Here’s the thing, parents do the best they can. They’re only human and at some point we all realize that; our parents were dealing with their own childhood traumas, rude bosses and relationship stresses all while having children to raise. Parents make mistakes and that’s okay. Eventually, in order to heal, we have to accept that fact and be understanding of our parents. But this idea of being understanding of our parent’s flaws can also be a form of spiritual bypassing or toxic positivity. In other words, finding the positive in the situation while ignoring our own pains or wounds the situation may have caused. It’s a grave disservice to ourselves, namely, our inner child.
It’s great to be understanding of our parents and to forgive them, but that doesn’t change the fact that their mistakes caused harm to us. The fact of the matter is, every child that is ever born deserves the most unrealistically perfect parents that can provide them with endless unconditional love. Few of us get that experience, because, as stated, it’s unrealistic in todays world where parents are pulled away from their families in order to provide for their families. It’s hard. But again, that leaves a child that doesn’t get everything they deserve. And that may sound small, insignificant or even entitled; but as psychology will tell you, those small things as a child, leave huge impacts to us emotionally that stay with us into adulthood. For example, it may sound small that someone was forced into a sport they hated as a kid, they may even love that sport as an adult. But, depending on how the parents handled it, that situation may have taught that child, that what they want in life doesn’t matter and that they have to sacrifice themselves to please others because what other people want is more important. This is a small example that doesn’t delve anywhere near the very common wounds of emotional incest and forcing children to grow up faster than they should have because of divorce, money trouble or mental illness.
Most adults today had to deal with working parents, alcoholic or addictive parents, worries over money and the projections of our parent’s burdens. All of this adds up to a a kid growing up too fast and a childhood lost. And in order to truly heal, we all deserve to grieve for that childhood we deserved but never got.
If your parent was an alcoholic, you deserved better. If your parent wasn’t around, you deserved better. If your parent worked too much and never made it to your soccer games, you deserved better. If you ever didn’t feel safe at home, you deserved better. If you ever had to be the grown up, you deserved better. If you ever didn’t feel loved, you deserved better.
And it’s okay to be hurt that you didn’t receive everything you deserved. It’s okay to be angry at your parents for not providing you with every ounce of love that you deserved. It’s okay to grieve the loss of a childhood, that every child deserves. It’s not just okay to feel it, it’s required to heal. Because that child that deserved better, deserves to mourn all of the love they may have never received. They deserve to feel that. It’s the least we can do for them.
This isn’t to say that we should all start hating our parents. In fact it’s quite the opposite. Our parents weren’t perfect, they’re human. By mourning our own childhood loss, we can also gain empathy for our parents and their own lost childhoods. They likely also deserved better from their parents. They also deserve to grieve what they never received. And maybe, by letting ourselves feel it, we can end the ancestral cycles of suppressing these childhood pains so we stop passing on silent suffering to our children and future generations.
By mourning for this childhood of love and happiness and joy, we can begin to release the expectations of what our lives should look like. This is important because, although we may not be aware of it, we hold onto those expectations of what our parents should have given us and continue to expect and hope for them to give us that in adulthood. In other words, our inner child is still holding out hope that they will receive that parenting they are lacking. It can be a huge cause of tension and fighting with our parents. If we don’t mourn our childhood and release these expectations, we continue to feel let down every time our parents don’t show us approval, support or love; their wounds continue to trigger our wounds.
The simplest way to begin this healing journey is to begin journalling about painful childhood memories and essentially reliving them. Recall, and truly feel deep in your body the same emotion you felt in that painful memory. Lean into the feeling even though you’ll likely want to escape it as quickly as possible. Just feel it. Cry, get angry, rip up the pages of your journal if that’s what you need. Let yourself feel it, and mourn so that you can truly lay it to rest. Another aspect of this can be to notice when you get upset or frustrated with your parents in your current life. This is often a trigger for a deeper wound of an unmet need from them. You can meditate on that feeling/trigger to allow the earlier childhood memories to come through so you can feel everything that inner child felt.
It’s okay to feel it. It sucks, but it’ll feel better once it passes. And it always passes.