Author: Randi

Unemotional Divorce

No one expects to get divorced.  By the time that becomes a viable option, things have become pretty bad.  It’s a wrenching decision, especially if you have children.   There is no getting around the fact that it turns their world upside down.  I remember as a child praying in my bed that my parents would not get divorced, as listened to them fighting and screaming downstairs.  As upsetting as the fighting was, the idea of divorce was even worse. Well, that was over 50 years ago and divorce is not that uncommon in the present time.  That doesn’t mean it’s any easier emotionally, though.  And this is where the biggest problem lies. Once a person has made the decision to end the marriage, the relationship has been pretty damaged.  In fact, in Connecticut, the law says you must attest to the fact that it has “irretrievably broken down,” as in, “it’s never coming back.”  We all know what a broken-down car is and we don’t waste time wishing that the car would behave differently.  But when a couple is getting divorced, there is a lot of wishful thinking that enters the scene.  Please remember that the problems you had IN the marriage will increase exponentially during the process of ENDING the marriage, and perhaps even beyond that.  It’s not a process that brings out the best in anyone. I got...

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Parenting Angrily #unfiltered

I was raised in an angry family.  My parents fought a lot.  It was very clear to me at a young age that my mother disapproved of my father’s gambling, and my father disapproved of my mother’s close relationship with her siblings.  There was not a lot of restraint when things got heated and family members expressed their displeasure. I’m happy to report that no one ever said, “You’re stupid,” or “You’re ugly,” or cursed at the children of the family.  My parents never used the “F” word.  However, there were lots of other ways to verbally attack, including a constant litany of nasty quips and remarks.  Once I cried while I confided in my mother that I felt like I didn’t have any friends.  The next time I displeased her, she said, “No WONDER you don’t have any friends.” I vowed to be different.  I was going to enthusiastically support my kids in whatever they were interested in doing and pursuing.  I was going to understand their foibles and weaknesses and not exploit them.  If they made childish mistakes, I would be patient and tolerant, unlike my father who made me write “I will think before I act” 100 times, after I accidentally dropped an egg (I was probably 8 or 9 at the time). Whether learned or genetic, anger was programmed into me as my default emotion. ...

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Raised by a Connecticut Working Mom: True Confessions

I had the exciting opportunity to interview two men, each of whom survived his childhood being raised by a Connecticut Working Mom.  Find out what mattered to them and what did not, whether they were scathed or unscathed, and how all the things we all worry about constantly regarding our kids and their growing up experiences are viewed through the eyes of these adult survivors! D is a 34-year-old systems administrator at a Connecticut company.  He is married and has one child, with one more on the way.  A is a 29-year-old manufacturing engineer who lives in Rhode Island with his wife, who is expecting their first child. Me:  Thank you for giving moms your perspective on what it was like to have a mother who worked outside the home while she was raising you.  This is an important service you are providing, because there is so much angst among the moms I know about whether they are doing the right thing, no matter what it is they are doing!  Here are my questions: What made you first realize that your mother had to go to work (instead of staying home with you)? A:  Since I can’t really remember all the way back from when she went from staying home with me to going to work, it just became the norm. D:  I need help remembering this. I think my...

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Who Makes the Rules?

Families are complicated.  There are power structures in place that we can see, but often the real bases of power are disguised.  Sometimes the weakest-appearing person is really the one in charge.  I have long been interested in the effects within a family when one member has an impairment.  I knew several people who had a disabled sibling and the entire family revolved around that sibling.  The impact on the so-called “normal” child was very profound, but each one was trained never to talk about it.  It was all about deferring to the impaired child’s needs and always feeling sorry for that child’s plight.  Nothing bad that happened to the non-impaired child could ever compare to the tragedy the sibling lived with on a daily basis.  That was the constant mantra in that family. This happens in other less obvious family situations too.  As you may have noticed, some families are so adverse to their child having a public tantrum that they will do anything to avoid it.  They don’t realize that the child is just asking to be stopped!  The child wants her parents to set a limit so she knows how far she can go and what behavior is safe to do and what is not.  In those families, that child is running the show and the parents are pawns in the game.  That is unfortunate. When...

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Who Are You?

I never knew my maternal grandparents.  They died before I was born.  My paternal grandparents were around for a long time, but they weren’t the type to tell stories about their lives.   I was curious but they weren’t forthcoming. I tried to get my dad to talk about his growing up years, but he was too busy being silly and making jokes.  My mother would never talk about her childhood.  She found it painful for numerous reasons.  I did learn about her summer camp experience and she would sing the songs.  “Green Lane girls are high-minded, Bless their souls they’re double-jointed….” Maybe it just wasn’t in style back then to think about where you came from and how you got here.  After all, the book Roots didn’t come out until 1976.  Whatever the reason, I knew some names but not much else. When the ancestor-finding websites started popping up, I found copies of the 1930 census, each name handwritten, and could find my parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles.  That was quite cool.  But that was pretty much it – the end of the road.   I’m not sure what made me pick up the search again, but I have discovered those websites have become a lot more sophisticated and detailed.  I have spent the last few weeks getting to know my extended extended EXTENDED family, electronically that is. So my...

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