Thursday, April 7, 2011

Day 4: My parents

My parents are good people. My dad is a teacher and my mom works in retail. They live in the country and go to church and they like it that way.

I had an overly-strict (to put it mildly) upbringing - which affects me to this day, to be honest - but I realize that my mom and dad were doing the best with the knowledge they had at the time.

They were raised even stricter than I was - no books, no movies/TV, no dancing, just work - plus both families were definitely on the impoverished side of things. My mom's family moved around a lot, so she never got a chance to make friends, plus she had ten other siblings and an angry and detached father. And not a lot to eat in the house. My dad's family farmed - they started out with less than nothing. My dad was in charge of a lot of things and he had to grow up very quickly. My dad's father was a very angry man (I'll leave it at that).

Both my mom and dad's families were into corporal punishment (and that's, um, putting it lightly, from what I've heard). I did get spanked growing up but that was already better than what had happened to, for instance, my dad.

Fear and guilt have become genetic in our family, I think...

I don't believe in spanking, and I've said that before. I believe that spanking damaged me as a person: it made me fearful. It made me feel rebellious. It made me determined not to get caught. Whereas, if anyone had ever bothered to take the time to reason with me, I would never have done the naughty-thing-du-jour again.

My parents did the best they could with the knowledge they had at hand. I don't criticize them.

Now I am a mother. I'm also going to parent with the knowledge I hold. I think there's an even better way. I'm committed to parenting peacefully and I do not want to spank: when needed, I will find other ways to help my daughter manage her behaviour.

I'm going to do the best I can. I will screw up along the way. I accept that.

And, if my daughter ever has a child, I know she'll likely say this: "My parents are good people. I had a problem with XYZ but I realize that my mom and dad were doing the best with the knowledge they had at the time. Now I am a mother. I'm also going to parent with the knowledge I hold. "

And I'm at peace with that.

(Whoa, I didn't start this post intending to write all this ... but that's the magic of writing-to-discover...)


Jackie said...

I think this is a lovely post! While you didn't necessarily have a hellish childhood (at least, not from what I gathered), you have recognized things that have upset you and used them for good (raising your daughter in a different way) rather than evil (playing the blame game and using it as an excuse). I know little about parenting, but I do know that it's partly about working with what you have and being open to improvement. You seem to have that down. I'm glad you can look back on your upbringing, even through the flaws, and still love and remain uncritical of your parents. It's an extremely rare trait. Ninja is very lucky to have such an open-minded and accepting mom.
Sorry, I'm rambling. Working on my own childhood issues in therapy right now so this just struck a note with me.

St Elsewhere said...

What a beautiful post, OHW!

I bet Ninja will have very positive things to say about her parents, and that Ninja would be adored as a mom too.

With you on the punishment side, I did get handled a little bit while I was growing up (and I and my bro handled each other 'a lot'), but Birdman had a harder spanking time...And the way he talks of it, I know that this is not what I want my kids to remember from their growing up years.

one-hit_wonder said...

Thanks to both of you. Those comments are some of the nicest things anyone's ever said to me. :)

loribeth said...

I had the occasional spanking (all deserved) & my mother was quite vocal when she wasn't happy with us. ; ) The older I get, though, the more I realize what my parents were dealing with when we were growing up, & that they really did do a pretty good job with us after all. Time brings perspective, I think...!