October 14, 2005
October 14, 2005
KIDS BRINGING UP KIDS
"I don't ever want to have any children when I get married." was a statement that I heard repeated and agreed upon by a number of college students.
I was aghast. "Why?"
Each explained that they had brought up their siblings because of parental inabilities and they had had it with the responsibility! (This column relates only to those persons who feel this way about the past and not to those who for some reason have found their way.)
Parents who were unable to perform their duties were due to: drugs, alcohol, not available due to working long hours to support the family (many were one parent homes), mental illness, emotionally incapacitated, death of one parent and limited finances and family to be supportive to take care of the children.
Nor does that feeling dissipate for the kid when s/he becomes an adult. These adult/children who were forced to mature- revert to immaturity in adulthood in an attempt to recapture or finally live a childhood which they never had.
Now the adult/child must become responsible to bring him/herself up.
They have not a clue as how to do it, nor do they have the motivation. THey need to have freedom when they now have obligations that must be fulfilled, especially if they have not followed the dictate of their damaged psyche and have propagated another generation. They are torn between the desire to keep their child safe in an intact home; but their lack of a properly fulfilled maturation prevents them from experiencing a normal give and take relationship with a spouse.
When nurturing love is not received as a child, it is close to impossible to give what you never got. For one thing, there is not an example to follow. Training/education limited to schooling does not suffice for that which individuals learn by modeled behavior. As a child with a rather scarred background, I found that I knew all the wrong things to do, but did not know what were the correct avenues to follow. I read a great many books and made mistakes (my kids turned out fabulously, fortunately), but I would have preferred to not learn as I raised my children; it would have been less traumatic for all concerned. The level of difficulty is great.
To mature oneself, one must grant nurturing-love to oneself. Attempt to find at what level of childhood one is stuck in for that moment.
Sometimes it might be that your memory identifies yourself at age two, and then treat yourself as you would have liked to be treated by your parent. Sometimes the age level is the teen years. This is a time when exploration of freedom, independence, and motivation for future goals are forming. This is the greatest challenge when one should know where they are going and career-wise they may have reached it, but relationship-wise their need for adventure and self-exploration is demanding priority. If possible one might try to balance a bit more freedom and space for oneself, but often this endangers the commitment that the spouse feels is not being met.
Prevention is really the most important part of this. A small town of many thoughtful adults brought me up or the scarring could have been beyond my ability to heal. Just as we know that the Katrina victims need help; we need to be aware of those in our community who may need guidance or just attention. Does your neighbor need a helping hand?
Does the quiet kid or the ruckus one acting out, who live down the block, need more care? Have you quietly checked? Not to judge, but to be there with a smile, advice or a listening ear.
We need to restructure our society and not leave it all to CPS or other organizations, but take an extra moment from your busy day to really care and pass that along to your own children as well.
It takes a community to raise a child. Communities do not need to be defined in an organization. Are you there for our future generation or are you among so many others who have no time? America needs to identify values and work them. As I write this I realize I could do more also. I will certainly try to heed my own suggestions.