FAMILY FUSION: Safe home a must for kids
CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST Lisa Firestone in the October 2010 edition of Psychology Today remarked: “When children sense something is wrong between their parents, it often increases their anxiety and perpetual worry. They may start doing things to cut off their emotions. If they are afraid, sad or insecure, they may try to numb these emotions with such behaviours as overeating or excessively playing video games. If they don’t feel they can talk to their parents, or their anger or hurt involves their parents, children may start showing their feelings indirectly: throwing tantrums over toys, getting unusually clingy toward a parent, losing interest in school, getting in fights with other kids.”
The story you will read today tells of the dreadful childhood drama of George (not his real name) who grew up on an island in the Caribbean. He said it was his delight to give me permission to share his journey of how he moved from a broken life to a beautiful one.
This narrative is a part of my advice to parents of the importance of creating a peaceful and stable home environment for their children. In doing so parents can ensure that the children reap the benefits of somewhere safe and secure for their future well-being.
Here is George’s story:
“I grew up very poor with several brothers and sisters. My biological father was practically non-existent. When I was about five years old he disappeared from my life, but replacing him shortly after was a man with whom my mother associated that made the lives of my siblings and me most unbearable. It was the beginning of sorrows for me. To say that I developed intense anger and hatred for him was an understatement. If I could have killed him I would have, especially when he was physically abusing my mother. This alcoholic stepfather also had a devious way of setting us as siblings against each other and creating the kind of sibling rivalry that was very socially and emotionally destructive.”
George spoke of the repeated fighting, quarrelling, battering, that took place between his stepfather and mother which greatly tore away at his emotions and desensitised him to hurt and pain.
“There came a time in my life as a little boy when I never showed pain. I refused to cry no matter what physical blows were inflicted to my body.” George said that the abuse he suffered abruptly stopped when he kicked his stepfather in one of the most tender parts of his body when he was beating his mother. He was about 11 years of age when the incident occurred.
Exit from home
George related sadly of the time his exit from his mother’s home took place. At that young age he had angrily said to his mother “stop wasting your life with that man, he is going to pull you down”. His mother was so mad with him and so obsessed with her boyfriend that she went for his few clothes, put them together and threw them outside. Her livid expression to him was: “I cannot have two men living in this house.” George said that he gladly picked up his clothes and went to a family friend with whom he stayed.
He went to school in the day and did some work at night in order to get some money for himself. He was now in his early teens and pledged never to sleep at his mother’s place again. Although his mother subsequently sent the police to have him return home, he told the police that it did not make sense taking him back because he was going to move out again. George said that he never developed hatred for his mother, but kept giving her money from his weekly meagre earnings. He added that he lived long enough to see his prophecy concerning his mother regrettably come to pass and it became a turning point in her life.
Unfortunately, two crises became defining moments for George. The first one came when his growing anger manifested and he spat in a boy’s face. The boy retaliated by stabbing him. At 14 years of age he found himself before the principal who told him in disgust: “George, if you do not change your life you will either end up dead or in prison”. Those words he said, impacted him significantly.
The second defining moment took place in the same year when he thought of leaving school to work full-time for the businessman who gave him odd jobs to do at night. His reason was to help his mother financially. When he told the businessman of his plan, George said he was taken back when he was told: “You may not appreciate it now, but stay in school and educate yourself.” He took the advice.
With those expressions from two concerned men, George said he began to apply himself to his schoolwork and kept out of trouble. He subsequently became head boy and was also awarded as the Most Accomplished Young Man at his school. His academic pursuits took him beyond graduate level.
He is now very well positioned as an entrepreneur in his country managing several successful companies. He added that although over the years he had struggled with acquiring stable intimate female relationships which may have been the result of the weak relationship he had with his mother, he is now settled and enjoying a productive life with his wife and children. George now works with several young men challenging them to adopt a positive outlook on life.
Coming on to the end of our conversation George looked at me with a broad smile and said: “Ultimately I attribute where I am today in life to a loving, caring God with whom I have built a solid relationship.”
Parents and prospective parents, my counsel to you is: Do not break the spirits of your children by abusing them, especially in their foundational years. Value them. Venerate them. Do not vilify them. Contribute meaningfully to their beauty by creating a decent home environment for them.