One of my first and lasting memories of an encounter with my mother-in-law was her standing behind an ironing board proudly removing the creases from my husband-to-be’s police uniform. She looked at me, and said, half-smiling,
“Soon it will be you doing this.”
My response was automatic and swift,
“No, soon he will be ironing his uniforms himself.”
She looked shocked and amused in one.
This exchange became a bit of a standing joke between my husband and I, but I learned quickly enough when we started living together that it had a more serious side.
A child who has never had to take care of himself will leave home unable to take care of himself. He has to learn hard and fast what it is to run a household. It becomes a source of conflict. A perpetual battle.
The fact is there are life skills a boy needs to be taught by his parents. There are many other skills that aren’t as easy to pick up later in life as ironing is.
If a young boy is not taught to share his emotions as a boy, he will struggle to talk about his feelings as a man.
A boy that isn’t shown a healthy way to deal with conflict will later become a husband who has no idea how to cope with disagreements. He will see divergences of opinion as a personal critique. He will retreat into a protective shell. He will be unable to stand up for himself. He will feel like a shadow of the man he really is.
When a young boy feels unseen by his parents he will grow into a man who feels he has no right to be seen. He will feel that his view is unimportant and his place in the world is insignificant.
A child that asks for help without receiving support will stop asking for help as he travels into adulthood. He will believe he is not worthy of help.
Ironing clothes is a skill that can be learned later in life; feeling comfortable in your own skin is a skill not so easily learned as an adult.
You carry your childhood with you into adulthood. The ghosts stay with you, lurking in the darkness, ready to haunt you when life gets tough.
And coping with life is tough when you are not equipped with the right tools.
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