We spend our childhood, and often our adulthood as well, in an often futile attempt to please our parents. In some cases, this is a good thing, but in others, it can even be to the detriment of our own children. This we must not allow, not when it can be prevented to the good of all involved.
Should we even want our children to please us? Should we not want them to find their own happiness instead? Had my parents been that way with me…I would have lived a far more fruitful life, and they would have too. You must live life for yourself, always, no matter your age. Living vicariously through your children or grandchildren is never healthy for anyone involved.
In doing this, our parent’s effort was not to please us, but to understand and to satisfy themselves. This is something they should have been doing for themselves already, without help from their now adult children. It can be as though the old are feeding off the young. Often it seems they are holding on to the futility of their own immortality, while the young, guilt ridden, must sometimes sacrifice their elders to create a better world for their own children.
When we let people guilt us into doing things their way, a way ingrained sometimes for generations in families, and that way impedes progress, no one wins. We lose, our children lose, and progress, and even mental health can be thwarted for generations yet to come.
We must learn to stand on our own feet, and be responsible for our own lives instead of helping our parents live theirs. After all, they are grown. They can take care of themselves, while our children cannot. In the end, everyone is bettered for the process, for we all learn and grow, and can even become closer as a family. We actually help our parents by helping ourselves, whether they realize this or not. By living our own lives and raising our own children as we see fit, they are then free to do the same, without depending on us or anyone else for their own happiness.
Also, we must realize that regardless of their potentially misguided actions, our parents often do these things because they love us, and think it is for our best. We will make mistakes with our children too, not the same mistakes, but mistakes nonetheless. In forgiving our parents for this, its an acceptance of the way things are, as opposed to the way we wish them to be. It won’t change the past, but it can improve the future. In this, we empower ourselves. As we go forth and live our dreams, thus they are free to do the same.
Source : Over 25 years as a single parent, dealing with elderly parents, and caregiver to grandparent.