There are some facts about life that … just plain suck. One such fact is: Parenting is the most sacred task a person can undertake and since it requires parents to get so many things right and most people aren’t capable of doing even half those things, most people shouldn’t become parents …, yet, if everyone followed that, our populations would remain extremely low. (Yes, I know that was a run-on sentence.) Basically what I’m saying is, our species requires a vast number of people who shouldn’t be parents, to become parents. Hell, if my parents avoided reproducing because they knew they shouldn’t, I wouldn’t exist.
Still, this doesn’t excuse the many, many mistakes I see parents make that they just plain shouldn’t. Everyone messes up, but what I’m talking about is constant damaging behaviors that parents keep committing, caring nothing about how it impacts their children. This careless behavior comes in many forms, such as abuse, or abandonment, or outright disregard.
My mother dumped her first child on her parents right after he was born. But then with her next 4 kids, for some reason she decided to try actually being a parent. And by that, I mean she came to realize there are too many benefits to having kids to pass up. She got all the men she made kids with to give her free money, and she got the government itself to give her free money. She went out frequently, sometimes staying overnight, leaving us home alone. Sometimes she brought her one night stands home. Some of these men actually stuck around longer than a single night, and some of them would turn out to be creeps who shouldn’t be around children, to say the least. My mother kept our home filthy, and hardly ever had food around.
But nobody ever questions a woman. Not until it’s too late to reverse the damage she’s caused.
I’ve already talked about all the issues my siblings and I grew up with. My oldest brother’s emotional instability, my second-oldest brother’s heinous and unforgivable atrocities, my third-oldest brother’s emotional instability, my older sister’s entitled and manipulative personality, and my susceptibility to depression… Yes, I absolutely blame my mother for the severity of all her kids’ problems. (I emphasize: the severity. Everyone is naturally inclined to be a certain way regardless of upbringing, but upbringing can make that worse or better.)
There is even more damage she did that cannot be fixed. For example, our bio-relatives, such as aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins. I’ve met my extended bio-family, and I made a genuine effort to get to know them. They’re good people, it seems. I liked a lot of them. But I didn’t get to meet them until I was 18, and being in their lives ever since was just too difficult. I didn’t have any childhood memories with them. I may have been related to them, but that didn’t change the fact I was this fully-grown man who appeared out of nowhere and asked if they’d see me as one of them. Humans don’t work that way. Again, they accepted me, but those barriers couldn’t get removed. Not to mention, all I had in common with them from the yesteryears was my mother, and all we could ever talk about was my mother’s selfish, erratic behavior. Basically what I’m saying is: My mother robbed me of her own family, despite them being good people. And this is only one example of many that I could give, but I don’t want this post to start becoming about all the ways my mother damaged all her kids.
My father is also a despicable human being, but I’ll always be thankful he was open about his selfishness by never even trying to be around. Keeping his distance (even if it wasn’t for my benefit) prevented him from making anything worse. I grew up with mommy issues far more severe than my daddy issues, because I actually knew my mother and I wanted her to be a better person than she was. I fooled myself into thinking she was, for the longest time.
My adoptive parents didn’t know what they were doing, and our relationship was essentially a shithole for nearly all the time I’ve known them. It wasn’t until 2019, this very year, that things finally turned around. They adopted me when I was 10, and I came with baggage, which they utterly failed to understand, taking my issues as personal slights against them, rather than seeing the obvious.
Okay, here’s where I get to the main point.
From the time I was adopted and onward, in many ways I had to raise myself. I don’t think I’d be anywhere near as much of a deep-thinker as I am were it not for having poor-quality parental figures all my life (except for a 2-year period where I had great foster parents). I consider myself lucky for choosing to raise myself instead of what most boys do. I chose to sit in my room and think all the time, and occasionally cry about something, instead of so, so many other things boys usually do. I didn’t get into drugs, I didn’t sleep with all the girls I could take advantage of, and most of all, I didn’t commit crimes of any severity.
I should have turned out horribly. This is something my lawyer and I discussed during my divorce case, and he told me that he’s seen many broken kids from many broken families and he’s amazed how well I turned out. Of course, the word ‘well’ is subjective here. I’m sure many people smugly believe I didn’t turn out well, but I think it’s undeniable I could have been leagues upon leagues worse.
That’s not right. Kids shouldn’t feel they have to raise themselves. Kids shouldn’t look at the people who raised them and see them as either incompetent or despicable, or both. I understood as a little kid something that my mother, who is now in her 60s, still doesn’t understand, which is that you never use your kids, or abandon them, or blame your failures toward your kids on everyone but yourself. As soon as we were all taken from my mother, she didn’t bother anymore. The jig was up. No more ability to get free money, free housing, or free anything. So, she didn’t bother anymore. I can think of a few women who’d do the same if their act backfired like that.
Parenting is the most sacred task. You are bringing a person up from birth to adulthood. You brought a whole new person into this world, and now you must teach them how to live in it. You are tasked with teaching them how to live without you. If you have nothing to offer, if you are using your child to destroy someone’s life as some kind of sick revenge for a real or imagined slight, if you are just using your child for an easy pass through life, if you still haven’t even learned the lessons they need to know, etc., etc., don’t even try it. This is a person. This is a human being. This is someone whose psyche and entire life will be shaped by your decisions.
How can you teach selflessness if you are shamelessly selfish? How can you teach generosity if you are never generous? How can you teach the importance of looking at things from different perspectives if you are closed-minded? How can you teach anything if your child is nothing but a means to an end for some campaign you’re on?
Your child is not a prop, to hold up to the world and scream, “Look at me, everyone!” Your child is not a shield if you get criticized as a person, or even as a parent. Your child is not a ticket to get whatever you want for little or no cost. Your child is not a weapon to use against whoever you want to destroy.
You are a servant to your child, not their master. Just because you have authority over them, that doesn’t mean you get to do whatever the hell you want around them, to them, with them, or because of them.
Your life is no longer about you, if you are a parent. Do it right! Don’t know how? Find out! Ask questions. Seek advice. Seek help. Do anything you must, for them. But if you purposefully allow yourself to remain dependent on someone else, or the government, your child will pick up on that as well, putting them at much higher risk of repeating the behavior.
Actually, everything you do as a parent is highly likely to be repeated by your child eventually in their life. The latest example I’ve seen of this is my ex-wife, who, very much like her mother, left the father of her first child for idiotic reasons, only to doom her daughter to depression and misery from having a broken family. I think a large part of my ex’s problems stem from simply not knowing any better, given the prime specimens who raised her. (Now my ex just needs to get with a complete asshole who will treat his new stepdaughter like trash, and the cycle will be complete!) Kids are extremely likely to repeat what you do, or go excessively-far out of their way not to repeat what you do out of spite. Neither is healthy. For example, a child growing up with a parent who smokes, who vehemently rejects cigarettes for that very reason, will be far less likely to accept people who smoke because they hate the smell and habits so much, instead of the healthy outlook of, “I can be in your life even though you smoke, I just choose not to do it myself.”
I don’t deny I carry bitterness toward several people. I don’t let it control me, though. I just live my life as normal, and I go on hoping I don’t get too close to any more shitty people. I remember it all, for lessons I could perhaps teach others, like my daughter, and just to remember what immoral behavior looks like, to keep myself grounded and less likely to become like that which I hate. And most importantly, I always carry the capacity to forgive those who are truly remorseful for their wrongs, as all people should. Not people who just say “I fucked up. My bad!” but people who actually carry regret for pain they have inflicted. Like my mother, like my ex-wife, and like several others. Everyone makes mistakes, but those who feel nothing for their mistakes, or may even be proud of them, don’t deserve positive feelings of any kind. Every single person on Earth should seek to make the world a better place than the one they were born into, and those types of people shamelessly only make the world worse…
Especially when those people are parents, because their shit can endure for generations.