I envision Constance growing up in a home full of calm, a completely different experience than the one I had. It’s something that I long to model, as well as the engaged listening.
What’s your age?
I’m knocking at 40’s door.
Are both of your parents living?
What’s their marital status?
How many siblings do you have?
How often do you see your parents?
A few times a month
What are some of the ways you spend time together?
Mom: As a child- working together (chores/garden work), school activities/sports, church activities (she was often the choir director or youth sponsor), running errands together (we spent a lot of time talking in the car.) Now- talking (we talk almost every day on the phone), attending my own children’s events, (if she’s at my house) doing chores together.
Dad: As a child- tennis, basketball, running in the morning, listening to classical music together, helping him at church with his ministry. Now- going on field trips with my kids and me, helping out with my small business, my children’s basketball games (sitting next to him is the best seat in the house), going to history movies or museum exhibits together.
On a scale of one to ten, how much to you enjoy their company?
Does spending time with them as a unit effect the dynamic of the visit?
I actually prefer them separate if I can get it. My mom can be very dominant, and my dad is content just to sit back and listen. I feel like it’s harder to spend time with him when my mom is around. But together, I still enjoy their company.
What are some of the positive aspects of your relationship with them?
I’ve never felt unloved or unaccepted. Sure, I’ve done some stupid things in life, but they’ve let me own those. They are interested not in what I do, but who I am. I don’t feel like I have to achieve anything or reach certain goals to know that they are proud of me. They don’t try to define me. They have given me a rich heritage of faith, and we talk often about what the Lord is doing in our lives.
What are some of the negative aspects of your relationship with them?
I think that sometimes, because we are so close, my mom tries to get me to be her go-between in raising issues with my dad or sisters. Usually it is something health related like, “You should tell your dad that he needs to see a doctor about….”
Which is weightier, the positive or negative?
What are some of the aspects that contributed to a healthy relationship as adults?
My mom and dad never checked out as parents. They keep in regular contact with me and ask specific questions about what is going on in my life and what concerns me. I know that they pray for me. They never complain or act put out about my kids (there are 7 of them) or tell me how to raise them (though I do get the occasional suggestions.) They live a distance away (about an hour) and make a huge effort to travel to see us on a regular basis. “We just thought we’d stop by for a visit” is the phrase.
What do you appreciate most about their parenting?
They have set the best example I know of honoring their own parents. They cared for each of their ailing parents a total of 22 years under their own roof. It was a physical, emotional and financial sacrifice, but they modeled it for me in a way that speaks volumes. Experiencing that in both my childhood and adulthood, makes me sit up and appreciate them as parents. I’m proud of them.
I appreciate that they have always listened. Though we haven’t always agreed, they made it clear that they wanted to hear what was in my heart. I could express it and they love me all the more.
What do you wish they had done differently?
I do wish that my dad had been more accessible growing up. He worked a lot and had many responsibilities at home and church. I loved being near him as a child, but don’t think I began having conversations with him until late high school.
How well do you relate to your siblings?
My oldest sister and I were not close while we lived at home, largely because of her difficult relationship with my mom at the time. Over the years we have become close friends. My two younger sisters and I are close as well. We spend time together weekly and can rely on each other with regularity.
Do you think they share your same reflections on your parents?
I think we all have our own story to tell about mom and dad. They did a fantastic job as seeing us as individuals, so each of our relationships is different. None of us have ever been estranged from our parents, but there have been some definite moments of rebellion and conflict that were not resolved overnight. I think we would all agree that as adults, we consider our parents to be our friends who we enjoy spending time with.
Can you share a defining moment with your parents?
My dad- Seeing him break down and cry for the first time. It was when he told us that his father had passed away. We all lived in the same house, so as children we felt as though we had lost a parent, too. I was nine at the time and remember watching my dad walk through the grieving process with strength and realizing that he had just lost his best friend.
My mom- Being with my mom when her mother died (six years ago). It took several days for her to pass and we spent those days providing for her needs. We spent many quiet, solemn hours together and I heard stories about my mother’s difficult and painful childhood that were new to me. It gave me a different perspective into her as a person and made so grateful that God changed her life and chose me to be her daughter.
Together- In Junior High and High School, my parents would often let me lay in their bed with them in the dark and just talk, and talk, and talk about anything I wanted. All the drama, disappointments, dreams…. they just listened and then let me trot off to my own bed. Being a mom of teens now, I know that those were defining moments, though I didn’t realize it at the time.
Has anything happened in recent history with them to change how you feel about them?
Nothing comes to mind.