Exodus 20:12- Honor your Father and Mother that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
Parents are the leaders you didn’t ask for, and whether leaders like Hitler, or Mother Theresa, are your parents, and you are connected to them for life.
That parental bloodline is the link that connects you to the two people who created you without your permission, and in all their splendor, whether good or bad, there is no escaping who made you. Even the space of a thousand miles can’t truly separate you from them. You are connected in one way or the other.
When thinking about your parents and how you feel about them, compare them to the bridge that you cross every day to get to work, the bridge with highs and lows, ups and downs, the structure that holds up those who need a lift, and those who walk instead of driving. But don’t forget sometimes, even phenomenal bridges sway when the wind is high.
Yes, that’s your parents, the bridgers of the future whose leading ranged from flawed to magnificent. Either way, you didn’t get to choose your parents; they chose you, even if intentional or unplanned, you’ve made it this far; although you feel damaged you still arrived.
We’re not talking about a simple encounter, but a lifetime of exposure to people who you believe had no business having children. Those you refused to call to say Happy Mother’s or Father’s day; instead, you tore out the month of May and June from the calendar and turned your head the other way when passing the Hallmark store. You aren’t over your childhood woes, the pitiful efforts from your parents who dodged their responsibility, and no matter what, you will never forgive them. You see them in your dreams, and no matter how hard you try, the vivid reminders that you were almost aborted, given up for adoption, left on your grandmother’s doorstep, or wholly abandoned remains constant. In your heart, forgiveness is not an option for you, at least not soon.
The problem with allowing your childhood experiences to define your future is, in reality, you are duplicating your parent’s bad behavior, rewriting the story in the same context, and replaying the horror movie that gives you nightmares. You have succumbed to your misfortune and covered yourself in your adversity, and when you think about it, you have become the very parents that you resent so much. It’s entirely possible in their old age; they may have repented, turned from their questionable ways, and changed for the good. Now what?
Either your parents have it, or they don’t, and hatred, explosive arguments, or even unforgiveness can’t increase the borders of what cloth a human being is cut from. Unfortunately, your parents may have eaten the sour grapes of sin, but you were left with the bitter taste in your mouth, and now you hate grapes, even those that are ripe and sweet. There’s no need to cut down the entire grapevine, prune it instead, there may be some worth in the vine after all. The long and short of understanding bad parenting is first to realize that parents can only give you what they have, and that’s it. You can’t pick oranges from an apple tree, or strawberries from a blackberry bush, or make mashed potatoes from flour and water. The sooner you accept your parent’s limitations, and understand who they are, the better off you will be.
For instance, take this story, an adult daughter, married with children, moved away to another city. Excited to see her parents, she would make preparations for their arrival. Tours of the city’s famous spots, homemade dinner, and reservations to one of the best restaurants in town. The mother, on the other hand, just wanted to eat. Nothing fancy, and the five-star restaurant she could live without. She preferred thrift stores over department stores and motels rather than hotels, and by all accounts, was not a very positive presence or influence; but she’s still Mom.
Her expectation was lacking in her daughter’s opinion and frustrating to say the least. One day a friend told her these simple words. “Meet people where they are, and remember what makes you happy may not make someone else happy”. So the next time her parents visited, she took them to the local flea market for browsing, pawn and thrift stores for shopping, and made hamburgers for dinner. The parents were happy as a bug in a rug. That life lesson is powerful.
Poor parenting results from the lack of growth, and is the crucial falling point for anyone, not just your parents. There is no contract or certification required to become a parent. The vital downfall for anyone is when they become stuck in a mental, emotional, and societal tunnel; refusing to grow. Ecclesiastes: 7:8 says, “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof”. That means the start of anything is not as impactful as the outcome. Herein lies the difference between ineffective parenting and parents who understand what is required to raise strong mentally and emotional children. Growth is the key, and for those parents who refused to change, they ultimately were refusing to grow to the detriment of their innocent children. Especially since everyone’s starting point isn’t always equal.
Know your audience, and know their limitations. This concept will help you to understand what restricts those you love and to accept them for who they are. Being beat about the head (so-to-speak) only makes it worse, and by all accounts, it’s unproductive and results in discord and divisions.
People are who they are, and no matter how hard you try, you can’t recreate the cloth that they are cut from, and although you love them, they can only give you what they have, and you’ve learned from experience that a lot of what you need, they couldn’t provide. We’re not talking just about money or necessities, but emotional support and wisdom.
The way this works is every generation gets better or worse. If the family matriarch doesn’t have an epiphany, the shortcomings could stunt the growth of many generations to come that will ultimately worsen. The only way to change the legacy, is to change your mindset, and that comes when you make Jesus Christ the center of everything; he is the only constant for peace, forgiveness, joy, growth, love, salvation, true prosperity, and wisdom.
Unfortunately, we don’t get to choose our parents, and we deal with the hand we’re dealt. Right, wrong, or indifferent, they are our parents, and the sooner we embrace them and all their frailties, the sooner we can make peace with ourselves, move on, and become the great parents to our children that we never had.
One of the greatest tools in life is knowing how to capitalize on what is valuable, even in the face of adversity. Even roses have thrones, and navigating around those prickly thorns will help you to enjoy the beauty of the roses.