Although I never once heard either of them so much as even utter the word “psychology,” in their own way, they practiced it to perfection on their children. What made me think of my upringing in those terms in the first place was an article I read by Dr. Joyce Brothers. Entitled “10 Keys to a Strong Family,” I couldn’t keep from wondering how her definition of a “strong family” would have compared to Dad and Mom’s definition, had they ever attempted to define it, which I’m sure they never did.
In one way, I suppose it would be like comparing apples and oranges. Dr. Brothers, views seemed modern; to be pretty much based on the international image of what someone like Dr. Phil might think would be ideal in this day and time. My parents, on the other hand, dealing more than half a century ago with a single unit, one family, my six brothers and sisters and me, would likely have been amused at some the the things that Dr. Phil advocates.
In defining “family,” Dr. Brothers used words like “functional,” balanced,” “happy,” “successful,” and “content.” It’s doubtful that any of these terms ever crossed my parents’ minds, and even without their possessing a degree in psychology, all seven of Dad and Mom’s coal-camp kids seemed to have been all those things.
But one idea that Dr. Brothers suggested that would have set her philosophy miles apart from that of my parents’ was her notion that a family should be a democracy, that families should accept “compromising solutions.”
Not at our house, boy. Majority ruled all right, but it only took two to make a majority, and sometimes, only one vote did the trick.
From the time we were old enough to know anything, we knew that Mom and Dad were in charge. What they said was never questioned. Oh, we grumbled and griped to ourselves, but it never even crossed our minds to challenge their decisions, and, rest assured, there were no compromises. If they said “don’t,” we didn’t. If they said, “do,” we did.
Although firm, neither Dad nor Mom were dictatorial about their decisions. They simply stated how things were, and we, in total respect, went along with them. When it came to making a strong family, Dad and Mom held the keys.