From Dr. Jane's Notebook

When Parents Reveal Their True Selves!

Several couples I know have recently divorced after twenty-something years of marriage. On all accounts, they have stayed together for the sake of the children. Friends and children alike are forced to wonder, "Was it all a charade?"

Did these parents stay together until the kids were grown hoping to lessen the pain of separation and divorce? Possibly. Were they hiding their true feelings? Most likely. Was it hard to keep a secret? Definitely. Here are a few more thoughts on the matter.

I am reminded of the woman who was desperately concerned about her daughter’s virtue, but hesitated to discuss sex for fear that her daughter would learn that she herself, had been conceived out of wedlock. I also recall the concerns of the man with a history of drug problems. He feared telling his son about his own drug experiences as a teenager, but also feared that his son was going down that same road. Even Bette Midler, on becoming a mother, related her discomfort about her daughter’s viewing some of the bawdy humor that had made her so famous.

As parents, we wish to project the best possible image of ourselves. However, parents who say, "do as I say, not as I do" are kidding themselves. Some speak fondly of times when children were supposed to automatically respect their parents, but in today’s world, children expect honesty, courtesy and respect from their parents, as a prerequisite for returning the same.

It is painful for people of all ages to take responsibility for their behaviors. However, parents must be prepared to discuss issues and problems frankly and honestly with their children. When we are honest and committed to working on ourselves, we teach our children that they too can take responsibility and solve their personal problems.

Research has demonstrated that children who have been abused, learn to be abusive. Conversely, I believe that children who feel respected, learn to show respect for others. For those who disagree, consider the following bumper sticker which offers still another way to look at child-rearing. It reads, " Be kind to your children; they’ll be picking out your nursing home!"

ęCopyright, 1999, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.

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Last Updated August 25, 1999 by Gary M. Grandon, Ph.D.