Don’t rip into me because I said something that’s considered societal heresy. I can explain myself both from the perspective of a daughter who is immensely proud of her parents despite their faults and also from the perspective of a mother who is critical and proud of the process of growth that her kids are going through. I couldn’t be prouder. If truth be told, my own human nature and developmental trajectory gets a lot of validation from both my parents and my kids.
Parents are humans. They were children once. And contrary to what we might think, not all of our parents were made the same. Even qualities like love, compassion, protectiveness, loyalty to their kids were not given to each parent in the same measure.
So when these children grow up they make parents of varying competency and eligibility. Some are hands-on, some not so much. Some can instill morality in their kids by being awesome role models, some can’t. Some can be influential in a quiet, strong way and some have to resort to being strident. There are many types of parents and there is the same amount of variability in parent types that we can see within the human race itself. There isn’t a universal face of a parent.
Parents can make mistakes. Even sometimes about their own kids. They may not make the best decisions always. And not because they don’t know better. (And also because they sometimes don’t know better). But may be because they were confounded by the same confounders that lead kids to making less than ideal decisions.
But even though this is an established fact that parents are humans, we don’t have enough grace for them. We don’t practice forgiveness with them like they practice with us.
And that’s almost a universal parental quality, right? Almost I say because nothing is absolute. Forgiveness is a parent’s biggest trait. Their biggest weakness and strength. The force behind many of their decisions for their kids’ actions. They practice it unconditionally and unintentionally. And sometimes intentionally too because they can’t let silly things or major events get into their relationship with their children. When parents forgive, they forgive completely. Unfortunately not the same can be said for children always .
See most children don’t forgive their parents unconditionally. They don’t see their parents as humans who can make mistakes. Children consider parents to be above all human faults. This assumption that kids have is endearing. It shows how highly kids think of their parents and how almost god-like parents are to them. This assumption can also lead to severing of ties sometimes. It can lead to estrangement when children don’t extend their forgiveness and grace to their parents.
As I’m getting older and have children of my own I’m realizing how much my parents deserve my forgiveness and grace. How they should be one of the top recipients of my grace. How their old age combined with their being raised in an orthodox society can sometimes make them sound obsolete but that I’ll have to own their old-fashioned ways. I’ll have to own my parents’ faults like I own my children’s. Because before they became parents, they were kids. And even though we think we know what made our parents the people they are today, we don’t know how they were raised or what they were made to believe about themselves. For that reason alone, I forgive my parents more now. For that reason alone, I try to do by them like they did by me. For that reason alone, I employ forgiveness, kindness, unconditional love and sympathy for them. I’m not perfect and I’ve held differences in opinion with my parents but I’m trying to squash those differences. I’ve learned to be politer in my disagreement of their ways. I’ve tried to be the child that I hope my child to be when I’m old and rely on my child’s approval for my validation. This, I’ve realized, is truly the only thing I can do as a child to change my parents’ quality of life.
And as a parent I want to be able to remove the hierarchy of wisdom and smarts that my kids might feel because of our biological hierarchy. I want to be able to admit to my kids freely and remorsefully when I make a mistake. That’s my hope from myself. My hope is that my children will know that I can make mistakes and some mistakes will be bigger than they make because the older we are, the more impactful our mistakes are too. The older we are, the more accountable we are too. And the older we are, the more grace we expect from our children.
So to be concise, my hope from myself is to follow what Allah has asked of me for my parents. My hope is to show my parents the kindness that they showed to me. The patience they showed to me. And the fierce protection they showed for me.
Mama with my first born.