Interview with Gabriella: ” The only thing I learned was the Southern Baptist way.”

Ouch.  That’s what I was thinking while interviewing Gabriella.  As far as the perfection/cleanliness obsession goes, I’m a lot like her mother. I’m thankful for Gabriella’s honesty–it gives me  insight into what my kids might think about me after they are grown.  We see here, though, that grandchildren can bring some healing into the parent/adult child relationship.

What’s your age? 

33

Are both of your parents living?

Yes

What’s their marital status?

Married, 37 years

How many siblings do you have?

One sister

How often do you see your parents?

Twice a month

What are some of the ways you spend time together? 

Going to sporting events, football, softball, dinner, taking my daughter different places to do stuff with her.  We go to the beach a lot.

On a scale of one to ten, how much do you enjoy their company?

I was always Daddy’s girl, for sure.  My dad and I have that silent rapport together.  He’s a 10, I’d say.  A 7 for my mom because I’m more like her and we wind up butting heads a lot.  But, she’s been my savior since my daughter was born, so I put up with more.

Does spending time with them as a unit affect the dynamic of the visit?

No, it usually makes it better.  If I spend too much time with my mother, I’m ready to go home.

What are some of the positive aspects of your relationship with them?

It was a benefit to me to be raised in a Christian home.  I was raised under strict discipline and to take care and pride of anything that I own.  In retrospect, there were a lot of times I was frustrated at how strict they were, but now I am proud and it has prepared me for motherhood.

What are some of the negative aspects of your relationship with them?

Because they were so strict, I didn’t feel like I could be honest and open with them.  I’m thankful for the religious background that I have, but there was a lot of guilt and lying because I was afraid to mess up.

Which is weightier, the positive or negative?

Positive.  I have a good relationship with them.  We’ve never been estranged; my mother is just black and white.

What are some of the aspects that contributed to a healthy relationship as adults?

Always keeping Christianity in your life, really taking the moral lessons that my parents taught me with me.  My dad has only told me that he loves me three times in my life, but now that I have my daughter, he always tells me.  He is a quiet man.  I always felt loved, but it wasn’t a touchy-feely family.  I’m trying to instill affection in my relationship with my daughter.  But, respect is what holds us all together.

What do you wish they had done differently?

I wish they would have shown me more physical affection, but they were always busy.  But they might not be those people, anyway.  I wish they had been more open with me and shared things with me.  I’m a more liberal thinker, and more world views and issues would have been good.  The only thing I learned was the Southern Baptist way.

How well do you relate to your sister?

We are only 18 months apart.  I see benefits and negatives to that.  We are much closer now that we don’t live together.  We can talk about anything. Growing up, we fought and she was my shadow and I didn’t like it.  I found out that in college, she felt that she was in my shadow and that she wouldn’t been as good as me at anything.

Does she share your same reflections on your parents?

I would think so.  She didn’t have as close a relationship to my father as I did, though.

Can you share a defining moment with your parents?

Growing up, I was always outside.  Mom pretty much made me that way because she would lock us outside while she cleaned.  I was practicing the piano and I knocked a plant off the piano.  She yelled at me about getting dirt on the floor. When she would get mad at us, she would be passive aggressive, in a room yelling and cussing at any other family member for making a mess while we could all hear her.  She would do it intentionally instead of coming directly to us and confronting us about it.

Has anything happened in recent history with them to change how you felt about them as a child?

When I was 16, my mother brought my sister and I to my room and told me she had had an affair on my father.  Those were some really dark years and I hated her for a  long time.  It happened when I was 10—I can even think back to the day because my parents never fought or yelled at each other. But, that day I heard it.  My dad said he was going to stay with my grandmother, but he stayed, I think, because of us.  I can’t imagine how we would have turned out if my parents had divorced when I was 10.

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