As part of the discussion around legalising same-sex marriage in Australia, an American woman named Katy Faust has been playing the ‘rights of the children’ card. She wants us to believe all children need a biological mother and father to have a ‘good’ childhood. Aside from the fact it is an absurd notion, the argument has a fatal flaw: No one escapes childhood intact.
My childhood was terrible
My parents never raised their voices in anger. Instead there was cold quiet seething flowing underneath every difficult discussion.
Maybe your parents shouted at each other?
My mother taught me that anger, fear and sadness were weak emotions that should never be expressed.
Maybe your mother was always having an anxiety attack or a tension headache?
My mother taught me that food was used to show love but she was always too busy to eat with us.
Maybe there wasn’t enough food to go around in your house?
At school I was teased for being the teacher’s pet so I pretended I didn’t know the answers.
Maybe you didn’t know the answers so you were teased for being dumb?
I am adopted so I always felt I had to earn my parents’ love.
Maybe you were an accident so you felt like you didn’t belong.
My parents bought me everything I wanted but never asked how I felt.
Maybe your parents were as poor as church mice and you wore your sister’s clothes?
No-one had a perfect childhood. Not me, not you, and not your best friend. No matter what the circumstances, no matter how much you were loved, looking back now you can see what your childhood lacked.
My childhood was shit because … I was a child.
When I was a kid … well, I was a kid. I didn’t know who I was, I didn’t understand the world and I didn’t have the choice to say “yes” or “no”.
I was dependent on someone else for everything — food, shelter, affection, entertainment, education, safety, happiness and belonging. I wasn’t able to choose for myself.
It’s tough being made to follow the rules, keep the peace and protect the family’s secrets. It’s a hard road to make it through childhood intact.
And yet here we are … grown up and experienced … and still we blame our troubles on our childhood.
We bring the feelings of powerlessness and inferiority into the present day.
You are no longer a kid.
You get to make choices.
You can say “yes” and you can say “no”.
You are the one in control of how you live your life.
Stop blaming the past. Stop giving away your right to choose.
Choose to be whoever you want. Choose to leave the past behind.
Choose to give that child inside you the love you never got enough of when you were a kid.
Everyone’s childhood was shit. No one has escaped intact. It’s time to get over it and get on with living today in the way you choose.
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
~ Philip Larkin
What’s the worst thing you did as a child?