Personal Achilles Heels

Sister Donna, 13 years older than me, said, “You realize each of us five kids had a different mother. You being the youngest, you got the best of her.”
“Ya think?” I said, “Maybe by the time I came along, mom was either too tired or too confident to worry about a bunch of rules.”
Branching out while still under the protection of the parent.

Branching out while still under the protection of the parent.

I did, in fact, have rules. However, they were agreements because Mom and I worked them out together. I respected the boundaries because I understood Mom’s concerns and she respected mine. As a teen, I appreciated having an adult’s trust and didn’t want to damage it. Living and maturing within the structures of OUR guidelines, I was free to discover my mettle.

Then I set out in the world. I discovered a down side to having this style of parenting. The world wanted to tell me what to do.  It didn’t exercise the fairness of my Mom. I faced a new learning curve.
The worst offender was my brother Richard, 10 years older than me. Even years later his autocratic approach dominated our relationship.  When Mom and Dad retired, they came to my husband’s and my location, bought a small house and organized a corporation of caregivers.  My role was to pitch in when help was needed and, otherwise, be their support in managing their lives.
As Mom and Dad aged and health became more of an issue,  I’d share my concerns with my siblings. Richard would quickly respond with, “You better… You should… You hafta…” along with all sorts of instructions.
I’d tear a strip off him and tell him to keep his suggestions to himself unless he was planning to come and carry them out.  He’d end up confused and I’d avoid talking to him.  As my Achilles heel, he represented a society insistent upon foisting opinions and orders on others at the first sign of any need. I didn’t like the fact that he, and those like him in society, had the power to push my too-sensitive button.
Yet I loved him. He was my big brother. While holding a number of hero qualities, he was also bossy enough to have me spitting at him in minutes. While resenting the idea of more conflict, I knew I had to defend myself. I decided to take the next opportunity to open this issue with him.
Finally one day, Richard and I were alone.  I began by admitting that I loathed being angry with him.  He listened and surprisingly, like Mom, he showed respect for my reasoning.  For once, I felt more than just “the little sister”.
Since then, we engage in conversation much better.  Instead of a battle of wills, we’re both better listeners. The button has quietly dissipated – with him as well as with others who give orders. I no longer feel determined to be heard by them.
What prompted this peek into my family life?
Having been raised in an environment full of freedom, it taught me to work with others, especially in areas that directly affected my life.  I grew a brand of confidence and courage that has helped me face many different challenges in life.  Since I have no children of my own, I often wonder about the effects of “helicopter parenting”.
My heart goes out to the young people who grew under the constant attention of parents.  How do they gain and test self empowerment?  Will these “Helicopter Kids/Young Adults” know how to take responsibility for their lives or will they carry an expectation that the world will keep hovering over them?
Or are they learning other skills to help them deal with the Achilles heels with more grace and far less frustration?
Which came first: Drones or Helicopter Parenting?

Which came first:   Helicopter Parenting  or Drones?

***  A few days later…an article has come to my attention that describes how some “helicopter kids” are being “inspirationals”:

Click Here

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14 thoughts on “Personal Achilles Heels

  1. The very fair upbringing you had was wonderful in the home but never prepares you for outside.Society is too hidebound to allow for the negotiation in how to live. I imagine there must be a lot of culture shock though for those cosseted at home who get no idea of what to expect when they venture out as an adult.
    Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    • Someone in the USA must have decided to poke fun at our Cdn weather, David, and they made the US Thanksgiving a month after ours. It rubs in the fact that Mother Earth stores their root veggies while we are scurrying to harvest them and find storage space. 😀

      “Fair” is an interesting word – pregnant with connotation. I don’t recall thinking of Mom as ‘fair’…more that she was intelligent and wise. Interesting…

  2. What a marvelous post, Amy. I have an older sibling with whom I have given up ever having a conversation. I recognize that half the problem is my own response to her style of communication. But I haven’t grown up enough yet to smother that knee that flies up into my face even in written correspondence with her. I applaud your ability to confront a difficult issue like that. And I’m glad that your brother listened and matched your efforts with efforts of his own.

    Helicopter kids. Yeah. I wonder. My mom used to say that the pendulum always swings as far as it can go in one direction before it comes back to middle ground and then heads in the opposite direction. I think Helicopter parenting may be the pinnacle response to the 60s & 70s parents who were still drugged out kids themselves and raised their kids in communes. (Of course I can say that because I never had any kids ;-/)

    • My suspicions (emphasis on the “non-scientific”) about helicoptering have been that it began with the raging fear of strangers. Then, the protectionism naturally plummeted into the minutiae of children’s lives.

      Hey, the concept of “smother that knee that flies up into my face” is foreign to me. Is it easy to explain – or, do you have a good link to an explanation?

  3. Family dynamics fascinate. I am a middle child. Neither of my brothers speaks to me. The older one because I refused to allow him to bully me into choosing him over my husband. The younger one because it is the only way he can have his brother be a part of his life. It occurs to me that we are living out our mother’s legacy…she whose sons could do no wrong and whose daughter wasn’t worthy…of anything. I confess I am about 95% over their exclusion of me.

  4. I just had a young man staying with me for three months, he was from France, he had exactly that same problem – his mother was all over him – trying to scrunch all 6 foot of him into a box – it was as though she were married to her son – wanting every single detail of his life to revolve around her likes and dislikes. When she came to visit and started to shout at him about something (I don’t know – hat on at the table or something, dirty shoes -) anyway Hugo made a big calming sigh and took her to my board where The Rules are written for everyone – among them No Shouting, No name calling, etc, Number 4 he said Number 4, she could not read English but he was pointing to LISTEN to OTHERS! Funny. I am glad you and your brother were able to talk -funny how talking works – I need to do that with my bully of a sister! c

    • Observing that mother must have been very painful for you. I sat that after gaining a strong sense – from your writings – of how you give your ‘children’ space. I sense your pleasure in discovering them – both now and in the past while they had wobbly souls.

      Sometimes bullies are such cowards that when we blow on them, their mask hits their face and knocks some sense into them.

      BTW, have I told you lately how much I respect you? Anyone who practices husbandry in a manner which you portray has to hailed as a hero. I love seeing one of my local friends sharing your posts routinely on her FB wall. I hope she discovered you through mine – just a little “giving back”.

    • Oh darling Celi: how did the ‘psychologist’ in me know at the time : yet I knew . . . just looking at the parents . . .Hugo will always ‘be there’ . . with us . . . and we shall always be with you and with him!

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