Self Reflection

What kind of parent will I be? These are questions that I wonder as my college days become numbered and I have to enter the glamorous world of being a grown up. The experiences that I have gone through in my life are really going to shape how I approach certain situations. I am thankful for these experiences that I have had...both the good and the bad, and to say the least I have learned from them all. It is really easy for me to think of the negative experiences, but I feel that these are the ones I am really thankful for.
Starting off the life of little Elle, I was the first child of my parents when they were 18 and 19. I was definitely a surprise. My father was in court appointed A.A. for the first year or so of my life. I do not remember this of course, but found out about this later in life. He did not really want to have anything to do with me, so it was just mommy and me. From what I can remember there were plenty of boyfriends around when it was just me and her. Like any single mother, she still wanted to find someone to love and someone who would be there for her even though she had a child. Then one day, Greg walked into our lives. He began hanging out more, he would take me to Head Start, we would go on walks, and I even got really close to his family. We became close enough that I just assumed he was my biological father. I had no idea that my real father was out there somewhere.
Eventually Greg proposed to my mom, and they got married. Fast forward a year or so and my little sister Kim was born. At this point I thought everything was perfect, but then things started to turn sour. Greg (aka- dad) and mom started fighting, and drinking. This all started out just verbally, with just the two of them; but then the violence became physical and it was sometimes taken out on Kim and I. We were too little to understand what was going on but looking back at it now we realized that this was actually a very serious matter. Things got even worse when my baby sister, Macy was born. I think that the stress of being parents under the poverty line was really getting to them. I know that these are stresses that a lot of families face, but there are ways and resources to help these families out. These sorts of issues should never be taken out on children.
About this time in my life, my mom explained that my “uncle Mark” was not my uncle, but that he was actually my father, my “cousin Josh” was my brother, and my “aunt Pam” was my stepmother. I began going and hanging out with and getting to know this other half of my family more and more, and I realized that what I had at home with my mother and my stepfather was not the same as what I had when I visited my father and stepmother.
The life I had at home was horrible compared to the little vacation I got twice a month with my father. I could not believe that I did not have to worry about babysitting my siblings when my parents went to the bars, that my little brother got to have friends over to the house, that he did not have to do laundry, that the parents actually bought food and made dinner, that he did not get yelled at for waking up mom and dad on Easter wondering where the Easter baskets were, and he did not get hit for asking why we could not get school supplies.
The parenting styles my mom and stepdad demonstrated always went back and forth between authoritarian, and indifferent. They were very demanding, but my sisters and I did not receive the affection we deserved. They also just plain and simple neglected our needs for health care, food, supplies, etc. My child support money was used on alcohol, and other things that my mother deemed necessary for her...not me, but there was nothing I could do about it.
The amount of times I remember running to my room to hide because I knew I was going to get thrown, beat, and hit with a belt is way too many. And when one of my baby sisters were getting punished...knowing that you are not strong enough to save them is the worst feeling in the world.
The parenting style I experienced with my father was almost indulgent. I think that he almost felt bad for missing out on all the years with me, so I was basically treated like a princess when I was with him. I feel that the balance of these three parenting styles was the only reason I turned out okay. The extremes almost created something of an average or middle ground.
I soon started to realize that there was something horribly wrong with the way that my little sisters and I were treated by our mother and my stepfather. I began to challenge my parents more, I would tell them that this is not how my friends were treated by their parents; I acted like a parent to my little sisters and would try to shield them from the bad things, and just held out for the day that I could finally get out. I was a good kid. I got good grades; I never let bad influences get the best of me, and was a good role model for my sisters. I did this because I knew what I had to do to get out of the situation I was in. I distanced myself from my mother trying to keep the negativity out of my life.
The best thing that could have happened for my stepfather and mother was the divorce. It was tough on my little sisters because they were too young to really understand, but I stayed strong for them and told them that things were going to get so much better. Greg sought therapy, and anger management. He has apologized time and time again for his past actions, for how he did not give me the childhood I deserved, and has really made a huge turnaround. I am closer to him right now in my life than my mom. Divorce is usually really hard on families, but after everything was said and done we all realized that it was for the best. I am glad for the experience because I now am able to easily recognize when a relationship is not working, and the effects it can have…positive and negative.
My mother on the other hand went in a different direction. She began drinking even more, became more violent, her depression worsened, she attempted suicide, guys from the bars started coming over often, and we fought like crazy. All of these things were happening through the last couple years of high school. I saw her fall apart; I knew that I did not have a reliable mother figure anymore. I relied a lot on my biological father for things, and I really appreciate all that he has done for me. One thing that I can see my mother and I identify with is the principle of parentification. I was placed in the role of the parent. She had too many emotional things to deal with, and it was my time to step up and take care of her and my little sisters otherwise I have no idea what would have happened to our well beings. I think deep down this made a stronger and more grown up person and able to handle tough situations.
I have learned that I can classify myself as a resilient child. This basically means that I have found the ability to thrive, mature, and increase competence when faced with hard times. Some resilient traits I have identified in myself: easy temperament, problem solving abilities, an internal locus of control, an active coping style, enlisting people to help, making friends, realistic self-esteem, a sense of harmony, and a desire to contribute to others.
Going off of resiliency, it was up to me to get out, and be the role model for my sisters. After I graduated high school, I could not wait to get to college to discover what was out there and see what I had been missing. My freshman year of college was the point in my life where I recognized that I did not need the negativity of my mother in my life anymore.
I have made a promise to myself to always stay positive and be thankful for the things that I have accomplished, and how far I have come. I try to be as selfless as possible, and strive to always have a smile on my face no matter how hard things may get. I have been to hell and back, and I vow to take all of the “bad” situations and turn them into learning experiences. I will remember how I felt in certain circumstances and turn it for the positive with my own children and students. I will be an authoritative parent, will take my role as a parent seriously, and allow a stable and healthy environment for children to grow up in.
I know what kind of parent I will be. This is something that anyone has to think about during the transition from young adult to parent. The experiences that I have gone through in my life are really going to shape how I approach certain situations. I am thankful for these experiences that I have had...both the good and the bad, and to say the least I have learned from them all.


Thank you for taking the time to read this. It feels really good to share my reflections. I want to continue moving on from the bad stuff and look positive towards the future.
allsmilesallthetime allsmilesallthetime
18-21
3 Responses Dec 5, 2012

Thank you for writing this. Your upbringing, insights, characteristics and thoughts are very similar to mine. Feels good to know I'm not alone.

Thank you for writing this. Your upbringing, insights, characteristics and thoughts are very similar to mine. Feels good to know I'm not alone.

Very good story, I had an alcoholic mother and was taken away and put in care and then fostered, I had basically a bad childhood myself. I am reflecting on things as we speak to and found something that was suprising. We was basically neglected by alcoholic mother and dad I dont think really cared for us too.