I’m going to begin by being vulnerable. I think the biggest and most important lesson I have learned was becoming self-aware. I was a teenage mom and wife and was illiterate until my late twenties. I realized my inability to read and write was causing me issues in my life. I recognized it even more as my children got older and needed help with their homework. This made it difficult for me to connect. I felt dumb and depressed and at the same time angry and frustrated. I believed I was a failure as a parent and wife. My frustration, shame and embarrassment added to my lack of confidence. I was working two jobs, having issues with babysitting and didn’t feel worth being alive. I even accepted more hours at my factory job to avoid facing my loved ones. I felt all by myself and one day I heard myself screaming at my children. I realized at that moment I sounded like my dad! That’s what he did. I didn’t want to be that kind of parent. That wasn’t me.
It was that day that I finally admitted that I was illiterate and decided to take action. I went to a community college. It was hard, and I did it anyway. I tested at a grade 2 level and 6 months later I tested at a grade 8 level. My confidence was increasing. My only regret was I didn’t do it sooner.
I sat down with my children and shared why I wasn’t helping them with their homework. I cried and cried. My boys just hugged me and told me that it was OK. They were happy I was going back to school. From that point on, we sat and did our homework together.
My confidence was increasing so much and I didn’t stop there. I attended free parenting classes, training, and even listened to parenting tapes every free moment so I could improve my parenting skills and connect with my children in a healthier way.
I learned that when things get hard in life emotionally and financially, it doesn’t mean you have to give up feeling ashamed. You simply must “believe” that anything is possible. You must dig deep inside to become self-aware of the role model you want to be for them. For me, it wasn't an angry, uneducated parent with a lack of confidence.
Now, I have a Master of Arts in Professional Counseling, a Certificate in Advanced Graduate Studies in Marriage, Family and Addiction Recovery Therapy, a Master of Arts Certificate in Advanced Graduate Studies in Human Resources Employee Assistance Counselling, a Certificate of Completion in Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, and a certificate in Neuro-Linguistic Programming Master Practitioner (NLP).
Before my higher education, I worked blue collar jobs, office jobs, cleaning houses just to survive. I decided to make that reconnection with those I loved because I believed in myself. I became a therapist/behavioral coach as a contractor with several agencies in my area. This position gave me the opportunity to work with families and children to support them mentally and emotionally during their challenging times. Because of my life experiences and the struggle with my education prepared me to support these families even more.
Ultimately, the biggest and most important lesson I have learned was becoming self-aware and I continued to learn. Through all this learning and discovery, I found my parenting DNA (parenting style). That led me to learn that I can change my parenting DNA (parenting style) and rewrite my story. I moved beyond my parents' parenting style and followed my own.
Now, I encourage others to become self-aware of the parent they want to be. I continue to share the knowledge of what I have personally learned and overcome, because I now believe that anything is possible.