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Making peace with your parents

  • Published at 12:02 am December 27th, 2019
Photo: Bigstock

Parents are just people, and people are flawed

Charlotte Kasl, a prominent writer on relationships, says making peace with our parents means to realize how we are like them and, at the same time, are different from them.

There are some tendencies in our parents that we hate, but those are the same tendencies that we hate about ourselves as well. If your mum is a complainer and you hate that part of her, it makes that you hate that part of yourself as well.

Complaining is universal, or have you ever come across someone who is utterly devoid of it?

In the process of hate, we stop talking to them, even if we live under the same roof. There is a saying -- to have an intimate lover, you need to leave home. Parents are the first who fall in the experience of intimate love. 

So should you abandon your parents? No, you don’t need to abandon your parents; you need to differentiate from them. 

Our perspectives about our parents change when we take off our “masks” and feel compassionate for a man or a woman, rather than the giant images of father and mother. These change as we become more mature, but a realization can accelerate this process.

People often say things like: “I am afraid of intimacy ... I am better off alone.” 

It’s not the intimacy we are afraid of, it’s the negative reaction of our intimate behaviour to someone (in this case our parents) which may have created a hurtful experience, so now we are afraid of intimacy altogether.

When your partner calls you over the phone and says: “I am busy and can’t come to meet you tonight” we respond: “You just think I’m not important in your life, you don’t love me anymore.”

It is time to understand by saying this, we are falling into a childlike pattern where we are incapable of managing our time or our own emotions. Maybe it was the parents who ignored you repeatedly when you were a child. 

Susan David, a famous psychologist came up with these words: “We own our emotions, they don’t own us.” Her opinions make total sense, as emotions are part of our whole, we are not. 

Lisa Feldman Barrett is revolutionizing the whole concept of emotion as more cultural than biological. We make emotions from our social situations. They are not biological. 

It is time we acknowledged that and controlled our negative emotions. If emotions are colours, do you also know which ones are your favourites?

Compassion and clarity about our parents can help us make peace with our parents. I went from being an anger-filled teenager to an appreciative son because I have picked out some of my favourite emotions -- the love and admiration I have for my parents.

Sure they neglected me, sure they didn’t take me out somewhere just for a short walk, sure they didn’t ask me anything except if I have eaten or about my results; but they are also people with history, heritage, and culture.

People are flawed ,  just on different levels from ourselves. They are also making mistakes, just on a different level. 

The key is to be friends with your parents. A friend doesn’t judge who is better or who is worse than the other. Don’t let them control you, and don’t control them.

If it’s extreme, go away, and love them from afar. But pick out your emotions carefully on how to love them, because the more you age, the more you will end up loving them.

Touhid Kamal uses anthropology to learn more about micro-cultures and human behaviour and is a UX researcher and team culture builder. He can be reached at [email protected]