As a twenty something I always thought my parents were on my case. I’m an only child and I used to view their attentiveness as being overly fussy and too much. Looking back, I hadn’t developed the maturity to effectively empathize and see things from their perspective and I can now appreciate just why they were worried for me (in my twenties I was a binge drinker).
After several years of therapy and having quit drinking I better understand my parents and the concern they had for me all those years ago. What helped me to empathize with my parents most was trying to understand their perspective better. I took into consideration their life experiences, their generations perspective and how it would feel if I were a parent myself. I started seeing my parents as not just mom or dad but people in their own right, doing the very best they could. And I was lucky, my parents cared for me deeply and their concern was born from their love for me.
It’s true that not everyone has this problem. There are those with parents who have neglected their children, been pushy or even worse, abusive. Although there are no excuses for such behavior understanding our parents life experiences – what role models they had, what their childhood or marriage was like – can provide us with vital clues that when pieced together can enable us to better understand and empathize with them.
For most of us there will always be things that niggle us about our parents but if we consciously take time to see them as human beings with flaws just like us we can begin to appreciate them – even finding comfort in what we used to perceive as nagging -because we realize it comes from a place of love.
So the next time your mom gives you that article on how eating healthily can improve your emotional health, rather than inwardly roll your eyes, read it and be open to the article actually having value. Use it as an opportunity to love your parents even more, knowing that they have sincere hearts that just want the best for you.
Sibling relationships also benefit from us taking the time to understand and empathize with them, and whilst it might be hard if you don’t get along with them, empathy is the first step to healing the relationship.
Do you have a good relationship with your family? Do you get along with your siblings? Have you ever considered your parents life experiences and generational differences when trying to improve relations through empathy? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community, we’d love to hear from you.