My parents never really enjoyed being parents.
They wanted the best for my brother and me - and they loved us, as best they could.
They had generational wounds of abandonment, rejection, and unworthiness.
My mum grew up without a dad. She fell pregnant with me as a 20-year-old Catholic young adult who escaped Vietnam with no family - to a young adult male she barely knew.
My dad grew up feeling unloved and lonely. His parents weren't around - he too was a refugee escaping Vietnam in search of a better life. As a 23-year-old young man who was a devout Buddhist - being an expectant dad to someone he barely knew wasn't in his plans when searching for a better life.
I was born out of wedlock. My parents were still "kids".
Kids who were now in survival mode. Feeling stuck, scared... and hijacked by a life choice they didn't want to make.
Becoming parents was bittersweet.
They were crippled with Fear.
They didn't know how to move beyond it. They did the best they could.
My parents loved me - as best they could. Any injustice that they felt from their own families, any lack that they experienced, what they wanted for life but failed to get - it was manifested through their parenting.
They wanted to give me the experience of life they desired.
They lived through me.
Their unfulfilled dreams, their hopes, their aspirations was a burden I carried because I thought that was the only way I would be loved.
Their sense of self-worth was based upon what other people thought of their parenting, and their "good little Asian girl" having to get the best grades, be the epitome of obedience, and live up to an ideal of perfection that was impossible to sustain.
My situation isn't unique.
They did the best they could. They had great intentions.
It was sourced from their past - what they knew, what they experienced, and what they never questioned.
I found liberation when I realised their disapproval of my life choices had nothing to do with love.
Understanding the story of our parents and their wounds is the start of the healing process.
We all have some trauma or inner-child wounds that are seeking healing.
Parenting isn't about perfection or making up for the past - parenting is learning to heal the wounds from the past and master the art of love.
There is a choice that every parent has to face when they embark on this journey of bringing life into this world.
Do I become the parent I want to be (based on my own experiences and past) - or am I going to be the parent my child needs?
The latter requires you to surrender the need for control.
In my coaching practice, there's one question that evokes the most disappointment. "Did you feel loved by your parents?"
I continue to ask:
"Did you feel seen, heard, understood?"
"Was there space around your parents to be you?"
Most of my clients respond with "No".
And that my friend, is the source of most of our misery when it comes to parenting. An experience of not being enough, unworthy, and failure.
Our children bring out our wounds from the shadows and into the light.
This isn't about blame. It isn't about judgement.
This isn't about being the victim.
It is about bringing understanding, empathy and compassion to our past, and our parents. It is choosing to forgive all that has been and all that wasn't.
In healing our wounds, the wounds no longer have a grip on our experience of life - and how we show up as a parent.
When we focus on showing up to be the parent our child needs; over the inherited blueprint of perfection we have created in our minds - there is freedom.
Parenting can be our masterpiece to craft.
Parenting is a relationship - a relationship between your child and you. Without your child, you are not a parent.
Your child presented you with the possibility of experiencing being a parent.
We sometimes buy into the delusion that parenting is a one-directional relationship - where we are the only ones that are giving.
I invite you to love the person in the mirror, tell your inner child she is loved, bring healing to the inherited wounds, forgive what you can - and know, that on the other side of healing is the potential to have parenting be your masterpiece to own and craft.