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This is Elly, and she wants to talk to you about having a strict parent. Being a parent is hard, they say, and some parents do a perfect job. Some don’t. And then there is her mom. She took this parenting thing way too seriously, so much so that Elly was scared of her.
Elly’s mom is single. Her dad died when she was only two, and she doesn’t remember him at all. Her mom was very young at the time, 23 or 24, and there was literally no one to help her - she was an orphan. But kudos to her mom; her self-control and discipline were admirable. She managed to get a job, raise her daughter at the same time, and never complained about anything. She’s just that kind of person who’s intent on excelling in everything she does. She was a straight A student at school, and a top student at college. Then she got pregnant and had Elly, but still her life was well planned - the initial idea was that when she grew up a bit she would go back to her studies, and then start her career as a lawyer. And Elly is sure she would have succeeded. But then her dad died and she had to reinvent herself, get a job and forget about studying.
So this is where her mom’s story ends, and Elly’s starts. She’s always been a regular kid, 100% similar to any other child on Earth. But this was not enough for her mom. You see, her mom believed that her daughter must be perfect, like everything else in her own life. But Elly was not perfect at all. She liked running around, shouting, climbing trees, jumping in puddles and coming home dirty, being lazy and disobedient, sometimes throwing tantrums. And this is how it all started - her mom started being strict and punishing her.
She was 5 or 6 when her mother first got angry with her, and explained to her very clearly that she expected her to be obedient, calm and do whatever she told her to do. It all sounds perfectly normal, but you should have seen the look she gave her at that point. She explained to Elly that she already had lots of problems to deal with, and didn’t want her to add any more.
That was when her super-disciplined life started. She was not supposed to get into any trouble, ever. She was not supposed to object to what she was told to do. She was supposed to always be conscientious, tidy, precise and punctual. At school she had to get A marks, no exceptions. And what happened if she failed? Well, nothing terrible. She would just look at her and say calmly that she was deeply disappointed. As you can imagine, it’s horrible to get that from your mom. And if she screwed up a lot, she grounded her. Or banned her from watching TV. Or something else equally horrible for a kid. If it was a huge screw up, she got special treatment.
It doesn’t sound that horrible - and it certainly wasn’t abuse or anything. But for her, it became a kind of pressure she just couldn’t bear. The fact was that she was not perfect; she was not a high achiever at school and she couldn’t meet her mom’s expectations. And she was punished not only when she did something wrong, but when she did her best and failed.
But don’t think Elly’s life was about fear and nothing else. Her mom’s actually very affectionate, and she got lots of attention from her and lots of love, until at some point she didn’t screw up again. And this emotional roller coaster caused her lots of stress. However, there’s a good side to having a strict parent. At some point you notice that you start being more organized and responsible. This is her strong point. But when she reached her teens, she experienced a lot frustration, because her mom told her who out of my friends she approved of and who she didn’t, what she was supposed to do and think, and of course - definitely no boys. You don’t treat a teenager like that, she wasn’t a child anymore! But she still couldn’t stand up for herself. So what she did was she took up volleyball, and became the strongest hitter of her team - she put all the force of her frustration into every attack she made.
However when she was 16, the time came to do something. Once more, her mom tried to stop her from going out with her friends - without explaining the reasons why she couldn’t, just “because I said no”. That’s when Elly decided to give her the talk. The time had finally come to stand up for herself. She told her mom that she was 16, she was a responsible and mature person and she could decide for herself what was wrong and what was right. She wasn’t perfect, and she understood that she wanted her to succeed in order to fulfil her own ambitions that she had had to put off. But now, it was enough. She would soon be going to college, she said, so just leave me alone and take care of yourself!
It was harsh, and her mom retained that stiff expression on her like she always did. But it didn’t have an effect on her anymore.
Music by Epidemic Sound: www.epidemicsound.com
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