Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Product of A Broken Home or Product of An Awesome God: Addressing The Absentee Parent in You

Being from a broken, polygamous, single parent home, with only my mum as immediate family; when it came to marriage and parenting I had my work cut out for me. Thankfully, through it all, I think I gathered enough experience to pursue one very important goal: How not to become anything like my parents (at least not in the area of relationships) and a personal resolve not to be an absentee parent. If you, too, want to avoid this or if you think you might be taking on the traits of your own absentee parent, maybe this can help you drop those bad habits before they hurt you or people you love.

The aim of this article is not to delve too deeply into the how or why of what got us to this point. Rather, I hope to bring your attention to several characteristics or personality traits possessed by people who had an absentee parent while growing up. If we can identify the garbage in our own characters, we can take steps to throw it out before it overflows and we end up passing our unhealthy traits on to someone else.


Adult children of absentee parents are as varied as any other demographic group on the planet, but it has come to my attention and that of other resarchers that this particular group shares certain characteristics. I’ve outlined what I feel are the most important and potentially damaging of these characteristics. I’ll tell you how these traits negatively affected me, and then tell you how you, as an alert and responsible adult, might avoid these pitfalls in your own life and thus become better prepared for parenthood yourself.

Blame Games: When evaluating your character, it’s important not to play the blame game. (I was so guilty of this). It’s good to be able to identify your own deficiencies and how they developed, but in the end, you alone who are responsible for fixing them. I am convinced that God equips us with ways of dealing with events and circumstances beyond our control but it is so much easier to play the blame game and lean back.

Attention Addiction: You know all that attention that my parents couldn’t give me? Well, I found it elsewhere. All of the relationship building that should have been happening between my parents and I was instead happening with people who did not have my best interests at heart, to put it mildly. But because I was so eager to find acceptance and belonging, I couldn’t see straight, and I put my faith and loyalty in people who did not deserve it. Every kid makes some bad choices regarding friends when growing up — it’s all a part of learning to judge character. But when the bad relationship choices extend into your adult life, you’re inviting disappointment and outright heartache.

Obsession with Perfectionism: Something was wrong with me, there must have been. Why else would all the other kids go home after school to houses with both mums and dads, while I walked back to an empty house or a babysitter because my mum was busy working 10 or 12-hour shifts to support us? It’s easy for a kid to get down on him or herself without the proper support, and trying harder to correct your perceived faults isn’t the answer. In fact, trying harder to “fix” myself probably just contributed to my self-loathing, since, given that I was not the cause of the problem, I was predestined to fail at repairing it.

Validation Syndrome: Are you the kind of person who obsesses and needs validation over every little decision? Chocolate or vanilla? Staple or paper clip? I was like this, too. Please believe me when I say that this kind of thinking does no good for anyone, least of all you. You know all those jobs you’re thinking about applying to that require “independent thinking?” Well, that’s not a description of you if you’re going to be constantly running to the boss with trifles. You know deep down what’s good for you and what’s not; what constitutes work well done and what amounts to a shoddy job. Do you really need to seek someone else’s opinion for such trivial matters? Take stock of the situation and the information at hand and make a decision. Be your own person. Make mistakes and learn from them. You’ll savour your victories even more.

Many people will attribute a lot, to one's upbringing (or the lack thereof) and family back ground. However, what I know is that it is our personal responsibility to fulfil the purpose for which God created each of us.

One reason it is essential to join a Gospel-based church is because it gives you a chance to get involved with people who share the same beliefs and even if you never had a Father, a strong relationship with God will eventually show you that God always intended to be your perfect Father. There is no use in becoming the poster child "product of a broken home" when you can be identified as Product of an Awsome God!

Ijeoma Olujekun

2 comments:

  1. Ijeoma, so much thanks to you for such a piece. Of a truth, one way or the other, this write-up isn't just for people who have lost one or both parents but for also for those who have their but can't even feel their presence, love or care! Thanks for this once again. It really helped!

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  2. Justice you couldn't be more right. There are so many parents who are there physically, however their presence isn't felt emotionally and otherwise.

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