Integrating Compassion with the Wisdom of God’s Word


The purpose of Aunt Dara’s Christian Advice Column is to glorify God by addressing human needs with compassion and the wisdom of God’s word.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

How to Reconcile with Mom

Dear Aunt Dara,

I need some spiritual help to do something that I know I need to do.  Scripture is very clear: forgiveness, honor your parents, etc.  However, I am still so angry after all these years and Ephesians tells parents not to provoke their children to anger and my mom is not blameless.  Still, I am seeking the strength to do what I should do.

Growing up I thought my single parent mom was the best parent my little sister and I could have asked for.  She was nurturing, supportive, high energy, and always had time.  Discipline was rare but fair and consistently applied.  But then, just short of my 10th birthday, I get spanked for supposedly breaking a house rule and not leaving a note saying where I was when I went down the street to watch a movie.  Thinking I was missing, mom was in a panic.  I had left a note, but somehow it ended up in the middle of the garbage.  It was found 5 minutes AFTER I was spanked.  No taking my word, no investigative work, no fact finding, no due diligence.  Just shoot first and ask questions later.  She was so sorry, apologizing, and crying afterwards, but how could I have been so wrong about her?

I mean if a 10-year-old could find the truth and clear her name in 5 minutes, what could a 32-year-old have done if she had been willing to try?  I was innocent but got a bright red butt anyway.  This had to mean that I was nothing to my mom.  I felt worthless and I ended up crying myself to sleep every night.  The happiness of my childhood ended that day with my mom.  I moved in with my dad about a year later.  I think I just wanted to make myself relevant again and to have a fresh start by moving.

I am a 19-year-old college freshman now.  My mom has made contact through my sister about us meeting and trying to work things out and be mother and daughter again.  My mother remarried and had twin boys at 35 and another daughter at 38.  So, the old girl kept cranking them out.  My siblings are pushing me to do this, especially my next youngest sister who blames herself because she was the one who accidentally threw my note away that day.  I don't blame my sister.  How could mom have gotten it right with my brothers and sisters with them just thriving under her care but washed out and been incompetent with me?  How do I move forward and forgive unfit parenting?


Rejected Daughter 

Dear Daughter,

You must have been terribly hurt by your mother's reactions that day and this has been affecting you greatly.  I can tell that you have struggled a lot with feelings of pain regarding your perceived lack of love from your mother.  Your feelings were only natural from the perspective of a child who was unjustly punished.  However, forgiveness is possible for you by looking at the situation from a different perspective—your mothers.

If I may, I would like to suggest what may have been on your mother's mind at the time.  You said that she was in a panic because she thought you were missing.  A parent in that situation would be imagining all sort of terrible things that may have happened to her child.  She may have been thinking perhaps you were abducted and had been raped or murdered.  If she truly did not care for you, if she truly felt that you were nothing to her and she believed that you were worthless, then she would not have been panicking.  A non-caring parent would not have become worried and upset.  Though you did not say so, I am positive that your mother was very angry when she found out where you were and angry that you did not let her know where you were (or so she thought), and that she was very angry when she spanked you.  Her anger was the normal reaction of a person who believed that something terrible may have happened to someone they love dearly, only to find out that their panic was unnecessary because the person (who was safe after all) had failed to notify them of their whereabouts.  The reason that she spanked you so quickly before doing an investigation was because she was very angry and scared (NORMAL emotions for that situation), and nobody makes good decisions when they are overcome with fear and/or anger.  However, as a child, you would have interpreted her anger and a sign that she hated you and her unjust punishment as evidence of that hatred.

At the time, as soon as she realized that she was in the wrong, your mother did the right thing by immediately admitting that she had been wrong and she apologized to you.  She was very remorseful for having treated you unfairly and I am quite sure that she has continued to shed tears for her actions and the consequences of her rash judgment. Parents aren't perfect.  They make mistakes.  Your mother showed humility and maturity when she acknowledged she made a mistake and asked for your forgiveness.  You heard something from her that many people never ever hear their parents say—“I'm sorry."  You are carrying a lot of resentment toward your mother that she does not deserve.  She loved you and loves you still.  Please give her a chance to be in your life again.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

Part 2 

Dear Aunt Dara, 

I did it.  I just did it!  I just called and accepted my mother's invitation.  I am scared to death.  I am as nervous as I have been.

You could not have been more accurate in describing what happened that day if you been there.  Yes, mom was mad.  I guess it's never a good sign when a parent opens a conversation with a kid with, "Where the hell have you been?" I may have left you with the impression that my mother was heavy handed, but she had only spanked 3 other times.  But those times, I was as guilty as sin and had it coming and was not mad at my mom over it.  Even this last one, in which she "wore my butt out" and really had me crying, if I had done wrong, I would have trusted her judgement and taken it as a tough lesson learned.

Over time, especially now that I have accepted Christ, God has been working on me about this.  I would feel guilty, then I would actually work myself up into getting mad and then guilt wins out again.  Even you seemed to indicate that the blame shifted to me after I refused an apology.  I can be a vicious person.  I accused my mom of being abusive and unfit, have attacked her online, sent back gifts, declined an invitation to her wedding, and even last year, she attended my graduation without getting an invitation. Using myself as a weapon, I hit her with everything I had, and she still tried again with me.

I want to be a part of their family if possible, but I don’t know what to say.  I don't want to replay and dwell on the past, but I don't want to just have small talk about the weather either.  How do you rebuild?  My stepfather called and we had a nice talk.  I was afraid he would hate me.  He adores my mother.  I am just so nervous right now!


Dear Daughter,

I am so glad that what I said to you was helpful and that you accepted the invitation to get together with your mother and siblings.  I can tell that you are very worried and scared about what will happen and what will be said when you meet with her.  I would suggest that you not bring up any specifics from the past.  Sincere apologies are the best way to rebuild relationships.  I would suggest that you say something along the line of this:

"Mom, I have been holding resentment toward you for a long time and have treated you badly.  I am sorry for the things that I have said and done to you for the past (X) years.  Please forgive me.  I want to make things right with you now.  Please help me to know what I can do to make it up to you."

I predict that if you say those things to her, it will bring tears to her eyes and make her very, very happy.  She will take it from there and together you can work to heal the wounds between the two of you.  Be sure to pray a lot about this.  God is the one who has the power to reconcile and heal relationships.  Please let me know how it goes.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

to Daughter:
I'm glad you read and accepted Aunt Dara's response. I really you are only 19 but this was a small incident in your life to prepare you for the bigger problems life gives you. God says that storms and sunshine happen equally to the good and the wicked.
I would say, acknowledge your hurt, cry, acknowledge the pain you caused your mother for 9 years, cry, and say what Aunt Dara advise you to say to your mom
Then LET IT GO. Like frozen ;)
Just know that that instance, although it shocked you doesn't mean your mom is abusive. My mom used to come home from work and beat the sh*t out of me every day- just because she was angry. I've also been choked, thrown up against walls/couches, my head grabbed and pushed into human feces/boogers (my sisters' on both accounts), and more. Anytime my mom came to me and apologized afterward, I forgave her because I knew the anger wasn't her. If you can imagine demonic possession, and I am not talking about someone crawling on walls & throwing up,that's what her anger was like. You couldn't reason with her/it, it was unabating, it was easily provoked by simple things like crying to become worse... You could look in her eyes and know it was not my mom. It was a demonic being called murderous rage.
The only thing that has helped is God. He alone has taken that from her. Nothing else could.
However, I say all that to put it into perspective for you. Your mom did everything because she cared about you. You say she should have looked harded and could have to find the note you left. I disagree. She was looking for YOU a 10yr old sized human being around the house, not an ordinary piece of paper. And even if she did look for a note, how would she've known where you put it? And if she did look where you put it- WHO would have checked the trash?! She didn't know you even left the note at all. Again, she was looking for you, not anything else. Her worst fears were coming true (you kidnapped/murdered) and fear makes our brains shut down most of our logic, regardless of age.
Listen, you have the chance to fix your relationship with her. It could be far worse- she could be dead. Live your lives now with no regard to the past.