Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What Do You Think?

This is part of a conversation that I found to be most interesting:
How should we relate to our parents? Honor and respect aside. Do we owe them like my mother said; for raising us? The following may give some of you pause for thought.

'Not sure what you mean when you say 'the codes' but me and my mom are like a never ending story. A therapist friend once told me, as I was describing my relationship with my mom, that it was crazy-making because I was running on two separate realities: on the surface, mom was dedicated, and put us at the center of her life. But we had to walk a very fine line not to be in her shithouse. I knew how to walk that line and got a lot of surface approval, but felt a TON of internalized disapproval, because it was really negative conditioning ("don't do this or mom will..."). I got good grades in school and was self-sufficient as a kid (read constantly, didn't cause too much trouble) but as I became a teenager, attempts to express myself as I pleased did not go over so well. Imagine how little miss iconoclast Aquarius rising punk rock high schooler managed being raised Mormon! I actually left home for two months at age 15 due to a major dust-up with mom and refused to come back unless she'd let me stay home from church. She agreed, but watched me like a hawk til I went to college. We have since made peace -- I was always the family-appointed Sane Child-peacemaker -- and I owe her so much of my success now as a grown up writer chick in the big city. But it was a struggle, man.'

My reply: 'You owe her what?'

Alexandra replies:

"Haha! I was just rereading my reply and thought you might jump on that. Her example was a lot of it: she started what has turned out to be an oddly-recession-proof business out of good taste and thin air, and she showed me how to do that every day (she worked out of home so we witnessed her whole career as kids, and I used to come with her on appointments after school). She wears her expertise comfortably -- which was a good example to me, who makes a living by expressing expertise in a breezy enough manner to be palatable to magazine readers. She paid for my private high school education and college when she could not afford it. She really raised all of us to feed our brains. She's compassionate, articulate, has a ton of backbone (ha! irony!), integrity, etc. And was always very vocal about the importance of those things -- they became core values for me too. So in a lot of ways, she laid the groundwork for me to do what I do now by her example and just by being a hardworking mom. That said, when I first told her I wanted to be a writer, she said, "are you sure? That's a really hard career path." 'Oh well. I showed her'.

`Also, I'm feeling extra indebted to both my parents after my dad's death, and one of my reactions to it is, appreciate mom as much as you can while she's still alive to hear it.`

"Okay: appreciate, say thank you, give her a big hug, go forth and be happy, right? In my view, we don't owe our parents our success, or our lives. We're not their property, or their vassals, or their surrogates, nor is our destiny their business. They hopefully do their best as parents, and get out of the way -- or we learn to get out of their way and move on, as you seem to have done. But that Aquarius Moon rising is a kind of a warning that unless you take over the process of running your own life every day, mom's presence will loom large all the time".

"Rather than our owing our parents anything, I would propose that our parents have a responsibility to help us deal with the unprocessed material that they passed onto us; with their burdens that they passed onto us; and with their false beliefs that they passed along. They are the ones, if anything, who owe us OUR lives. And they need to pay up and be on their way. Few parents do; few cop to the damage they do; instead, many try to keep control, and engage their kids in neurotic relationships where nobody gets to be an adult; it's always parent-kid stuff, and we see this played out in the world all the time".

"The dynamics of control are particularly insidious between mothers as regards their daughters. Many never give up their grip, and many never stop living vicariously through their daughters. Men at least are rewarded for a measure of independence, professional, financial, sexual or otherwise".

This post was a little too long, I doubt many will take the time to read it.
I think it is a mistake and a sure ticket for guilt trips and power struggles if parents are convinced that their children owe, or that they should somehow pay us back for the upbringing we have given them. While I hope that if I have children they will want to stay connected with me and that we will always be a family who looks after and cares for each other. It would not be good for my kids if I were to lay this kind of a trip on them about how I expect them to pay me back. It is best that we not be remembered as a dictator, even though it can be tempting for us to expect our children to live their lives to pay us back in some way.


Joseph M. Fasciana said...

Dear Keeper,

My relationship with my Mother was the best relationship I ever experienced in my entire life. Sure she had her little ways of manipulating me with guilt but she never overdid it she had just the right touch to reign me in when I needed it. Keep in mind I wasn't a piece of cake to raise, I was more than a handful. Over the years my love for her continued to grow. It was wonderful because we both achieved that plateau in our lives that rendered our love for each other totally unconditional. We were each others favorite and we did not make any bones about it, it was out there for all to see. I am happy that this was how it went for us, I did everything in my power to support her and she of me. I recently lost her and I have been a mere shell of my old self and that is that. What can be said is that because of the strength of our bond, when I lost her I felt no guilt, or no anger, just this deep and never ending sadness and an eternal ache in the deepest part of my heart. A special person Laura was, never to be replaced or equaled, because we left what loving each other meant to us all on the table.



Cheryl L. Daytec-YaƱgot said...

How long should we grieve over the death of a loved one? I suppose there is no standard answer. It is not easy to recover from a loss as irreparable as death. Some go through a grieving period of more or less one year, others go through a protracted one, while some never recover at all.

If the loved ones could speak from the grave, I am sure they would tell the living they want the grieving period cut short. I am sure they would do everything to take us out of the state of suspended animation and help us bounce back to life.

Azure Islands Designs said...

I have two wonderful children and I don't feel they owe me anything...in fact it is I who own them!!!

Not everyone who has a child is capable of raising that child to be a kind, empathetic, productive member of society...it is sad but we see that daily!

I feel very strongly there are parents who should not be parents!!!!!!

We are a close family my children and I, which doesn't' mean I've done everything right...I haven't... but I've always respected them as people and love them dearly...they understand that.

Interesting post...
PS...I read the whole thing! :0)

Robin Easton said...

This is a great post Walter. So many things come to mind reading it. but I will tackle only one.

I think the whole concept of anyone "owing" anyone anything is often doomed to set up unhealthy dynamics. I know a lot of people give, do, share, etc. with the conscious or unconscious mindset of the other person giving something back. I see this in EVERY walk of life.

I mean, if two people consciously decide on a trade, or deal, or bargain to sell something that's one thing but....

I don't like to look at my parents (who are both gone) in terms of what I owe them, or even in terms of what they owe me. I like to take full responsibility for my feelings and actions. I got what I got, now what am I going to do about it?!! And in the end they did not look at me as owning them nor did I look at them as owing me. Blessedly, I made me peace with both of them and them with me.

I think there is a huge difference between "I owe" AND "I feel deep gratitude and want to love/give back." This Christmas I stopped doing Christmas for this very reason. It can be a season rife with unspoken expectations of "I gave you this so you are supposed to give me something in return". I find it astounding the pressure associated with these expectations. And the way people but the weight of a lifetime of expectations and rejections into it, based on whether they receive the "thing they wanted", "something of equal value", or "nothing at all", or "something so grand there is no way they can ever give back something of the same value." It is a whole hornets' nest of tangled emotions and potential stingings. So I did what my Dad did; he just did away with it and gave to people when he was moved to do so. Then it's real.
I also realized that I'm not even a Christian; I have no religion other than LOVE.

Okay, I know I said I wouldn't go on here but I did, I couldn't help it. LOL!!! It's such a juicy post. I guess I would rather see people do things from a place of genuine love and caring than under the pressure of "owing". Owing is too big a burden for anyone to carry. I decided the other day that if I ever had enough money and someone asks me for a loan, I would either say no I can't do it right now (if I can't) OR I would just give them the money and tell them, "It's yours, it's a gift. Don't pay me back. Absolutely NO strings. I don't want anyone "owing" ME!

Okay, this time I really will be quite! LOLOL!!!

Hugs my friend,

The Totton Linnet said...

This is a great post Walt, do we owe? yes, yes we do for they invest their very selves in us [according to their ability]
My dad was so sweet and gentle as I was growing up, I loved him so, but there came a day Walt when it was brought home to him that his little treasure had grown up. I will never forget the night I went to kiss him goodnight as ever I did, and he said "you are too old for that now." I cried myself to sleep and we were never the same. I think he is beginning to feel differently again now.

The Totton Linnet said...

Dammit Walt your page rank is 7.5
when I had 3,000 readers mine was 5 now my readership is going on 16,000 it is only 3

Robin Easton said...

Okay this is totally off the subject but I noticed someone wrote that your page rank is 7.5 How in heaven's name did you do that?? What did you do? I bow to your greatness! LOL! Actually, I think you were great long before you had a 7.5 pg rank. Nonetheless, I'd be VERY interested in knowing how you did that. Do tell?? :) :) I get about 3500 real visits a month and only post once a week due to work. And I only have a page rank of 3 :(

"Oh GREAT GURU, KEEPER of the CLAN do share you secrets if you CAN!!"

The lowly humble one.
LOLOL!!!:) :) :)

Walt said...

Gentledove said:
"I've suddenly got this stupid tool-bar which gobbles up half my page, it tells what rank a page has with google HALT I made a mistake your rank is 3.5, which is comforting :) but for some reason only google could explain when you go to your comment page it leaps to 7.5 that is from 10, daft I say"

Robin, she is a very astute and articulate lady, for one so young.