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Do you ever find yourself doing something your parents used to do when you were a kid, despite the fact you hated it back then?

Rarely.

I have always had a fear of being like my mother. She was an easy mom to live with because she seldom set rules or standards. Fortunately for her I was a good kid, and rarely stepped out of my self-set boundaries. I also respected my father a lot, and his expectations for me, at least academically, were high. If my mother found fault with me for some reason she just yelled — and she and my dad did a lot of arguing with each other, so I just tried to avoid the scenes. This also meant that I became a people-pleaser: I didn’t want to disappoint my dad, and I didn’t want my mother to scream at me.

Sadly, my dad died at 42, suicide. He was bipolar and the treatments for that were still in early days. I think he would have survived much better in today’s mental health care.

It was then I realized how utterly dependent my mother was. She was a terrible money-manager, had few personal goals or any ambition of her own. After his death, even though she was only 40, she only occasionally worked, preferring to live off her parents.

She preferred being my friend rather than my mother, and soon ran us into debt, so we had to sell our house, and move into a rented townhouse. If it hadn’t been for the steady and loving support from my grandparents I don’t know how I would have survived and gone to college. But they injected an order in my life, boundaries, and guidelines, all lovingly exhibited. No yelling in their house! Consequently I (and my 6-1/2 year younger sister spent a lot of time with them, even after they moved to Florida. They were good people, and I have tried to follow their example in my adult and family life. Their only fault was in enabling my mother not to live up to her responsibilities.

Assertive_Communication_KP_2I was somewhat damaged from my upbringing, but wanted to be a good wife and mother. I tried to correct some of the things I knew my mother did “wrong”. I also had to learn to stand up for myself, and over the years to build a healthy self-image — not one who lives to please others, but to occasionally please myself and express my point of view even when it didn’t coincide with my husband’s. I have always backed off from verbally fighting. Nothing puts me off as much as hearing people yell at each other and say things that are hurtful. Instead I had to learn to maintain my boundaries in a reasonable but assertive way, and that’s been difficult at times, but I’m getting better!

Yes, I did yell at my children. No parent, no matter how kind, has not lapsed into the frustration or anger cycle and ended up yelling at the children. I hated myself for it, but tried to spend time with them constructively, and was fortunate to be able to be a stay-at-home mother. I think that formed strong bonds between my children and me. We have certainly grown up together.

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