"The time has come to forgive your parents, for all things, big and small. You must recognize that they were coming from a placing of limitations. Promise yourself that you won`t let their limitations create limitations within you. Be aware of what has happened in your past. Shed that light upon it, so you can see it clearly. Acknowledge it all. Then let it go. Your light is better spent aimed at all that is wonderful about you and your life."
This week, I had a few moments where I felt triggered by my parents. This feeling and thought process aren`t new to me - often it is about my parents doing something or not doing something, so that I would feel triggered. For example, when I feel emotionally vulnerable, my parents would share their views and comments to release their fears and judgments, which only leave me more emotionally distanced and unsupported. Because I have been going through this several times, I know this has many factors.
My parents and I are not only from different generations, but also from different cultures. On top of all, of course, our individual personalities, preferences, and priorities play a role, too. My parents were born after the Vietnam war, living during a time of hunger, poverty, and post-war trauma. My parents were also given the opportunity to go abroad in their early twenties, where they met and fell in love in Czech Republic. After the fall of the Soviet Union, my parents then moved to Germany without speaking German or English. They also didn`t have much money or education qualifications, but they were happy during a time of hope and anticipation after the fall of the Berlin wall.
Of course, while I was busy with my own experiences during childhood, such as puberty, taking care of my sister while my parents were working, and figuring out my own future being the first one in our family aiming for higher education, I might not have been aware of everything that was going on with my parents. I am sure they also endured racist or discriminatory moments, grew personally and professionally while they started their own business, and felt lonely in a foreign country far away from their big families in Vietnam. I am sure they felt helpless when they realized they couldn`t help me anymore with my schoolwork because the language started to get too difficult for a foreigner (and native speaker) to explain (I remember we once sat until midnight in my room with all our Vietnamese-German dictionaries open (this was before the Internet!) and trying to understand how to a 5 grade maths exercise.)
There are other moments that have made me reflect on family, ancestry, and upbringing. For example, when a girl told me that she was interviewing her grandma to write down her story. Or when I talk to my Coaching friends about death, our aging parents, and our own Older, Wiser Self. Or when I even watched Oprah`s interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with my mum and was quite amazed how family stories and tragedies can unfold affecting everyone`s lives. I guess what I am trying to say is that family has been always a key value for me, maybe because in our Asian culture there is a huge focus on the family collective, but I have also always appreciated what my parents have taught me. Family is such a key value for me that I even look for this in my partner because I can`t imagine we would match if my partner doesn`t value his family or my own care of my own.
Through my parents, I learned hard work, perseverance, discipline, but also kindness, politeness, respect towards esp. elderly people. My parents supported me as best as they could through my academic career. My parents worked hard and came from totally different positions to allow my siblings and me a better life with more opportunities. Even though higher education was a new field for them, they tried to support me in my decision as best as they could by buying self-help books, googling themselves and trying to understand the jargon language that even native speakers cannot understand. Even when I moved out - just one hour away from my parents` place - I visited my family, incl. my little brother, once a month, and I kept this routine even when I moved to London. As the oldest child I somehow feel responsibility to take care of my family, who are immigrants in our country away from their own relatives, but I also know that time is precious and even though moments with my family can be naturally mundane, I know that I will treasure them when time is up.
And this is also what I realized since living with my family during lockdown winter. I have felt grateful and nourished since the first day I was back with my family, because I went through a very hard time, additionally lonely in London during lockdown. With my parents, I can be myself, they give me everything I truly need - shelter, protection, safety. When (very few) Saboteur thoughts emerge wondering how life with your parents can be exciting compared to a jet-set life with parties and night outs, I mindfully come back to this moment and remind myself that the time I have with my parents, as long as they are alive, is precious. Even my mum once said when would I ever again live with them for such a long period, as I have lived by myself since I graduated and started working. Not everything in life needs to be spectacular to be treasured and be seen as special - sometimes it is the things that add up with time and also depending on our mindfulness muscle that make moments special.
So even though I have moments where I look for emotional support from my parents - knowing that this is something I can learn to give to myself, or am triggered by their generational-cultural-personality triggers, or we just naturally have our hick-ups and misunderstandings like any other interpersonal relationships have, I try and want to come back to the present moment to release my judgmental mind chatter, appreciate the unique time with my family, and just be with them as we are in every remaining moment of our lives together.
Love, from me to you,
What does family mean to you? Let me know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org – I very look forward to hearing from you! :) PS: Subscribe to my #mindfulmagic Newsletter to stay in touch for upcoming posts, free offers, and news :)
Inspiration: Brené Brown - Daring Greatly
Reflection: How is my relationship with my parents?
Intention: I spend time with my parents mindfully and compassionately.
Viet Linh Le is a female visionary, qualified coach with corporate experience, and multi-cultural founder of @vietnamwellbeing, with the mission to change our world by coaching the next-generation decision-makers. Find out more on www.vietlinhle.com