While I'm away, readers give the advice.
A grownup lesson on not being so quick to judge
Older and wiser: On abandoning youthful certainties: As very young newlyweds, my husband and I saw a movie. Our combined opinion was that it was meaningless drivel.
A decade later, now an experienced wife and mother, I heard two women discussing this movie as their all-time favorite. As I respected these women, I decided to watch it again. I barely made it to the end.
Watching it from my now more mature point of view, but also through their eyes, I couldn't believe how powerfully it moved me. I was forced to acknowledge the self-centered naivete with which I had previously judged the film.
That experience made me realize that I have a responsibility, to myself and others, to understand an issue fully before making judgments. In the two hours it took to watch that movie, I grew up.
Poor parenting doesn't doom us to be poor parents ourselves
Anonymous: On volatile people as parents, Part 1: I came from an extremely abusive home and thought I would be a terrible parent given the models I had.
But I was married to someone who wanted children, and I believed my husband would be a wonderful father. I started taking child development courses to learn about the normal behavior and capabilities babies, toddlers, teens and even adults possess. I grieved for what I personally had and hadn't received, recognizing that what I experienced was uneven parenting (my parents weren't incompetent or ignorant in all ways; sometimes they were gifted).
It was extremely beneficial "to train to be a parent," in essence, by going to counselors, taking classes and working with all ages of kids and families under controlled, guided circumstances. It took five years of this intensive effort while working at my regular job, too.
Through time, study and practice, I learned to be the kind of intentional, caring person I wanted my children to have for a parent, for my husband to have in a partner, for my friends to have in a friend.
It's possible to be much better people than what our past experiences and behaviors would predict. We are not simply the sum of our upbringing.
Recovering yellaholic: Part 2: When I was growing up, anger was power and yelling was the logical way to express anger. When I got married and had children, I didn't get angry often, but when I did I felt justified in yelling because I thought it was a normal reaction. Sometimes I would even fly into a rage that I did not think I could control.
When my daughter developed an eating disorder, I realized that if I did not learn to manage my anger, I could lose her, and that terrified me. Even though I thought I would explode inside, I bit my lip (literally) every time I felt a hostile reaction to her coming on. I didn't focus on changing the feeling, but on changing the action. Eventually, I was amazed to realize that I just didn't feel that angry anymore.
Changing my yelling habit was one of the best things I ever did for myself and for my family. I am so much happier now and my daughter can focus on managing her symptoms without having to manage mine. I feel like it saved her life.