I am the child of a violent, alcoholic father and a narcissistic mother.
At 13, I was sexually molested by a man I worked for.
By 17 I was on a fast train to an early death, barreling downhill to that place with all the fire and brimstone.
Further, I was convinced I NEVER wanted children because I’d be the worst possible parent. I went through years of therapy, but still never trusted myself to have children.
But at age 30, well, you know what they say – things happen. I was recently divorced, pregnant, and terrified.
My plan was to put my child up for adoption for her own well-being, but when she was born all that changed.
I made a 13th-hour decision to raise my own child. God knew what she was doing – that decision turned out to be my saving grace.
I was challenged by the idea of setting behavioral parameters for my daughter. My mother gave me a few old books on child rearing; they had little relating to the world in the 1990s. There were no parenting classes where we lived; I was on my own. Neither of my parents were a good role model to follow. I decided to approach the issue logically.
I turned to the first book we used in therapy when I was 17, Born to Win by Muriel James, Ed.D., and Dorothy Jongeward, Ph.D. I’ve read this book at least 20 times over the years. I read it again when I brought my baby daughter home.
Born to Win is based in transactional analysis theory. The concepts are fundamental to understanding how to grow a healthy, happy child: the need for positive stroking; listening instead of lecturing; speaking from the “Adult” and understanding the “Child” (both in myself and my daughter); the effects of parenting; childhood and child ego states; and how we become autonomous adults. Exercises show how communication patterns can influence desired outcomes.
The Chapter One epigraph contains these words by Galileo:
You cannot teach a man anything,
You can only help him discover it within himself.
These words embody what it takes to raise a child. I can lead by example, I can hope to influence choices, I can provide opportunities, but I cannot “create” a person. She will be who she will be in spite of me.
The question I had to answer is what part will I play, and how? The very thought process scared me, raising my fear of failure.
I needed a plan, so I set to work.