Thursday, March 15, 2012

Stepping Away

My apologies for not writing. Sometimes the words do not come. Sometimes the heart is heavy and tired.

In the last thirty hours, I have talked to two women who are being verbally battered by their children. I'm surprised how many mothers and grandmothers are treated poorly. It makes me wonder about respect. What have we taught our children about respecting those who are older? What have power have we turned over to them that allows such disrespect?

A mother is has not seen her adult daughter for a very long time. The daughter comes to stay with her mother and is ill. The entire visit she suffers in bed. Her mother cares for her and for the first time in years is able to do what mothers do best in caring for their child. Her daughter returns home sending back a note in which she tears her mother down for the way she keeps her house and the way she lives. A single woman finally finding her own nest is criticized and compared to a mother-in-law. The mother's love is tossed back in her face with cruel words.

A grandparent dies. A piece of furniture is given to one child. The sibling is furious because he wanted the piece. Never had he voiced the desire. He was given an equally wonderful treasure as a reminder of his grandparent. The anger festers and turns the son against his sister. He feels justified in his anger at his parents and find more and more things he despises about them. He is a ticking time bomb waiting to throw daggers at whoever passes too closely.

Where is the respect? What is it that gives a child a right to criticize and and degrade? What went wrong? Did the parents give too much? Too little? Maybe they were lousy parents. Maybe they had their own problems when their children were growing up and didn't give their children what they needed. Or (this is a big 'or') maybe the children were raised with the best that the parents could give. Maybe they tried their hardest to do what was right. Even sometimes under the most difficult of circumstances. Maybe they were trying to overcome things from their pasts.

My friend has a wonderful outlook. She has had her bumps and bruises. "Seems to me like their old enough to get over it. They need to take responsibility for their past and present. I'm done with it. I did the best I could."

True. We do the best we can with what we have come from and come through. We make mistakes and pay for them in ways our children cannot understand. We have spent the years worry over them, trying to make their lives better often sacrificing our own. Perhaps we just need to get old in order to understand that we cannot turn our backs on ourselves, even for our children.

The mother who was criticized has lost a husband this last year, has poor health and is finally climbing back on her feet, finding for the first time in decades a life as a single woman. The other woman has given 100% of herself to her children. She is trying to keep quit feeling responsible and to hand off the responsibility of the past to her child even realizing she might lose him in the end to his own pettiness.

My grandchildren and I often talk about finding the best in everyone. We talk about the damage from gossip. We talk about honesty and kindness. We talk about alternatives to anger. I guess I sometimes wonder if I will be remembered for these things I tried to teach this generation. I wonder if the lessons they learn will come from a kind heart. Or, do children only remember the pain of growing up?

Perhaps in stepping away from the hurts that come from harsh words and actions, we learn to love ourselves a bit more.

2 comments:

  1. I don't know why there are so many angry people and dysfunctional families in the world today. It's much worse than a lack of respect. I think it shows a lack of values. Surely family relationships are more valuable than a piece of furniture. Surely a mother's feelings are worthy of being protected by leaving some things unsaid, even if they are thought.

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    1. Well said, Susan. Anger seems to be the first line of defense....or attack. Yes, there are so many.

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