How to Forgive an Abusive Parent

Forgiving an abusive parent is a deeply emotional and personal decision. Forgiveness is difficult, and your parent may or may not deserve it. If you are now far away from your abusive parent, you may choose to forgive them. Here is how to do it.


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    Accept his/her weakness and realize that at some point or another that abuse occurred in their lives as well. It may have been accepted as normal on their part, but today live 'your life' the best in knowing what's good for yourself first and then your children. At some point there was probably a thought that 'you' would love your kids and would have wanted better for them. Although they weren't born yet. Some parents treat their children based on their memories of how they were treated themselves. They may not have been brought up in an environment with good examples to model who could show affection and love. They then bring these memories into their present. They have not learned to forgive and forget and correct the behavior that was modeled for them.
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    Recall pleasant moments. In a lifetime, a parent does not always abuse a child it is, and at times, corrected. He or she may have behaved badly when their state of mind and emotions were disturbed and in turmoil. Try to recall at least one pleasant moment when she or he was nice and treated you well. As a child, it is understandable to easily forgive. After-all, he or she gave you life, and as chaste, "I love mom" or "I love dad." Each time your mind brings back the thought of an abusive parent, "swish" it back to this pleasant moment and realize that you are a believer of the present. And, above all, you survived it all.
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    Release your old hurt and blame from suppression. Ask yourself where the hurt is leading you and why are you still keeping it inside. Know that it is only human and normal that these suppressed memories will return. Relax and sit quietly for a few minutes each day, then let yourself feel and then let go of those feelings inside you and compliment what YOU brought to your life. Even those in the least that had allowed you to know and realize now that, "I'm going to continue to survive."
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    Know that each one of us is only visiting on this planet. Our life is short and it is of no use to keep grudges forever. And, that 'you' will circumference a protection that you have developed. Everything will pass and the best you can do is savor the present moment. Don’t allow your old hurt to ruin the rest of your life. Continue to seek out a continual future.
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    Work on yourself in developing a strength and then a newer one every time that thought of remembering comes back. Focus on what you can do to make life better for you and those whom you care and cherish. Become the example and the role model for those after you. If you ask yourself, "but how?", live in the now and recognize that it can change and allow the good flow through. Just as a natural breeze gently touches.
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    For things to change, you've got to change. And for you to be able to forgive, you need to forgive yourself and remove whatever blame and anger you have inside. Forgiveness is a strength of finding yourself and not to dwell with the abuser. Forgive yourself as well and at will, 'with no fault.'
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    Question everything the abuser taught you, one of which you figured out that at those times it was not o.k. on your part. Many abusers sabotage their children's lives in ways that last a lot longer than the abuse itself. Because now, you want to find a way to forgive and to keep forgiving. Yes, that thought is taunting...Look for examples and ideas from people who are happy and watch how they can just smile, laugh, or that they are just calm. Filter the quality of personal advice in life by asking "How happy is the person giving it?" Try it yourself as well. The most lasting damage an abuser creates is the set of plausible half-truths that are bad ideas about life or entrusting of themselves. Beliefs like "Love is always love-hate" can set you up to repeat the situation with new people in your life. Abstain, and restrain. Walk away. Regain that inner strength in you. Be positive. Try again.
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    The toughest question for self is: Am I following my abuser's example? Do I treat people that way? Ask it in private and if it's true, start looking at examples of how people who were raised in loving homes behave in the same situations. It's possible to retrain yourself into a person who can live a happy life. It takes work but the results are amazing, often better than you can imagine.
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    If you're long past the abuse and suddenly start reacting to it again, look at your current living situation. Ask whether the same situation is happening in some other area of life. A boss, a partner, a friend or a current acquaintance may be triggering reactions. Sometimes that's a danger sign in current relationships. Other times the situation's much milder but the abuse set you up to expect far worse. Understanding the difference means standing back and seeking advice from people who are uninvolved and come from healthier backgrounds.
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    A healthier confidence and just forgive. It is to actually 'forget' how the misery was "then" from now, and it is only a memory. Controlling the triggers and believe that you can still see the next three minutes of triumph that it's gone now and use your strength to endure this 'new control.'


  • Write about it, talk about it often. The pain you feel rages inside of you like a demon. Or, like a neglected child cowers in the corner. It needs to express itself. However, don't let yourself feel worthless. Listen to it. The more you do this, the less it will feel un-loved. Keep trying, keep going. It will take time, but eventually, it will die down.
  • You need to be resolute in this decision. If you and this parent are still on bad terms, a bad argument can bring back all old residual feelings of resentment. Don't let this happen, it will just prevent you from progressing with your relationship.
  • Sometimes contacting this parent or your other (non-abusive) parent will help. You all need to understand and find love for each other. However, if they only continue the abuse, break off contact carefully then retreat and recoup.
  • Remember that you aren't required to forgive someone who was abusive, even a parent, and if you're making this decision you should be sure that it's the right decision for you and you're making your own choice to forgive them. If you don't want to forgive them or feel that you can't, that's perfectly OK too.


  • Forgiving your parents does not mean completely ignoring the fact that they abused you. Know that what they did was wrong, and forgive them for your sake and yours only.
  • Do not use these methods to forgive a parent if they are still abusing you. Only use these methods if you are in a place where you are physically and emotionally safe for the long term from receiving further harm from your parent.
  • Make sure you don't continue the cycle of abuse. If you also have not grown up witnessing loving parental behavior, seek counseling and parental classes to learn how to be the best parent you can be. Your county department of health or social services or local hospital maternity department may offer free classes for parents who want to improve parenting skills.
  • If you do find yourself repeating the behavior, give yourself a time out. Admit you need a break and will come back to the situation afterward.

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Categories: Dealing with Conflict with Parents | Child Abuse