I am 48 years old. My parents were both neglectful and abusive to me and my 2 siblings. If they were parents today, they would have been arrested and their behavior had profound negative impact on all three of their children. My parents have never admitted or apologized for what they did and instead created a sort of fantasy story that they tell about our childhood. All 5 people involved know the stories are untrue. Me and my siblings have, in some form, reconciled with our parents and they have been excellent grandparents. The probelm is, I have trouble forgiving them because they often revert to harmful behavior (which brings the memories and emotions flooding back) and they do not acknowledge what they did many decades ago. Is the “perpetrator’s” admission required and is having no contact or relationship compatible with forgiveness?

They “have been excellent grandparents.” This may be the key to your question. At the same time, you say that your parents “often revert to harmful behavior.” Are you willing to write back and give some specific examples of “harmful behavior”? We can keep those behaviors confidential if you wish. I am trying to discern whether what you call “harmful behavior” is indeed harmful or whether current behavior which is not necessarily harmful is triggering a classical conditioning response in you. The distinction between “harmful” and “triggering a classical conditioning response” is very important for us to make because the conclusion may determine whether or not you and your children interact with your parents again.

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