Father of Mine: Reflective Analysis of Moral DevelopmentBy Terran Rae Smith Preface: This is dedicated to both of my parents. To my mother, thank you for constantly striving to improve under the unfortunate and harsh conditions life has given you. To my father, I thank you for helping me to see through the ailments, and into my mother’s beautiful heart.
I am told that my mother was once vibrant, charismatic and breathtakingly beautiful inside and out. I don’t remember her this way because my mother began abusing prescription pills during my infancy, and developed many mental illnesses as the addiction continued throughout my childhood. Today, only a glimmer of that happy, outgoing woman I’m told about remains.
My mother suffers from a number of mental illnesses, some of which include: Bi-Polar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Hypochondria and Munchhausen Syndrome. Because of her illnesses, she was very abusive, manipulative and made unethical decisions, to say the very least. Although my father divorced her when I was nine, my mother fought for custody of me until the day I graduated high school.
Other than my father and I, my sister and the rest of my family have been estranged from my mother for over eight years. She has been able to maintain a lifestyle of lounging and pill popping by using the technology of today to her advantage, much like the following topic discussed in chapter two of Rushworth M. Kidder’s, How Good People Make Tough Choices. “Widespread, designed for great speed, often decentralized, [our] systems are increasingly susceptible to misuse or manipulation by a single individual making a single wrong decision” (Kidder 24). My mother receives Social Security, Disability and other government paid leisure because she knows how to manipulate, at all costs, anyone and anything until she gets what she wants.
My mother is abusive, clinically insane and is the most unethical person that I personally know. Seeing the woman I didn’t want to become did teach me what not do to in life, but seeing my father forgive and empathize with my mother truly shaped my character as a person, and gave me the strength and wisdom to forgive her as well.
After my parents divorced, my father raised my half sister and I as if we were both his own. During one of the many custody battles my mother pursued, my father purchased a car and a house for my mother simply out of the kindness of his heart. This woman had committed adultery, drove our family to bankruptcy to feed her addiction and abused his children. For the rest of my family, that was enough. But my father saw something that no one else did: the illness.
To be completely honest, I once hated my mother with my entire being. But my father’s actions and explanations taught me a lesson synonymous with one of Kidder’s. “Most wrongdoing arises instead from immorality—a violation of the precepts of morality,” (33). My father helped me to understand it is because of my mother’s long-time drug use and mental health that marred her moral judgment. Since graduating high school in 2010, I’ve forgiven my mother’s actions and, although we continue to be estranged from one another, my heart is and always will be filled with love for her.
Today, the strongest person I know turns 55 years old. Michael Scott Smith watched the mother of his children succumb to addiction, raised two daughters as a single parent and still manages to be hopeful helpful and sympathetic to the woman who tore his life, family and heart apart. He is my father, my warrior—my best friend. Without his guidance, I would not be able to, as Kidder puts it, “ identify, systematically and deliberately, the values [I] and [my community] hold” (33). Today is his birthday. From his perspective, it’s just another day and another year put on his tab, but from my perspective, July 6th not only celebrates the birth of one man, but also the birth of two parents. For that is exactly the role he has and continues to play in my and my sister’s lives.
My mother may have made a lot of unethical decisions in life, but my father’s altruistic actions and wise words taught me to look beyond the surface and to realized that she is not an unethical person, or, more importantly to myself, an unethical mother. “She’s not a bad person; she just has a lot of bad problems,” my father says when my frustration reaches its limit. “She may not be able to show it sometimes, but she loves you and your sister so much, Terran,” he says. There is more to my mother than repercussions from poor decisions; behind the mistakes, pills and sunken eye sockets, lies the woman my father fell in love with—my mother, Stephanie Joy Smith.
Please take a few minutes to view the info-graphic below. 61 million Americans, including myself, have mental illness. Some wounds are invisible, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still heal <3
SOURCE: How Good People Make Tough Choices by Rushworth M. Kidder