By Loretta LaRoche
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Over the years I have met many people who have decided not to talk to a parent or parents. Some are valid since they are predicated on being victimized in ways that were extremely abusive. Unfortunately, there are others who have been hypnotized by reading too many self-help books that attribute everything from acne, bad grades, substance abuse and more to so-called “toxic parents” who were negative influences. I agree in part that consistently being around individuals who find nothing good about the world in which they live can be disturbing. However, many of those people could become our greatest teachers.
My mother and grandmother were always pointing out situations they thought were troubling. They could find fault with anything, yet they also had many values and traits which have served me well. Their negativity has been the source of many of the examples I share with the participants in my stress management workshops. They have also filled many a chapter in my books.
This past Sunday was Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day will soon follow. Cards filled with beautiful sayings are sent, and there are visits and dinners shared. Yet how often have we blamed and reproached our parents for the mistakes they made and use that blame for our own foibles?
I know I used to use my own mother’s parenting as an excuse for some of the mistakes I’ve made in my own life. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that we can only carry the corpse of the past for so long. It gets very tiring and boring.
We go through life with good intentions hoping we will do the right things. But many things happen along the way. One saying I love is “God laughs while we make plans.” I wanted to be the perfect mother and wife, and I’m sure my mother did too, but children don’t come with manuals and being married is not like a fairy tale. Sometimes the prince turns into a frog, and sometimes we become the wicked witch in order to deal with the frog. The end result can be divorce and the problems that ensue. We are not all blessed with the ability to understand how to create “conscious uncoupling.”
It would serve us all well to try and see our parents, family members and friends through the lens of compassion. Try to let go of blame, and begin to see that you have the choice to either follow in your parents’ footsteps or to choose how to learn from their mistakes. You may be one of the lucky ones whose parents walked right out of a Winnie the Pooh tale. If not, you’re still lucky because you can write your own story.
Page 2 of 2 - Author, humorist, PBS star and Fortune 500 trainer Loretta LaRoche lives in Plymouth, Mass. To share your pet peeves, questions or comments, write to The Humor Potential, 50 Court St., Plymouth, MA 02360. Visit her website at stressed.com.