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For most of my child-rearing days, I suspected that I was not the best of parents. I did not know how to be a good parent and had not had a consistently good role model for good parenting. But worse, I was afraid to read child-rearing books that would confirm and verify this suspicion. The reasoning behind this belief was that I was incapable of changing or acting differently. During many of my child-rearing years, certain images of how a well-raised child should look and behave were clear to me. The child of a "good parent" was to behave in certain ways and I certainly wanted to be seen as a good parent. So I proceeded to form my children in certain ways so as to be perceived as a good parent. As it turned out, my children really and truly were (and are) good peop! le despite my parenting. That they did not receive appropriate rewards for their goodness is something else. My children received much negative reinforcement. I believe that then, and certainly now, I loved and love my children. The pain they must have experienced and must suffer in their personal growth as a result of their childhood years will haunt them and me all of our lives.
During their time with me, I did and said unloving things to them—maybe psychologically battered them. These mistakes were not out of love. They came out of my fears, frustrations, anxieties and ignorance—but not out of love. Now I know that some part of me loved them and wanted to prepare them for a full and happy life. But the evil anger in me was directed toward my children many times, I fear.
The older children tried to please, especially Larry and Sissy. They must have suffered the most. I do not know the extent to which I damaged my children, but I wish I could have been different. I know I can change now. I wanted to change, although I cannot change the effect of the past on my children. How does a parent who realizes the truth about oneself resolve and reconcile the guilt of the past?
I hope I gave them some good, some strength, some feelings of love.
The evil in me was directed at my most blessed gifts, my children. They must know that the evil that was directed at them was not out of love. When one does unloving things to another, it is wrong to say that it is out of love. One does not wrong their children out of love. To say that we commit revengeful punishment out of love is a lie.
Many times their good was ignored and their childish mistakes overemphasized. They earned burdens of responsibilities that were not rightfully theirs to begin with.
It may be too late to right the wrong. But there must be a point of where do we go from here and how to direct the present and future.
She is gone now and I miss her. Reading this helped me to see her as a more mortal woman and forgive her. The healing has begun … Thanks, Mom.
Larry Hill recently read this at A Gathering of Men in Snohomish County.
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