And of course that can work the other way too. I've known cases where a grown child cut off communication with a parent. Again, it's so painful for the parent. I can only imagine! But again, does that mean the child never loved his parent? Probably not. Probably he or she is hurting, and may even be wishing he knew how to mend the gate.
If we brought our children up in an authoritarian way, maybe we need to let that go, and realize that maybe we are still "punishing" our adult children when we yell at them or sulk. Or if we were permissive, maybe it's because we weren't emotionally present enough. Maybe we should run our attitudes by the filter of how we would treat other adults. Would we yell at our friends, or not make an effort to spend time with them?
But does any of this mean that the parent's love isn't real? Or does it only mean that the love is imperfect?
No human being walking this earth today is perfect. We all, young or older, have room for growth. We grow, and then we find we need to grow again. We get weary, and then we find we need to pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and work at it some more. I, for one, find it exhausting. Yet I think the rewards are great.
It's scary to grow, though, because to grow, we have to admit, somewhere in our being, that we were not perfect. But you know why that's scary? I think it's partly because some of us tend to treat ourselves like that "bad" child too. We beat ourselves up with our words or thoughts or our feelings of shame. Whether it's for the way we treat our children, or the way we used to treat our children, or out of some shame we felt as a child ourselves, we sometimes tend to be harsh with ourselves...at least I know I sometimes do; I don't know about you.
I think we need to forgive ourselves, not once, but seventy times seven times. Not to forgive ourselves as permission to continue as we are. But to forgive ourselves so that we will have permission to change, permission to keep on growing in kindness, to keep picking ourselves up and trying again. I believe imperfect love is still love. But I believe we can have so much more happiness, and give so much more love, if we just keep forgiving ourselves, and if we just keep trying to be kind to both ourselves and others, over again, and over again.
At least, that's my opinion. What do you think?