Parenting Series 2: Living By Example

We learn to love ourselves by the way our parents love us. We learn to be with people by the way our parents are with us. We learn how to trust, how to have faith and how to love from our parents example or not. What happens when we have parents who didn’t parent but simply just showed up?

There isn’t a right answer and this is not a judgement but rather an inquiry into what happens to the children of these parents. What happens to these children when their examples of safety, love, comfort, faith and trust are non existent or disappear after a while? What happens to their psyches? What happens to their hearts and what does their internal voice say? These children grow into adults with issues that span from attachment to severe detachment and all of it is dysfunctional but absolutely fixable.

The healing for these children and adults will come first, from acknowledging that their parents’ lack of parenting isn’t on them. A brilliant psychologist, Dr. Heather Farrow said that in cases like this, the children blame themselves for the behavior of the parent. It’s not difficult to see how a child would shoulder the weight of a parent’s hostility or lack of affection. Any child who expects a parent to love and care for them will blame themselves when the affection isn’t present. The issue is the parent, their flaws, their shortcomings, their life lessons and their learning curve. The child is there to actually train a parent to be a better human being, some parents do not rise to the occasion. The first step in this healing process is to let go of the self blame, shame and the burdens because none of it belongs to the child.

The second step is finding the closure to a messy situation. The sad reality is that many parents who just showed up, go through life the very same way. If you’re a parent and you aren’t being your highest self or at least attempting to be your highest self and giving your child your all then you’re also clearly doing that in every area of your life as well. There is no changing these people. There is no rationalizing. There is no pleading or begging for their love and their acceptance even though that’s what is desired. I think it’s wise to at least speak your peace, whether verbally or through writing. Get it out and say everything that needs to be said about the dynamic. Pour your heart out, not for them but for you. You want to release anything and everything that holds you down and this situation. Once you purge yourself, train yourself to keep purging whenever these issues arise again.

The third step is to get support. There are several variations of support. In your personal life, surround yourself with people who truly love you, support you, care for you, breathe life into you, lift you up and encourage you to be the best version of yourself. These people will give you joy, and fill the hole where a parent’s love should be. Build a circle of positive people who are honest, kind, loyal and nurturing. You’ll need it. The other part of this is getting professional support. Dr. Farrow suggests a psychodynamic psychologist. This psychologist deals with family dynamics, even more specifically parent and child dynamics. Anything that’s in your blind spot, unresolved questions or anything lurking inside of your mind around this issue will be uncovered. I believe that kind of professional support plus a strong friendship circle can definitely ease some of the strain and pain of being rejected by a parent.

Lastly, the self healing portion is very important. In between the pockets of hanging with friends and seeing your psychologist, there will be alone time. This is usually the time where we feel very sorry for ourselves and the loneliness will creep into our bodies. A self healing ritual will these moments not be so bad. You should have a journal to keep track of your thoughts. You should also have a physical activity to help you stay active and keep your brain and body active as well. You should definitely have a space for devotional time which can include meditation and prayer. It’s also recommended to add some self affirming books to the mix to assist you on your self healing journey.

We cannot choose how our parents show up for us but we can choose how we show up for ourselves. We can’t make people love us the way we want to be loved but we can choose to surround ourselves with people who demonstrate love in a healthy way. We only have control over ourselves and our lives. Some of us who feel the burden of poor parenting are scared that we will become that kind of parent. However, the key is always staying present to our thoughts which leads to the observation of our actions. We are here on this earth to learn a lesson and I think the lesson is how to love as fully as you possibly can despite any obstacles. I think we are given tests to see how well we can reach past pain and grow to the highest form of love. I think that in our past lives we did choose our parents and made a soul agreement with them to come back and teach them a thing or two about themselves and about ourselves. I don’t think people set out to be lackluster parents but life has a way of beating some people down. That’s not a pardon for poor parenting but I think it may be a reason. Nevertheless, it’s on you to heal your life and move past a broken and unfulfilled relationship with your parent(s). They have their demons to struggle with and that’s 100% theirs. Our job as children is to grow to love ourselves, surround ourselves with the people we choose and forgive our parents and love them as best as we possibly could. We are all here to learn but not everyone recognizes the lesson.

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