Everything You Thought You Knew About Your Parents is Dead Wrong. | Bernard Owens | TEDxBuckheadAve | Summary and Q&A

September 28, 2023
TEDx Talks
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Everything You Thought You Knew About Your Parents is Dead Wrong. | Bernard Owens | TEDxBuckheadAve

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In this video, the speaker shares a personal story about the power of connection and vulnerability in relationships, specifically with parents. He reflects on his own childhood and the anger he had towards his mother, but through a vulnerable conversation, he discovers the trauma his mother experienced and how it affected her. This realization transforms their relationship and allows them to heal. The speaker emphasizes that connection requires surrendering, giving up the need to be right, and being willing to understand the origin story of the other person. He also highlights the importance of connection in overcoming feelings of loneliness and isolation, particularly in the current pandemic era.

Questions & Answers

Q: What was the speaker's discovery about his parents after the pandemic?

The speaker found out that both of his parents were actually human beings with their own struggles and problems. Before he came into their lives, they had their own bills to pay, medical situations to deal with, and even issues with their own parents. This realization gave him a new perspective on how he related to each of his parents.

Q: How did the speaker's love for fantasy TV shows help him cope with his own difficult childhood?

The speaker explains that he loved fantasy TV shows like "The Six Million Dollar Man", "The Incredible Hulk", and "Wonder Woman" because they provided an escape from his own realities. Through these shows, he could imagine being someone different, someone stronger and better than himself. It was a way for him to cope with anger and frustration and envision a better future.

Q: Why did the speaker feel anger towards his mother during his childhood?

The speaker reveals that most of his anger was directed towards his mother because she was the one who was present in his life. He had expectations of how he wanted his mother to be, faster, stronger, more ambitious, and he didn't understand why they were living in public housing after coming from a middle-class area. He wanted her to be different and had difficulty accepting her as she was.

Q: What led the speaker to attempt suicide at the age of 11?

The speaker was facing various challenges during his childhood, including kids at school teasing him, asking if he was half-white or a girl. He kept these experiences hidden from his mother because he didn't want to burden her. The pressure and anger built up to a point where he felt overwhelmed, leading him to overdose on medication. This moment became transformative for him and his relationship with his mother.

Q: How did the vulnerability shared between the speaker and his mother change their relationship?

When the speaker's mother discovered him after his suicide attempt, he realized he couldn't keep his struggles hidden anymore. At that moment, his mother told him about the traumatic experiences she had with her own father molesting her. This conversation created a deeper understanding and empathy between them. The speaker started to show up more for his family and saw his mother as a human being with her own pain, rather than someone who owed him something.

Q: How does the speaker connect his personal experiences to his work as a mental health clinician?

The speaker acknowledges the epidemic of loneliness, disconnection, and isolation in society, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic. He highlights that connection is the antidote to these challenges. Drawing from his own experiences, he emphasizes the healing power of vulnerability and surrendering in building and maintaining relationships. He shares examples of how the symptoms of loneliness manifest in various destructive behaviors, such as substance abuse and high rates of suicide, which he encounters in his work.

Q: What does the speaker suggest is necessary to access vulnerability and connection?

The speaker suggests that accessing vulnerability and connection requires surrendering and giving up one's need to be right. He acknowledges that everyone has a right to their feelings, but holding onto the need to be right can block the possibility of reconciliation and growth. He emphasizes the importance of understanding the origin story of the person with whom one has conflicts, whether that's a parent or someone else. This understanding can lead to a different perspective on oneself and can positively impact other relationships, including in the workplace.

Q: How does the speaker propose approaching relationships with parents or family members?

The speaker advises individuals to take on the role of a superhero in their relationships with parents or family members. He suggests metaphorically putting on a cape and being willing to reach out and start a conversation, even if there has been hurt or disagreement in the past. He clarifies that this doesn't mean absolving the other person or dismissing their actions, but rather seeking to understand them in a different way. By doing this, one can cultivate a better understanding of oneself and potentially create a different dynamic in the relationship.

Q: How does the speaker emphasize the transformative power of connection?

The speaker highlights that connection has the ability to spark both healing and growth in relationships. He recounts his experience of being present with his mother when she passed away, a moment that wouldn't have been possible had he held onto his anger and resentment. He shares how connection allowed him to have a deep relationship with his mother, ultimately saving his life. He encourages the audience to consider the potential and blessings of connection, even in the face of difficult circumstances.

Q: What is the speaker's final message to the audience?

The speaker acknowledges that there is nothing inherently special about him, but he believes that everyone has something unique within them. He urges the audience to tap into their uniqueness to foster connections and transform their lives. He emphasizes that being a superhero means defying expectations, letting go of the past, and reaching out to bridge gaps in relationships. The speaker adds that forgiveness, understanding, compassion, empathy, and surrendering are ultimately about enhancing one's own life. He concludes by encouraging the audience to seize the opportunity for connection before it's too late.


The speaker's personal story highlights the profound impact that vulnerability and connection can have on relationships, particularly with parents. By surrendering the need to be right and understanding the origin story of others, individuals can find healing and create stronger connections. The speaker emphasizes that connection is crucial, especially in times of loneliness and isolation. Vulnerability and surrender are essential in accessing this connection and can lead to personal growth and an improved quality of life. The speaker encourages the audience to be superheroes in their own relationships, fostering understanding and compassion. Ultimately, connection has the power to transform lives and should be cherished and pursued.

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