If you have some dysfunction in your family, I recommend Traits of a Healthy Family, by Dolores Curran. Few can define what a healthy family is, but I didn’t learn about the dysfunction in my family until I was in my thirties. At the time of my parents’ childhoods, it was bad manners to speak highly of oneself and children were supposed to be obedient to their parents. So, that was how they parented.
How far we have come in our knowledge of the needs of children, including gifted children. Instead of being told, “You’re too sensitive,” I would have loved to have been told, “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings. I will try to do better in the future.” Instead of being laughed at when I banged my head on the floor, I would have loved to been shown an appropriate way to express anger. Instead of feeling frustrated at meals because I couldn’t get a word in edgewise, I would have preferred a family that shared the conversation. That is the past. That can’t be changed.
If those were the only memories I had of my parents, I would be angry and resentful. Instead, I was lucky enough to get to know them into my golden years, and my perspective changed considerably. From my parents, I learned how to get a job and keep it, how to stay in that job even when things were miserable. I learned to sacrifice my needs for the needs of my children for a short period of time (which seems like forever when you are going through it). I learned to eat healthy and get exercise, to forgive each other over and over, and to love nature and classical music. I learned to ask questions, to be myself, to have fun and best of all, that we can change the way we approach life, even in our nineties.
The best and most important social skill my parents gave me was resilience. Having left the poverty of the Depression behind and survived the horror of WWII, my parents thought their days of suffering were past, but life has a way of presenting challenges forever. I moved home during their retirement with three children, my dad’s health failed and he died, and my mom had to carry on alone. Each time, my parents adjusted, showing me that life is manageable if we become the best we can be.
This post is part of the Hoagies Blog Hop