Your children are always watching you. And whether you want to admit it, they often will mimic you. They idolize their parents when they are young, they want to be just like you. And to me, this is terrifying.
I am not perfect in any way, although I do try hard as a parent to do my children right. I made the decision to bring them into this world, so it is my obligation to protect, nurture and care for them, until it is time for them to spread their own wings. Then I will have to wait in the background, ever ready to brush them off when they fall while trying to navigate in this often cruel and hard world.
I find my girls watch me the most. When I got an arrow tattoo on the inside of my finger, my daughter drew an identical one on her finger with a marker. Certain outfits I wear a lot, my girls will also try to dress similar. They want their hair done like mine, their nails painted like mine, and are always asking for a spray of my perfume. Their body language and the way they talk to their siblings and others often reminds me of myself. And now they want to wear makeup because I do. I know that my boys watch and listen, but I think because they are boys, their actions reflect differently than their sisters.
If you’ve read through my posts, you will know that I have started a new chapter in my life. I am in the middle of a divorce, which unfortunately has dragged on for two years, and has not been pleasant in any way. It has been extremely tough, and trying to keep my four children sheltered from the goings on has not always been easy. There are eight ears and eyes always watching. They are emotional, they don’t understand, and they just want things to go back to normal. I just want to be able to find our new normal.
A couple of months ago, something happened that put me in a spot I really didn’t want to be in. My ex decided instead of knocking, to kick my door in to get to me, because he was angry. This is not the first situation where his anger has brought this behavior out in him, but most of the time it could be hidden from the children. Having a door kicked in can not really be hidden. I was lucky to have a friend there with me, because it caused him to back off and settle down very quickly, and I will admit, I was pretty numb to this situation. My friend was very shaken up, and I just kind of shrugged my shoulders. At first, I didn’t do anything, because I didn’t want to “rock the boat” so close to hopefully getting a separation agreement signed so I kept my mouth shut. That’s how numb I was to the situation.
But then something happened. I watched a few days later, as all four of my children looked at the door. They stared at it, and didn’t say a word. I asked them if they knew what happened to the door, and my girls very casually said “daddy and grandma said that daddy got mad and broke the door.” Everything stopped for me in that moment. I looked at these four children of mine, and thought, how have I failed you so much?
I failed my children in this situation. This is not an easy thing to admit to as a parent, but I did. They were not told the full truth, therefore they did not think that there was anything wrong with a door being ‘broken’ like this. And why wouldn’t they believe their dad and grandma? I had to make a decision right then, to make this right. As much as I have tried to shelter and protect them, this was something I would have to explain in more detail. I told them, that that was not true, that daddy didn’t break the door because he was mad, that I had locked the door to keep daddy out and he had kicked it in trying to get to me. I then looked straight at my boys and said: when you become men, and you are strong and sometimes have different emotions flair up, by no means is it ever ok to kick a door in if you are mad at the person standing behind it. Real men do not do that, and I hope to raise you as real men. I then looked at my girls and said: if you are ever scared behind a locked door, and the person on the other side, whether it be your boyfriend, husband, or even just a friend kicks that door down to get to you, you call the cops and then you call me.
And then that’s when it really hit me. I was telling my girls to do something that I didn’t do. I was showing both my boys and girls that this type of behavior is acceptable and that there are no consequences. And to top it off, those sweet children of mine said: but if you were hurt or there was a fire or something, you can kick the door down. They were making excuses. They were mimicking me.
I realized that if I didn’t do anything about this, then in the future, my boys may do the same, not fully realizing the consequences to behavior like this; or my girls might think it’s ok for someone to do this to them, which in turn could end very badly. It has been brushed off by the other adult in this situation, so as a parent, I had to make the decision to show my children that when you do something bad or something bad is done to you, steps will be put into place to either punish you or protect you.
I failed my children this time by not acting right away. I was still trying to protect my ex in some way, and was hoping to keep the waters still to be able to get things finished and move on. But I have more then me to worry about, I have four children that I am raising and sending out into the world, and I would be very ashamed if any of them acted like their father or mother did in this type of situation. I want to raise better humans then that.
And to those friends that provided me with emotional support so I could process through this, thankyou. You don’t know how much I needed your kind words and strength, when I didn’t feel like I had any of my own.
So I urge you, if you are a parent, to remember how much your children watch you, mimic you, and learn from you. Don’t fail them like I did. Teach your boys what it is to be men, how to treat women properly, and help them find safe ways to vent their anger. Teach your girls self love and self respect so that they don’t numb themselves to situations that could be, or have the potential to lead to something much more serious. Sometimes what you think is keeping the waters still, is actually just showing them to keep silent when they shouldn’t be.
Give your children the voices they need to grow into the best versions of themselves. Even if it means doing something you don’t want to do. Because if they don’t have you to rely on for this, who do they have?