Role models

Dad's Shoulder, photo by Joseph Zlomek, Pottstown, United States, loving parentSome people have had abusive parents as role models. Others have had one parent functional and the other dysfunctional. Unfortunately, there are those who have been abused and become abusers, mainly because they experienced how powerful induced fear was. The promising thing is that as we grow most of us learn to appreciate the healthy role models and mimic them in adulthood.

Nina was surprised that her mother’s abusive behaviour
hadn’t made her an emotional cripple, but remembered
that her father was a gentle, loving parent and
whenever she was tempted by her mother’s words
to believe that she was ugly and worthless
Nina would recall her father’s unconditional love
which gave her the confidence to make healthy choices
at times it took a lot of work to raise her self esteem
because her mother’s words would creep into
Nina’s thoughts unexpectedly, however
that was short lived as she developed the skills
to diffuse such thoughts by sending them
off into the universe in imaginary balloons

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Male influence in the family

Walking the trunk, photo by Janet Burgess, Geneva, Switzerland,  paternal  guidanceAs a family therapist and as a woman, I am pleased to see the growing nurturing role of men in family relationships. A man nowadays does more than provide financial security and play with his children. Usually he takes more of an interest in the child’s choices in life and is more supportive of their achievements, apart from sport. A man is not ashamed to take on a more nurturing role which was once only attributable to a woman. Likewise, a woman has more of an active role in what was once considered only that of a man’s, so the sharing of responsibilities is both effective and welcomed for the progress of humanity. Therefore, male influence in the family can provide a more balanced foundation for childrearing.

he remembered that as a child his father was
emotionally unavailable to him
sure, he played with him and showed some
interest in his son’s sporting activities but
if they were lesser talents than that of his father’s
then the criticism and insults were extreme
what’s more his father did not show pride in his son’s
academic and chess playing achievements
fortunately, it can be said that the son is
a better father, more responsible and caring
and this sometimes happens in opposition to the
inappropriate behaviour of a dysfunctional parent

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Dedicated parents

Empty Nest, photo by Luis Alves, Barreiro, Portugal, adult childrenThose people who are dedicated parents provide a nurturing, caring environment for their children. They teach how to live a full life by being responsible and yet funloving.? ? Such parents are also aware of the need for their children to be independent and some day move away from home to make their own way in life.? Although the ’empty nest’ syndrome is known by the majority of society, we do not fully understand the extent of that experience. It’s not just your children leaving home and experiencing the loss of their presence, it is more than that. It is a case of truly letting go as you watch your adult children take care of business the way they wish and sometimes that can mean that parents disapprove of the choices their offspring make and/or feel somewhat abandoned by them. It is far better for parents to remember how they behaved at the same life stages as their adult children and then it is easier to understand.

I loved my cousin Chris very much, he was my mentor
after my dear father died I became engaged at 18
life was so full of fun and happiness
so when I experience empty nest with my adult children
I remember that whenever we visited Chris, we would
enjoy ourselves as he was ever so wise
and he would ask us to visit more often
which we never did because we were too busy
some years later Chris died and I miss him too
by then I was married and had two children
to this day I wonder if he knew that the
only reason we didn’t see him more often
was because life was so jam packed and
not that we didn’t love him and his family?

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Parents

Holding on tight, photo by Julie Elliott, Wichita Falls, United States, caring parentParents can improve or damage a child’s ability to relate healthily. It’s not easy to bring up children. First, our own self esteem needs to be well developed to cope with their phases of transition and testing the limits. Our own moods and behaviour are also mirrored by them and this is sometimes not a pleasant experience, especially when we are in denial about our own behaviour. On the positive side, when children grown up relatively well adjusted and happy, their parents can take the credit for a job well done.

yesterday, my father died 44 years ago
I was 18 years old and his nurturing but firm
parenting skills left me well prepared for Life
thank goodness because
my mother’s behaviour towards me
left me somewhat confused
when she walked out I was 8 years old
and from then on he was both my
father and mother for the next 10 years
creating a safe environment where I learnt much
from his way of thinking and used that method
in the childrearing practices for my own children
also in the way I relate with my grandchildren
this has rippled out to my work as a family therapist
all this from a gentle man with a sense of humour
who valued being a caring parent
I remember him well

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