Do you struggle with the past and the way your parents treated you?
Many of us look at the things in ourselves that we do not like and at the negative reactions from people we do not like, and we wonder, Do these problems exist in my life because of my parents? If they had been better parents, or had treated me better, then surely I’d be a better person with fewer personal and interpersonal problems, right?
First, we see things in ourselves that make us unhappy. When we sit alone, we do not have a sense of gladness about who we are. We even have moments of shame. Poor self-image plagues us, and we tie this to our mom and dad. Because we feel our parents were disappointed with us and found us inadequate while we were growing up, we feel the same way about ourselves as well, even as adults.
We never felt we were good enough for them. We know our parents loved us but we do not feel they ever really liked us or that we were ever good enough for them. An undercurrent of gloom floods us at times, causing us to wonder, Does this stem from how my parents viewed and treated me? If only they could have been the type of parents who really understood me, I’d be happier.
Second, we see things in our relationships that make us unhappy. Others seem to have a poor image of us. Not everyone invites us to be around, and when we show up it seems some are less than glad to see us. Too many times we feel ignored. What is it about us that causes us to be less popular than others?
At work we have not received certain promotions due to the poor reviews by supervisors. But honestly, we feel evaluated unfairly. In general, we struggle with teamwork, friendship, and intimacy. But we have concluded that if our parents had treated us differently and been different themselves, we’d not have the disrepute that we do.
One of the things I have observed about myself as well as about other people is that we come to a point in our lives where we suddenly realize we have crippling imperfections and ruptured relationships. Yes, we are able to contain some of our personal issues and prove winsome in some settings; but more often than we wish to accept, our personality and performance gets a C minus. We get by but never with flying colors. Sometimes we feel as though we are flunking.
Thus we ask: If I had different parents would there be far more personal contentment and meaningful relationships in my life? Would I be happier and more successful? Have my parents damaged my life?
We do not want to assign blame to our mom and dad, but they are first in line in our search for explanations as to why we are the way we are, and why certain people do not accept us. We think, Hey, I was first sad because of my parents. On the heels of their marital fights, I lost some of my childhood happiness. Also, I was first out of control socially with my temper tantrum because I felt that my mom and dad treated me unfairly. Surely, they triggered many of my issues. If they had been different, I’d be different. We persuade ourselves that our inadequacies and inelegance are our parents’ fault.
We then consider other elements. Clearly, their economic limitations prohibited us from going to the best schools, our average IQ is their fault since they genetically transferred their raw intelligence to us, our poor athletic and musical skills are due to their lack of talent in sports and orchestras, and they favored our siblings, leaving us to feel unimportant and unloved.
We see clearly that our parents left their mark on us, and it was not all beneficial.
On the other hand, when they are gracious and kind and nice, we are happy. There is no unpleasant side erupting from us. Thus, they must be the culprits since when we go home for Thanksgiving and Christmas they cause that ugly side to come out of us. The things we hate about ourselves are most pronounced in the home it seems. There has to be a connection with our parents, we tell ourselves.
Since these factors are facts of our upbringing, then blame must be assigned to our parents.
We’re not mean-spirited about it, but we do see other parents and think, Wow! If I was in that other family down the street, if I had their natural talent, if I had their advantages financially and socially, I’d be happier, more successful, romanced, and purposeful.
But we have to take a step back. Is our personal discontent and social disrepute due to genetics and generational sins?
In part 2, we will discuss what the Bible says about this matter. Are children forever damaged because of their parents’ betrayal? Can a child’s sins or afflictions be blamed on the parents? The Bible addresses all of this and more.