Loving and Hating Our Parents

Children who grew up in dysfunctional homes, or with violence, later in life often blame their defects of character on their parents. (I have friends in their 70s who are still doing so.) – I believe that reflects a lack of maturity.

I also had a tough childhood that forced me to flee from home frequently, and live on the streets, or in alleys, and even in dry sewage drains. Twice, I crossed the Mexican border as a youngster and hid out down there. And until I was mid-age, I thought that I hated my father and disliked my mother for their mistreatment of me and my siblings. But then I matured.

My own life experiences, my own personal struggles, and my failures to live-up to what I believed, made me understand my parents and have more compassion for their misdeeds. – I also began to realize that my anger was not hatred, it was unrequited love. In reality, deep down, I loved my parents innately. – And, as I turned to God for help with my problems, and sought forgiveness, I was able to also forgive.

My Mom and Dad grew up in the Great Depression and World War II. They were in their early 20’s when I was born. My dad was working 3 jobs while going to Art School, and my mother was going to Secretarial school, and then a job, while auditioning for acting roles. They drank a lot when they finally got to be back home. They fought a lot. – It was a stressful time. They had bought a 3-bedroom home. They were struggling to make ends meet. – Looking back from my aged vantage point now, I can understand.

My simple point is this: Many of us had tough childhoods, and probably so did our parents, and their parents before them. Just how far back are we willing to go and cast blame? – I have made some of the mistakes my parents made. I used to drink. Sometimes, I got too angry and frightened others. I am also guilty. I was certainly not a perfect husband nor father. (Although, I never raised a hand to my kids, and devoted myself to their happiness. And much to my dismay, two of my own children now feel about me as I did about my father.)

If Life has taught me anything, it is that we are all a mixture of good and bad. We can either judge or understand and forgive. – When it comes to parents, we should try to see their reality through their eyes. It helps. Too, focus on the good that resulted. – For me, I am an artist, like my father. He painted; I write. And I am a natural ‘Ham’ and performer, like my Mom, an actress.  

I’ll close with a comment made by Garth Brooks, “Anything good about me, I got from my parents. Everything else is of my own making.”

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