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Personal Introduction of Childhood – Adolescence
I believe that for me adolescence was the hardest part of my life, and it still resonates on my mind the things that I had to endure. During this time, my mother was heavily reliant and addicted to drugs and alcohol. Her everyday routine started with her throwing up from last night’s crusade, and followed with her brushing her teeth and washing her face and making her daily walk to the liquor store. Most of the time she did not work, because her addiction became her life. She would often get a job and then quit because attendance required consistency, and the only things she could and would give consistency to was drinking and other recreational drugs. Therefore, with that being said, I had many struggles in my life because of it. During the time, I stayed with her sister, because she would often go days on days without coming to check on my wellbeing or me. My aunt was a very good nurturer, she worked, she was fun, and we did stuff together often. However, as we all know all good things end, she too began doing drugs and her addiction was the choice over the wellbeing of my cousin and me. Eventually my aunt’s problem got worse and worse, and she started to eventually choose drugs over coming home and ensuring us having food to eat or lights or even hot water. All of those things we lacked, and being young children, we began to suffer. This led to the both of us going into foster care, and we had to live in the state’s care instead of our family. This was a very hard time for me, and I could not understand why I was being punished for being born or for needing a family that cared. I stayed in foster care about 4 years before my mother could clean herself up and realized what she needed to do. Our relationship was somewhat strained after this, and I somewhat resented her for even allowing any of this to transpire. I never really allowed this feeling to surface or let her know, but it was always present. I often would have barricaded myself in my room away from her because of this, and eventually she began drinking again. Getting older this was harder for me because I would often become the parent and not the child. I would have to take care of her in some instances, and even began taking the role even further and became responsible for paying the bills. Life seemingly would never get easier, but with my high spirits, it would become more “bearable”. That is just what it did, became easier to deal with and handle what came my way.
Theoretical Perspectives of Development
Stage of Development According to Freud
There are five stages of Sigmund Freud’s “Psychosexual”, where he tries to explain the stages of children growing up, and how it affects their personalities and upbringing. According to my mother while I was, growing up I was a fast learner. I began walking when I was 9 months old, and I began talking shortly after. The need for my mom to have control over me was very prominent. Therefore, she started potty training me shortly after I began talking. She would always say, “if you can walk and talk, you can go your butt to the bathroom’. So, she made it her business to manifest that and spank me whenever I had accidents or if I told her I had to potty too late. According to Saul McLeod (2017), potty training too early can often result in children forming an “anal-retentive” personality. This entails a person that generally hates disarray, obsesses over tidiness, and are very respectable and on time. This seemingly manifested itself completely in my upbringing. As told by my mother, I never wanted to get dirty growing up, playing in the dirt or even going outside for the matter was seemingly beneath me. I wanted to stay as clean as possible, and that remains in the present day. I hated being dirty or sweaty or even being close to any parts of that; I believe my early potty training in the Anal-Retentive stage may be responsible for that. Also, in the Phallic stage according to McLeod (2017), girls go through a complex known as Electra where they begin to have penis envy, and they begin wishing they were boys. They often start to have tension with their mothers, then repress the feelings and identify with her instead. This was a very relatable stage in my life because there seemingly was always a sort of “tension” between my mom and I. Often, I defied everything that she expressed for me to do; even potty training, and I would go to my dad instead. Things became bad between her and I, that she stopped talking to me and started talking to him as well; however, as time went on I began to realize that we were more alike than we were different. This resulted in me looking at her differently and seeing how relatable we were and it helped to improve our relationship instead.
Stage of Development According to Erikson
Like that of Freud, Erikson too, had ideas and stages of development for infants growing up into adulthood. What separated Erikson from Freud was his was more psychosocial than psychosexual in nature, and instead of five stages, he had eight stages instead. Many of Erikson’s concepts, I agreed with because it correlated with my life. The stages that I identified more with were the stages of adolescences and older which is Identity vs. Role Confusion. According to Erikson, in the adolescence age, children face “identity vs. role confusion”, and they face questions of where they want to be in life, and identity crisis asking questions like “who am I?” ((Amidon, Monroe, & Ortwein). During this stage this was my biggest issue, and with everything that happened in my life, it became harder. Failure was at the top of my concerns, and I was persistently worried that I would not measure up to societal standards all time. I continually asked myself, “where do I fit into the world, and what can I do as profession”? It took me several tries, thenl I finally figured out what I wanted to do in life. Also going forward the next stage of development in Erikson’s theory was and has been an ongoing theme of my life, and I have worked tirelessly to ensure that it has been perfected. According to (Amidon, Monroe, & Ortwein), generativity vs. stagnation is the stage where people reach their 40s and they enter middle adulthood. In this stage, people are finding their life’s work and are contributing to the development of others through activities (Amidon, Monroe, & Ortwein). My life has begun centering on making sure that my children, grandchildren are now living their lives to their full potential. To ensure that they did not have to endure any of the things that I did growing up, and that their sense of purpose of life was instilled in them early on. However, during this time, I have had to work on my life as well. There were points just as this stage states, that I felt somewhat stagnant because I was simply working and being a body, but I had to realize that in order to be an active citizen and member of a community I had to be present. I had to add and contribute to society, and this is when I began to do more to ensure I was as active as I should be. For example, I joined a church and instead of just being a member I began being active and participating in church functions that they had going on; this was often hard for me but needed nonetheless.
Stage of Development According to Piaget
Seemingly, Piaget’s thoughts on development is the most different. His theory is that children have schemas (files), and that add to them or create news daily in order to cope through what they learn. According to McLeod (2017), Piaget’s theory on cognitive development consisted of four stages in which children often went through them all at the same age and time. His theory was cognitive as it relates to children’s development, but as they assimilate to their social environments, they added to their “files”. His stages consisted of Sensorimotor Stage, Preoperational Stage, Concrete Operational Stage, and Formal Operational Stage. (simplypshcology.org). Growing up I had a hard time with my schemas, my mother often said, she would have to leave me in the car or at home when she went to the store because I would say whatever came to my mind. If there were a man dressed as woman around, I would often stare and ask my mother, “is that a man?” My mother would then explain to me that it was a man, dressed in women’s clothing and this would help me assimilate what I was seeing. In addition, as it relates to my developmental stage, I relate most to the Concrete Operational Stage. I can remember vividly when I began talking to myself, and trying to coax myself through many things in life. It states in this stage, “children begin to work things out in their heads rather than in the physical world”. This was my redeeming quality when I was growing up; instead of an imaginary friend, I had myself. This helped me to work through dilemmas and problems without anyone else knowing them, and I being able to work them out before it go out to other people. The following stage was also very closely relatable because instead of thinking of the world as a “game” (I often believed I was a gaming system and someone was playing me), I began seeing the world for what it truly was.
Nature versus Nurture
According to Kendra Cherry, nature refers to everything that we are born with and we inherit and influences who we are. While, nurture refers to our physical environment and influences who we are (verywllmind.com). Nature versus nurture also played a very big part of my life; I believe nurture more than anything else does. Nurture was what I observed as I grew up with my mother drinking, and her abusive partners. I watched her throw up every morning, and go to bed crying almost every night. This was what I saw as being a parent, very abusive in nature. I seldom got “I love you” nor did I hear how good I was doing in school. It seemed that certain things became an assumption or an expectation instead of it being acknowledged. Therefore, when it became time for me to grow up and become a parent these were some of the things I struggled with in parenthood. I often forgot to tell my children I loved them or to give them affection because I lacked it growing up with my mother. I had to eventually combat these things and learn to break the cycle, but it took me awhile to do so. My children, as a result, faced a lot of the same cold heartedness that I did, because that was my environment for so long. Nonetheless, I do believe that this was a very significant aspect of growing up and development because it molded who I grew up to be.
There are many things that children have to learn, as they are growing and developing. They have to learn how to potty train, how to eat and then feed themselves, how to be independent. They also have to learn to trust people and create bonds. John Bowlby’s theories related to the bonds and attachment that children undergo as they are growing. As stated by verymwellmind.com, attachment theory is the focus on relationships and bonds between people, but particularly long-term ones including parents and children, and intimate partners as well. (verywellmind.com. Attachments was a very tricky part of my life. Early-on in life I found to trust people very soon, so my mom and dad and anyone else was always trusted, but then I started to realized that once I started to trust people I quickly lost them or they left from my life. This gave me attachment issues as I went on through life, and moving from state to state, and having to be in different foster homes did not help the matter. I would start to feel very comfortable at one home, and as soon as I did, there would be some reason why I had to leave or why the state was moving me away. Eventually when I did get out I started to feel more comfortable, but my mom’s alcohol addiction did not cause for the best living conditions when she relapsed. This made me move in with my father, having to undergo giving up another attachment and forming a new. Even into adulthood, I found it very hard to trust people and to let them into my life, people often had to undergo several tests (in which they never knew) before being admitted into being even a friend. Going forward when I met my husband, trust issues and forming a real attachment to him was hard. I mentally kicked and screamed before eventually letting him in, and forming that bond that I always wanted.
Likewise, to others, James Fowler also had several stages of development but his focused-on faith. Based on psychologycharts.com’s website, James Fowler’s stages states that as people develop so does their faith based on Piaget and Kohlberg’s stages. These theories can be applied to but are not limited to traditional faith, also alternative ones, and secular worldviews. (psychologycharts.com). Majority of the faith development stages are relatable to things that have transpired in my life. Starting out with the intuitive-projective, I was often mixing up what was real and what was not. I often worried myself into bad thoughts because I thought what I saw on the television was real and concrete. Not knowing that it was all made up, and apart of entertainment. As I went on into the mythic-literal stage things started to make more sense, but when I would attend church and get the stories that happened to Jesus and in Christianity, I was a bit more confused. I related things that happened to him to the things that happened in the world and because of this the stories I heard and the things that happened, did not make as much sense. For instance, the verse in the bible that states that you should tear your eyes out if they cause you to sin. For me, I believed just what it said, and thought that if someone did something or seen something wrong with their eyes that it should result in them being torn completely out. The fourth stage of Fowler stuck out to me more than ever, because it seems to cater to followers of faith that have begun to see that life is much bigger than just one way of thinking. I believe that most people are taught to believe that there is one way of thinking with faith and religion and if you begin to go against this way of thinking, you are labeled as wrong or as a “backslider”. This causes many people to become stagnant, and accept whatever parts of religion that their overseer gives them, and to never question and move on. I, however, chose to ask question and to want to know more and see what else there was in the world. I began studying other religious doctrines and this caused me to become more enlightened and tolerable. Before it seemed that being hyper-religious also came with being judgmental to other religious groups, but growing and developing helped me to see more.
Challenges and Success
Although there many obstacles and things that may have hindered my developmental process there were still several successes as well. In school, I always kept A/B honor roll, and never let my problems come in between my studies. There were often times when I did not have any one that I felt cared, but in school, I always had someone there to help me. In the 5th grade there was a teacher named Mrs. Jackson, who took it upon herself to make sure that I went to church every Sunday. Then, in the 6th grade, there was Mrs. Warrior, who saw that I had a keen liking to words and bought me my first thesaurus. This made me want to keep going with school, and to invest as much in myself that I could. Mrs. Warrior especially, cared about my well-being and the things that I did. She signed me up for after school care, and she even ensured my foster mother that I had transportation. Going forward I became president in many clubs and organizations, from being secluded and guarded to being president was very big for me. Then, I kept my grades and GPA high and finished in the top percentile of my class. However, things do happen in life, I remain resilient and ensure people around me that I will never give up or allow my environment to bring me down.
- Amidon, J., Monroe, A., & Ortwein, M. (n.d.). Education, Society, & the K-12 Learner. Retrieved from https://courses.lumenlearning.com/teachereducationx92x1/chapter/table-of-contents-for-part-2/
- Cherry, K. (2019, April 23). The Age Old Debate of Nature vs. Nurture. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-nature-versus-nurture-2795392
- Cherry, K. (2019, May 20). Bowlby & Ainsworth: What Is Attachment Theory? Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-attachment-theory-2795337
- McLeod, Saul. Internet Source: “Psychosexual Stages”. 2017.https://www.simplypsychology.org/psychosexual.html.
- McLeod, Saul. Internet Source: “Jean Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development”. 2018. https://www.simplypsychology.org/piaget.html
- Internet Source: “Erickson’s 8 Stages of Psychosocial Development”.
- Internet Source: “James Fowler’s Stages of Faith”.
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