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How You Should Respond When Your Parents Hurt You

  • Veronica Neffinger

    Veronica Neffinger wrote her first poem at age seven and went on to study English in college, focusing on 18th century literature. When she is not listening to baseball games, enjoying the…

  • Updated May 17, 2017

As sinners, we all make mistakes. Parenting is no exception. As young people, there will likely come a time when we realize some of our parents’ faults are having a negative effect on our lives, and that fact can cause resentment and anger.

We’ve all likely had a moment in which we vowed, “When I have kids, I will never do that to them. I will never say this to them, I will never let them feel that way.”

And perhaps we won’t, but our kids, too, will (or are) being affected by our own set of faults, whether these are the same or different than those of our parents.

Jared Vogt in his article for Relevant Magazine titled “So, Your Parents Let You Down. Now What?” addresses this issue of how to deal with having been hurt by your parents and how to work toward healing possible strained relationships.

Vogt first acknowledges point blank that our parents will mess us up. “They have. They did. They will. There is no such thing as perfect people. There has only ever been one perfect person, and they aren’t Him.”

Vogt also wants you to know if you have felt hurt by your parents (and we all have at some point), that hurt is valid. Your pain is real and should be acknowledged.

But that’s not where it ends. You are your own person who has been gifted with freewill by God and you get to choose how to respond to what life circumstances have dealt you. Deciding to remain a victim or to harbor unforgiveness really just hurts yourself.

Vogt talks about unforgiveness this way: “It’s like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.”

“There are no other alternatives: which will you choose: forgiveness or unforgiveness?” he continues.

Forgiveness is the first step to healing a broken relationship. And truly, we don’t even have it in us to take that first step without the Lord’s help. But through Christ, we can be granted the grace to forgive.

Forgiveness paves the way for reconciliation. Although forgiveness can be undertaken in the quietness of your own heart, reconciliation requires two (or three) people. Because of this, if your parents are unwilling to also acknowledge their sinfulness and failures, and to take a stance of humility and offer grace, reconciliation may not be possible, but God still requires us to attempt it: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all,” says Romans 12:18.

This whole process will assuredly require a great commitment to prayer. But trust that God can heal what is broken, and that forgiveness is the best path, whatever the outcome.

It’s also important, writes Vogt, that once a relationship is restored, you set boundaries. It’s okay to agree not to talk about a topic that tends to lead to argument or to avoid situations that make it easier for old patterns of behavior to emerge again.

God desires that we have a loving relationship with our parents and that we are thankful for them, no matter what. And while a complete reconciliation of a broken relationship may not be possible, God still requires us to let go of bitterness and to have grace.

“Your parents weren’t trained in parenting. They aren’t professionals. Don’t be only a ‘taker’ in this relationship. If you sincerely desire to follow Jesus, you will have to look for ways to minister to your parents in their brokenness, because that is what the Gospel does: It changes us all,” writes Vogt.

How can you begin mending a strained or broken relationship with your parents? How can you rely on God to help you do so?


Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/digitalskillet

Publication date: May 17, 2017

Veronica Neffinger is the editor of