Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Stop the Hand that Hurts

One of my first memories of grade school was walking past the principal's office and seeing the big strap hanging on the wall. I knew what that strap was used for as did all of the kids.

My mother had often talked of how my grandfather would beat his daughters, and my father was always quick to pick up a belt or, in my case, a yardstick in the belief that he was teaching us a lesson.

I was no better. I raised my hand to my children. Yes, I continued the pattern. It was when I was in the midst of a divorce, that I learned that I could change the flow of anger and change this pattern in our family. I learned through my divorce many lessons but this perhaps was the most important.

As a child, I was an observer. Hard to believe, huh? I questioned but had no one to listen or to guide me to my answers. Dad would hit my horse if she misbehaved. I knew he wouldn't hesitate to pull out the shotgun and shoot any animal that was a menace or problem. I could not reconcile this man who sang so beautifully, who was a Christian, who taught me so much about nature, with this man who could be so angry and cruel. As an adult, I now realize he was a product of his upbringing.

In our family, we never talked about problems. As childeren weren't allowed to have problems or concerns. Mom and Dad were pillars of the community and every child envied us the honor of being their daughters. We had no one we could turn to. I know we were not alone. It was a time of transition. For all youth. Cnage came in the 60's.

Oh, if I could do it all over again with my children. But I can't. I can't go back and remake me as I was at that time. I can't return to the time when I could hardly take care of myself to allow myself to do the best for my children. Only when I became angry enough at life, could I pick myself up and try to do better.

I apologize if this is rambles, but this the journey I took to make life better for my grandchildren. I can tell them I am angry when they misbehave but that I love them and want to understand their actions and to give them options to make changes. I can still feel that yardstick across my backside. I can still see my daughter's face when I spanked her. Like with my parents, I created anger in my child. I taught a lesson of cruelty to someone I loved more than life. The anger, the action stops here.

We grandparents are so blessed with second chances. We are the keepers of knowledge even if that knowledge comes from memories that hurt. We are a guidance to our families, not that they learn what we tell them but that we can teach them to listen to their families, to walk away from anger, to listen to what is not being said and, most of all, to remember love first.

My children must live their lives making their own mistakes. But I can lead by example. I can lead by following. Most of all, I can do my best to insure that no child will feel a parents hand in anything but tenderness.

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