“One of the biggest questions any parent or parent-to-be must ask is: what kind of parent do I want to be?”
When I first read the PAIL monthly theme question I just had one answer pop in my head: “Not like mine.”
To fully think about and internalize this answer was really hard for me. My emotions ran from resentment, anger, acceptance, and love. To think about how to put everything into a post seemed daunting at best.
I guess the only way is to start at the beginning. I had far from a happy healthy childhood. You would never be able to see it from the outside. In fact, when I tell most people who knew us that long (including family) what happened behind closed doors, they’re shocked. We looked like such a great family.
That’s what we had to portray. To have anyone know that a sick, manipulative, abusive man was ruling over an emotionally damaged woman and her children would have been an embarrassment to the family.
As a child I knew things weren’t right, but I had absolutely no where to go. I couldn’t tell anyone what was happening. So on top of all the abuse that was being inflicted on me, I was becoming confused and angry. A child doesn’t understand how to handle that, so I acted out with terrible tantrums. Instead of trying to understand where all this was coming from, I was just labeled as a “bad kid”.
I would like to say that when my parents finally divorced when I was 14 that it got better. I got to stay with my mother, but everyone was trying (and still does) to force me to keep a relationship with my father. I tried to finally come out with what had really been happening to me as a child, but no one wanted to believe me. To this day I’m not sure why. The signs and proof were all there, but I guess no one was emotionally ready to admit what they wouldn’t protect me from. So I had to try to move on with my life.
It wasn’t always easy. Slowly my mother and I began to strengthen our self worth now that we weren’t under my father’s thumb. She worked really hard to give me a normal life with a single parent. I financially had everything I could have wanted. She’s done so much for me, and I know always will. I’m so grateful for her.
It was just the emotional side that never quite got to where it needed to be. We still can’t talk about what happened before. There is still a part of her that refuses to believe me, and I think is emotionally easier for her to think of me as just the “bad kid”. I feel there is so much of me that she refuses to try to understand.
There are parts of me, my foundation, that will always be damaged. It will always effect my life. I’m happy to say though, that also lead me to strive for a happier and healthier marriage and family.
Like my extended family’s. One of the reason’s it may be hard for my family to accept what happened is because they didn’t experience that. My mother’s family is very close and loving. Childhood memories with them are happy ones. That’s what I wanted.
Instead of marrying someone like my father, I married someone like my maternal grandfather. They are both caring, kind, loving, strong men. They have both been blessings in my life.
Already my child’s life will be so drastically different from mine. This doesn’t though really help me to know what kind of parenting I want to practice. Non-abusive is sort of obvious, but I do like the structured yet hands off approach of my mother. I really wasn’t a bad kid. I got into some shenanigans, but nothing that ever harmed me or others. I didn’t have a lot of parental supervision, but I did understand personal responsibility and consequences.
I guess I like the idea of showing them that I love them and will always support them, but I am a person and not a slave to their every whim. In the same way that they are my dependent, but they are also independent individuals who need to make their own mistakes and live their own lives. Yeah, I know that sounds good now, but future me may find that harder to accept when my baby tries to leave me 😉
This all may sound like things for a little more down the road. For now I know that I want to experience a natural at home childbirth with my baby, I want to try to breastfeed for at least six months, and then after that feeding him baby food that I make at home. As “granola” as I sound, I’m still not convinced about cloth diapering (haven’t had great experiences with them), and I do not believe in co-sleeping.
I guess I really haven’t thought of anything past this. I just look at it as something that you can’t really prepare for. Situations are going to come at you, and you have to figure out how you will deal with it that best fits your family. No one is perfect and we’ll have our bumps, but we’ll make it through as a family.
I think we’ve got a great start, and that we’re very blessed to even begin thinking about all this. It’s amazing that we get to be a family. Now I’ll just have to strive to make my 14 year old self proud. Is that a parenting style?