What goes on inside the mind of a criminal? Day in and day out, I interact with people who are either the victims of crimes or the accused themselves. Every time, the victims are crushed, helpless and incensed. A neophyte criminal is transparent, sincere, confused and remorseful. A veteran criminal gives no sign of repentance and often mocking.
Every person needs to feel special. There is an innate need to know that he is loved for what he is, despite his inadequacies and failures. As a child, he looks up to his parents to give this love without conditions, demands and the all too draining parental standards. Every aberrant behavior is a desperate cry for love. “Here I am. See me as I truly am and love me.” When denied of this love, a person develops his sense of entitlement. “I can transgress you, I can violate the laws, I can destroy society because you failed to see the beautiful person that I am inside.”
Nobody ever trained a future mother or parent how to raise a loving and happy child. Books give theories and tell stories. But it is experience that will make you actually walk alongside your child. Oftentimes, the parent’s own childhood experience gets in the way. A parent with a sad childhood makes his own children miserable while a happy and loved child makes a good parent and makes his own children happy and loved.
A mother, most especially, can make or break her own child. There is an unwritten code between a mother and a child that is so subtle, even the slightest quirk from its mother is a condemnation to the child. “My mom hates me. She is never proud of me.” This feeling of rejection goes with the child through adolescence and adulthood until the child becomes a mother herself. And the cycle goes on. The child becomes an adult and faces the world with this sense of rejection and inadequacy. She tries hard, harder, hardest, to cope with the requirements of society. To her chagrin, the world seems to be an extension of her mother. People treat her like her mother treated her. She wants to escape but everywhere she goes, she is confronted with her mother. “My mom rejected me. Now the world is rejecting me, too.” She either goes on with life defeated and dejected. Or she fights back. She gives everyone troubles until trouble becomes her. But the need for love is never abated.
No parent would wish his child harm. He has all the good intentions and wishes for his child. Ironically, these very good intentions quash and suffocate the child. The child becomes an extension of the parent who sees the child as himself. If the parent is a failure, he has to make his child an achiever. He will drive his child to the extent that he failed in the past. And so we have the over-scheduled child who goes to all dance, judo, art, Math and English lessons, etc. 25 hours a day. But still, the child is not good enough for the parent. A failure parent will never see his child an achiever. There’s always something lacking. His child always falls short. This develops a sense of desperation in the child. And so he cowers in life or destroys the world that he lives in. It works the same way with the achiever parent who wishes his child to be an achiever himself. Again, the achiever parent would always see his child as falling short. He will never be satisfied. The paradox is that, more often, an achiever parent is not always a happy and loved child.
How do we break this cycle of an unhappy and unloved parent making another unhappy and unloved child of his own? How does the unhappy and unloved child break the cycle of parental rejection that encroaches into his every realm of activity and endeavor? FORGIVENESS is the key. And before one can forgive, there must be an awareness, a consciousness of the totality of his experiences. Every sad experience is stored in our subconscious which must be confronted in the surface, evaluated and understood from the point of view of the offending parent. Forgiveness takes a constant evaluation of ourselves which would give us a deeper insight of ourselves and of the persons we interact with every moment. It is a knowing and an awareness of ourselves, our parents and the people we love, and a letting go and an understanding to complete the process of forgiveness. “Mom, I was deeply hurt. And as a result, I have become this person. But now I know you were hurt as a child, too. You have broken me in the process. But the strange thing is that I can still keep stock of the treasures I have as a person. I never ceased to be the beautiful person inside. Now, I forgive you. These pains taught me a lot of lessons. Now, by some miracle or whatever, I am strong. And I will give strength to people who are still wounded. Thanks, Mom. I love you.”
No wonder Jesus always insists that we forgive. Forgiveness is the release valve of life. It is forgiveness that makes things new and fresh all the time.