My parents were extremely strict growing up, but now they are laid-back grandparents. I'm learning to accept the new versions of them.

My parents were extremely strict growing up, but now they are laid-back grandparents. I'm learning to accept the new versions of them.
  • Growing up, my parents were very strict and never hugged me.

  • Now, as grandparents, they hug all their grandchildren and show them a lot of love.

  • It's confusing, but now I understand people can grow and change.

When I was 7, I accidentally stepped on an old mousetrap barefoot. Needless to say, it almost cut off my toe. As I pried that thing off my foot through tears, I had my mom in one ear screaming at me for not looking where I was going and my dad in the other ear yelling about how he'd just set that trap.

This sums up most of my childhood.

We were not a family that ever said "love you" or hugged one another. Any sign of affection just didn't happen when we were young children, and it didn't change as we grew older.

But a weird thing happened once grandchildren started appearing. My sometimes-heartless parents became caring grandparents.

Growing up, my parents were cold and not very loving

I once went tree-climbing when I was 8 and accidentally wedged my foot between branches. I was up 20 feet in the air. My parents told me to get my foot unstuck through angry shouts. I pulled back on my leg with all my force. When my foot came out of the shoe, I promptly fell backward out of the tree and hit the ground with a groan. Once the sky quit spinning above me, my dad told me I had to climb back up in the tree and get my shoe back.

Those are the parents I remember. It was like my childhood was one long scared-straight program with my parents replacing ballistic wardens.

Don't get me wrong. My childhood was pretty decent at times, but I always felt dread; I was always a second away from an unplanned storm landing on my head.

They're completely different with their grandkids

Of course, I don't want my own children to feel the wrath I did growing up. I want them to experience the loving grandparents my parents have magically become. But sometimes, as I see my parents heaping hugs, special snacks, and love on the grandchildren, I scratch my head and wonder where all this was when I was a kid.

In high school, after being a good student all of my life, I started failing geometry. I suffered through hours of my parents shouting about how no one had ever failed anything in the history of our family — lies, by the way. Fast-forward to the present: One of their grandchildren may have to repeat a grade, and they're acting like it is all unicorns and rainbows.

As a parent now, I am trying to relate

My parents had nine children that they felt they had to keep in line through fear and threats. Perhaps this came from a bit of their upbringing.

I only have two children and often feel like my hands are full. And even though I'm an extremely caring parent, I can see how my parents may have felt overwhelmed.

They had constant financial problems — sometimes worrying about where the next meal would come from, how to pay the mortgage, and how to fix the car. All of this could make the best of us tense.

Perhaps my parents are evolving

Rather than overthink how unfortunate things happened as a child, I should congratulate my parents on evolving for the good. It seems they've become better people at their own speed. And I can't fault them for this — even though it moved at a glacial pace. We are all transforming, hopefully for the better, in our own timelines.

There is an old saying that people never change, that a tiger can't change its stripes. But my parents changed — I witnessed it firsthand.

The other day, in a random text message, my mom said she loved me and my family. Honestly, I had to take a second look to make sure it came from my mom.

I realized then that there's always time to change and make amends.

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