Our parents don’t fail us when they can’t make it to sports games, don’t bake the perfect birthday cake, aren’t there to watch us get a certificate. When they make a decision once or twice that they later regret. They don’t fail us when they are poor and the electricity sometimes gets shut off.
Our parents fail us when they are unable to love us and provide us with a secure safe environment to grow and flourish in. They fail us when they systemically act in a way that makes us feel worthless, year after year. We are monkeys – we’re pretty simple – it’s about love and security.
Our parents fail us when they can’t consistently see beyond their own needs and wants, or their own failures in life – and they are unable to shift into a gear that involves simply doing what is best for the growing child. And ‘doing best’ is not fulfilling the little darlings every wish and want. It never was.
Our parents fail us when they don’t see us. When we are hidden to them. When they can’t take that sometimes gargantuan step into ‘small child needs’. When they leave us alone because we are just ‘too hard’ and when they don’t care what time we come home when we are still kids. When they don’t touch us in a loving empathetic way. Because they don’t know how to – or they don’t want to.
Children don’t have to fulfil parent’s expectations in order to be loved, just like a parent will never completely fulfil a child’s expectations.
Guess what – we are allowed to be the ‘difficult child’. The challenging child. The different child. Most families have one – usually because there are similarities to one of the parents. We’ve grabbed their genes, after all. No-one is perfect.
Parents can be tested. That is almost the very definition of being a parent.
These parents usually know they are failing. Somewhere deep inside.
No matter how ‘wonderful’ they are to the outside world.
For kids – it’s not about how many after school activities you are ferried to. It’s not about being worshipped. And it’s definitely not about being told how much they love you. That can be nice – but I know just as many people who grew up with the silent loving parents as the daily ‘I love you’ parents – who are just as secure in their parents love.
It’s about love and comfort.
It’s about being nurtured and supported. ‘I can’t be at the sports games but I’ll make sure you get there. I will be interested in who you are as a person. I will be there for you for the rest of my life.’
To create a solid foundation for a child to flourish into a confident adult.
Because if you are not loved, flourishing is really hard. Because everything that is said, and, more often than not, unsaid, in the family home, is understood by that child. Negativity seeps into your bones and weighs you down, decade after decade.
Are you worthwhile? Or are you not?
It can be a massive head-shift to understand that when your parents fail it is not necessarily about you. It can simply be their failure to look beyond their own problems and screw-ups. Sometimes it’s about their state of mental health.
Their inability to ‘grow’.
And the hardest thing for an adult that grew up in a world where they were ‘lesser’ – is to understand, it is not about us. When we are kids lack of truly meaningful love seeps into our subconscious and becomes an indelible part of us. We become defined by an absence of love.
It takes grim determination to kick that one off.
The most important thing a person can do is shift their own gears away from that person who, every time they see that person, makes them shrink inside themselves. Because ongoing constant (and often subtle) rejection of us as a person – which can be how we interpret all this – makes you feel sick and sad and empty.
I’m not talking about bad times, hard moments, fracturing and difficulty in your teen years – I am talking about decades of knowing your parent/s can’t/won’t love you.
You can’t ever expect to change them. Especially by just sitting around waiting for them to change. You’ve probably been trying for years to get them to ‘see’ you. Lifetime habits don’t change easily.
Create your own soil to flourish in.
Reframe yourself. If you, in your own life, live in a home that you are happy to come home to (mansions always come at a cost), are with a kind and thoughtful partner &/or friends, and have parented children (if you got there) in a way that is never perfect – but is always defined by your trying to do the right thing for them, with boundaries and care – and so you can see that your world and your kids are happy and confident in a way you could never imagine,…..
If you are watching your children thrive and grow with wings you knew you never had.
You are a success.
So little by little, let go of these people that taught you about suffering. Accept them for who they are. Know that you have learnt much from them.
Give yourself permission to walk away. Because they’ve stuffed up. Failed. You can’t change them. It’s not about you.
Leave them to their own lives.
They’ve taught you enough.