We all know the pride a man carries when he discovers that his wife, girlfriend, or fiancé is carrying a boy. It becomes their greatest accomplishment, creating a boy to carry on the family legacy.
To my dad’s disappointment, when my mom fell pregnant with me, my dad always hoped that it was a boy and when my mom gave birth he was a bit disappointed that it was a girl. My mom has told me this story since I was very young so I always strived academically to make my dad proud of me, but this was never possible because he was quite a perfectionist and sometimes made me feel that I was not worthy of his pride because he always pointed out someone better than me.
My middle brother, Orrin was quite the intelligent one so my dad would always compare the two of us; this boosted my brother’s confidence and broke mine completely. I specifically remember this one evening my brother received diploma’s, amongst 3 others for Mathematics and Science on primary school and we got home and as we were getting out of the car, my dad said to me, “Why don’t you become more like your brother, he is more intelligent than you. I don’t see you with any diplomas. He has 5”, and he laughed. It shattered me completely and those words always replay in my head. I remember breaking into tears and my mom comforting me.
My dad was quite the authoritarian and very strict with me because I was a girl and not his best accomplishment. He would help me in the evenings with my homework as that was his thing. Whether it was help is questionable, because if I gave him an answer that was incorrect, he would laugh at me, looking at me straight in my face. This made me feel “stupid”, as he would call it. My mother was a very submissive wife and the intimidation and dominant personality my dad had never allowed her to say anything.
At the end of every quarter we would get reports and if I had anything less than 80%, my dad would not speak to me for a full 2 months. I had to earn his respect and his “I am proud of you”, which never came even if I scored higher than 80% ….nor did the “I love you’s.” Come to think of it, not my brothers or I were embraced, said “goodnight” or “I love you” to by our parents and when I sit and think of it now, we almost knew they did but they never said it to us….so the love was “present” but the affirmation and confirmation thereof was “un”- present, it almost seems cold when I look back at my family dynamics. Weird, not really sure what to make of it; however I will get back to this in another blog.
I couldn’t imagine not saying “I love you” to my children nor could I see myself laugh at the academic mistake or any kind of mistake they would make. I always try and encourage my kids to try things they are afraid of and pursue the things that they are good at as it helps so much with confidence, opening up, trust in me as a parent and support system.
In saying this, I would like to appeal to parents to encourage your children, motivate and support them, build their confidence and in this way they are less vulnerable and susceptible to bullying others or being bullied and even suicide.
We as parents do not realize the emotional and mental trauma that we cause our children by doing what my dad did or even worse. We do not know the amount of pressure kids have at school considering the demographics (age, circumstances, exposure, and mental state, family dynamics) of their peers.
Sometimes we create that monster we warn our children against.
Little did I know how the experience I had with my dad would play a very profound role in what and who I would turn into……….