Forgiveness is tough, especially when our parents are the ones who deeply hurt us. Many of us will struggle with forgiveness at some point in our lives, but it is especially difficult to heal from childhood pain and trauma. We often don’t think about how much harm holding on to that hurt can do to us. Unfortunately, it harms us more than it does the offender. When we choose to forgive our parents for our childhood pain, we can move on without anger or contempt and begin the process of healing. The reality is forgiveness isn’t easy, but we have to ask ourselves how we can move forward if we cannot forgive? How can we heal broken relationships and have healthy relationships with our partners if we don’t take on this childhood pain? When we harbor anger and refuse to forgive, we hold onto bitterness, which opens the door for the enemy to wreak havoc in our lives? Are you ready to start the journey of healing? Here are six ways to forgive your parents for childhood pain.
Begin with realistic expectations.
The pain that your parents inflicted on your during your childhood is incredibly difficult to forgive. These are the people who brought you into the world who you placed all of your trust in. We have the highest expectations of them and are shattered when they hurt us. We can go for decades waiting for our parents to start doing right by us. We hold on to the hope that one day they will apologize to us for their misdeed and give us a heartfelt plea for our forgiveness. We also hope that they will eventually embrace us and take back the pain they put us in. The truth is, we may never get that apology, at least in the form that we were looking for it in. Develop realistic expectations and meet them where they are.
Think of how empowering forgiveness is.
Forgiveness can be extremely empowering. Forgiving your parents for childhood trauma puts the power back in your hands. It also unbinds you from the effects of the transgression that took place. You can begin by opening the door so the Lord can take over the situation. The Bible tells us, “Now instead you ought to forgive and comfort him so that he will no be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow” (2 Corinthians 2:7). When anger takes over our spirit, it can get in the way of our wellness. Remember, forgiveness isn’t letting injustice reign. Forgiveness is about creating your destiny. It also doesn’t mean that you’re giving up all of the power you have. It simply means you’re in a place when you’re ready to take it back.
Resolve the resentment.
When we resent our parents, we put them in the darkest place imaginable. It’s hard to see that when we do this, we are also placing ourselves there too. We stay in the place of the child and the victim forever. We don’t realize that we are clinging to the pain by holding on to a grudge against our parents. We can only focus on the bad of the parent. When we do this, we are keeping ourselves from resolving the pain, and it holds us back from the opportunity to move forward in our relationship with our parents. We generally do this to protect ourselves as a defense mechanism. To move past this prison we create for ourselves, we have to let go of the resentment in our hearts.
Think about the good.
Try holding on to the good and remembering that our parents love us, even if they have difficulty showing or expressing it. Few parents don’t love their children, but we have to remember that no parent is perfect. They will make mistakes, and those mistakes will hurt us. When these mistakes happen at a particularly early stage in our lives, it can create childhood wounds. Some people are blessed enough to be able to see the good in their parents and the love they had for them, even when really bad things took place that harmed us.
Open your heart to your parents.
It’s hard to let your parents back in when they’ve hurt you, and that pain cuts you deeply. Yet, when we let our parents back into our hearts, we can begin to see what took place in our childhood in better ways. Maybe we discover that our parents never knew how to properly love. Maybe they thought that something they were doing was best for you because they didn’t have the right toolset to handle a certain situation? Try to recognize their goodness that we try so hard to push away. This can be incredibly difficult but is an important step to take on the healing journey.
Stay the course.
The road to healing isn’t easy. It can take a long time to travel on, and there will be bumps and roadblocks along the way. The journey is complicated. The truth is, we have to be ready to forgive. Sometimes we say that we’re ready, but our heart isn’t there yet.The deeper the pain, the harder it is to recover. The best thing we can do is be honest about what we’re experiencing. Be truthful about the anger and the resentment. There may be points where we punish our parents because we’re still holding those grudges. However, when we do get to the final destination, the forgiveness that comes out of it will all be worth it.
If you are having difficulty forgiving, turn to God right now. The human tendency is to attach conditions to mercy and forgiveness. We think we can’t forgive our parents unless we get a certain outcome. We think we can only apologize if the problem is fixed. God doesn’t want us to look at forgiveness this way. Understand that healing may not happen overnight, but we will get you to the destination by doing the necessary work to get there. When we place our focus in the direction of God, we can weather any storm of life.