Religion at its best

I had what one might call a pretty rigorous religious upbringing. The mandatory family worships every morning and evening and attending church services weekly. My family was at church even when other people weren’t and we did hundreds of hours of volunteer services for the good of the church. Church was never a suggestion, it was a requirement. My parents (bless their hearts) kinda sabotaged my spiritual life, I wasn’t allowed to choose what day I could be baptized on and what my religious beliefs would be.  It was already chosen for me. My beliefs followed me through high school and college due to the extensive  foundation. After graduation from college, I moved 1000 miles away from home and continued to attend church regularly as I had been taught. I found a church and I was very involved. However, as I was going to my graduate school classes and working I realized that I really hadn’t taken the time to develop my own set of beliefs. I learned so much from all my classes and realized that my religious background was ill-equipped to address the questions that arose. I became a bit of a religious wanderer and joined a huge church with 7,000 members and immediately became very involved. I was there at least 4 days out of the week assisting various ministries. But I eventually decided that it wasn’t for me. Needless to say, my upbringing has made me think about how I would like to raise my future children and I have to say it will be much different.

Choices and decisions

Not too long ago I had the experience of being flown in for an interview. I have to admit that it was an experience that I’ve never had before and I enjoyed the opportunity to travel without any personal expense. The position was for a job at my alma mater. It felt so surreal and full-circle to walk the same grounds that I walked as a teenager and be there in a different capacity. All my former professors seemed happy to see me back as a potential colleague. I met with the president and vice president. And all I felt was confined. It wasn’t that the position wasn’t nice or that I felt that it was totally out of my comfort zone. It was the expectations that came along with it. While I had a good college experience, it was also very sheltered. There were multiple rules that had to be followed in order to escape expulsion. While I had a genuine desire to give back, I realized that I didn’t want to teach or enforce rules that I didn’t have any intention of keeping. I appreciate people who are genuine and I knew that I wouldn’t be my best personal self if I felt conflicted between what was expected of me and my own thoughts and opinions. I’ve learned that sometimes the best professional decisions aren’t the best for me personally. I want to be fulfilled in a position but also feel that I can be genuine about my experiences and perspectives while learning from others. You have to learn how to say no to things that won’t benefit you in the long run. Now, to only learn that lesson about men…

Parenting by Guilt

One thing that I’ve noticed or rather observed is the lack of boundaries and structure that some parents today have. While there are several reasons for these actions, one of the causes that I’ve noticed is that of guilt. Going through an unexpected event, a nasty divorce, deciding to go back to school, or even working more hours at work can cause a lot of parental guilt. As a result, and maybe even subconsciously, these parents because extremely permissive and relax most of the structure in their home. This is done because they feel guilty and they want to make up for the time they aren’t spending with their child, their new single parent status or even because they have too many other priorities. However they don’t realize that they’ll end up hurting the kid more than helping him or her. I’ve noticed that extremely permissive parents who enforce no boundaries or structures because of guilt as a child is little, soon find themselves on the edge of sanity once adolescence hits. Their kid doesn’t respect them or take them seriously. They feel guilty about enforcing boundaries because it’s something that they never implemented in the first place. Their pleas for the teenager to change his or her behavior fall on deaf ears because they haven’t established enough rapport or even a relationship that requires mutual respect and communication. These parents often find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place in a situation that could have been avoided if they hadn’t allowed their guilt to get in the way of being a parent. However, family therapy can be a great way to start the process of restructuring some of the family dynamics and even making room for some effective communication along the way.