Being Single is a status, becoming WHOLE is the part that requires WORK. But, the benefits of being whole allows you to SET FOLKS FREE & SET YOURSELF FREE without so much drama & trauma. Sometimes it hurts and sometimes it’s a “gtfoh” epitome. -Nicole D. Jackson
Today my daughter turns 17. 17! I remember the day and the days ahead were filled with concern as to how I would survive this world with a child and as a single parent. I look at her and think, “Wow. You’re actually okay. I am doing pretty good as a parent. Somehow. It’s a miracle!” Somehow by the grace of God, the foundation of firm principles laid by my parents, wisdom I ask for almost daily, and through trial, error, and experience she’s a pretty good young lady. There is no perfect parenting because there is no perfect parent. However, I try to make sure I am doing the best I can.
I take an active approach to improving not only myself as a person but, myself as a parent. Am I being the best parent I can be? What can I learn to help me? What can do differently? Did I say I was sorry? Did I say I was wrong? I read. I pray about it, too and ask for guidance. I approach every year by trying to remember what it was like to be 17. I read any article about being 17. I stay up on trends and current issues. I like to be “in the know” about what she knows. And I do my best to guide this leg of her journey. However, I have started to prepare myself for letting go and being more of the guide and not the driver. I think I may have started her first year in high school more so than middle school. (It’s never going to be easy no matter how much you prepare! And you’re never going to really let go!)
Some parents seem to believe that when their children turn 18 they are an adult and you let them go. You turn them loose. You let them do whatever they want to do. You are done. I beg to differ. They need you all the more in their young adulthood but, in a different capacity. Whether they listen or not, is totally up to them. Hopefully, we have established a good enough relationship, and I believe we have, that we can at least have the conversations needed in certain times. She’s pretty honest about how she feels. I asked her how does she feel being 17. Nervous? Getting close to being independent? She said yes. I told her she will be fine. I would be there to help. To push. To prod. To fuss. 🙂 To teach. To learn with her. Things have changed. We have to adjust as parents and we have to know when to hold to certain principles, values, and morals. I am thinking person. Analytical, logical, and emotional. (Ha!). And because we have to do so much as a parent other than clothe, feed, and shelter, this is why it’s impossible to get everything right.
Let me dive into a personal truth about myself. For years I use to struggle on the inside with feeling guilty about speaking out when someone has wronged me or has disrespected me. I was a sensitive child and I am PROUDLY a moderately sensitive adult. Being sensitive to the feelings of others and issues makes me the compassionate woman I am.
However, from time to time when I KNOW I am right about standing up and speaking up for myself, or letting a person know how far they can go or where to get off (lol), I still struggle with a tinge of guilt when CLEARLY I am in the right. I don’t allow people to hurt my feelings without them knowing how I feel about it or if they have disrespected me I tell them. How else when they know? Grow?
If you struggle with the guilt of hurting others feelings or with expressing yourself, then it stems from somewhere. Sensitive to others or you’ve had your voice dismissed in the past when you were unable to feel OKAY about BEING RIGHT. I think mines came from my childhood. In various ways, I was shut down negatively when I was right because well, I was a child. And authority ruled. It was the law of the land. Also, in a more positive way, my siblings and I were very respectful of each other and rarely argued or fought once we grew up. We all have had to apologize to each other as adults but, rarely. Yes, we taught to apologize when we were children as well. We were taught that way. However, parents rarely admit or apologize for being wrong. Thankfully, my parents grew spiritually and as we got older they have apologized for doing things the way they were did or things from the present.
I just want to say, stand in your truth. Stand in your right. Stand and have a voice. Help people to grow and to know where the line is on how you will treated and respected. Even it hurts them, they will grow and know. No guilt for speaking the truth and your feelings.
Some of us grew up in loving and caring environments and some of us did not. Some of us grew up in loving and caring environments that were flawed on some level. Sometimes deeply flawed or sometimes tumultuous depending on the problems the parent or parents had. It could have been an ill parent, an unfaithful parent, it could have been arguing all the time, or the parent could be one that came and went. Today I want to speak to those that grew up with the Critic Parent. The one that ALWAYS had something negative to say or critiqued everything you did or every choice you made.
I grew up with one. Every choice you made, there was a better one. When you did your chores, there was always something you could have did better or forgot. When you did things to try to impress that parent, they were not all that impressed. Each time you did your hair or got dressed, they would frown up at your attire or choice and I am not talking about the typical parent-child disagreement about clothes and hair. This is beyond that. This is a tear down of the child. A ripping of their power to make choices and to feel good about their choices and themselves. All of this is about that and the child needing to be supported, guided, and free to be an individual. I felt singled out from all of my siblings. The boys in the family didn’t have this problem, but the only sister I had said she would experience it from time to time, but as soon as she was able to she left the house.
The constant stares, criticism, correction, and questioning of everything I did, said, or chose literally destroyed my self esteem. I was already an outsider with my red hair as an African American child, my brainy self, my extreme shyness, and artys personality. I wasn’t accepted in many circles and to be home and not accepted was traumatic to my sensitive soul. Did you know, that those who are artists and creative types have a spectrum on the emotional scale as more sensitive than normal and that can swing to more depressed than normal? I had no idea until I started seeing a psychologist. My mother always said “If you just look at me, I would start crying.” I wonder if she created that insecurity within me or fostered it. I don’t know.
I second guess everything I did, said, and every choice I made as a young adult. It caused me to be paralyzed with fear. I had no confidence. If this is normal mines was twice as bad. Even after choices were made I worried that I was wrong, I didn’t know what I was doing, there you go again…not getting it right. I was surprised when things worked out. An even then, I was not sure that things would be okay.
Many things contributed to my bouts of depression and need to want to escape this world by suicide. I know this was one of them. I equated a wrong choice in anything I did as a reflection of how I could never and would never get it right. Even the simplest things. I was beyond self conscious and not just in the way I look, but in the work I did. Even now I have to say “Hey, it’s good enough. You did your best.” I also had to learn to not do what was did to me to others and when I had my daughter, I vowed to not utilize that aspect of my parent. I did take all of the good from that parent, which was a lot, and use it.
I believe there are many reasons a parent does this. I think we expect parents to be perfect or to know better, but the truth is they are not perfect and they do not know “how to” always do better. Hurting people hurt other people. When we are children we don’t know or think about the fact our parents have lived some type of life before us and has experienced some type of childhood…both of these things either good, bad, or traumatic. These things have an effect on the parent as a child, as an adult, and as your parent. Many hurt parents have know idea of the psychological effects of their behavior on their children and we grow up to think many of the things we experienced were normal and acceptable until we meet other children and other adults. If you can’t recognize the signs of your behavior as detrimental to the shaping of the child, then you as the parent continue to do what you do. The generation before me were not privy to psychology or child psychology. They were too busy trying to make a living. The way they dealt with things were to not talk about them. But, guess what? Buried feelings and events of our lives are still alive if they are not dead. However, we as the children who grew up in some sort of tainted or warped environment, now have the privilege of that knowledge that we may be better parents and better human beings. We also have the work of healing ourselves from these scars.
I am now realizing that I survived by learning through trial and error, my commitment to not repeat those mistakes by taking different actions, some education about parenting, my relationship with God, the wisdom of the Spirit, other wise souls, and yes, therapy. I survived by accepting the relationship I have with that parent, sometimes calling them on their behavior and holding them accountable, and other times letting it go. I survived by releasing my anger and hurt. I survived with knowledge of the effects of trauma on people who never admit or talk about what’s really going on, but instead choose to respond with some outward action or to remain silent and bottled up.
However, for this leg of my journey at 42, I am here to be liberated this year and to be legendary in my doings. I need to THRIVE and not just survive. I thrive by forgiving and by forgiving I am free (liberated). I thrive by realizing that parent may never seek counseling, deliverance, or healing, but my choice to not feed into it or to have some compassion for the hurt child inside that parent, is liberating my emotions to choose happiness even if they are miserable. And all of that is a legendary step for my soul’s journey.
Happy Mother’s Day and God give strength to those whose mother are in heaven’s gardens and to the mothers whose child is playing in heaven’s courtyards. I pray you courage, light, and good memories to reflect on.
Mother-Daughter relationships are very important as I am sure you already know. The relationships are delicate, fragile, and must be forged throughout a young girls developing stages in order to have a strong foundation for the teenage years and the young adult years. And for many it continues to change, but at the base of that change is a foundation of love and a REAL relationship a mother has created with their daughter. I believe a young girl should spend as much time as she can with her mother. They tell me a woman can’t raise a man, and to some degree that is probably true. Yet, I’ve seen men raised by their mother. If that is the case, can a man raise a woman? Yet, there are men that are left to parent a daughter. The truth be told, a child needs both parents. However, there are just some things a developing girl needs from her mother and a young boy needs from his father. (Or positive male and female role models).
There are so many things a mother can teach a girl and so many things she can relate to. There are just so many complexities in a girl’s life that a mother has already experienced that need to be shared.A mother has the ability to navigate a daughter through life, to shape her into a lady, a confident woman, a self sufficient human being, and a upstanding citizen. She has the ability to impart hope, self esteem, and discipline. She can help her to dream and to face reality. As much as you can tell the absence of a father figure in a boy’s life, you can tell the absence of a mother figure in a girl’s life.
I picked my daughter up from school and as soon as she got in the car I knew something terrible must have happened that day. I said “What’s wrong?” She said “A girl tried to fight me today.” I won’t go into details about the ordeal, but I will tell you one thing that made me proud. My daughter said to her “I don’t fight. I don’t fight unless I have to defend myself. I don’t believe in being violent. That’s not what I do, but if you want to talk it out we can. But, I am not going to fight you.” Then she said the girl kept it up (the teacher was out of the room) and my daughter said she got up and left the classroom. My daughter was so angry her head was hurting. She was so upset, stressed, that she talked about it for an hour. I was angry, to0. BUT, I had to be a MATURE and RESPONSIBLE PARENT and not let my emotions of someone causing my daughter turmoil get the best of me.
She asked, “Was I wrong for defending my friend?”
My response: No, but the best way to defend your friend when someone is talking about them is to REMAIN their friend in spite of. The other girl has a right to say whatever she wants to say about anyone. It’s her right to be a gossiper, a liar, a mean girl. Sometimes it’s a reflection of parenting and sometimes a parent has no idea their child is acting this way. Though, I suspect, they may have some clue and ignore it.
She informed the hall monitor, the hall monitor sent her to another classroom and the teacher in that classroom welcomed her in. Once things were offer they went to the original classroom, to let the other teacher know what happened. In the end, the teacher took care of the situation and she has not had any problems this week.
Another thing that bothered me was my daughter said she knows people talk about people. She knows people even talk about her. However, it seems as if this year, she is more aware of it as she can actually hear them saying things about her. You know, she’s weird or she basically is a student with good conduct and good grades. A nerd, so to speak. Ahhh, I can relate to those days. Plus I had red tha stood out in the midst of African American children. I was called names from Elementary to High School. It did affect my self esteem. She’s also an artsy, do your own thing, don’t follow the crowd type of girl, which I raised her that way from a toddler up until now. I realized a long time ago, my daughter is her own person. But, I also raise her to respect others, let others be themselves, don’t force your religious beliefs on others, don’t put people down and talk about them, and to be kind and tough when you need to be. And to please think before you act and think for yourself! She is not perfect…but who’s child is? Obviously, the mean girl is not perfect. However, some things you just EXPECT from your children. Kindness and nonviolence should be two of them.
To sum it up to her: “I know this was a terrible experience. A worse day in high school history. This will not be the last time you encounter mean girls. Mean girls have self esteem issues. Mean girls are trying to find their place. Mean girls may have family problems. Mean girls can sometimes, after life forms and shapes them, because their parents wouldn’t, can become nice girls or women in the long run. However, when you start working and living in this world, you will find some mean women who are still the same mean girls. Sadly.”