so with a mindset of perpetual need, you surrender yourself to their control and thus become dependent. You are not being authentic and contort yourself in order to comply.

Inbetween I have found a way to let my parents off the hook, to realise, and yet more important: to feel. Yes, to feel how much your very own parents were love-driven. They did the best to meet your needs. Probably you couldn’t regard it as such, but they they strived for the best they could give.

And you could bet they had their issues with their own parents, too, Although they might have deceased, emotional bonds linger. Interestingly enough, it is mostly inside your head, fuelled by your own imagination. And for this reason, we do not need our parents in order to overcome our issues. We are able to carry out the process of resolving our emotional bonds and reconcile with our past on our own accord. At the end of the day, it is crucial to conceive a positive image of your parents free from past bitterness. Your ultimate aim is to feel at least comfortable, thinking of your mum and dad.

If we override this evident aspect, not resolving the issues with our parents, we tend to replace our real-world peers with whom we had these conflicts with representatives and subdue ourselves to their control. Typically, your own partner takes this place. In my case, this was my wife.

I never could speak up and take a stand in the face of my mother. That is, I played a role and wore a mask. I held back any adverse reactions and thus pursued my deepest desires secretly. And if you consider that my wife also has her issues, you can imagine that we were in for trouble.

It proved very difficult to find solutions on a rational level, because the reasons for the problems could not be fathomed by intra-marital troubleshooting. As a matter of fact, this becomes very clear looking at my own children. They take me and my wife as role models, and they adopt our behaviour and hark! they create just the same mess as their parents.

Only by resolving the issues with my parents, I could make some progress in sorting out the relationship with my wife. I am optimistic to break the vicious circle that otherwise would have ended up in the children battling against their parents’ and grandparents’ conflicts. I firmly believe that conflict patterns, especially those between people, are handed down from generation to generation until they are resolved. Only when the true cause is found, a change is possible. And this gives the new generation a genuine opportunity to work on the future instead of meddling with the past.

Back to the roots

In the meantime, I talked to numerous people having marital problems, issues with hierarchic structures at work or those not feeling accepted by their environment. Up to now, all cases could be tracked down to a conflict between parents and children. You should become able to accept your parents the way they are, don’t forget you haven’t walked in their shoes. This will help you to leave behind my obedience and the reproachful attitude connected to it. And ultimately to become an adult. All this took me 40 years to accomplish, but better now than never.

And if you bear in mind the purpose of strengthening the three Pillars, self-awareness, self-confidence and self-esteem, you will feel genuinely free.

There is guarantee that everyone will hail you for that, but it certainly feels better to be appreciated by some for the person you truly are rather than to be hyped by the masses for someone you pretend to be. There is no miraculous remedy to cure this issue, but they certainly are ways and means to do resolve the issue by setting out on the journey. One of these was mine.

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