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Abuse not needed

Dear Steve,

I know about parents. The reason is that I’ve had such a rugged time with mine. Not just them, but also the siblings mired so deeply in the family diseases. God bless them. I’m glad I don’t have to walk in those shoes.

As I look back now, I see my poor parents were inundated. Hardly adults themselves, they had nothing to go on but what they learned. Growing up in houses filled with tension, strict religion, and inept personal relationships, they were hardly armed to deal with kids, work, house, and community. In essence, they repeated the patterns of abuse and belief they knew as children.

So, after many years of being on the same path (I drank heavily from the time I was 13 until I was 27), I find that I have been able to build a good family using the negative, how-not-to-be lessons combined with the positive, how-to-be ones. I believe people shouldn’t hit one another and, really, should allow their family members to explore and experiment. Control, I think, is best left to nuclear power plant operators.

I’ve allowed my daughter, who has really been the joy of my life (along with Billi), room to move around without letting her run wild. When she was growing up, things were tough. We had little money. But using my experience from childhood, we got on very well with little. We still had fun and fashioned our own toys from what we had. We did projects with paper and wood. We built popsicle houses. We took long walks and spent a lot of time in the park.

In other words, I understood my father’s frustrations and reactions to them and did everything I could to keep from following the same path. I tried to be close to but father-like with Max, without being distant. I have tried to spend time with her, and even if I have not been perfect at it, we have a great relationship.

In addition, I never hit Max, and I believe she has had the right balance (for her) of freedom and discipline. Moreover, as much I as I could, I have tried to be consistent and confident myself, and always encouraged her and never treated her as a burden.

I find a great deal of joy in my family, and we are particularly suited to have Jackie in our family (now three years!): Two sober parents, 18 year old who has a level head and is fair to others. We have a great deal to share, and bringing up another child will fulfills Billi’s desire for a child and help to put to use our great store of love and understanding.

1. When I am tired and overworked, I take a nap. I try to make sure I keep to one thing at a time to keep from being overwhelmed, and I try to understand that tired and overworked are temporary, not permanent. With this in mind, I am usually able to find the energy to complete the task or put it down for another day.

2. When I am frightened or worried, I deal with whatever I am frightened of worried about head on. I walk into the fear because the state of being worried, anxious, or scared is a whole lot less pleasant and productive than dealing with the situation and moving through it.

3. When I just don’t like what is happening, I take a deep breath and try to get a new look on it. If it is something I think is wrong, I will do my part of put an end to it. If I have had a part in the conflict, I try to resolve that.

3. When my children misbehave and I am all of the above, I try to remember to step out and make sure I am calm rather than reactive. I attempt to explain what my burden may be and, then, try to understand or get them to explain theirs, so we can get through the issue all together.

Violence is not tolerated.

Keep your chin high and take off your hat to no one, Steve. I’m with you all the way.

Love always,
Patrick

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