About this blogger:
Ronda Chervin received a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Fordham University and an MA in Religious Studies from Notre Dame Apostolic Institute. A widow, mother, and grandmother, she currently teaches philosophy at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut. Write to her at chervinronda@gmail.com.
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“The cemeteries are full of people who thought they were indispensable.”
— Fr. Valentine Young, OFM (2007)

   Send an E-mail to Dr. Ronda Chervin, Ph.D.
Inter-generational Forgiveness
published 11 April 2013 by Dr. Ronda Chervin

Text of my mini-talk using the microphone for my web visitors (rondachervin.com) from 2006:

Me, Speaking, Instant Spirituality #2 Inter-Generational Romanticism and Anger

EAR SISTERS AND BROTHERS,

I was very pleased with your encouraging comments about my first audio mini-talk on Savoring the Good. Thank you for writing to me.

As you may know I am involved in the study of anger-management, especially the system, Recovery, Inc., devised by Dr. Abraham Low in the 1940’s. In this mini-talk I would like to relate what he says about romanticism to the anger adult children have about their parents sometimes and the anger some parents have about their adult children.

Abraham Low defines romanticism as having glorious unrealistic hopes about life and especially about relationships. We all have a pretty good idea what that means in romantic love – such as a young man thinking his fiancé will be an angel in marriage because she is so sweet and so physically lovely, or a young woman thinking her fiancé will be an ideal husband because he is so understanding and strong during courtship. The marriage may be very good and even holy but it will surely not meet the romanticized expectations of perfection each one is cherishing beforehand. This often leads into anger, hot or cold, at the discrepancy between the dream and the reality.

What I have noticed in my own life and that of others is that the same kind of syndrome comes up inter-generationally. It wasn’t until my parents died in their 80’s that I finally stopped blaming them for everything that was wrong with me. Behind this anger, I now realize, was a romantic notion of what a perfect parent would be like – she and he would understand the motives behind every single thing I did, always give these the best interpretation – in other words, they would adore me for the rest of their lives. Disappointed in this expectation, I was angry at them, a lot of the time, in spite of great efforts towards Christian forgiveness. Somehow I never accepted the truth that everything about our lives involves suffering as well as joy, and that one of these sufferings is having parents who do not totally affirm and worship us, and even sometimes reject us partially, or totally, because of our real faults!

Now, then, what about our expectations of our children? We imagined that each one would be perfect in a different way – one a dandelion, one a lily, one a pine tree. They would share our most cherished values, especially the Faith. If they did not enter into the same professions, what they did would still be one of our most approved professions. They would have all our virtues and none of our faults! How “romantic!” How disappointing! Guess what? They had free will. They made their own choices. We cannot exempt them from the sufferings that followed from the bad choices. Only when we stop being angry at them for failing to meet these unrealistic expectations can we begin a grateful tally of all the good qualities they possess, many of which we helped them develop. By analogy – they have some of our virtues but in a different “musical key.” Only when we stop being angry at them, can we affirm and cherish them as we should, even as we pray for grace for them to overcome their faults in fidelity to the way the Lord is leading them.

Suggestions:

1. Make a list of every virtue each of your parents or parental figures possessed and say a prayer of gratitude for how these virtues helped you in life.

2. Write or speak out a prayer of forgiveness for the negatives your parents had that hurt you.

3. Make a list of every virtue each of your children have. Thank God for these good qualities.

4. Write or speak out a prayer of forgiveness for the negatives that impact you in hurtful ways.

Heh, I did it myself to make sure I was being authentic. It felt good.

God bless you, with love and prayers, Ronda

If you found this talk insightful, you might like my book Taming the Lion Within: 5 Steps from Anger to Peace or the videos and CD’s based on the book you can find on my website rondachervin.com