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Wellness

How To Make Your Family More Like Yours

While it’s true that the culture we grew up in has many things in common, the more I see family and social patterns shift in my younger daughter’s generation, the more I realize that it’s not just the world that’s changing. The way parents raise the children in their lives is changing as well.

While it’s true that the culture we grew up in has many things in common, the more I see family and social patterns shift in my younger daughter’s generation, the more I realize that it’s not just the world that’s changing. As I got older, I got more and more frustrated with the way I raised our children. As a woman I was the one in control, and I chose the kind of woman I wanted to be: I wanted to be the “good mom”. But as the years and circumstances changed, my expectations changed. Instead of being the “good mom” my children needed, I was being the “good sister”, my “good dad”, who did the right thing, and wasn’t afraid to get the last word. If I didn’t want to talk to her, I couldn’t be too hard on her, I wasn’t hard on her, I didn’t want to let her speak, I wanted to protect her. I let her take care of everything, and she got the blame for anything bad that ever got out of hand. When it was time for her to hit her head, who was I to tell her no?! But it turns out I’ve been letting her do all those things in our house for years. We’ve been training her to blame her sisters and sisters-in-law, to blame their friends, to blame her teacher, and to blame herself for their problems.

This is what I’ve learned and I’ve gotten so upset with myself. It turns out I’ve been letting our children be the “good” girls and girls to our boys, and not the boys and the boys to women. And now as I feel a lot of guilt about this, I feel a little bit vindictive: why would I want a boy who looks like he can’t hit his head to be the ‘man’ of our family? I guess it’s been in an abusive relationship for a while, and now that’s an adult. I don’t think there’s any way for me to put together a better set of parents when I’ve done it all so long.

And then we have this conversation:  So what about all the guys you know who think it’s cool to hit their wife? I didn’t think so. But then I remember that most men have a lot more freedom to hurt their wives than they think they do. When my own daughter was 4-years-old, her father hit her. He didn’t want to call the police. He got into this argument with his neighbor over the noise of one of our dogs. While my daughter was in her car seat in the back seat, he sat down beside the car seat, grabbed the phone from the kitchen table and hit his hand on my daughter’s head. She didn’t cry. She didn’t get all red. She got back in the car seat and got comfortable.  Then he took the phone back out from under my daughter’s head and started hitting her again. He got angry again. He got a little louder. He yelled at her mother. He had a look about him of pure fear. She tried to tell him to stop, that she was tired, and that she was going to go to bed. When she tried to get him to stop, he hit her again, like a really heavy hammer. It was the worst experience of my life. I can still remember that anger still running through me. This is what my daughter is learning. His actions were not the result of a few days of rage. For him, it was a long, calculated pattern. My daughter isn’t the only one. When a couple is getting hit, it’s not enough to have a simple verbal fight. You have to be ready to do damage with your words as well. When I hit my sister, I’m not out in the hallway saying, “You’re going to die today, if you don’t watch yourself.” For me, the words don’t come fast enough, but the power is there. When I hit my husband, he will know, and he will know that he has a lot to fear. When my wife calls the cops, who’s going to believe me? She’s already told me that I’ve taken away her power. I don’t need a police report. Just because her husband might be right doesn’t mean I have to take that away from her. It sounds to me like you and I are going to see a lot more of this.