Blaming your parents for your issues is the kind of thing that’s just too easy to be good for you — the psychological equivalent of drinking 12 cups of coffee to stay awake at work.
You know a better solution is to take ownership over your actions/get more sleep, but that seems so, well, hard.
It is hard — and no one’s denying that.
I recently spoke with Carl Pickhardt, a psychologist who’s written multiple books about parenting, and he said he totally gets why blaming the people who raised you would be your first impulse.
When young adults come in for counseling, he said, they often ask questions like: Why am I the way I am? What are the salient influences on how I’ve grown?
“Parents light up No. 1,” he said. “Parents have a huge amount of influence, whether it’s real or perceived.”
Yet Pickhardt explained that faulting your parents for your current problems is a little bit of cutting off your nose to spite your face. “At the moment it can feel emotionally satisfying, but it seems to be the enemy of what you actually need, which is acceptance and responsibility,” he said.
In the long run, it only serves to victimize and disempower you.
Based on his experience counseling young adults, Pickhardt said:
“If you want to move forward in a way that will free you from some of these influences, you’re going to have to take the energy you’re investing in blame and shift it to acceptance, and then take a look at what kinds of self-management choices you have.”
A better option than blame? Hold your parents accountable for their choices and hold yourself accountable for yours.
Let’s say your parents divorced when you were younger and you see that experience as the reason you fear commitment today.
Instead of placing the blame for this issue squarely on your parents, a more healthful strategy is to ask yourself: “Given that my parents divorced, what kind of response did I make to that?” and, “If I find myself believing and behaving in ways that do not make me happy, do I have choices for changing those things?”
In other words, you don’t need to pretend that your parents’ divorce didn’t have an impact on you — of course it did. But it will help you to recognise that you’re not doomed to fear commitment because of that experience.
Pickhardt calls it “re-parenting” yourself. Your parents raised you through young adulthood, but probably left you with some flaws and difficulties that it’s now up to you to resolve.
As for me personally, my mum was the first to tell me I was a good writer, so if you hate this article, blame her.
Just kidding. Sort of.
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