Friday, January 24, 2020

Creating Shared, Positive Memories for Children

My parents first separated when I was going into 6th grade, or about 11 years old. They eventually divorced. My older sister was about 4 years older than me and my younger brother was about two years younger than me.

We were raised by my father.

My father was largely absent. I would say due to work, but even after he's been retired, he's still entirely uninterested on getting to know his children on a personal level. So we'll just say he was mainly absent.

One thing I recognize is just how little my dad attempted to create shared, fun experiences with his children. We never went on a vacation with him. No fishing trips. No movies together. Not even many restaurants. We had always gone on vacations together with my mother who was estranged.

As we went into college, we ended up moving to different States and started families apart from one another. We all have inter-racial children.

My older sister was placed as the role of the disciplinarian and enforcer because my father used her as a surrogate mother. One time my sister punched me in the face when I basically told her she's not my mother and had no right to tell me what to do.

Instead of a childhood filled with siblings sharing fond memories together, we have memories of fighting and unhappiness.

All of us are very distant from each other and hardly talk. Our worldviews are very different.

We reunited for a Cruise with my mother who we had since reestablished contact.

The dinners were very awkward because my siblings couldn't really mention anything about the limited good memories we had as children that linked us together because it had something to do with my step-mom's side of the family. My mother didn't want to hear anything about THAT woman, or her side of the family.

The spouses had nothing in common with one another because they were all from different cultures.

We would find ourselves periodically having to stop our story mid sentence, or think very carefully before mentioning a story which would pop into memory. It was incredibly laborious, unpleasant, and tiresome.

We just simply did not have many shared experiences together as children or adults for that matter to be able to have a pleasant experience with one another. We all have our own families, conflicting worldviews, and live far apart from one another.

It's natural for people to not get along with each other, but if they have enough shared, positive experiences together in the past, it can at least be tolerable to be in the same room with another person and even pleasant. It's like seeing an old childhood friend and you can reminiscence about the good, old days. You can just skip discussing your differences with their current worldview. Focus on the positive.

When individuals have such different worldviews and interests, it's just an awkward, unpleasant experience. I find it entertaining to challenge worldviews and assumptions, but they don't appreciate it, and their spouses definitely don't.

My children will have many fond memories with one another, such as:

- Skiing
- Karaoke
- Starting a Band
- Go-Pro Footage
- Boating
- Paintball
- Shooting
- Hunting
- Reading together
- Board Games
- LAN Parties
- Dining Out
- Gardening
- Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
- Traveling

There's a lot more, but you get the idea. They will have so many photos and videos to keep them occupied, they won't have time to talk about the more controversial items. They would had also been able to do so many activities together, they would have a pretty good idea of activities they enjoy doing together.

What will be interesting is to see how my children will have to hide many of the incredible experiences they have with me from their mother so as not to hurt her. The mere mention of my name or sight of my face continues to emotionally trigger her as it does my own mother (with her ex-husband).

When they are around me, I will want to know about all the things they enjoy, even if it's with their mother, so that I can better understand and cater our activities around what they love most. I will want to know what they learn as they will continue and be home educated by their mother as well. I will want to know what they learn about from church that they go to with their mother so that we can talk about it more.

They will see I am curious and open to knowing the things that bring them pleasure without concern about judgment or how it hurts my feelings.

This sentiment will not be reciprocated and after a certain number of years, the kids will have no choice but to distance themselves from a relationship where they have to guard their heart from.

Imagine if they discover 80% of the activities they love they end up doing with me, or even making money with me. Now imagine they can never mention or hint at 80% of these activities because of how intertwined I am with that. And many of these things may be what they are most passionate about. When the kids are together with their mother within hearing, they can't have relaxed, fun conversations with one another over shared experiences they had out of concern it will offend their mother.

Imagine having to hide what you are most passionate and excited about from your own mother because of how much it will offend her. How close of a relationship can you have? It will be, at best, a guarded one.

I've experienced this before, and it's simply not something I would ever want to endure for longer than a single meal. At a certain point, I can no longer allow someone else's bitterness have any control over my life. The whiff of Gamma disgusts me. But then again, this is me, and we'll see if my predictions come true.

My frame of reference is narrow.

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