On the occasion of my High School graduation, when I was 17, my minister gave me a copy of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. Already knowing I would be taking psychology courses at university, and that I was interested in figuring everything out, everything that still puzzled me, such as why my father was so angry much of the time, I found in The Prophet, a passage that my minister had earlier quoted from the pulpit.
I found this liberating. I knew that I, and other boys I knew, had been damaged by their parents, frightened, and misled, almost always by their fathers, but I knew that mothers could harm their children, because my father talked about what his mother had done to him, beginning with favoring his younger brother, but more, and worse.
As I went along, I picked up other quotations about parenting.
I had been working on my psychological problem for 10 years, when I met Deborah, my future wife. As we got closer, we talked about family, and whereas her family had some peculiarities, it was essentially loving. Mine had some peculiarities too, but also a kind of tyranny, and belittlement. I recognized that and shared with her my promise to myself that I would break the chain of inheritance on my side. I believed that one’s inheritance usually contains the gifts necessary to overcome the deficits. And that turned out to be partly true, but I was unable to prevent part of my not-so-good inheritance from being passed on.
I wish that were true in more cases. But Ralph Waldo Emerson observed:
I was never physically violent with my four children, but excessive correction, and impatience are forms of emotional violence, and I regret having done as much of that as I did. They are happy with many of the things I taught them, especially how to drive stick shift, and double-clutch, and how to build a campfire strong enough to dry out rain-soaked wood.
Rev. Leland Bond-Upson