I know I kind of left a weird ending to the blog last night. You see, when I was in college, I had a psychology class, or a human services class, don't remember the exact name, but it was my first introduction into family systems. The professor at that time was a Marriage and Family Therapist, he was on staff at Carson-Newman College, my Alma mater. His name is William Blevins. The title of our textbook, which happened to be written by Dr. Blevins, was entitled, Your Family/Your Self. It was an amazing class. How you parent begins with how you were parented, your family. It is all inter-related. Tied together. Whether you believe it or not. There is much research behind it. But everyone has the power to change HOW their family affected them. That is the wonderful thing about learning about family systems and exploring your background. It helps you understand HOW you want to change things, if anything at all!
Your Family/Your Self was written in a way that you could use it as a textbook, you could read it and learn more about your family, and why you function the way that you function, or if you really wanted to take it to the next level, you could actually perform the exercises in the book and basically, it was like going through therapy. Every week, 2-3 times a week we met with Dr. Blevins in class. He explained everything and gave us "homework", which were the exercises from his book. Here is a link to the book on Amazon.com. I just looked it up to see if it was on there. http://www.amazon.com/Your-Family-Self-William-Blevins/dp/1879237539/ref=sr_1_5/104-2306550-2559126?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1174497887&sr=1-5
This class was eye opening to me. I had no problem coming to this class and completing the work because I was, in essence, working on ME. For the first time, I was understanding why I felt the way I did about my family. Why we did things the way that we did. I was fascinated. Even if you have never taken a psychology class, this book is easy to read and understand and it will take you on a wonderful journey. I think I am going to order the updated version to see if there is any more recent stuff in there. This will be a great resource manual to me. I am sitting here looking at my copy from when I was in college. I have kept it after all these years, probably close to 8-9 years!!!
In 1998 I graduated with a B.A. in Applied Psychology and in Human Services, a double major. No, I wasn't really that smart. I was going to get a minor in App. Psych, but had so many classes in it already that my advisor told me I should just go ahead with a double major. After my B.A. I was accepted into the college of social work at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Nashville location. Yes, that is how they put it. Basically, UT has had a social work program in Nashville since the late 1930's (I think). In 2000, I graduated with my Master's of Science in Social Work. My move to Nashville was the best thing I have ever done in my life. I would like to say that I was living very close to the Lord at that time and I felt the call from Him to move. I was still struggling spiritually at the time I moved to Nashville. And to be honest, I had to pick which program I wanted on the application, Knoxville, Nashville or Memphis. I can still remember the day I chose Nashville. I just wanted them to assign me somewhere but I couldn't do it that way. I thought to myself (after thinking it over for many days) Lord, if you want me in Nashville I guess I will get in. And I did. Even though I was not walking closely with God, God knew my heart and knew I was trying the best that I could at the time, God was still faithful. He knew my spiritual awakening and healing would occur here. He knew my future husband awaited me here. He knew the ministry that I am starting would be here, in Nashville, Tennessee.
Dr. Blevins class allowed me to see what social work was all about, even though he is a marriage and family therapist. Both sciences look at families as systems. And my degree at Carson-Newman prepared me well for my first year of graduate school.
From the time that I did my first internship at a day treatment center for adolescents in the 1990's to my last job as a child therapist working in a school in 2006, I have never stopped learning about who I am and how I relate to others around me. I still have a long way to go. I do have a lot more head knowledge about families, systems, parenting, structure. But now that I am a parent I want to make sure that I don't create the same mistakes my family did (we all make mistakes). Some mistakes are just more detrimental to those around us. I am happy I have the family that I have. It has shaped me to be who I am. I like who I am. I like who I am becoming. It is a journey that will never end until I take my last breath. I just want my son, Carter to have a different experience than I did.
And I guess the crux to all this is, I have the power as a parent to shape my son to be autonomous, healthy and whole, or I also have the power to be toxic, unhealthy, and inappropriate toward my son, which would not help him become autonomous and the best individual he could be. Being awake and conscious of the power you have as a parent is crucial in how you parent!
You are a system, not a vacuum. Remember that! And thanks, Dr. Blevins, for being a great teacher, where ever you are! I don't know if I ever thanked you for that introduction into myself! I really appreciate it.