Should Parents Get a Pass?

June 4, 2014

Recently, I had a conversation with a group of people regarding the dynamics of our relationships with our parents. Of the participants, everyone was 30-35 years of age, no children, and one pair was married. For a few hours, we debated the merits of one friend’s decision to distance himself from his mother. Most of us agreed with him given the dynamics in their connection and some of the things he’d relayed about their last few interactions. However, one participant disagreed and felt my friend’s actions were dishonoring to his mother and himself. Based solely on the title she had, the guy believed my friend should suck it up and give his mother a pass.

The debate gave me pause as I pondered my own familial bonds. Having already lost a parent, I’m usually very sensitive to the notion of discarding someone with the flip of a wrist. Life affords us many regrets and cutting ties with a parent or denying them access to your life is a significant choice. Sitting beside my mother’s bed for weeks hoping her last breath wouldn’t be her last breath makes it difficult to write off a lifetime’s bond. However, what happens when a parent becomes a barrier to your betterment or a hindrance to your happiness? What should you do when communication is broken, trust is destroyed and nothing seems to work? Should your overprotective mother or emotionally distant father get a pass merely because they bear a certain title? 

My novel, Yesterday Mourning, sheds light on the impact of walking away from a parent in the face of disruption, confusion and misunderstanding. I wrote the story because of my own father-daughter discord. The words never spoken, hugs never shared and memories blocked from ever being have weight and while frustration tells us to leave, love invites us to stay. Fully embracing the impact of my decision, I distanced myself from my father. Beyond that situation, my overarching belief is no one should be allowed to mistreat or disrespect you regardless of their role in your life.

A parent shouldn’t be praised simply for being present.

A pass? No. However, after witnessing friends transition from being children to raising their own, I believe we’re all just trying to do the best we can–including parents. They aren’t entitled to a pass but they should be permitted some understanding. Parents aren’t given a handbook so they’re destined to make mistakes. We have the unfortunate position of being guinea pigs as they learn by doing. I’m not saying you should accept, ignore or reward bad behavior. It’s unacceptable for your mother to disrespect your spouse or your father to disregard your feelings. Rude, selfish behavior doesn’t get a pass. But, for all situations where the parent is simply demonstrating their humanness, make sure you aren’t asking for perfection from someone that can’t  give it to you. It’s setting them up for failure and you for disappointment. If they’ve given you reason to believe they love, support and care about your well-being, give them the benefit of the doubt. We all make mistakes and sometimes what we need more than a pass is a little forgiveness and a lot of patience.


 Are you a parent or child with a different point of view? Please post all comments below!

Also, please click here for more information on YESTERDAY MOURNING 



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