In life we learn from others. The people who shape our lives the most when we are young are our parents. We learn in two ways from our parents, and in both cases we need to appreciate them and be grateful.
Firstly, we learn from their good examples and their knowledge and wisdom. We emulate their good character traits. We aspire to their good ideals and hopefully learn from them what is a proper home, a happy marriage, a balanced life.
But the second way we learn from our parents is through their mistakes or their short comings. We may not like their faults. We may even find ourselves claiming we would never do those things….but that is precisely how we learn from them. We learn what not to repeat in our own lives , for our own marriage and with our own children. We learn how to do things in a different way in our own families. We also may tend to sometimes (or even often) repeat the same mistakes our parents make. But that again is a learning process. At some point we realize what we are doing and we get ourselves back on track.
In any case, we need to acknowledge the good that our parents do for us. They always do things that we need to thank them for. Children always look for someone to blame for their own problems, failures, difficulties in life etc. The Lubavitcher Rebbe once said that children, being naturally close to their parents, tend to blame them. But this is not the right attitude to have. A child has to respect their parents and concentrate on giving joy to their parents: giving them “nachas”.
In this weeks Torah portion, when Yosef revealed himself to his brothers, he asked “Is my father still alive?” his brothers had already told him their father is alive so why did he ask? But he meant it as a rebuke to them, as if to say “after all the sorrow you caused our father, is he still alive?” A child needs to be considerate of his parents and not cause them sorrow. And each one of us have to think to ourselves: our Father in Heaven deserves to have “nachas” from us. Are we doing enough to make Him happy? Are we doing enough to keep Him alive, so to speak.