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TITLE: Forgiving Your Imperfect Parents
By Angelo Subida

A biblically-based reflective piece on attitude towards parents.
One Sunday evening, I was watching news on TV. A few minutes after the main headlines, the news anchor told of a story of an abused child in a segment called "Bantay Bata." The child was being saved and physically removed by the police away from her parents who would constantly beat her up like an animal. She was then sent to a government agency that will properly take care of her.

I thought of that child. The painful hurt she suffered from her parents could bring deep level damage in her memories and emotions. Such experience could freeze her in her development and prevent her to grow. As those images from the past arose, this battered child may do get frightened as she moved on in life.

The resemblance of the life of this child to others to a certain degree can be old hat. You'll find traces or signs of it in the lives of millions of other children around the world. Perhaps you yourself may had experienced it in a different form. If so, it may not feel old hat then.

Children have a deep desire to be loved and cared for by their parents. In return, they also want to be able to love their parents. When there is abuse or hindrance which prevents that from happening, the results may indeed be devastating to the child.

"My father was very important to me as a boy," wrote pastor Bruce Barth. "Like all boys I wanted his time and attention. Most of all I wanted his approval. I wanted him to see me as I was and as I was becoming .... It never happened. Looking back on those boyhood years, I know I wasn't fully conscious of those wants at the time. But they were there nevertheless, and the pain of not being met by my father is still a banked fire."

When one feels unloved by his or her parent, he or she might anguish over troubling questions inside: How can I feel loved if my parents are always criticizing me? Am I lovable if I feel that my own parents are rejecting me? Should I be blamed for this lack of love and approval from my parents?

Unfortunately, this pain from childhood simply doesn't disappear towards adulthood. Resentments often resurface within the ensuing years. As Dr. Harold Bloomfield explains in "Making Peace with your Parents:" "Many here-and-now conflicts that people have with their spouses ... bosses, partners, and children are in part emotional reenactments of suppressed feeling stemming from incidents that happened when they were children."

If you have experienced a troubled relationship with your parents, I have good news for you! You can successfully work your way through. You can allow the healing process to happen. You can be free!

Firstly, you need to understand that your bitterness is like a cancer that grows from the inside out. If you do not make a personal decision to work through your resentments toward your parents, then you are making a choice to remain emotionally imprisoned. And by choosing to be enveloped by negative emotions, you give up your potential to live fully today.

In my own personal story, my father and mother did the best they could given their available knowledge and resources to love and care for their children. But like other parents, they too are human beings. I myself also had to learn to be released from painful emotions about them. Over the years, I also have grown to learn that it was not their fault. They did the best they could. I came to know enough about their early family history to realize that they were not actually prepared.

If you've been hurt by your parents in the past, you need to forgive them no matter what they'd done. By forgiving them, you choose the alternative -- freedom, healing, peace. Maybe you'll say, "If only you knew what I had gone through ...." Friend, whatever it is that happened to you with your parents, it always ends by looking at yourself. Forgiveness, freedom, and healing are your choices -- not your parents'.

Your forgiveness of your parents then does not need to happen in front of them. Forgiveness is more about you than it is about your parents. If you wish to be free, it does need to happen within you. When you forgive your parents for not being perfect, it enables you to accept honestly your own imperfections as well. You can look beyond them to your own relationship with God. As God forgives you, God also forgives your parents.

As you recover from your own broken relationship with your parents, remember that it's a process. Immediate release from pain normally does not happen overnight. After all, your accumulated hurts did not come in one day! You therefore need to be patient. Point yourself always in the direction of forgiveness. And as you do, you bring yourself one more step closer to total freedom.

Friend, forgive your parents to be free. Forgiveness is a gift to your self! Don't miss it!
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