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27 June 2013

My Parents Did Most Things Right


Anyone who has read much i've written knows that my family was pretty unhealthy. I have recognized the positives i feel i learned growing up, but overall it wasn't a healthy place to be.  It WAS a good place to be, my parents did strive to give us a good life, but it was not emotionally healthy.

In light of the past couple of days, i recognize the positives of my childhood even more.

My parents taught us (my sisters and myself) to be respectful of others, and polite, and considerate, and responsible for our actions. They did give us many different experiences. We travelled across the country multiple times and my dad always had interesting contacts through work and we met people from many parts of the world. My parents worked hard to make people feel comfortable in their home.  They also provided a very nice home.  When one sister wanted sheep and i wanted horses, we got them.  We were given music lessons.  They did try very hard.

Which is why where they failed is so very tragic.

I felt, as did my sisters, heartrendingly unloved, unlovable, even unlikable. In thinking this over i did a Google search, "How to make your child feel unloved."

One site said the number one way was to fight in front of them. Check. Wow, i remember how unsafe our home felt because of that, but i didn't realize it would contributed to feeling unloved. 

Even more profound was this:
Children who feel unloved act very differently from those who feel loved. They spend lots of time trying to reassure themselves and other people of their worth. They are cautious about trying new things, for failure hurts them deeply.  
Children who know they are loved, on the other hand, don't have to waste time proving their worth. They aren't afraid to try out their wings. They know that even if they fall, they can still count on your love and respect.  Making Children Feel Loved 

What i find sad, too, is that i know (but it is head knowledge) my parents did love us.  They did not know how to show it, how to let us feel it.  It seems i've lived most of my life under this shadow, and i don't know how to make it go away.  It is probably a scar that can't be resolved, a scar that restricts my ability to move.  But it is a SCAR not an active wound.  I have a life in spite of it.

I say it is a scar that can't be resolved and restricts me because i feel very limited in MY ability to love.  I have a sister who says she loves everyone so very, very much; that her ability is unique and deep.  I can't argue with her on this point because i don't know what she feels.  But i know that my ability to love is very limited.  I know i do not love the way i "should," the way i want to, the way i desire.  Sometimes i feel that part of me is an amputated stump, and while i can reach out with it a little bit, it doesn't stretch very far.

I also know that whenever i meet someone it is my expectation that they will not like me, and a surprise if anyone seems to like me.  I generally assume they are tolerating my presence.  I struggle as well to believe God could love me.  In some ways i wish i had come to be a Christian as an adult.  Growing up in an unloving home and not feeling any love of God has made being a Christian a very difficult task.

I am sad that Zane is having the opposite experience in his childhood:  His parents give him love, tell him he is loved, and he has constant reassurance of that.  But he doesn't have the other things that will allow him to have a good life.  I have read that children that don't have boundaries set and discipline required also feel unloved.

It seems that if you fall at either extreme, either feeling unloved or feeling loved but not knowing boundaries, the results are very bad.



Kathi said...

Do you know how your parents were raised? A lot of the time, parents parent the only way that they know how - by how their parents modeled it. It takes a strong person to break out of the mold.

Please know that you do have people who care about you and want the best for you!

lisa said...

Parenting is never easy no matter how you look at it. I have always taught my children that it is never wrong to show love but yet when they do things wrong and are punished for it, they are always told what they did wrong, why and that we just want what is best for them and that is why they get punished when they do the wrong thing. I sure feel for the children that are never able to have that kind of relationship with their parents. I want to let you know that even though you didn't have that kind of relationship, just remember that love is out there in all kinds of forms from husbands, other children, pets and friends.

Kathryn said...

Thank you, both, for your kind words.

Yes, Kathi, my parents were also raised feeling unwanted/unloved. Daddy came 3rd of 8 children and his mother (at age 20) cried because he was another boy. She also was very critical of large families later in life and frequently lamented having so many children. I heard my aunt (she only had one girl) ask which of her children she would not want. My mother was 8th of 11 and always felt overlooked. I know these things and have a lot of sympathy for them. My parents could tell sad things with a twist so that they would sound amusing, but looking back, the stories they told of their childhoods were also heartrendingly sad.

And you are right, it is hard to break that mold. In fact, they tried. My mother spaced us girls far apart because she wanted each of us to have individual attention. Unfortunately, "individual attention" was abuse or neglect or indifference.

Lisa, you are right, parenting is a hard job. Thank you for your encouragement. I am so blessed with all that i do have.