How to believe I’m basically ‘good’ when I’ve made my son feel ‘bad’

How to believe I’m basically ‘good’ when I’ve made my son feel ‘bad’
Thursday October 19, 2006

Dear Ms. Miller,
I grew up in an affluent, beautiful suburb of New York City with a Wall St. executive father and a full-time mother. Only, she wasn’t a mother and he wasn’t a father. They were both very cruel and abusive. I’ve been struggling all my life to heal, including using your books to help myself. I struggle with feeling that I am a good person. To complicate that effort I feel guilty and bad about myself for the times I’ve acted like my mother to my own child. I have apologized, and I struggle to change, but the damage I’ve done to my own child hinders my attempts to feel that I am a good person. I have been overly harsh in the past to my son when he was 4- 5 years old and would hit, push over and scratch his baby brother. I was so harsh I know I made him feel like a ‘bad boy’, and to this day I can see his low self-esteem, (he’s 13.)
I know that until I have a solid feeling of my own goodness, I won’t be able to give him the feeling that he’s a good person as well. The two seem tied together. It’s very difficult to believe in your goodness when you’ve made a little child feel like a bad person. I would appreciate any advice.
Thank you, C. B.

AM: You can’t change the past. If you can’t see yourself as a good person, maybe you can see yourself as a honest person who wants to see her truth without fooling herself. It would mean to acknowledge that your parents didn’t provide you with patterns of love for a child. They did the opposite. Now you have a choice and your son will feel it, as soon as you stop to blame yourself for what your parents did.