Hi Dr. Laura,
I listen to you every day, and I hear so many callers who have baggage that stems from their childhood. I want to share my husband's story with you.
He grew up in a large city, very rough neighborhood. He was the fourth of five kids, and had an abusive, alcoholic stepfather. When he was about 7, he was beat up by a classmate. He is not a large guy, so he became a target to those who didn't know him. When he came home, his stepfather told him if he ever came home beat up again, he'd beat him even worse. He went back out and found the little boy. The boy's older brother told him he'd have to get through him first, so my husband then proceeded to beat up the brother; then finished off his tormentor. He developed a reputation to not be trifled with, but his biggest tormentor was at home. He was pulled out of bed by his hair during the night, kicked in the tailbone with steel tipped boots, and it goes on and on. Finally at 18, my husband struck and hit back so hard his stepfather had badly blurred vision for a month. Yes, sadly, his mother put up with it.
The point to this story is we have four adult kids: 1 boy and 3 girls. Our son has joined the Marines and each of our girls ADORE their father. He decided long ago not to perpetuate that circle. He is nothing like his stepfather; he is the kindest, most loving and generous man I have ever known. I've never experienced one moment of fear of him. He remains one to not be trifled with - him or our family. I'm amazed every day at the man he's become IN SPITE of his upbringing. He is a REAL man.