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January 2, 2011

Romancing ‘The Good Old Days’

Generations of parents have made mistakes in the raising of their children ~ for many reasons ~ but in the powerful and wise words of Maya Angelou.. 

“When you know better, you do better.”

Romancing‘The Good Old Days’
Because I’ve personally experienced both sides of bad parenting, I strongly believe in the necessity of healing ourselves so that we can better parent our children.  As the words of Maya Angelou’ imply - it’s never too late.  And if the damage is already done, you can at least apologize to your children starting right now.  It’s a good start and it will allow opportunity for dialogue, trust and healing to begin.  Although, I also feel compelled to advise you to prepare yourself for the pain that may initially follow your apology.  They will test to see if you mean it.  So, mean it.

Our children feel lost.  They’re getting fat and acting out (bullying, drugs, suicide) because we are not making them a priority in ways that matter most. Todays parents will make fewer and less significant mistakes that could eventually impact the way their children will parent, because they’re being encouraged to talk about the issues that wounded them in the first place. 
Your Favourite Television Families Didn’t Get It Right Either..

As an only child, my own daughter adored ‘The Brady Bunch’ and I suspect she sometimes wished she was a part of their seemingly, perfect family.  I should add that she was raised by two, wounded adults, so there would be times that she would need to retreat into that world.

However, the television families like the Cleavers, The Nelsons and the Brady Bunch that have been idealized for generations, are not real families, let alone ideal. This is aptly illustrated with that famous (rumored) inappropriate kiss between tv mom, Florence Henderson & Barry Williams who played her tv son on The Brady Bunch.  
If you grew up during those ‘good old days’ you know that a generation of dysfunctional adults was produced in spite of how family life was portrayed on television.  The Baby Boomer generation was also discouraged from discussing the issues that created their scars, so that when they became parents (raising Generation X and  the Millennial Generation) they were likely to repeat the only parenting skills they knew.  And so it goes.. 
Was Dan Quayle Right Or Wrong About The Impact Of Divorce And The Trickle-Down Effect On Our Children?  “The social-science evidence is in: though it may benefit the adults involved, the dissolution of intact two-parent families is harmful to large numbers of children.”
Human beings need to be nurtured, especially during the most important time of our lives, the beginning, when we can be molded and influenced most significantly by our experiences.  But, does it really make a difference who does the nurturing?  Parents should choose what is an acceptable life style before they have children and if it’s not ‘mainstream’ (gay/lesbian) then make sure the support systems are in place to fill any void that might exist.
If personal finances dictate that both parents work full time, then other sacrifices should be considered.  Perhaps, one parent can work at home or take an alternate shift, so that one of them is always there.  Single parents won’t necessarily have the same options, but like all of us, they can do better.  Investigate alternative resources such as a trusted relative or friend and if possible, in combination with a supportive, community or neighbourhood programme.  Fill the gaps.  If there is no alternative but to work without any of these backups, then it comes down to the time they are able to spend with their children by staying engaged with their teachers and to be as involved as much as any free time dictates.  
You Will Only Get One Chance To Do This Right ~ Have No Regrets When It Comes To Your Children..
There is no substitute for love.  Common sense says these important decisions will effect our children’s lives.  When we ‘feel’ loved, we are inclined to show love.   Setting solid boundaries helps to create self-esteem.  Fear and low self-worth is what motivates kids to act out. Fear of abandonment, fear of rejection, fear of not measuring up and the sense of hopelessness and powerlessness in an environment that isn’t reinforcing love and protection.  As much as they object, they crave boundaries and on some level equate it to how much they’re loved.  
More and more they see their current world consisting of war, unemployed parents and no future to look forward to.  Television, video games and movies have a place in the blame too and over-exposure to certain themes can eventually have a desensitizing effect, blurring the line between reality and fantasy.  
These are some of the things that can contribute to violence which is all too often, directed towards women, children and even animals - the vulnerable.  So, as a result more and more of our tax dollars go to band-aid solutions like shelters and food banks.  
Thank goodness we have them BUT let’s go to the root of the problem.  Self-esteem.  We can start today by changing the way we parent and teach our children how to parent by example.  Create hope in their lives by contacting your government (lobby, sign petitions and use your vote as leverage to effect the change you want) and use your voice to encourage them to find ways of creating permanent jobs - not just labour intensive, short term work, but jobs that teach permanent skills, develop self-esteem and offer hope to all of us.
The bottom line is simple, but not easy.  We need to parent better - that’s the one thing we have control over.  We need to heal ourselves and our children before they become parents.  
There is hope for the future and the time for change and healing can begin now, with us.  Keep talking.  It's what throws light on our 'dirty little secrets' and moves us towards healing...


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