top of page

Dealing with Mom and Dad Hurt

Listen to this as a podcast episode HERE.

mom blessing daughter

I often talk about the season of big days in regard to holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. But I find that during this season of big days, referring to Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and all of the days that school’s out, it’s important to remember that when we face our parents and our children, we have expectations, and we have dirty filters.

Let’s talk about expectations first. You can listen to episode #42 where I first introduced the concept of this handbook we’ve written for ourselves and one for each relationship we have. Even the relationships we have with our hair stylist, the groomer, and the mechanic all have handbooks.

How often have you heard someone say they wished their baby came with a handbook? Well, they do. But the handbook wasn’t written and published by an expert. It was written by us. We write one for each person in our lives, each role we find ourselves in, each situation we get into, and each dream we dream and put our hope into.

We also have a handbook for God. We expect Him to be who we decide He is and to do what we want Him to do. We expect Him to show up when we decide we need Him. We expect Him to reject us when we believe we deserve rejection. All the things.

But in this season, we come face to face with our expectation handbooks that were written about our parents when we are ‘celebrating’ them. I’m gonna be honest here and tell you a story. My mom and I weren’t really close. She loved me, and I loved her, but it was very hard. From my perspective, growing up, through my dirty filter, which we will talk about next, she was so involved in taking care of my brother with a mental illness who had abused me as a child that I was always in the background. She lived a very traumatic life from the womb and was always sick, though many of her health issues were psychosomatic and attached to her trauma. So to a little girl who was the baby of the family, my brothers are 7 and 8 years older, so I’m considered an only child when you study birth order; I always felt like I was an afterthought unless my mom needed me to help her. My parents divorced when I was four, so I was often the only one in the house with my mom to do chores, rub her aching back, or listen to her complain.

As I got older, my expectation handbook started sounding like this:

I can’t tell Mom I don’t feel good and get help because she’ll want me to go to the doctor ASAP because I probably have bronchitis.

I can’t tell my mom my baby’s breath smells good and sweet because she’ll say the baby has diabetes.

Mom will get upset if I need to get off the phone before she does, so I have to gently extract myself from the conversation or text my husband to suddenly need something to rescue me from my phone call.

Mom doesn’t listen to the heart behind what I say; she just wants to make whatever it is into something negative, so I have to curb my enthusiasm because she will break it down.

And the same went for my dad:

Dad will send checks for birthdays but doesn’t call his grandchildren.

Dad thinks it’s everyone else’s responsibility to come see him, but he won’t reach out to come see us or help out.

Dad will turn everything I say about myself or my life into a story about his.

So here’s the honest part of the story. I had a friend who had a really terrible situation with her mom and basically didn’t get any care and compassion from her parents or siblings throughout the majority of her life. So we would look at Mother’s Day cards and laugh about how ridiculous they were. No one made cards that said the truth for us. They all talked about how amazing she was, about the characteristics of this incredible mother, and the joy of being her daughter.

My friend and I would make up what our cards would say if we were brave enough to create them and mean enough to give them to our moms. Things like, ‘You know, if you’d just smiled once in a while, I’d spend more time with you’ or ‘Hey, Mom, I wish you a life of joy and purpose, but I doubt you’d know it if it slapped you across the face’.

You get my drift. Terrible thoughts, but very real to us. And I’d think to myself, gosh, I hope my children can always find a card they feel fits what they believe about me. At this point, I can say so far so good, but time will tell I guess.

So over all the years, during Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, I’ve struggled to do more than what’s expected of me. Send a card. Make it simple. Keep it nice. But I don’t buy cards that lie and I’m not sure my parents would’ve believed me if I ever bought those cards anyway. I don’t think they saw themselves the way those cards ever described a mom or dad.

But here’s the thing I have to consider that I want to challenge you with:

What if they did? What if my parents and yours really thought they had done the right thing and were always loving and kind? What if they always wondered why they didn’t get cards that said, ‘You’re the absolute best, and I honestly mean it with all my heart? I can’t imagine having any other mother but you.’?

What if my mom really was giving her best to me, and I couldn’t see it or accept it because I had expectations of who she was supposed to be and what she was supposed to do? What if my disappointment was of my own making because she wasn’t my version of perfect? What if she would’ve been considered perfect by someone else? What if my expectations were in the way of a relationship with her?

I’m saying ‘what if,’ but in reality, I understand the expectation handbook to know I’m right - there’s no what if. She did do the best she could, and it wasn’t up to my standard, especially when I was a young woman without teenagers who had never walked in her shoes.

So what about you? How much do you live from your expectation handbook for your parents, and how is it affecting your ability and desire to celebrate them as your mom and dad during this season?

If you and I were on a life coaching session right now, I’d walk you through the PEARL practice, and it would probably start with helping you to identify the emotion you feel when you're in a situation with your parents.

Emotion- "How do you feel when you’re with your mom or dad?"

After you define that emotion, I’d ask,

Action- "What do you do when you feel that way?"

Do you get mad or meanly sarcastic, do you withdraw, do you give in and let them have their way to avoid conflict, do you get offended on the inside and paste a smile on the outside just to survive?

Result- Then I’d ask, "What kind of results does that action get you?"

Do you drive home with road rage and then ride bumpers and make other people feel unsafe? Do you take your pain out on the people around you later causing pain to people you care about? Do you disconnect to protect yourself and then stay in that state when your family asks if you’re okay, creating distance between you and the most important people in your life?

Then we talk about the legacy, which is what you create when you get the same results over and over again. If you are constantly taking your anger out on the road, cursing cars and running lights, etc, you can only do that so many times before you hurt someone or at least do harm to your car. If you self protect then you can only do that so long before you create distance so much between you and your spouse that that’s the legacy you get. If you hurt your kids with your words because it’s a habit to speak from your pain instead of dealing with it, then you develop a legacy that is cyclic.

Legacy- "What will you get if you keep getting those same results again and again?"

After you see how your emotions lead to actions that create results that culminate in a legacy, we go back to the paradigm you’re operating from. When you feel that emotion,

Paradigm- "What are you thinking and believing?"

If you feel offended because your mom asked about your job, what was the thought you had: ‘Mom thinks I should’ve been in the family business’? If you feel ashamed when your dad tells the table that your brother says he got a raise, what was your thought? Was it, ‘Dad wonders why I’m not making as much money as my brother’ or ‘my brother was always his favorite son’?

Your thought is attached to your interpretation and connected to your filter. Your filter is either clean or dirty regarding a fact. What your mom or brother said is simply a fact. You had no control over their intention when they said it; you only have control over how you interpret it.

We often have cleaner filters when it comes to new people in our lives and situations we are excited about. It takes a lot of work to keep our filters clean when we’ve been in a relationship for a long time, like with our parents and spouses and children.

Once we’ve determined what your paradigm is about the fact, we’d move to the New PEARL. Starting with the legacy,

L- "What do you want things to be like if you were to intentionally create a legacy?" So what do you want to be like when you arrive home from your parents’ house? Do you want to feel free and light and joyful? Do you want to be forgiving regardless of their behavior? Do you want to enjoy the rest of your day with your kids even though your parents were exactly who they’ve always been while you were at brunch with them?

R- "What kind of results do you need to be getting regularly so that they add up to this legacy?" If you want to have joy when you get home after a day with your mom and dad, you need to have joy when you get off the phone with them. So you’d need to start with the smaller things so they become more second nature in the big things, during the big days.

A- "What kind of action would you have to take to get this result?" You might need to be more in control of what you’re thinking when you answer your mom’s phone call. Or be more compassionate with your dad when he starts talking about your job, considering he may just be afraid for you because he isn’t sure about your financial future.

E- "What do you need to feel in order to want to take that action?" If you want to be patient or gentle or joyful when you take that phone call, then do you need to feel loved, worthy, capable, secure, important, what?

Lastly, we end with the paradigm because we go from L to P in the new PEARL, where we intentionally create a storyline.

P- "What do you need to think that will lead to feeling loved, worthy, capable, secure, important (insert emotion) regardless of the situation?" Regardless of how your mom or dad acts, what they say, how they treat you? You can intentionally think of something and cultivate a belief system that will be helpful instead of harmful.

You just need to define and decide what that paradigm will be. It means becoming a person who leads yourself well by living intentionally, taking your thoughts captive, making wise choices, and cleaning out your filter so you can interpret things through God’s eyes, or even better, see them through His eyes AND the true intention of the others involved.

You don’t have to allow other people, even your parents, to have the power to label you, to break you, to name you, to shame you.

We aren’t taught at any age, much less when we are young, that we are the ones with the true power over our thoughts and beliefs. We are led to believe by default that others have this power, but really, we are practicing our own power by allowing others to have a say. If someone were to tell us, and we were to believe them, that it’s our choice what to believe about ourselves and that we don’t have to believe our parents, we may find ourselves becoming more than we thought possible. We may find ourselves stepping into truths that we know are real deep down in our souls.

As Christians, we say we believe in God; we proclaim he is our heavenly Father, but we listen to what others say about us more and allow their thoughts to define us and identify us. But when we hear God talk about us, when we let His word to us fill in our paradigm, we can live from that truth with a deeper knowing, a deeper intimacy, and a deeper connection. He made us. The people in our world didn’t. Our parents helped to bring us into the world, and have been given the honor of raising and releasing one of God’s children, but even they have finite and limited knowledge about who we really are and what we were created for. Only our Father God knows, and we need to hear Him. And isn’t like our earthly dad. Or mom. But our brains only know how they are as parents and so we associate those ideas onto who He is.

This is where we begin to see how our filters get dirty. Think of your filter as your perspective, the way you interpret things. Your interpretation allows debris to get in your filter and clog it up, causing what you hear to be distorted from what was said. It keeps you from being able to know someone’s true intention.

I recently asked my daughter to clean her car out, like deep clean. And while it took days for her to get it done, one day, she finally said it was finished. I excitedly said, "Let’s go see it!: And I watched her countenance change from confident and happy to hurt and mad instantly. I had no idea what had happened, so my interpretation was that she didn’t want to show me and didn’t want to be with me. So when she walked out of the room, I went in the other direction. I didn’t want to be with her if she was going to treat me like that, and I didn’t want to see the car clean badly enough that I would force her.

Later, she comes and says, "Are you coming out to see the car?" And I said NO. She asked why, and I said, "Because you got kind of mean about it, and I don’t need to see it badly enough to make you have to spend time with me like that." I asked her why she got mean, and she said, “I don’t know; I guess I thought you meant it in the same way you used to tell me to clean my room and then would say, 'Let’s go take a look' when I told you I’d done it.”

Aha moment, ya’ll. Her interpretation of my desire to see the car was based on a past scenario that her brain remembered and wanted to avoid. Her paradigm was that I would point out what was wrong, what still needed to be done, and what was still dirty. But my intention was that I’d seen what it looked like and was excited to see it all pretty and gleaming on the outside and wiped down without trash on the inside. I wanted to see the transformation. She wanted to avoid my disappointment. My filter was dirty when she reacted to me based on her dirty filter, and that is where you see a breakdown of communication, and ultimately, that will culminate in a breakdown of the relationship if it’s left untended and unhealed.

Pain, shame, offense, unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, regret, disappointment, fear, all the things, are the debris in our filter. And they coat the words and behaviors that pass through the filter with a film. If your parent says something, you get to decide how to filter it. If you are cleaning your filter, what you hear will be less about you and more about them. Even their disappointment and hurt are more about what’s going on inside of them, and a clean filter, moreover a filter that is coated in grace and mercy and truth, will be able to have more compassion on them and respond with patient love. I think 1 Cor 13 about love is definitely connected to our what's happening in our filter and paradigm.

I recently saw a trailer at the movies for the new Inside Out 2 animated movie. I loved the first one and highly recommend you see it if you haven’t and see it again if you have. If you don’t know about it, in the first one they create characters out a little girl's emotions. The main ones are Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Anger, and Fear. It’s brilliant the way they bring them to life and show how Joy tries to shut down Sadness so the girl never has to be sad, only to find out that when you shut down one emotion, you end up shutting all of them down. They come as a team, and you need them all. Sadness is a good emotion to feel because your body needs it.

In the sequel trailer, they introduce the new emotions of the girl's teenage life: Anxiety, Embarrassment, Envy, and Ennui (which is brilliant, by the way, because it’s a sense of dissatisfaction and OH, don’t I know that one in my house!). These new emotions have pushed the old emotions down, suppressing them. The old ones find themselves on a journey, and at one point, they reach the "Sar-Chasm". So they yell across to a couple of construction workers on the other side of this chasm where there’s no bridge, looking for help to cross. Joy yells, ‘Boy, are we so lucky we ran into you guys!’

On the other side, because what she says crosses the "Sar-Chasm" and distorts her words, they never catch her intention. Instead, what they hear is, ‘Boooy, are we sooooo lucky we ran into yoooou guys’. And they say, ‘Boy, those guys are jerks’ and turn around to leave causing Anger to say, ‘Boy those guys are jerks’.

This is soooo true of our interpretation regardless of someone’s intention. And it happens aaaaall of the time.

Before you spend time with your parents, I encourage you to clean out your filter by spending time in the Word, doing your own thought work, taking responsibility for what you think now that you see it influences how you feel and what you do and that impacts the results you get. And our relationship with our parents is very important.

The Bible says in the fifth commandment, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you,” in Exodus 20:12, even if they aren’t perfect. Even if they don’t meet the expectations laid out in our handbook. Start asking yourself, could they have meant something different than what I interpreted? The answer is fully a yes. Consider if no one around you interprets your intentions correctly. You’d say, that’s not fair. You don’t know what I meant. You don’t know the intentions of my heart, I do. Your parents believe the same thing, that you don’t know why they are the way they are, what they really mean, why it’s so hard to say and do on the outside what’s on the inside of their heart because of their own story of hurt and pain.

My encouragement to you today is to walk through the PEARL practice for yourself as it pertains to situations with your parents. And if you can’t do it at the moment, come back to this one question: what results do I want to get from this? You can create those results regardless of what others do simply by shifting your paradigm and choosing to lead yourself well. No one can actually make you feel any one emotion, but your thoughts will. And if you choose to think and believe unhelpful or harmful thoughts, that someone hates you, someone is being mean, or someone wants to hurt you, then you will feel terrible emotions.

I’m giving you the power to choose what you think on. You can decide not to allow their behaviors and words to make you think the way you used to. You can decide to hold onto the thoughts that are true, praiseworthy, hopeful, and good for you. Other people aren’t in charge of what we think. Most people are barely being in charge of what THEY think much less are they capable of doing anything intentionally about what we think.

I choose to believe that my parents speak from pain and hurt and a lack of knowledge of the truth. But those things in their lives no longer have the power over me that they once did because I now know it’s my life to live, and I have the power, the knowledge, and the choice to shift my paradigm into something that is helpful and hopeful in my life. And that impacts everyone around me. It trickles down and out. I’ve decided what I want my legacy to be, and I’m working towards creating the results I need to get that legacy on purpose, with self-awareness and cultivated intention.

And you can too!

I pray for your summer to be amazing, that you will know the truth, and it will set you free. And I release a mother's blessing towards you. If you've never received a mother's blessing, right now, I bless you. I am a mom, a spiritual mom, a natural birth mom, an adoptive mom. And I bless you to know who you truly are, that you are 100% worthy right now, regardless of your past, regardless of your actions. Your behavior is not your identity, and I call that true identity to rise up within you. I bless you to know what your Father in heaven says about you. I bless you to be full of forgiveness so that you can release yourself from the hooks, regardless of what your parents have said or done, regardless of who they've told you that you are. Those things don't have to have power over you anymore.

You can be released right now in the name of Jesus. I release you from the hooks. I release you from the power of that pain, hurt and offense, shame, guilt, fear, and even your parents’ disgust towards you and your choices and character. I bless you to find the truth and operate from that paradigm.


bottom of page