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From Hating Parents to Loving Parents

Recently, I attended a workshop on Traditional Chinese Culture, and one of the workshop participants said something that really confused me. He's around 60 years old, and he said, "When I was young, I was often beaten by my mother. She had a terrible temper. I resented her a lot. I told myself, 'When I grow up, if I have children, I will definitely not be like my mother. I will be a loving father.' Later, I had children, and when they frustrated me, I also hit them just like my mother."


I was absolutely bewildered, so I asked him, "If you have such a strong desire to not be like your mother, then why did you end up copying your mother?"


He replied, "Because that's the power of role models. As a child, all I ever saw was this kind of role modeling. I never saw a positive role model. So even though I hate this kind of person, that impression got deeply imprinted into my mind, and I became like that. If I only know this kind of role model, how could I be anything else?"


I asked further, "So if you hate that kind of person, then did you hate yourself when you were hitting your child or afterwards?"


He said, "Oh for sure. After I hit my child, I felt so much remorse."


I asked, "Then did you apologize?"


He replied, "No, because I never saw a role model who apologized, so I didn't know to apologize. A lot of people nowadays are like me. They grew up with parents who served as negative role models, so if we want to better the world, we need to start by setting a good example for others. The power of role modeling is far more important and stronger than the power of words."

Wrongdoers Are Also Victims, But They Can Change

After my chat with this elder, I felt a lot more compassion for those who do wrong. I actually quite admire this elder. In my three weeks of interacting with him, I felt that he's a very humble and caring person, so I was really shocked to hear that he used to have a terrible temper.


He's a great example of the power of moral education. No person in their right mind would want to be a bad person who hurts others and is resented by others, especially by one's own children. But in his case, he was only ever exposed to bad role modeling, so how could he know anything else? Thus, it's not enough to want to be good, we have to take the initiative to educate ourselves on how to be good.


Later, after he learned about Traditional Chinese Culture in his adulthood, he started to change. He saw good role models and had a good teacher who told him to start writing a journal about why he is thankful for his mother.

At first, he felt it was rather forced and unnatural. After a week, he wanted to quit. Then, he had another big argument with his mother. The next day, his mother brought out two containers of liquid fertilizer and said to him, "Let's both drink our poison. Then the resentment between you and I will be resolved."


At that moment, he felt an intense feeling of dread and shame. He hurt his mother so much that she felt the only way to resolve their conflict is to both commit suicide. At that moment, his father rushed in and took the two bottles of fertilizer away. After that painful event, he went back to his gratitude journal and sincerely started to reflect on his mother's gratitude.


At first, he wrote things that were superficial and recent. Gradually, he started to feel deeper gratitude and remember things from a long time ago. Eventually, there were many times he'd break out in tears while writing.

Those sessions were like therapy sessions that cleansed away poison from his heart. After three years, he truly and sincerely felt grateful for his mother. He said, "My mother had a very difficult life. I can understand her pain and suffering, which led to her bad temper. When a mother hits her child, her heart is in pain too."


Once he cleansed away the hatred and resentment in his heart towards his mother, his relationship with her naturally improved. When his relationship with his mother improved, all his other relationships, such as with his wife, children, and employees also improved.

Recover The Innate Love Between Parent and Child

Traditional Chinese Culture teaches that the first step in our moral cultivation and in having happy relationships is to recover the innate love between parent and child. When we observe a parent and an infant, we can see there is natural love and trust between them. Ideally, parents are able to help their children maintain that innate love from birth all the way to adulthood and one's entire life. This kind of person would have a heart that's full of love and positive energy to give others.


But in our present day society, few people have morally educated parents. Our society and media teaches things like arrogance, anger, and self-centeredness. As a result, so many families have troubles and strife, and the children's hearts are imprinted with fear and negative energy. If we want to resolve all of our relationship conflicts from the root, then we should start by recovering the innate love with our parents.


If we think about it, a mother went through so much pain to give birth to her child. The parents then go through years of toil to raise the infant. Parents always do their best and give their utmost to their children, using whatever knowledge and abilities they had at the time. If we can't even love and appreciate our parents, then how could we love and appreciate others who've given less to us? If we can't tolerate the faults of our parents, how can we tolerate the faults of other people? Thus, happy relationships start with the relationship with our parents.


My Experience

In my own experience, I used to always have conflicts with my mother. In my mind, she always criticized me without seeking to understand me first, and she always thinks she's right and I'm wrong. Later, I learned about Traditional Chinese Culture and filial piety (how to be a good child), which made me reflect on my mother's gratitude.


She told me that when she was pregnant with me, she didn't have permission from the country and her company (a Fortune 500 company) to have a child, so she got pressure to abort me. But she resolved to keep me, and she was willing to lose her job and find other jobs to raise me. If she couldn't find other jobs, she could sell stuff on the street. In the end, she got approval, but her company got fined.


Later, my dad came to Canada. My mother didn't want to leave her stable life behind in China, but my grandma urged her to go to Canada because it would give me a brighter future. She decided to listen to my grandma. After we came to Canada, my dad wanted to attend school, so my mother had to carry the financial burden. I remember how hard my mother worked to make money, and how tired she was after coming home late at night.


When I think back to how much my mother loves me, and all the difficulties and sacrifices she went through to raise me, I can't help but tear up. How could I become so disrespectful and argue with her and make her upset? Essentially, it's due to a lack of moral education and living in a morally polluted environment.


But when I put her immense gratitude, love, and sacrifice in my mind, my heart only wants her to be happy, and I'll naturally take the blame for any conflicts. Once I recovered trust and understanding with my mother, our relationship became much more harmonious.

Whereas before, I might feel like she often criticizes me, now, I can see that she is simply worried about me, and I can patiently communicate with her to ease her worries. In fact, I communicate a lot more proactively to prevent her worries. If I make a mistake, I'll simply apologize rather than defend myself against her criticism. As a result, she trusts me a lot more and rarely worries about me.


Once I could understand my mother better, I could naturally love and understand other people better too, whether it's other relatives, friends, colleagues, leaders, or teachers. When others have conflict, I can naturally help them understand the other person's perspective, because I've adjusted my heart from one of blaming and self-defence to one of caring and understanding.


So if you have conflict with your parents, start by thinking about how difficult it has been for them to raise you. Yes, they have faults, but so do you, and so does any human being. If we truly put our parents' gratitude in our hearts, we would naturally tolerate their faults prioritize their happiness rather than blaming them and demanding them to change.


Next, try to see the caring intentions behind your parents' actions. I heard another workshop participant say that he used to be so annoyed at his father for always nagging at him. But after learning about filial piety, he saw his father's nagging in a different light.


He felt his father really wanted to give him advice from the mistakes that he made in the past, and he doesn't want his son to make the same mistakes. Regardless if his advice is accurate or suitable to his situation, and regardless of the fact that his father doesn't know effective communication tactics, he felt the loving intention from his father.

As a result, he didn't feel any opposition towards his father anymore, and so he could communicate openly with him. Before, he felt nothing was getting through in their communication. After the shift in mentality, their communication became much smoother. I'm sure that his relationships with other people will also become smoother and more harmonious now that he's untied the knot in his heart towards his father.



I once heard a person say, "The happiest thing in my life is that I can go home and shout, 'Mom! I'm home!' And then hear my mom shouting back, 'Oh, welcome home!'"


Back then, I couldn't understand this person. But after a few years of studying and practicing Traditional Chinese Culture, I can understand him more. This is the type of joy that money cannot buy. It comes from within and doesn't bring a low afterwards. Once we recover that innate love and trust towards parents, our heart will feel much lighter, at ease, and joyful. This will then spill over to all our other relationships.


Do you still have that innate love with your parents? If so, you are one of the lucky ones, and I hope you will maintain it. If not, don't fret. It's common, and we have the power to start recovering it today.



Weekly Wisdom #295


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