Things started burning and the flames began to rise on of all days Thanksgiving, I was setting the table for dessert when the fire alarm went off its blaring screech started the eye opening process although I didn’t quite know it yet. I asked my daughter who was 13 at the time to bring the sugar bowl and creamer to the dining room table. It was not wrong for me to ask for her help, I rarely asked her to do anything hell I was rarely even home so I guess when she told me to wait as she was busy I snapped. I yelled so loud they heard my in town some three miles away. My guests were quite shocked as my voice echoed and the walls shook, not only at my reaction, also in reaction to my daughter’s rude response. All that were present were raised to do as they were told when they were asked by their parents. I would have gotten an immediate smack and a beating later if I ever told my parents to wait. My step daughter was the first to speak she was also the reason my daughter was busy (they were talking) she turned and said “You are an abusive as!@#%*e and need to go get help.” The family was divided at that point between my rights and choice of yelling and the rights of my daughter to be disrespectful. In my mind I was however asking if I was abusive.
The next day as I drove to work I decided to get help for my children, obviously they were not being raised properly. Since I was always working it was my former wife in my mind that was to blame. What could I do? I had no clue so I decided to ask for the help of a professional. I called several social workers from the yellow pages, not one of them answered yet they all had answering machines asking for a brief message regarding the issue and the promise of a return call. It took two days before Nancy returned my call; she was a Clinical Social Worker that specialized in children and family therapy.
In truth the greatest most beautiful renovation and valuable renovation I have ever undertaken began the moment I chose to make that phone call. My meetings with Nancy that were intended to help my kids actually lead me on a path of discovery to help me let me become a kid and eventually help my kids. Nancy actually never had a therapy session with my kids, they spent time with another therapist that however is another story. My meeting with Nancy was to be the biggest eye opening experience of my life so far. In fact that is where the story I wish to share begins…
In any major renovation the foundation is the most important part of the project. The foundation I would say is the most important part of any project. If the foundation is weak or in need of repair it is best to get that assessment done first. My time with Nancy taught me how to see my foundation, from the first meeting the cracks in my foundation showed and the wiring of my structure were exposed, for the first time so I could see them. The first hour with Nancy I shared with her my perceived issues with my children in regards to their disrespectful behavior and their seeming lack of care or concern for the material things they had in addition to their neglect of doing the few chores they were responsible for doing.
When Nancy said that I was the issue not my children I lost my composure even started to walk out dismissing her like my parents did when I was 13. My step dad’s words echoed in my head as I heard the bone jarring truth and felt the sting of the slap across my face that the words carried with them. “You are a quack all you psychologists are quacks this is all Bullsh!@$ I am not the one who is out of line my kid is. I am leaving and you are all idiots” I remember him saying after the social worker told him he was responsible for the way I behaved. I had taken the family car for a joy ride; I had done so a few times until one night a neighbor saw the car rolling down the driveway in the middle of the night and called my parents to say they had forgotten to set the parking brake. When I got home I didn’t want to take the beating I had coming so I called the police and asked them to take me to jail. They didn’t take me to jail however they did order an evaluation by a psychologist and family services. That experience left a bad impression tainting my young mind; it took many years before I would appreciate the fact that my step dad was in a sense “an idiot”.
“What the hell do you mean I am responsible for how they are acting” I asked? Nancy responded with a question that really set me on fire “do you read?” she asked.
“What the hell does that mean now you are insinuating that I am stupid? Of course I can read, just because I am a carpenter doesn’t mean I am illiterate.”I yelled! The walls reverberated with the aftershocks of my scream, she was visibly shaken as she responded carefully choosing her words. “I was asking if you were a regular reader in your free time, I was not trying to insult you. I was going to ask you to read a book and let me know if you wanted to continue seeing me. I will see your children after we have a few sessions and I get to understand their needs a little better if you want.”
What the heck.. I need a complete renovation!
I left Nancy’s office and went straight to Barnes and Noble to get the book she had recommended it was a book about parenting. I must say it made sense to read a book about parenting to help my kids. I had no idea where it would take me however as far as changing my life and perspective. At the same time I was working on getting my former wife Janet to see a marriage counselor with me. Janet agreed to do so as I had taken the steps to get help for my children and as she saw it” Nancy had put the blame on me for the kids” and she knew I was the problem in our marriage as well. She thought it would be awesome to see a therapist shred me in person.
Between my first appointment with Nancy and my second one I had arranged for a marriage counseling session with Carla. Carla I must say had indeed shredded me in our first session; I walked out feeling truly battered and in all honesty a little bit ashamed. She seemed to know every button to push in order to see my darker reactions. I took a bit of consolation in the fact that she was willing to help us work on our marriage. Taking a page from Nancy I had looked at the books on Carla’s shelf seeing a few of the titles I chose to make a trip to Barnes and Noble on the way home and pick a couple of them up. After all the book Nancy had recommended was a true eye opener and was already pointing the way to why I was responsible for my kids behavior. The books the marriage counselor’s shelves would be just as eye opening I had no doubt.
Parenting!!!! Was the root of my problem, not just the way I was parenting my kids, the way I was parented and my parents were parented was a major issue. I want to share something and make something perfectly clear at this point in my story.
” I am responsible for” who” I am, how I behave, as well as what I do and say!”
My parents did the best they knew how as they raised me, the key is what they knew. As it was with my parenting I had thought I knew what I was doing and never bothered to learn to be a good parent. I did as many people do decided that some of the things my parents did sucked and that I was going to do things different. I did do many things different yet I didn’t learn how to do things the best way for my kids. Just did things different, the things they did like grounding me for weeks at a time, hitting or even beating me, bed without dinner… Those things I would not do ever yet I did not do what would have been best for them and learn how to be a good parent.