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I Turned Out O.K.

In my book, Relationships for the Intimately Challenged, I discuss limiting beliefs that affect people’s relationships at length. One of the main points I get into is negative scripting patterns that families hold on to in order to maintain security and the status quo. These scripting patterns are made abundantly clear through the ways adults view children and child rearing.

One of the most common limiting beliefs, and justifications for the mis-treatment of children, is “That’s how I was raised and I turned out o.k.” First of all, kudos to anyone who is able to rise above environmental limitations in order to create a life which is wrought with success and happiness. People with this kind of transcendent nature are not the ones who use this statement. The”I turned out o.k.” defense is normally reserved for the angry and jealous power hungry adult who yearns for the glory days of yester year when the rod was not spared and the child was not spoiled. You know him(or her), they’re the people with the terminal scowl on their face, their nose ever so slightly turned to the air.

My problem with the “I turned out o.k.” mode of parenting is that anger is justified with “love.”  Emotionally irresponsible adults give themselves permission to act out angrily towards those who rely on them for security because children need to know “who’s in charge.” We all need the security of parameters, no doubt. However, to assume that children’s feelings are less important than those of adults is indeed dangerous.

We learn how to process emotions and respond appropriately as a result of experience in combination with guidance. Children who are raised in an environment in which their feelings are less valid than those of adults will find a way to be heard.If a child chooses this route it is rarely positive. My suggestion is to be in a position in which you are able and have a desire to communicate ( speak and listen) to your children. You will see far more results from clear communication than from adhering to the antiquated “because I’m the adult, that’s why” mentality.

With all due respect to those in denial, the world is a different place today. To pine for the values of generations past is a waste of time and energy. It is also squandering an opportunity to open yourself up to a world which is ever-changing. Younger generations respect older generations because of the wisdom and experience they share. It is not because of the older generations ability to enforce it’s will. Every generation believes the world was better way back when. It wasn’t. It was a time that helped to create the perception of a collective mind-set. One of the keys to effective and loving parenting is the ability to adapt to the world in which we live today.

Are They Pets or People?

After reading this article on Saturday in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, I was reminded why there is still a market for the work that I do. I am amazed at the general disdain of children. There seems to be an obsessive attitude in regard to children being “normal” and “well-adjusted.” Time and time again parents are instructed to create adversarial dynamics in their relationships with children and the results speak for themselves. I have been in the drug and alcohol treatment business for over twenty years and I can say with a great deal of confidence that techniques used to create “well-adjusted” children have resulted in the widening of the gap within families. 

Whether the belief is “children are meant to be seen and not heard” or that “leadership is more important than the relationship,” broken belief systems destroy self-worth. When an adult attempts to present him- or herself as having all of the answers and he or she refuses to admit when they are wrong, they destroy the foundation of honesty and integrity. This is not effective leadership, it is lying. When a child is sent the message that his or her feelings, thoughts, or ideas are worth less than those of adults, he or she develops feelings of inadequacy. He or she will either lash out at authority figures later or be forever passive.

The bottom line is that human beings thrive in loving and open relationships. Families remain close as a result of clear and honest communication. As generations of self-centered, angry, and power mongering adults continue to abuse children through acts of physical violence and demeaning words, less people want to have children. Does a better world start at home? If so, rather than being fixated on your children being “well-adjusted” focus on their ability to be honest, have integrity, communicate clearly, and treat others with love.