Forgiving Lousy Parents

OK so we know that forgiveness of others is important because it frees the forgiver as well as acknowledges – no matter (almost) what – the humanity all of us have in common. And that forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting or relieving a “forgivee” of his or her responsibility for their actions. So I figure that if some people are able to forgive the murderers of their loved ones, then we should be able to find a way, over time, to forgive terrible, even abusive parents. I know, this is a tough one and will take some agonizing over when a person is ready.Give-Forgiveness

Psychologist Dr. Leonard Felder has written profoundly about this issue in several of his books. He says that “to forgive involves actions of the heart that can change how you relate to another person” and allows you to build something positive in the present while making sure not to repeat what happened in the past. In The Ten Challenges he suggests an approach that “can help you break free of years of being victimized” and find your way to “a deeper sense of relating to your parent not as a powerful adult” but as a once fragile and lovable child. He shows the reader how to create healthy and respectful boundaries and also details the most effective “comeback lines” that will work with even the most difficult of parents. See pages 112-120. And you don’t have to be religiously or spiritually oriented as he is to be helped by his wise counsel. His books include  Making Peace With Your Parents (written in collaboration with an M.D.) and When Difficult Relatives Happen to Good People.