The value in Modelling
Today, I shall talk about a friend of mine named Gary. Gary was my friend for more than fifteen years.Gary is now 60 years old, once divorced and close to being divorced once again. Throughout his married life, he would be physically and verbally abusive to his wife and children.
Gary’s growing up years were mostly with his mother. His father was often out of town and whenever he would be home, he would be physically and verbally abusive to his wife and children. All throughout the years, this was what Gary and his sisters saw and learned most at home..
Gary never knew the meaning of affection, empathy, compassion, appreciation and love. He was never kissed more than once a day by his mother, frequently spanked and told to shut-up and stop crying after, humiliated in public by his own mother and told that he was wrong most of the time. He was never given a voice in the home and was often told that he was not as intelligent as his sister.
Sometime ago, I asked Gary what he thought was the cause of all his failed relationships, and why practically all his relationships were unhappy ones. He assumed that most of his relationships were bad because he was verbally and physically abusive to his girlfriends and that he was told that this was the cause of his failed marriage. I also asked him if he actually knew the meaning and the feeling of appreciating and being appreciated. I was stunned to hear him say that he did not know what appreciation was, how it felt and how it is done.
Sometimes, we go through life using words we don’t really know the meaning of, or the feeling it entailes. This is one such example. But moreover, I believe that how our parents modell love and the many other virtues necessary to make us loving and lovable human beings actually plays a very, very big role in our life, up until our adult age. Gary is one such example.
I wished that as parents, we would take the time to really reflect on ourselves and be conscious of our thoughts and actions when we are with our children. And offten ask ourselves, what will my child be like when he/she sees me behaving and talking this way.
I, too, have made many mistakes as a parent and I continue to learn and improve to this day. We all make mistakes, but what is important is that we move towards making each day an improvement. Baby steps.