Western education 2013

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

......Nature verses Nurture....

......what makes us different from the generation before us? Are we hard-wired to be a certain way?  How much of our experiences alter or build on what we already are?  Why are some people bad despite all the good they grew up around and why are some really good despite being born into destitution, neglect and abuse?  Do we choose to live the life we live or is it already pre-ordained?  I can only speak to my own personal experiences.......

I used to think I was adopted while growing up because I somehow could not fathom why a mother would selectively choose to treat her children the way she felt about them.  I think my days of advocacy started at the age of four when I defiantly told her she was not being fair.....and then I wore a mouthful of rings.  There were four of us and right from the beginning of what I can remember, we learned to fight for the window seat in the car to avoid the swinging hand.  She would partner up with her eldest daughter who would grow to be a tyrant with a mean spirited temper and a controlling, over-bearing nature......that apple didn't fall from the branch. As much as I feel I should elaborate on my growing up years, it is suffice to say that it lacked warmth, positive reinforcement, acceptance and a feeling of belonging

My apple fell off the branch, rolled down the hill, dove into the river and travelled far and wide.  Although I would spend portions of my adult life attempting to 'fix' what was broken and to finally be validated by the parents who raised me......disappointingly, it would not come and the decision to part ways from my childhood tormentors was difficult, guilt ridden and took a lifetime to commit to.  The 'if only' and 'what if's' no longer could convince me that anything could or would make a difference.  Someone once told me that the definition of insanity was "Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome" ... I would have to agree.  With a second illness arriving at the end of months of harrassment, accusations, lies and outright hostility towards me.... it was time to end it altogether. My eldest sister would get what she was hoping for - to have her mother all to herself, even if it was from a distance of 3600 km.  Two peas in a pod, brought together by nature.  Both hard-wired by similarities seen in twins but a generation apart. 

I would instead find role models who would teach me the ways of being a good mother.  Eileen was one of those down to earth moms who was raising 4 children on her own.  Her firm but fair approach was in keeping with what I would later become.  She would sometimes point out over the years things to help guide me into being more open minded and to reflect on what I was doing and saying.  I learned to forgive myself when I made a mistake, own it and apologize for it. There were other role models and many books I read looking for what I envisioned my household should be.  I learned to choose friends who were positive and supportive and who loved my children.  

Today I have a well established home that lends itself to security for the children, something I could only dream of growing up with. My kids are each other's best friends and know little of the upheaval I and my other siblings endured while growing up.... they wouldn't understand it even if I did explain it.  They were raised to always think of their siblings first.  My husband and I were always the adults when raising them and only gave the kids responsibiities in keeping with their age and maturity.  My children understood early on that they had no business punishing or controlling each other and had consequences if they did.  I learned through my growing years and later into my adult awareness that being an adult meant just took responsibility for your actions, apologized when you made a mistake, understood that your kids were gifts to be appreciated and knew that your children were not your confidants or friends.  My children were raised to be seen and heard!!  I kept what worked and threw away what didn't.  

While there are moments in my growing years that I would like to forget... those are the moments that have continued to challenge and shape  me as an adult, parent and educator.  It has made me reflective in my own life, giving me the opportunity to shape my future and determine what I need to address and what I now need to leave behind.  I would have liked who I was from the beginning before I got sidetracked by a tumultous upbringing.  By nature, I am sensitive, caring, vulnerable, fun-loving, inquisitive and adventurous... all tempered by the Nurture, the experiences of growing up and the years spent as an adult before my children were gifted to me. I believe I am what nature intended me to be despite the set-backs and the side-tracks that growing up offered me.  As a child I would 'fall' down and bounce right back up.... perhaps the nurture forced me to stand up taller to show I could do it regardless of what was said or done to me.  I watch my own children grow into young adults with the self-esteem and confidence I took years to develop after leaving home.  They are all amazing people and I am deeply grateful they were gifted to me to help guide and grow into healthy adults.

Early tomorrow morning, I will travel by plane to see my eldest son graduate.  I will stand beside my youngest sister Patricia, whom I adore, and we will watch as he marches past us in the drill hall tomorrow afternoon. He thinks I am the best Mom ever..... thanks buddy!!  You were there to help me be a good Mom.  Life is what you make it and I have to agree with my sister.... Nature is by far what brings us to what we are today despite being sidetracked in our youth by our 'nurturing', we will always go back to what we by nature were born with.  My son Mitchel was never raised by his paternal father or had much involvement with him but he is still very much like him in many ways..... Nature.....  Nurture should be about recognizing a child's talents and bringing out the very best in their traits while teaching them to manage and be aware of their own behaviours and attitudes.  If I did choose to live this life, I would have to say that I have chosen a good life despite all the challenges that have come my way.... 

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