When to Forgive?

What can you do if the source of your misery is your own parent? Just as there are good parents who mysteriously produce difficult children, there are truly toxic parents who have truly decent children.

In my work with a universe of clients, I’ve observed that although many parents may be predisposed to love their children unconditionally and protect them from harm, this is not universal. I’ve worked with many clients whose parents did not show love to them or protect them from abuse.

One client who came to me for healing and help in building self- esteem.  She had been physically punished and beaten, emotionally ridiculed and shamed, denied a voice and repeatedly sexually violated by a close relative as her mother looked the other way.

My inclination was to encourage her to sever ties with her widowed mother. But because I know that some abusive parents can learn to be loving and hoped this would be true for her mother. Severing bonds would be a last resort. I understood this client’s desire to repair the relationship with her mother and also sensed her mother’s openness to this. Though she was terribly wounded and angry, this young woman worked diligently to forge a better connection with her only remaining parent.

To repair the relationship, she needed to stand up to her mother and other family members complicit in the abuse. That was the first step in reclaiming herself.

In this situation, the client was able, with help, to cobble together a better relationship with her mother and enter her own unique journey of healing. Her self-esteem has expanded ever since.

What is your experience?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.