FAMILY FUSION: From broken to beautiful (2)
“Inner beauty should be the most important partof improving one’s self.”– Priscilla Presley
“REJECTION HAD INVITED itself to be a permanent guest at my home and it had never left my side. It took very special interestin my life long before I came into my teens. This monster of rejection never travelled alone. It brought along hurt and pain which chose to habitually punch away at my already battered emotions with all of their might, flooring me several times.”
These expressions are from the lips of Mildred(not her real name) who gave me permission to tell her story.
As mentioned last week, I am sharing the story of individuals whose early childhood experiences were full of “brokenness” but who eventually emergedas beautiful “vessels”.
The purpose of highlighting such childhood traumais to help parents and prospective parents understand that the rearing of children must be carefully done so as to avoid any potentially long-lasting negative impact. While some children with assistance from caring individuals may be able to gain some degree of emotional balance like Mildred, many more may still struggle to do so. Here is her story.
Mildred said that her home was like a war-zone. Her parents were constantly quarrelling and fighting. As a little child she would resort to her bedroom petrified and wishing her parents’ ongoing contention would come to a full stop.
“I was traumatised,”she sullenly retorted.
Mildred tearfully recounted that her parents’ apparent hatred for each other spilled over into her innocent little space and often she found herself at the bitter end of her parent’s crossfire. She spoke of somewhat resembling her father in physical features and believed that may have contributed to her mother constantly abusing her verbally and physically when he was absentfrom home.
“I gradually developed hatred toward my mother” she said, “she never understood me and was frequently demanding things from me that I could not offer. When she and my father went their separate ways just before I entered my teens, I became their in-between message girl, a forced responsibility I greatly detested.
“As it relates to my father, I developed a love-hate relationship towards him. I loved him because, unlike my mother, he was more empathetic toward me during those times he was in his good moods. However, when his moods changed (usually when he and my mother were at loggerheads) he would begin to treat me as though I was my mother.
“That is when my hatred would spark off toward him. He had a way of degrading me by the things he said and did resulting in me feeling less than a person.” Coming into the later part of her teenage life, Mildred said she desired a genuinefather’s affection and her biological father did not“fit the bill”.
“Interestingly, in longing for a fathers’ loveI ended up in several failed disastrous relationships which turned out to be purely sexual in nature and my dreams of having a healthy future family relation were repetitively dashed to pieces. I ended up hating the very looks and presence of men.”
Mildred went on to say that in addition to rejection, she nursed what she called the ‘fear disease’. She spoke of fear as not only infectious, but it “caught hold of every part of my being and drained my energy emotionally and physically. As ‘friends’ of fear; anger, mistrust, unforgiveness and shame entered my ‘bloodstream’ and chained themselves around my [heart’ and began to conquer me.”
Mildred narrated that her life became so frustrated and her focus so blurred that if she had continued down the bumpy road on which she was travelling, she would have never made anything meaningful out of her life. She sought help and realised that she was blessed with strengths of which she was unaware. Having made a decision to plant her mind in her school work during her mid-teens, such an action only temporarily relieved her of the emotionalcross-currents to which she was perennially exposed.
Nevertheless she did very well up to postgraduate level. Although from time to time she said she would get flashbacks of her childhood dilemma, she made up her mind not to yield to the temptation of going into a depressed state. According to Mildred, with God’s help and clearly defined goals, her current success in business continues to positively impact thelives of people all across the world.
What lessons are there for you as parents?
1. Be aware that in-house fighting and quarrelling have the potential of seriously affecting your children. Although you and your partner may have issues of various kinds, remember your child’s emotions are very tender and can be scarred very easily by the weapon of violence within the home. Their growing up to use the same dangerous weapon to inflict pain on their friends, partners and children are great possibilities. Seek to find other means such as talking through issues to resolve your concerns.
2. Children’s sound security and healthy positive esteem levels are dependent on what is mirrored by you as parents, especially during their foundational years. The love, care, compassion, and tenderness you exhibit toward your partner act as yardsticks for them as they grow up to foster their own relations. The best gift you as a mother can give to your children is to genuinely love their father and the best gift you as a father can give to your children is to genuinely love their mother.
3. Parents, don’t be fooled that all is well in your children’s life if they may be doing excellently academically, sports-wise, or in the arts when their home is in turmoil. I have noticed over the years that one or more of the three areas I identified seem to attract some children who may be emotionally scarred. Some of them in trying to deal with their hurt may tend to bury such pain and pursue very assertively, one or more of those above- mentioned areas and may do exceptionally well. The challenges come when your children reach their young adult stage and begin to form serious social relationships. The effects of their concealed emotional discomforts could surface and undesirably affect the lives of individuals in their orbit of influence. Their seeking professional help is a wiser step to take.
Parents, please create a safe and secure home environment for your children. It is worth it.
• Haynesley Griffith is a marriage and family life consultant. Email: [email protected]