Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, all I wanted was to be
accepted for who I was – glasses and all, and look like my best girlfriend Susan. What I later learned is that it wouldn’t have mattered what I looked like, because most kids wanted to look like or be someone else.
While most of my friends had strict parents, I didn’t have any close friends (that I knew of) whose parents were verbally (or physically) cruel. I say that because as a kid we had parental permission to visit our close friends and I often watched how my friends’ moms and dads interacted with them. Yes I’ve been fascinated with family dynamics since I was a kid. I know what it’s like to grow up in a house where you’re constantly criticized or made to feel bad for who you are. I’ve seen it firsthand. As a child, it feels awful to be constantly criticized.
I also feel sorry for parents who expect to have (what they consider to be) normal kids, who aren’t. Maybe the
child is sick, disabled/handicapped or have a different sexual orientation. It’s understandable to expect your child to grow up and be awesome! All parents want that. But when your child grows up and chooses a career or life that you did not expect or don’t value as acceptable, what do you do?
I believe you internalize your disappointment and think you’ve failed as a parent. Depending on your upbringing, you become critical of that young man or woman and say hurtful things that create division and separation. But let me tell you what can happen to that young man or woman; they feel rejected and hurt. You may never hear those feelings because it’s not safe for them to share them with you. If the dynamics in your household is violence and anger, they internalize that too.
Think about it! The gun violence over the last 6 years has often been random and impersonal. As a kid, if you haven’t been hugged, kissed or told how much you are loved (by your parents); if your only validation was to be told ‘How stupid you are’, ‘You’ll never amount to anything’, ‘I wish you were never born’ or ‘Shut up’; you’re ignored or beaten, it is easy to see how you would internalize those feelings and become bitter.
Anytime I read or hear about a mass or random shooting, I wonder what kind of environment that person grew up in. Were they loved, nurtured and well-cared for? Or were they allowed to do their own thing and somewhat ignored because their parents worked (a lot), didn’t know how to reach out to them, didn’t care.
I am truly sorry for the mass shootings in Orlando, as well as the daily shootings in Chicago. Folks wake up! It’s not too late to reestablish a loving relationship with your child – no matter how old they are.
Interested in learning more about your family’s dynamics? Contact me - Ms. Parent Guru to receive information about my inspiring parenting programs for aging parents, Mothers and Daughters or Mothers and Sons. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org