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How Do I Forgive My Parents?

Self | Attie Murphy | 4 mins

Parents: The people who shape who we become. No matter how we're raised, we take the good and bad into adulthood. We find ourselves doing certain things and thinking, "Oh boy, I'm turning into my Mom/Dad." It's a blessing to carry on the strengths of our parents, and we're often lovingly annoyed when we mirror their quirks. The question is, how do we forge our own paths when the perspectives of our parents mold our minds? In many cases, that means discerning our unique gifts while keeping the foundation of what our parents taught us. However, it gets dicey when we see negative side effects from our upbringing. If you hold pain from specific mistakes your parents made or you had a traumatic childhood, what does it take to move forward without that weight?

Our beginnings don't define our futures, but they do affect our perspective. It’s natural to experience negative emotions, and we should seek support from God and others. However, our trials can also give us a deeper understanding of humanity. For that to happen, we have to choose it. We must accept that our purpose matters and use the good and bad to make something new. We move forward when we embrace the fresh slate that Jesus offers. This is where forgiveness comes in. Forgiveness sets us free, and Jesus adamantly tells us to choose it. He displays forgiveness more than we can ever begin to fathom. 

"And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." - Mark 11:25

That is why we should forgive our parents; the next answer is how

What does forgiveness require? 

Some people say forgiving our parents means a lack of self-respect, but I disagree. Here are a few things that forgiveness is not:

Pretending an event never happened.
Ignoring mistreatment in the present.
Justifying harmful actions.
Obligation to spend time with someone.

In most cases, we thrive when we work through the tough parts of relationships, but it's healthy to separate from people who abuse us. Forgiveness means letting go of anger and trusting God with justice. It means releasing that person's control over you. Even if someone says they've changed, forgiveness does not require you to openly welcome them back. It does require you to relinquish thoughts of hatred or revenge.

Forgiving a parent may also be difficult if you know their mistakes were not a "big deal" compared to their love for you. The problem is, you won't be able to forgive if you don't admit there's something to forgive. God cares about your problems, including the little ones. He wants to help you work through your pain and confusion. You don't have to voice the impact of every mistake to your parent, but having an honest conversation could bring you closer together. Putting Jesus at the center will strengthen your discernment and desire to forgive.

People can change at any stage because of Jesus. Whatever your relationship with your parents looks like, prayer is the best way to transform your life and theirs. You may not get the answer you expect, but you will receive hope and healing. There is no shame in turning to God every time your past haunts you. He will help you to grow in who you are, no matter where you come from. Your Heavenly Father loved you long before you were born, and you can rest in the fact that He always will. 

Written By

Attie Murphy

An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.

Published on Apr 17, 2023