PREVIOUS: ACoAs’ Need for Revenge
See ACRONYM pg. for abbrev.
• This is normal for the teen years, when you’re trying to figure out who you are, what you want to do ‘when you grow’ up, that you’re not a carbon copy of your parents (yuck), wanting to be part of your peer group, etc.
• In a reasonably healthy family you’re given a certain amount of leeway in this, to grow & stretch. Healthy parents are not threatened by this stage – even if it makes them uncomfortable & a little nuts. They know you are a separate person & have to find your own way.
• It doesn’t mean they neglect you, ignore what you’re doing or just don’t care to be bothered. It means they’re watching & waiting, and caring, but not overly imposing themselves on you.
• When you’re allowed to be different from your folks, when you can disagree with their politics, religion, philosophy of life, or just plain – what to wear – eventually you get to find out what you really like & don’t like, who the real you is!
• Kids with this kind of freedom, eventually (usually by their 20’s) find that they do in fact agree with some of what they grew up around – the values, the tastes, the lifestyle… even if expressed in their own personal way. AND the ways in which they are different from their parents is accepted & maybe even admired – or at least respected.
However – if you’re reading this, you probably didn’t grow up in that kind of family! As ACoAs:
a. Neglected : if we were ignored, unguided, un-nurtured – we would, of course, be left with a lot of anger, sadness, loneliness & a deep sense of powerlessness. As kids, we would have concluded that we didn’t matter, were invisible, had no reason to do anything for ourselves & are incompetent anyway.
• Maybe a relative or someone in our neighborhood or school took an interest in us & helped some – but it’s not the same as having our parents explain thing, show us by example & help us try out things. Everything from personal hygiene, cooking, house repairs, arts & recreation, social skills – to homework, relationships, spiritual practice….
✶ Our Reaction – THEN: We spent a lot of time alone, daydreaming, hiding out, reading, studying, maybe hanging out with neighbors or a friend – but not likely.
NOW: ACoAs in this group don’t accomplish a lot, don’t try hard, don’t pursue dreams, goals, talents, interests … in spite of being just as talented, intelligent & capable as any other human being. After all, if our parents couldn’t be bothered to teach us how to do all the things kids need to know, how can we possibly manage anything ourselves!
• This may not seem like rebellion – but it is. It’s passive resistance: “If they didn’t take care of me, I’m not going to take care of me!”. True, there’s fear, there’s a deep sense of not knowing how, but the refusal to try comes from rage, which underpins the passive rebellion. Even so, some of us were told
that they love us – even tho they rarely or never show it. Actually WE are the ones who love them – desperately, no matter how cruel & neglectful. We’re the ones who don’t want to let go!
b. Over-Coerced : At the other extreme, many of us were bullied, over-controlled, manipulated – forced to do & be whatever one or both parents (& other caretakers) wanted, with little or no regard to our individual personality.
• As kids we were considered ‘tabula raza’ – that’s Latin for blank slate. Parents of the baby boomer generation (& before) were taught that children come into this world with no identity or personality & it’s up to the parents to form them according the what’s ‘right’ – to write on the blank slate as they wished.
• Alcoholic & other narcissistic parents, who by definition had low self-esteem & fear of abandonment (FoA) themselves, could not tolerate any sign of individuality in their children. which was truly believed to indicate disobedience, deliberate disrespect & even perversion!
➼ ACTUALLY, what we know now is that each child is born with their own definite personality type, their own genetic makeup (even twins are different in this way) their own predisposition & style – which then interacts with their environment, in their own unique way!
NEXT: Rebellion vs COMPLIANCE (Part 2)