My mother abandoned me when I was little. I was raised by my grandparents. Now that my mother is old she needs care and money and she is asking me for help. I am still disappointed and confused because of her abandonment of me. I feel that I cold lose my very self by taking care of her now. Do I have an obligation to forgive her because she is my mother and is vulnerable now?

Let us first make a distinction between forgiving and caring for your mother. When you forgive, you do so as an act of mercy from your heart. You can forgive your mother for her abandonment whether or not you take care of her. Regarding the sense of obligation, if you hold to certain religious beliefs, you will see an obligation to forgive her. If you do not hold to certain religious beliefs, you may not see such an obligation.

Are you ready to try to forgive, setting aside the issue of caring for your mother for now? I ask for this reason: Sometimes when we forgive, even when we do not want to care for someone’s physical needs, the desire to help changes once we complete the process of forgiveness. I suggest that you first try to forgive your mother, if you choose to do so, and then see how you feel about caring for her once the forgiveness is accomplished.

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Categories: Ask Dr. Forgiveness

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