Forgiving My Imperfect Parents

Forgiving My Imperfect Parents

Forgiving your parents. it's possible and necessary.

I didn’t have the most stable and functional childhood in history, of that I am sure. But I have come to realize that is really doesn’t matter. Well, not much anyway. I know so many people who still blame their parents for how their adult lives turned out and who still hold grudges against their less than perfect parents. As I sit here pushing 40, I have gained a new perspective into my parents and into the mistakes they made.

My mom gave birth to me when she had only been 18 for a week. She was a single teen-aged mom and I can only imagine the uncertainty and fear she must have felt as she held me those first few days of my life. Although she was an adult, she was still a child in so many ways, yet there she was with a 9 pound baby girl and no plan. My almost 18 year old father had taken himself out of the picture just months earlier and she was on her own. My grandparents were willing to lend a hand, but her family had its own dysfunction and she craved her freedom, even with a baby in tow.

The man I call Daddy married my mom when I was just 5 months old. It is hard to imagine why my parents married. I guess they loved each other at some point, although I only saw glimpses of that growing up. They divorced when I was a teenager and at that time all I could see was the dysfunction. In my early twenties, whenever I looked back on my childhood I usually focused on what my parents had done wrong. I had plenty of blame to throw around for both of them.

I love my parents very much and this post is not about the mistakes they made. They both made plenty and I am sure your parents did, too. What I am also sure of is that you are also making mistakes with your children, just as I am. I make parenting mistakes on a daily basis. Having children caused me to realize that I am not always right and I can be clueless on important parenting issues at times. I hope that the mistakes I am making with my kids are smaller than the ones my parents made, just as I hope the mistakes my children make with their children will be even less than mine.  I also hope that my kids do not turn into adults who blame me and their dad for the state of their adult lives.  You see, that is the crux of the issue.  It is so easy to stand in judgement of our parents and to hold their mistakes against them. But I have realized that my parents did the best they knew how to do. The serious problems they grappled with were mostly self-created, but they did not get wrapped up in those problems with the intention of hurting me and my sisters.  For the most part, I am not even sure they realized how much their actions affected us.

I used to get so mad about this. How could they make such lousy decisions? But as I said, my perspective has changed since becoming a mom. My husband and I have had fights in front of the children that they had no business hearing. They have been on the receiving end of my forked tongue at times. I have snapped at them and said things that are hurtful.  I have disciplined them in anger. I have  been an imperfect parent. Have you?

I have had long conversations with my parents about my childhood and the issues that plagued it. They have both changed so much in the 20 plus years since they divorced and so have I. I have forgiven them for their shortcomings just as I hope my children will forgive me.  Today I am able to see my parents as individuals who exist outside of their roles as my mom and dad. They made mistakes but they loved me. We all fall short. We all need forgiveness.

As a Christian I believe that God has forgiven me for my sins. He looks at me and only sees His child. How can I then look at my parents and see only their faults? If I am not willing to forgive them and love them unconditionally then I am a hypocrite of the worst kind. Even if you are not a Christian, I encourage you to extend a little grace to your parents. Realize that they are only human just like you. Except in severe cases of child abuse, chances are that you will actually improve your life by extending grace to your parents. The hardest parent to forgive was my dad but doing so enabled me to have a loving and close relationship with him and I can honestly say that I am better for it.

Are you an imperfect parent? Welcome to the club! Are you still blaming your less than perfect parents? I hope you will break free of that soon. Forgiving your parents is necessary and it is possible.

Me and my little sisters.

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” – Colossians 3:13


About Janice

I am so glad you stopped by. Kick your shoes off and hang with me a while. I am an Arizona native, wife to a hard-working hubby, mom of two, and daughter of the King. I love sharing recipes, crafts, and family activities that any mom can do. Life is complicated enough, right? When I am not up to my ears in laundry, dishes, and creating for Celebrating Family, you will also find me at East Valley Mom Guide. Come follow me on Google +, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.


  1. Martha Hernandez says

    Loved it! Thank you for sharing. I am in a similar boat and braking free of that past is amazing!

  2. Great post. My parents didn’t do everything right either, but I know they did their best and that no matter what …we were loved. It is a hard thing to think of your parents as regular “people” instead of “Mom and Dad”, but once you do it is easier for you to understand, empathize, and forgive.

  3. Love it Janice, & it’s so true! I sat here teary eyed as I read through. Losing your parents makes you quickly forgive all the imperfections as well. My parents are not perfect obviously & though it is easy to sit & think about all the bad decisions they made, it is definitely much better to focus on the good ones 🙂 Becoming a mother myself gave me have a newfound respect for all that my mother went through taking care of my brother & I, especially as a single parent. She was a wonderful women! And getting to know my father now, takes away all the “bad blood” I have felt for him not being there, because he truely is a good man. I LOVE MY PARENTS, imperfections & all 😉

  4. Janice, I love it!! I wondered a lot why they did what they did at times, but I always knew they loved us and wanted the best for us. I have forgiven everybody in my past for the wrongs they have made in my life and the wrongs that I have made in so many lives. I pray all will feel the same. God bless you Janice. Love your sissy.

  5. This is something that I struggle with as my parents never, even as adults,seem to really care about me or my life. We are a “see you at the next holiday” family. I do work on forgiveness everday but it is not easy

    • It is hard. Sometimes forgiving can involve letting go of relationships. I have done that as well. 🙁

  6. Beautiful blog post. I can relate completely.


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