My daughter posted a post to her Facebook wall this weekend. I felt this sense of both failure and guilt wash over me as I read it and questioned everything that I did as both a parent to her and, as a child to my own parents.
None of us grew up in a perfect family. No matter how much we try as both parents and as the child, every family has some sort of “dysfunction” somewhere in it. No one escapes that fact. However, where do we draw the line on blaming our parents for all of our ails and put the responsibility on our own shoulders for how we turned out in Life?
In reading this piece, Hey Stop Blaming Yourself All The Time that my daughter posted, I felt my stomach sinking. Was I to blame for any problems she had in her life? Were my own parents to blame for my own issues? If so, were my parents’ parents to blame for all of theirs and, were my grandparent’s parents at fault for all of theirs, which resulted in it all trickling down to my daughter? Where was that line?
“The root-cause of the guilt and fear that so many of us are far too familiar with goes back to our early childhood. Raising children is a huge sacrifice for parents. We realized this as kids, and absorbed the sense of being a burden. Hopefully, your parents or guardians welcomed and supported you and your feelings, needs, desires and dreams — not just your survival. But the feeling of guilt, even if it was deep-rooted and not quite conscious, still was there,” Author of this piece, Blake D. Bauer states.
As children, we depended on our parents/guardians. We were vulnerable. So we learned, by default, to fear losing our parents’ love and support. We don’t want to feel too much, need too much, say too much or do too much. It’s early on in our lives that we develop this impulse to self-censor.”
We don’t need to fear being rejected and abandoned as adults just because we feared being rejected and abandoned as children. We now can have greater self-awareness, or at least a desire to cultivate self-awareness.”
So, there we have it. Everything that’s wrong with us, every emotion that we don’t like, every bit of guilt that we feel, can apparently, all be traced back to one single source…our parents. Simply by virtue of the fact that we were raised by parents, good, bad or indifferent upbringings, we have “guilt”. We all felt we were “burdens” to our parents and therefore suffered the guilt of knowing that fact.
Isn’t that nice to know? If you’re a parent (obviously you were a child at some point and were raised by someone), your life and everything that happened in it, was based on the guilt of knowing that your parents gave up something to raise you and, your children are feeling the same way about you, according to this author.
I’m not a psychologist nor, am I a trained counselor and, surely there are cases where abuse was so great in families that there are and were horrid side effects left over from childhood experiences. However, for the most part, the mere idea that everything negative that we feel, every lack of success that we have, every lack of ambition that we incur in life, all goes back to the idea that we feel “guilty” because our parents raised us, is pure garbage in my mind.
While this author seems to weigh heavily upon guilt being caused by everyone’s parents, one can only guess that perhaps, he had issues himself with his own parents and within himself as an adult, looking for somewhere and someone else to blame for his own troubles. Or, perhaps, it’s an easy answer for those in his therapy sessions or, a “go to response” which makes his job easier? I have no real way to discern this but, I can say with probable certainty that if there wasn’t a problem there to begin with, there will be by the time he gets into his client’s minds with this type of theory.
Nevermind the fact that at a rather young age, we are more influenced by our peers and friends as well as teachers and others in authority over us, than we are influenced by our parents.
Forget the fact that we are the ones who eventually make our decisions as to what to do with our lives, our partners, our jobs/careers, the friends we keep, the circles we run it, the possible alcohol or drugs we may or may not put into our bodies. Our lack of choices in going to school or, in staying stuck in a job that we hate because we lack the skills to get a better one and don’t wish to better them to get more palatable jobs and salaries. Perhaps, we have chosen the wrong partner and it’s they who are holding us back? Or, maybe, we are afraid of succeeding because it means pressure on our own shoulders?
Whatever the case is, parents are not the cause of all of our decisions in our lives, unless we wish to find a source to blame, other than ourselves and our own choices or lack of them. If we were to blame our parents, then we’d also have to blame our parent’s parents and their parents and so on into infinity. Logic would tell us that if our parents were to have screwed us up, their parents must have screwed them up and so on, right back down the line.
Are there cases where this is true? Of course there are but, there has to be a point at which we recognize that blaming our parents for everything that went wrong in our lives or is going bad, isn’t all due to them. We have made choices and while we’d like to find a way to blame something or someone else, other than ourselves, we are doing ourselves more harm than good.
Thankfully, there is another theory or point of view to look at that is more healthy in moving forward in our lives.
Author Beverly Amsel balances this theory out in her piece,
“At first, when Gloria continued to talk about her desire to hurt her parents, she smiled and said, “Now that I understand that this is what I’m doing, I have to say that revenge is sweet.” She would also get angry in our sessions and acknowledge that this new awareness created a real conflict for her. “Rationally, I get that it’s me,” she said. “I can see that I think my parents are responsible for my being a failure. They made me this way, so I’ll be the loser they created. I want to hurt them. I guess I could work on getting the life I’m always moaning that I’ve never had, and I know that would be the best thing for me. But I just don’t want to give them any good stuff,” Amsel writes of a case in point.
“My work with Gloria is just one illustration of the ways in which blaming your parents can keep you stuck. There is a terrible paradox in these situations: You are angry and blame your parents’ treatment of you growing up for your unhappiness and failures in your adult life. But the wish for revenge and these angry, blaming feelings keep the connection and repeat the relationship between your “bad parents” and you, the unsuccessful, unhappy child. As a result, you are stuck in the position where you cannot become the person you say you wish to be or create the life you say you desire.”
So, before we all go blaming our parents, and their parents and their parents for all of our troubles, we might want to start looking at the people who are and have been surrounding us as well as our own motives for any unhappiness that we are experiencing in our lives.
We are the Masters of Our Own Destinies. Once we put blame on others for those, we become trapped as “victims”. It’s a neverending cycle that keeps us sucked into negative choices, relationships and emotions. It hurts us more than it anyone else.
I suspect I will be de-friended by my daughter on Facebook for my rebuttal on this matter but, that’s ok. That’s her choice. If she chooses to blame me for that as well, it’s her choice.
In the meantime, I’m looking for ways in my own life as to how to surround myself with people and situations that better my life versus sitting back, navel gazing and blaming my parents for anything and everything negative that happens or has happened in my life. It gets me nowhere but, more misery.
At least, that’s the way that I am seeing things from my little corner of life at this moment.