I was born into a family culture where the parents were hardworking and took great pride in providing for their families. They strongly believed that if a child was able to wake up on a nice, clean and warm bed, he/she was BLESSED! If a child was able to use the bathroom in the house and the toilet flushed, he/she was BLESSED! If a child was able to turn on the water faucet and water came out, he/she was BLESSED! If a child was able to go to a refrigerator and obtain food, he/she was BLESSED! If a child was able to turn on the stove and the fire started, he/she was BLESSED! If a child was able to engage in all of these amenities without paying for them, he/she was the MOST PRIVILEGED and should be the MOST HAPPIEST person in the family! Being the provider of all of the family’s amenities meant reaching the ultimate parent goal and provided the privilege to do and say anything they desired. Usually this meant negative actions and speech. Putting others down made the parent feel large and in charge. Lastly, parents felt in order for the child to show appreciation for being the MOST PRIVILEGED and HAPPIEST person in the Family, a they should simply “do as the parent says;” no ifs, ands or buts about it. This parental methodology was rooted in doing what was best for the parent.
The parents in my Family did not see the NEED for emotions and feelings. They did not know that a loving hug/kiss at bedtime from a parent, would make the worst sleeping arrangements most comfortable. They did not know to take a child’s hand in a reassuring manner would strengthen a child to live in darkness. They did not know that protectively standing in front of a child would teach them to conquer fear. They did not know that consistently ensuring children that “they were beautiful; they were smart; they were important” would give them the belief that they could conquer the world!
As I child, I did not understand the parental mentality from which I was raised. I felt it was harsh, cruel and heartless. Yet today, as an adult, I understand; this mentality stems from slavery and the inner desire “to do what was done to me.” I understand this desire has generated a generational curse that is most difficult to break. I understand that in order for slavery to truly end, we must start in ourselves and in our own families. I understand that it will take a selfless person to desire to do something different.
As I mentioned before, as a parent I chose to do parent differently; better. I was going to do more! My childhood taught me the extreme left things about parenthood and I practiced extreme right things in my parenthood. I made my Son my TOP priority! Everything I did, every chose I made, I did with the best interest of him. I was functioning as a Mother and a Father; so I felt I had to do more. Where I didn’t get love, I loved on him more. Where I didn’t get attention, I gave him more attention. Where I was raised in a very strict household, I provided a very lenient household. Where I was not able to freely express myself, I allowed him to have and practice a freedom of speech. In all my decisions, I did opposite of what my Aunt would have done. I went even further and taught My Son to think about himself; don’t worry about me. I just wanted to be sure that he was good. If he was good, I was good!
My parental methodology was doing what was best for him.
I am now an empty nester and my job as a Parent is successfully completed. I now realize that I put too much into My Son and not enough into Myself. I should have invested some of that time and energy into Myself. I should have taught My Son to not think about himself, but think about US. In every matter that I placed My Son, I should have placed US.
I did not realize that one day all of my investments would grow up, move out and live a life of their own with their own family. My investments in him allowed him to graduate with a Bachelor degree in Business Administration from Florida A & M University (FAMU), a Master degree in School Counseling from DePaul University, secure a professional career, marry a wonderful and educated woman and have two beautiful children. I am most proud of him and his accomplishments. Yet, the return on my investment is not one that I receive; it’s only one I get to appreciate.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!
I should have been preparing and planning for being an empty nester just as if I was preparing for retirement. I should have taken time to explore dreams of my own and what paths I would take. I was so engrossed in the survival mode and ensuring that My Son had the best of a single parent life (remember, he rates his childhood a 10). I guess I did that when my son began high school and I re-enrolled in college to finish my Bachelor degree.