In an open confession with my Youth Pastor before my Confirmation, I shared with him that a lot of my troubles had to deal with my parents. He then said to me something that we all know, but am definitely glad he said—when kids are born they don’t come with instructions.
We all know that this is true, but to some extent, growing up with whomever we’re raised by, we just kind of slide into the understanding that they’re supposed to know what to do, and we maybe think they’re a little bit invincible in the fact that they’re supposed to protect us.
In the last year, I learned just how human my biological parents are, and as I’m newly-married and thinking about raising a family in the (relatively) near future, raising kids without instructions is something I think about quite often.
I was raised in nuclear family: father worked, stay-at-home mother, older brother, younger sister. Throughout grade school it was rare (for me) to know someone that didn’t live with both of their parents, and I definitely didn’t know any openly gay couples, or people for that matter. From an early age I wanted to get married and have a family of my own, and it just felt natural that I would feel that way.
After high school, while in the Navy, and even more so after I got out, moved back to California and started in community college, I met so many people who were felt strongly about “never” getting married or having children. Many of these opinions were followed up with a statement of how they didn’t have a good example growing up of a good marriage or healthy childhoods, so they didn’t feel comfortable going into a marriage or raising kids, let alone even entertaining the thought.
Who did have an excellent/perfect/normal childhood or have indestructible/flawless parents, though?
And even though I realized this at a fairly young age, the more I thought about my life growing up, the more I realized I had a clear blueprint of how not to raise children. Bad times and scary stories stick with us more vividly than good times, right? Well, after so many you start to think that you just don’t want to deal with it, but I flipped it and realized I had the perfect template of what not to do.
Now that I’m married, I’ve started reflecting on aspects of marriage, and I’ve found it to be just as helpful, I know that there are certain things I don’t want to do in a marriage.
About a week ago, I wrote this blog (click me!) and talked about how I caught myself early emulating a life that I observed growing up. How did I refocus myself for I really wanted? By recognizing what I did not want.
My wife and I do want to have kids, and I know there won’t be instructions on the placenta, but I have, in effect, written my own instructions by living my life and listening to my past. How that turns out, I’ll have to let you know in a few years.
Until then, I need to figure out how I’m going to branch off this family tree stuff into the local weather—leaves of different trees strewn about the yard.