As you get older, your parents transition from superheroes to flawed human beings. You become old enough to see their humanity and many of us, as a result, are left a little broken. This could be because we’re often under the perception that nobody can possibly love you and protect us like our parents can and they’re the first examples of love you have. So, what then happens when they don’t meet our expectations and how does that affect the way we love?

Growing up, I struggled greatly with forgiving my parents. It wasn’t until recently that I found the courage to talk about my grievances and find peace. I know many other people out there struggle with broken relationships with their parents. For that reason, I’m going to tell you how to forgive your parents and why you should based on my experience. 

Remember Their Humanity 

Before your parents were your heroes, they had pain, trauma, and burdens of their own to carry. Unfortunately, those things don’t disappear just because they became a parent. As a new parent myself, I can testify to that. 

However, because I don’t want to repeat the mistakes of my parents, I’m resolving to go to counseling so that I can deal with all of the pain, rejection, and isolation that I can’t just seem to shake. I’m actively working on dealing with my inability to stand up for myself and my inability to effectively deal with confrontation and conflict. I know a failure to do so could have a negative impact on my child and result in me failing and damaging him in ways I feel failed and damaged by my parents. 

When I was having a heart to heart with my mom and sharing the things she’s done over the years to hurt me, one thing she said is; ‘I did the best I could and I’m sorry if that isn’t good enough for you’. That was the moment I realized that my anger had reached a dead end. I had to accept that she was human and she couldn’t do more than she had the capacity to do. So I had to lower my expectationsand accept her like that. 

With that being said, accept that they are human and may not have been able to do better than what they did. It may not be good enough for you, but accepting them as flawed as they are will give you peace and free you. 

Have a Conversation 

Many people find it difficult to communicate with their parents and tell them how they really feel. I find that for many, it’s born out of fear that they won’t own up to their wrongdoings or feeling as though doing so won’t make a difference. I used to feel that way until I realized that I was mad at my parents for things they had no clue I was angry about. I owed it to myself and to them to at least say what was on my mind and how I felt. For me, that was the first step to forgiving my parents

I also had to accept that with them being raised in Nigeria and me being from the diaspora, there were many cultural differences that affected their ability to communicate with me or simply say ‘I’m sorry’. 

Remember They’ll Die One Day 

Another thing you’ve got to remember when you find it hard to forgive your parents is that they’ll die one day. I don’t think anything teaches the importance of forgiveness like death does. When you lose someone you found it difficult to forgive, you realize just how insignificant their shortcomings were. I’m not disregarding the fact that some parents are toxic and you’re doing more damage than good trying to repair the relationship. However, even if that’s the case, you only get one set of biological parents, so forgive them for not loving you as you wanted to be loved and let that hurt go. It’s so heavy to carry!!!

For Yourself 

Me not forgiving my parents was one of the many things that triggered my suicide attempt a few years back. I felt like the only people who were supposed to have my back weren’t capable of giving the unconditional love that gives you a reason to live. 

However, I found as time went on that not forgiving them was doing me more harm than it was good. This is especially true because you also see as you age that you are more like your parents than you know and the very things you hate about them will haunt you if you don’t forgive. 

My mom wasn’t as caring as I wanted her to be and as a result, I found myself become just as reclusive and isolated as she is. My dad was really passive which made me feel as though he didn’t care about me, and as of recent, I’ve found that I’m very passive in all of my relationships too. And guess what, reclusive, passive and isolated people don’t tend to be very caring or seem so to those around them. 

Forgiving them liberates you. It gives you the chance to be better versions of them instead of repeating the toxic behavior that you loathe.

But then I saw you as you are 

Although I remembered you as you were 

My “I Love You’s” became slurred 

My reality equally blurred 

As I came to terms with who you are 

and mourned the mother I thought you were