The Parent Rating Scale
Early Days Of My Youth
I recently took a walk down memory lane remembering the early days of my youth. More specifically about what kind of parents I had. Were they good parents or bad? How does someone rate the job their parents did anyway? Is there a parent rating scale?
For me, these questions were difficult to answer. Much of what I remember of my early years is a jig saw puzzle. I remember bits and pieces hard to place in any chronological order. Our family moved so many times occasionally I’m not sure what happened when or where.
I only have one vague memory of my biological dad. I must have been about 3 years old and I was told we were in Houston or Dallas Texas at someplace called Winwood Swim Club then. My mother had already divorced him.
According to mom and the public opinion poll dad wasn’t a very nice guy. But, at the swim club he had apparently been stalking us since he lived in Framingham, MA. I only remember a dark haired stranger who picked me up. Then mom rushed forward and screamed at him to put me down. So I have to assume he wasn’t a good parent. Suffice it to say he was addicted to drugs and alcohol and could definitely use some anger management courses. Fidelity also wasn’t his strong suit
Then Came Step Dad
Then came step dad. He was a young Airman in the Air Force. My earliest recollection of our first meeting was at 4 years old when he picked us up at a train station and we began our new life in Warner Robbins, GA. I have mixed emotions about him at this stage of my life.
There are fond memories of him happily playing with us and also a few bad ones. One was an incident where mom and he were having a heated argument. I could only gather the fight had something to do with my biological dad because he grabbed me, ripped off a pair of shorts I was wearing and angrily threw them at mom. I believe he had a jealous streak. My childhood at this point however, was mostly of good memories.
As we grew a little older, my two brothers, sister and I were subjected to more and more strict discipline. We weren’t perfect little angels mind you, but as children go we weren’t demon possessed either. Often the punishment we received for our behavioral indiscretions didn’t fit the crime.
There were four children by mom’s first marriage. I was the middle child. Later, we were joined by two half brothers. As they became older it seemed they received more preferential treatment. It wasn’t right, but understandable. I can only remember a few times he ever hugged or said he loved us without it sounding rehearsed. He wasn’t big on showing affection.
No Major Problems With Mom
I never had any major problems with mom and disciplinary measures. With her we usually got what we deserved. But I do know she didn’t always agree with dad’s methods. I remember at six years old dad sent me to bed without supper for accidently breaking a window next to my bed while taking a nap. Mom waited for dad to go to bed and then secretly brought supper to my room. That memory is kept close to my heart.
Don’t get the idea my step dad was an ogre. His ideas on child rearing may have been archaic and sometimes very harsh but I honestly believe he was doing his best. However, his strapping’s usually left welts and bruises. He just didn’t have good parenting skills.
His father believed in not sparing the rod and was a stern supporter of the wood shed philosophy which obviously he passed on to him. That and the fact he had spent most of his adult life in a military environment, resulted in his strategies of raising children. I remember a large intimidating leather razor strop he kept hanging by the door.
On the other hand he was an excellent provider. We never wanted for any basic necessities. In fact we were better off than most. With dad being a serviceman we were raised on military bases where dependents had access to many conveniences and services not available to our civilian counterparts. Things like affordable access to the Base Exchange, theater, bowling alley, swimming pool and infinitum. In addition we got to see the world. All of these things were fine and well, but if a child doesn’t feel loved by one or both of their parents, the rest doesn’t mean much.
So, as each of us became old enough we one by one left the nest as early as possible. My sister, the oldest, married at 16. The next oldest brother joined the Army at 17. I ran away at 16 and later joined the military on my 18th birthday.
After dad retired from the Air Force he eventually ended up working with mom at a home for sexually abused children. It was there dad became aware of all the mistakes he had made in raising us. Dad had always been Christian but then he became a devout one. We could see the difference in him as he walked the walk. We all forgave him.
Dad passed away not long ago and I only remember the good times. Life is too short to dwell on the past.