We can choose our partners, our job, the place where we live — is the common wisdom — but we cannot choose our parents.

I disagree.

Our parents play a major part in forming our emotional being. This is true whether we like it or not, whether we are aware of it or not. It is no surprise why some of us, regardless of our age, still blame our parents for some of our shortcomings.

In my workshops I often hear people say, "I cannot verbally express my feelings of love to my children because my parents never expressed it to me." Or, "My parents got divorced when I was eight years old, and I’m still angry at my father to this very day for abandoning us. As a result I’m afraid to trust anyone in a relationship". "I never measured up to my parents' expectations. They consider me a failure because I didn’t make it into university. I am still suffering from low self-esteem, thirty years later..." And so on and forth.

An elderly woman was raving to her friend that her fifty-year-old son spends two hundred dollars a week on her. "On what?" asked her friend. "Each week, he visits a top psychiatrist to talk about the effect I had on his life."

Some of us believe in open and honest communication, and may think it appropriate to share with our children what difficult people our parents were. "If only my father would have spent more time at home," or "If only my mother loved me more," we explain to our kids, our lives would have been completely different. By doing this we almost guarantee that, in thirty years' time, our grandchildren will hear the same story about you from our children.

As human beings, we normally take good things for granted, and our parents are no exception. We take all the good they have done for us as a given, and direct all our energy to what we think they should have done for us.

"Honor your father and your mother" is the only one of the Ten Commandments which states the reward for doing so — "...so that your days will be lengthened upon the land that G‑d gives you." (Exodus 20:12). Perhaps our Creator knew how difficult honoring our parents would be, so he offered an incentive. Our sages explain that this "lengthening" of days does not only mean long life, but also a betterment of the quality of life. Unconditionally honoring and loving our parents — who deserve all the respect and love we can give them even if only for the fact they gave birth to us — makes us better people, emotionally and spiritually.

This is why I say that we can choose our parents. We did not have a choice on who our parents would be or on what their characters would be like. But there is one very important choice that every one of us can make at any given moment: to choose our parents the way they are.

My five-year-old said it very eloquently when he turned to us and said, "You are the best parents I ever had." If only adults would think and say the same words with the same enthusiasm and innocence.

This would indeed "lengthen" not only the quality of our days, but the quality of the days of our parents and children as well. A colleague of mine said to me, "By the time I realized my parents were right after all, I now have children who think I am wrong." When we honor and love our parents unconditionally, talking kindly to them and about them, we will be setting a good example for our children to follow in years to come.

Let’s make every day a Father’s Day and Mother’s Day, choosing and embracing our parents as our own and expressing our love and appreciation to them. We'll be better people for it — and better parents, too.