Communicating Values

Though it’s a day late, happy Father’s Day! I’m sure you had a grand time-honored festival involving lederhosen, whipped cream and a slightly annoyed bulldog. For my Fuzzy Yummums, our new person and I it was a bit more toned down.

After fulfilling the routine and mostly uninteresting Sunday things, we spent time eating cake and reflecting upon our depressing brood and sorting through the right way to inspire our mix-and-match genetic hybrid to be a more qualified person after we’ve discovered precisely what God really looks like.

Family Tip: Always prepare your child for the miserable and unfulfilled adult life they will someday have. Get them working as soon as they can grab things. Teach them the value of silence once they can speak. Help them understand the value of hard work by forcing labor on them without compensation (there are no child labor laws for family yet!).

The two of us spent a good deal talking about the seemingly inpenetrable emotional constipation that both of our spawning families have, which has shown itself through some profoundly retarded communication, and for your educational pleasure I’ll share the current state of things along with projections for the future. If I had more time I’d use charts and make a diagram, but we’ll just pretend those things exist and won’t talk about them anymore.

The simplest communication problem is with the two notable individuals that raised my Flipperdoodle Hunhun. Her mother follows a formulaic system to reconnect with their daughter:

  1. Bring along Sperm Donor Divorced Father in the hopes that she passively submits to their undying implicit authority
  2. Avoid communicating with her in any way, shape or form if she asserts herself by asking to be respected
  3. Lurk around trying to find sources of information to make another approach, such as this blog
  4. Visit everyone she affiliated with her, including past workplaces and mothers of friends
  5. Repeat until daughter has finally seen the error of her ways

Her father uses a similarly simple system:

  1. Escape into games, work, drugs, infidelity and anything else that guarantees a genuine disconnect from other people and reality
  2. Do what anyone else says including ex-wives
  3. Recollect having a child, but keep mixing up names and birthdays from the drug abuse and forgetting which child goes to which mother

All in all, they don’t give us much trouble, though I imagine my Fudge Nuggers will have a unique and memorable experience involving the cops and a restraining order when her mother finally discovers our address.

Family  Tip: Don’t be afraid if your mother-in-law reads your blog; bank on it! The worst thing she can do is sue you for defamation. Codependency is even better, since they would never do anything to sabotage the implied connection with their Source Of All Things Good.

On the other end, things are a bit more amicable and…confusing, at least until last night.

A good God-focused marriage is like good therapy: past crap gets brought out, people talk out things, feelings are validated where nobody feels like a worthless piece of garbage freak, and everyone walks away feeling more human and somehow closer to perfection from it.

However, a bad marriage is a bit like being stuck in a concentration camp: past crap defines the current situation, nobody talks about anything meaningful, feelings are ammo for the other side, and the entire dynamic is a scraping power grab that looks like Game of Thrones if it was stupid and nobody was royalty.

I would clearly articulate my parents’ marriage as a “bad” marriage. This wouldn’t be a problem, except for the fact that I spent several decades being their Problem Dumpster. Once I discovered the bittersweet joyful misery of marriage that inspires growth and change, my own parents became weird.

Dysfunction is a bit like the game Hot Potato, except that it consists of several roles and some people actually learn to want those roles. For your convenience, here are the basic roles that all dysfunctional homes seem to play out:

  • Hero – seen as an infallible beacon of hope and promising results, but often has problems with happiness and self-worth, usually defines value through successes/failures
  • Scapegoat – seen as the anti-hero and always a screwup, has tons of problems and everyone assumes that it’s their purpose in life to fail
  • Mascot – the comedian, seen as the comic relief but never actually taken seriously, many of them aren’t actually funny either, usually acts as the peacemaker as well
  • Lost Child – not always a child but never actually “seen”, needs are never met because everyone’s focusing on fixing the Scapegoat

In a steadily improving or healthy home, these roles shift around all the time as each person changes and adapts to the miscellany that confronts our daily life. Unhealthy homes expect these to stay the same, which lends a lot of truth to shows like Arrested Development and Malcolm in the Middle.

Marriage Tip: Netflix is a great way to avoid having to spend money on things like dates or anniversary gifts.

In my upbringing, I was given the mixed potatoes of Hero and Scapegoat, which yielded a weird and quite unsexy inferiority/superiority complex. My mother tried to be the Hero, but her inability to take personal responsibility made her too conspicuously non-Hero-like. My father and brother would be the Silent Child and Mascot respectively, and then would swap roles when conflict happened. Life was good, well, minus the fact that everyone was unhappy, but good besides that little detail.

Now that I’ve married and started acting like it’s my God-given duty to take care of my wife and son before my extended family, it’s been difficult for roles to settle in my childhood home.

My brother moved back in and he became the Scapegoat, but he’s so much more patient and passive than I am that the conflicts are more sustained and less intense. The recent foray into marriage counseling was inspired by how my mom had become the Silent Child and wouldn’t have any of it, so recent developments have had her stealing the Scapegoat role from my brother and blaming everyone for it. My brother in turn took both the Mascot and Hero role while my dad became the Silent Child. This means that there’s no room for me in that family, since I’m no longer Scapegoat material and my brother’s the new Hero. My mom is forever bitter at me, but part of it could be marital jealousy. Eventually, my mom will probably successfully find a way to shove off the Scapegoat onto my brother, since my dad has quite a bit of experience staying under the radar. (breath) If my brother moves out or ever stops being the Hero, then they’ll come back around to try to connect with me, which incidentally has already happened.

About a month ago, my parents made an unusual request. Apparently, the marriage counselor “said” that distance from the family that is raising their newborn grandson is ideal for their marriage. My spidey senses were tingling for several reasons:

  1. What kind of marriage counselor gives guidance to cut off connection from family? Someone is obviously placing my Funny Bunny and I in a bad light.
  2. At the time I was unemployed, and what kind of parents decide to cut off communication or support at that moment? If I wanted to attain family shame I’d rather become a meth-head or go kill someone.
  3. If we were really causing problems in their marriage, the marriage counselor would have brought us in to talk. This smells like a bury-it-and-ignore-it tactic.

Gut instincts aside, I’ve honored their request. In fact, since they persisted in their vagueness, I drew a hard line to make everyone happier. I clarified that we’re not talking, with the exception of an emergency, until September 1st. In spite of this, my mother texted my Silly Slippers on Mother’s Day and my dad on Father’s Day. Apparently values mean nothing to them. Honestly, if they won’t abide by values then they can’t abide by the family we’re building here, since we must build our home in love, which can only come in spirit and truth. The tragedy is that most people desire to only stop at one of them.

Parenting Tip: Let your kids know all about what goes on with your extended family, since they see it already. We’ve already told our child all the details. We know he listened because he drooled more profusely as a response and then pooped.

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