Nowhere isn’t being forgotten… I’m irked again so I rant into cyberspace just to let off steam. Honestly with the hustle of work around the holidays (It’s retail, enough said) it’s like from Halloween until January is just one blur of a shift that lasts way too long… this means I have more free time to write about what irks me.
This particular peeve came up while I wrote my last entry A Matter of Priority for Healing because my mother’s approach was the center of the rant. This time, in general, I wanted to share about how many different aspects of overall parenting that have come into question for me, even more so since becoming a parent myself.
As I touched on in my last venting, my mother can be very emotional. That in and of itself wouldn’t be necessarily a bad thing. However, she is prone to not thinking things through logically during those times. As one that gets panic attacks and the like, I understand there are times when that can’t quite happen. The differences between my mother and I are frankly… I realize that I’m not in a state to do anything at that moment whereas my mom will tend to go overboard before taking that breather or time she needs. How does this concern parenting? Considering I’m without form here in cyber space and my mother certainly doesn’t read this, I’ll be honest. I have always felt like I needed to walk on eggshells around her, which is burdensome as a kid and a teenager feeling like you have to be careful so often. I want my son and daughter to feel like they can be themselves around me. I’m not going to sugar coat things so they are ignorant of the consequences of something, but I want them to know that I am there for them.
In contrast, my father is emotionally inept… I’m not exaggerating. He’s oblivious about anyone else’s emotions, like if something he says offends someone or honestly more often his tone offends someone. He doesn’t realize what comes through his own words or how someone else feels around him causing it’s own amount of tension. My family and I have gotten used to just taking what he says with a grain of salt. We’ve also gotten used to the fact that he doesn’t know how to productively channel his own emotions so he doesn’t quite know how to reign in when he’s angry or express sadness. Not that he gets physical mind you, but anger goes over the top with raised voice and with sadness he simply withdrawals. None of this is exactly helpful to raising children who are also learning emotions of others and how to manage your own.
An off-shoot of this issue, my dad got more distant as my brother and I got older. It was also around that time we brought in our adopted brother (who is the same age as my biological brother). With my bio brother and myself, my dad had the start up of us being younger and just couldn’t adapt as we were older to relate to us. My adopted brother, having a past without my dad and his own emotional baggage, had very little time for my father to really relate with him. It’s just because my dad doesn’t get emotions, which drives my mom crazy a lot. As teenagers, my dad didn’t just dive into work or disappear on us… without knowing how to relate, he withdrew so he was around but at the same time… not really.
Speaking of that sugar coating nonsense, discipline has always been one of my mother’s downsides that I certainly don’t want to repeat with my children. Most probably think it’s because of too many rules or being too strict, but that wouldn’t be the case. Her parents were a lot more physical with enforcement using belts for example, which was the norm at the time. However, she went the other extreme, not just in physical enforcement. Honestly no spanking isn’t the issue I have because I believe As a child, I never had any continuous routine or steady to-do. Chores were never really pushed in my house growing up. There were tasks, but they were like mere suggestions. No real downside for not doing them, and honestly not much incentive to do them. We got a small allowance whether or not those tasks were done… see the lack of incentive and downside?
Even when she would “put her foot down”, it didn’t take. Not because I’d rebel against the punishment. For example, in 6th grade I was grounded for the first time. I honestly don’t remember what for, but I was not allowed to go on AIM (a free instant messaging service for those who might be too young to know) for a week. Mid-week I needed to get details on an assignment from a classmate so I asked my mom for special permission to go on AIM… the kicker? She didn’t remember even grounding me!!! This was one of those facepalm moments I had with my mother growing up… the authority figure forgetting to uphold authority. Surprisingly she is better with my son than I would have expected, though I think that is more because she’s trying to mirror what I expect in our home and of him so he has that consistency.
My father’s idea of discipline followed my mom’s but not because that’s how he would have parented if he had been on his own or with someone else. He always seems like he’s just “along for the ride” kind of mentality and a “yes, dear” kind of husband. On a side note, this is the major reason I do not understand why my mother married my father. I would not have married my spouse if there was no challenge of opinion because that would be beyond annoying and exhausting.
Though my father went along with my mother’s idea of discipline, there were certain odd rules he had that my mother didn’t care one way or another. You know, ones he’d enforce and she didn’t mind, but she herself didn’t care enough to do it. For example, my father was very particular with my brother and I growing up not to use the word stupid. Now, at face value, that doesn’t seem like a strange lesson or a bad rule to have because if it was about us using the term stupid to make fun of someone then I would have been all for it. We never used it for those purposes though. My father’s issue with the term was when we’d use it for inanimate objects like when your phone isn’t working right and you say it’s being stupid. That would have awarded us a time out. To this day, I’m still not quite sure why that was so much of a priority to him.
The other parenting slip that I don’t care for is actually one I didn’t come across until I was also an adult. There have been moments when that emotional side I mentioned earlier is wielded as a weapon of sorts. I’m talking manipulative guilt trips and all.
The last time my spouse and I were trying to find a more thriving area to settle in our family she got choked up saying that if we moved away she wouldn’t be a grandmother anymore and that her and my father are going to get older and won’t have as much time… ugh… even rethinking about it irks me. Yeah, a flare for the dramatic, right? Note why I’ve been reluctant to tell her we haven’t given up on that idea because we are hoping to move away for our independence and growth still. These tactics become a burden taxing a relationship that shouldn’t feel like an obligation. I would hope my children would appreciate all I did for them and reprise that without compromising what they need to do. Growing up kids need independence, even more so once they are adults. As a parent, I’d hope that I’d be more willing to give them that independence.
Another guilt trip she’s used on us is our apartment to be independent was too much for us to handle and be able to save money. Instead of it being logical we move to an area with cheaper housing options where they also have better wage available, her solution was she’ll cover it so we can save. Now this, I would be appreciative of since it has helped us save quite a lot more… however, she has used this as a reason for us to feel obligated to her. These savings we acquired was supposed to help us get more available to settle and grow independently, but once we talked of moving away the most recent time it became a debt needing to be paid off. The whole point of her helping with rent was so we’d be able to save more money so we’d be better off to be independent… that was our understanding. For her, it’s a bargaining chip.
Mind you, I realize this manipulative side of her is a major red flag to a lot of people. Honestly though… she doesn’t know she does it. That is the hardest part. Her mother did little things similar to this while she was growing up. It made an impression as a what not to do, but it is ingrained beyond her realizing this is the kind of thing she is also doing. Making it even harder is the fact that she is a licensed psychologist. Full PhD… a lot of years of schooling went into that so she’s no dummy and is a good therapist. However, she isn’t overly great at using all her knowledge of these matters on those closest to her and where she is involved. There are blinders there, which is why the rule in thumb of therapy is you don’t treat anyone you know personally.
All in all, I love my parents and appreciate a lot of what they’ve done for me. However, I think that anyone who becomes a parent goes through this kind of comparison of pros and cons. Any parent worth their salt wants what is best for their child which means trying to take from the experiences they have had and making it so things might be, even just a little, better for their kid than it was for them.