When I was a kid and told that I looked like my mother, I’d cringe with pain at the thought that we were actually cut from the same cloth. At eighteen, I ran away from home. I would have left sooner, but when I was a minor, she could bring me home; I didn’t want that. I had little choice than to grudgingly waited until that magical birthday – and I left. The only time we talked during the next ten years was when I needed something. It’s a sad admission, but it’ true.
Over time, I started listing to people who practiced the principles they learned in all their affairs, particularly with family. They showed me, by example, that I had a choice: I could continue to blame my mother for the life I had, which I hated, or I could clean up the debris and move on, taking some responsibility along the way.
Making peace with your parents is not so much about them feeling good as it is about helping you live comfortably in your own skin. For many of us, regardless of how much we deny it, we become incapable of having a genuinely open, honest, respectful, and intimate relationship with anyone, man or woman, until we get clean with our parental relationships. How true a statement I have found that to be!
Many women have kids long before they are ready or just because they think they should. They are ill equipped to be mommies. And sometimes in the learning process they make horrific mistakes. Some mistakes can be irreparable. But one thing I learned for myself is this: we all have lessons to learn.
My mother was not perfect. She made her share of mistakes. But today I know she did the best she could with what she had. And once I really got that, I became the beneficiary of so much goodness, abundance, and love. Ultimately, I had to walk through the pain of my feelings and my history, but then I had a responsibility to truly let go.
Here are some suggestions, based on my own experience making peace with my mother and other family members:
- Believe they did the best they could with the skills they had.
- See them as human, imperfect, just like you and me.
- Know we have the tools to get through anything. The tools are available to work through relationships. All we need to do is ask for help.
- Identify the payoff for holding onto the anger. What’s the payoff to resolving those hard-fought-for resentments?
- Bring to mind something good in your family members, or something they did for you.
But, you may be thinking, “What do I do if my parents have died? How do I make peace when they are no longer here?” Unfortunately, there is no simple answer, because when they are gone, they are gone. I urge you to do the work while they are alive. If however, it’s too late because they’ve died, consider writing a letter. Think carefully about what you write. Be particularly mindful to say what’s in your heart.
It’s an Esteemable Act to make peace with your parents and family members. Here is a wonderful affirmation you can use on a day-to-day basis: Today, I have the courage to make peace with my family.