File Sharing. Parenting 101.

“I never saw my parents hug.”

Last Saturday Barbara and I took a break and sat and snuggled while the children swirled in a dervish. They chattered like birds while eating breakfast and doing chores. Barbara whispered “it is good for them to see this.”

I never saw my parents in this way. I don’t even remember a goodbye peck. They were always separate entities. My father always gone making our ends meet and Mom commanding from the bridge like Captain Kirk. Maybe I came along too late in the line-up. I am number eight out of ten Catholic induced children. I know, it sounds cold, but as I look back I wonder where they would have stopped if my dad were a mere Protestant. Maybe their hugs decreased in direct proportion to the increase of our household population. In any case, their personal space was limited when it came to each other. That’s what I saw.

Does it matter? More importantly, does it matter now? I have been asking myself this question about childhood stuff. So what if my parents weren’t modeling healthy interactions in front of me. So what? I am fifty three and half ‘for crying out loud.’ (I still hear my Mom…) So what? I’ll tell you what, it’s about the files.

I imagine my head as a filing cabinet. I grab my jaw and pull. Out rolls the files from childhood. I look under ‘positive marriage modeling’ and nothing. Not one memory of My Mom and Dad working together. It’s what I experienced, so my default mode is an independent contractor when it comes to marriage and parenting (other areas too.). I have to create files or replace faulty or non-existent files. Sometimes I need help to see what is missing. Thank God for Barbara and a good counselor.

I really don’t want to perpetuate the ‘sins of the father’ but the more I review my skills as a parent, the more I see images of my own parents. By the light of truth telling, my recurring disengagement cast the longest shadow.

My father didn’t have the files either. I know his story. If you look up ‘middle child syndrome’ my father’s picture would be next to its definition. He inadvertently handed me his baggage, and I inadvertently obliged.

So what? So what now? Create files. Hug my wife in the common area of the house for all to see. Tell my kids I love them. With words. Out loud. Simple things really. But files I want to create for my children to pull out when they are adults.

When my children grow older I want them to be able to say ‘I saw my parents hug.’



  1. Ann Monroe says:

    Dear Gerry, thank you for reminding me of this. Both John and I come from stoic and very non demonstrative families. I think for different reasons, but I know that I want things to be different in our house. It is really difficult to learn new things when we seem to be so “pre-programmed” to only do what we have seen modeled. It is also difficult to show physical affection to our adopted kids who seem to have such a disconnect from us…. But, God is bigger, and gives us the spirit of perseverance to not stopped at trying!!!! Thank you Gerry- even though we don’t get see each other – so glad we are family!!!!!!¡ thanks to Collin and Jenny.

  2. Nice. Honest. You can only give what has been modeled for you. As we become aware of what’s missing we try to give but find ourselves empty.

    You thank God for Barbara and I thank God for Todd.

    And we all thank Him for strength to chase another demon away.

    Happy New Mercies Day Jennifer Sent from my iPhone


  3. Loved your file analogy. I’m very glad you have Barbara and your kids have you both. So thankful our Father in Heaven can break generational curses, and make us into parents our children will have good memories about. A touching piece of writing, though sad, was also honest and true.

  4. Between Dad’s firefighting job and all the miscellaneous jobs he picked up to support his family, it’s a wonder we saw him at all. I have my favorite picture of him on my desk. He’s sleeping in a chair.

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