Saturday, March 5, 2016

New Post: "Loving our Children as Broken Parents"

Loving our Children as Broken Parents

I was raised in a broken house-hold.
My own parents were divorced, 
and while my father remarried, my mother never did.

My stepmother had two of her own children, 
and my father always tried to make me feel like part of his family, 
although for a long time he was limited to about 20% custody of me.

My mother saw herself as better than anyone else, 
and was quick to point out the flaws in my father, step-mother, myself, and everyone else.
There was no way to argue with her, nor could you even agree,
because she would attempt to prove herself
by pulling up every memory from the past
to justify her thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Many of us can recognize this behavior, 
although we don't like to admit we do this same thing ourselves.

I have been incarcerated, and have seen how disconnected families affect one another.
Here are two such examples of the lie we allow ourselves believe; 

  • as children we may falsely think we don't need parents, especially those whose parents are incarcerated.

You may lie to yourself now, but in perhaps one-year, or two, or five, or ten, 
you will miss the chance to know those parents you rejected.

  • Another such lie is that incarcerated parents have nothing to offer their children, and therefore should avoid being part of their lives.

How do we overcome these untruths?

How do we even begin to heal the broken parts of our family relationships,
when we have no idea of how to repair ourselves?

Whether you are in prison now, have been released, 
or simply dont know your own children - start here:

First- get over yourself.
Stop deceiving yourself long enough 
to recognize that you dont want to put forth the effort
because of the difficulty you anticipate.

We avoid working on these relationships because we fear rejection.
And because we dont want to be hurt again.
Stop telling yourself that you dont want to disappoint them, or hurt them

You stay away from them because 
you dont want to be told 
that you arent worth the effort. 

Here's the truth - you may not worth the effort, but they ARE worth it.

Once you get past the fear, you can prepare for the pain and disappointment.
This Always comes before healing.
And you cannot get to this point until you do the second part:
by taking the initiative and making the first step to communicate with them

Did you catch that? YOU put forth the effort.
You must do it every time; in the beginning, in the middle, 
and all the way until the end, whatever that may be.

Again- you dont put forth the effort because You are worth, but because They are.

Next, how do you initiate this communication?
By starting small;
Write a letter. Then send it.
Dont know their address?
Then write two identical letters;
send the first to someone you trust who can get it to your children,
then save the second so you can give it in person should the chance ever come.

Worried you will die before that day ever arrives?
Then save it and write a will to have the letters delivered after you die.

Now, what do you say in this first correspondence?
Keep it simple. 
Be truthful, and kind.
As an sample:
"I screwed up.
Its not your fault, but mine.
I want another chance with you.
And even if you cannot give me this chance right now,
know this - I wont give up,
because you are worth it."

If you dont know what else to say, then end the note there.
Then start on the second letter.
Write about the first time you heard about them coming into the world.
Be honest about your missteps, but dont make the note about yourself.
Make the letter about them.
And before you end it- 
tell your child what you would like to do with them now if everything could improve.

Ans when you finish that letter, make a copy, and send it.
Then begin the third, and son on.

Too often we give up before the reward comes.
What could the reward be for you?

Maybe it a day to sit across the table from your child,
perhaps holding there hand,
or just sitting silently over a cup of coffee.

And here is how I tie the first part of this post back in here-
when you talk or write to you child,
dont focus on the past, nor on the problems you face now.
Talk to them about... them.
About possibilities, second chances, or third.
Write about what could be, 
and how you might like to see a relationship unfold with them in the future.

It is easy to damage and destroy relationships with our words & actions,
but it takes time, effort, and courage to heal.

Dont wont worry about figuring it all out.
Just take on small step to mend the relationship,
Then take another small step.
Dont try to run yet, but take it slow.
And no matter what - dont give up.
Because your children are worth it.

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