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Mum/Dad – I'm Sorry. I get it now!

Updated: Jun 2, 2021

How many times do you catch yourself feeling so riled that you respond without thinking with an internal rage of resentment to a habitual way a parent says or does certain things?

I wonder how fantastically gifted you feel they are at pressing (nay, jumping up and down wearing hobnail  boots on) your ‘hot buttons’?

Did you ever wonder what that’s about; what’s going on there?

Poor parents, bless ‘em. Though it may feel anything but ‘poor parents’ to you as your furnace is stoked (again!) to bubbling lava about to blow levels. Could it be that 99.9% of the time, they’re completely unaware of the effect they are having on you as you seethe in furious silence?

What if they’re genuinely hurt and mystified by the distance they seem to be inadvertently creating between you with the things they say and do and have no clue what they've done or how to put it right?

What if it were a case of the adult child's perspective being unexplored from the time when the mistakes occurred and all that was needed was an open, honest, undefensive adult communication to bring out into the open all the misunderstandings on both sides and shine a light into the darkness of the hurt child's pain to bring new comprehension and healing where there had been so much bewilderment and turmoil?

Whose job could it be to put it right, if, indeed, that could be possible; if the harm done, or denial and/or self-preservation at any cost hasn't made it irretrievable (which of course can be the case)?

Assuming the mistakes made were genuine mistakes, and not acts of wilful neglect or outright child abuse, or a direct abdication of parental responsibilities to love and protect their child/ren - who might be more likely to have more advanced insights, skills, communication flexibility, self-awareness?

If each generation improves on the last - since that's the way it usually works with evolution - where might one find the seeds of the new and improved?

As we live, unquestioningly for the most part, in such a ‘blame’ culture, so often we’re socially conditioned to blame our parents. After all, they’re the ones who screwed us up, right?

Wasn't it them who set the pattern in place?

Maybe ..

But let me throw in a curve ball.

What if they’re still internally seething themselves, silently screaming in frustration inside - perhaps even suffering illness which could be caused, at least in part, by lifelong resentments they have held in as a result of how their own parents and teachers stunted them?

What if their self-esteem and self-belief took a battering at the hands of those who raised them?

What if those who raised them got it even worse, and just passed on what they'd been taught?

What if they all thought they were doing the right thing - based on the parenting / teaching methods they learned by default by nature of their own experience? Based on even less understanding than we have today about the necessity for positive affirmation, loving encouragement, patience, tolerance, kindness and so forth? And how well are we even doing today if today's standards are so much better?

What if to question was to be harshly punished, rejected or beaten?

What if what was understood in years gone by was actually twisted out of shape and away from what 'felt' right by the social conditions engineered by those who held the power and the purse strings back then?

What if the indoctrination to not 'feel' crushed all the hope out of them and rendered them dysfunctional, trapped in misery and strife?

What if they were so knocked off course by endless wars, disease, poverty and the cruelties of a system that didn't give a damn - about them, or their children - that they could barely put food on the table, let alone be the world's most perfect parent?

What if they longed to break out and feel free to do things their own way, but couldn't, because they were kept down, hopeless and frustrated?

What if they all carried their pains of unfulfilment down the line .. but still tried to do better than was done for them?

How would it make you feel to see their faces crumple in pain to have their own resentment, frustration and deeply rooted hurt proded and poked if you were to ask them to tell you about their lives - what it was like for them as a child and as a young adult in a world you'd struggle to recognise - and really listen with your entire being?

What if they spent their entire lives squashing down their own hopes and desires; their desperate to emerge creative talents and the longing for the confidence to fulfil their repressed dreams, ambitions, passions and longings because they felt it wasn’t acceptable for them to live as they once so wanted to live?

What if they became so deeply conditioned to toe the line and do as they’re told and not question anything that they only lived a tiny fraction of who they really wanted to be in their own youth?

What if they dared not speak up or express their truth because it simply wasn’t the done thing?

What if they were mistreated, abused, or crushed, or perpetually existed in a state of turbulence themselves?

What if they unwittingly passed their confusion and pain onto you, without ever for a moment having realized what they were doing because it's all they knew? What if they never woke up to the possibility that there could be an alternative?

What if they lived in a generation where it was just not the done thing to have a child question an adult's rationale, or to admit as an adult to having made mistakes that perhaps resulted in causing harm to one's children and/or family unit.

What if they are tormented by the pain of their disorientation now - to find that after they tried so hard to do better than they'd known, the grown up children they gave their all to raising appear to detest them and/or who ostracise them from their own adult lives with no explanation; from the opportunity to love better, through their grandchildren - who would bring light and dawning realisations, and fill them with determination to do all they could to compensate for earlier mistakes; to show their devotion anew to the children they feel they messed up with by supporting them in their own parenting; to heal from their own wounds?

What if they only wanted to save you from making the same mistakes they did?

What if they longed to, but couldn't, find the words to eloquently express their regrets? What if they kept trying to find the right way; the right time; the right moment; to say the best words they could muster and yet somehow, it just never seemed to come out right - with the depth and intensity of emotion they feel inside but cannot express due to the years of repression?

What if that inability to say what they needed to say tortured them over and over, every time another opportunity slipped by to tell you how much they love you; how sorry they are; how much regret they feel; how much they wish they could only turn back the clock and do it better ..

What if they pass away before the sweet release of forgiveness and the opportunity to say 'I'm Sorry' can occur?

What if they go to their graves feeling they were utterly inadequate; an abject failure at the most basic calling of being human? What if they could never even forgive themselves?

What if their dying thought was that their life was meaningless; that nobody cared or would miss them; that there was no love left on this planet for them to stay for anyway?

What if they thought that they'd be better off dead and gone?

What if they passed alone; loveless; unhugged for years; isolated from the comfort of another human's touch or loving word or birthday card with each passing year of loneliness; or acknowledgement for the things they'd done well; alone; with no family around to hold them, kiss their brow or gently soothe any fears of leaving this life with a loving caress holding their hand softly as they took their final breaths?

What if bridges of understanding can then never be built; lifelong wounds can never be healed for them – when they tried their imperfect best, with the tools, understandings, and wisdom they inherited to adore and care for you – just as you do if you have children yourself!

What if your rejection of people who made mistakes were to filter down to your growing children as a philosophy for life?

What if they took the stance they learned from you - and blamed you for your mistakes by excising you from their lives; from being given the opportunity to love better second time around with your own grandchildren? How would that feel?

What if you could have changed the pattern .. and forgiven? What would not have been lost forever?

What if relationships could have been repaired ..

What if ..

What if ..

If only ...

With love,

Trish Brennan


A Handful of Comments on This Post

(From first sharing on 6th August 2018 - what convinced me to start a Blog!)

Trish, I saw this on a group I'm in this morning and read it, as I am one of those parents. It is truly BRILLIANT!! although I do, at some level, know all this stuff, it was the right time to read it. Bless you xxx


Ah continue to address the huge issues of my life. It seems uncanny to me.


So powerful thank you x


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