Learning How To Fix Our Lives

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Being an effective parent is the most important job in the world. Children depend on their parents unlike any interpersonal relationship. Without positive role models, children are forced to fend for themselves which increases the opportunity for bad decisions. 'Iyanla, Fix My Life' is a show that displays the consequences of bad or absent parenting and the effects those consequences have on these children. In the most recent episode, the show attempts to fix the broken Mitchell family and help them cope with everything their damaged family has been through, so they can move on.

The Mitchell family consists of two parents, one daughter, and seven boys. Both parents were deeply involved with drugs, especially crack cocaine, and abandoned their children as wards of the state. Upon entering foster care, brothers Marvin, Markis, Michael Jr., Melvin, Mikuel, Miguel, and Montae suffered repeated physical, emotional, and mental abuse. Life was so awful in these homes that some of the brothers escaped to live in an abandoned car instead. As they grew up, Michael Jr. got involved with the wrong people and Miguel was murdered during a scuffle. Their other brother Montae was incarcerated for a 70-year sentence for repeated armed robberies. The remaining men struggle to cope with their past in various negative manners, leading to the family intervention on the show. Each brother copes with their past in very different ways.

At a young age, Markis stepped into the shoes of his absent parents as the role of the protector. He felt responsible for the safety of his siblings when no adults would. With so much stress and responsibility, Markis is constantly angry and short-tempered. When his brother was murdered, his first instinct was to find the killer and return the favor. As the story continues, he learns to forgive and realize that there is more to life than defending his family at any cost. He accepts that the past is the past and moves on. We shouldn’t forget the terrible things we’ve been through in our life; however, carrying that burden for the rest of our lives is only going to make us angrier and more hurt. We need to move on from the negative parts of our past, so we can live fulfilling lives.

Melvin is the youngest brother and spent most of his childhood being emotionally abused for being gay. He was insulted by his foster parents and his own brother as early as 10 years old. The people that should have been his support group made it difficult for him to be comfortable in his own skin. Having a positive support group is important in accepting ourselves for who we are. Whether we are black, white, gay, straight, or anything in between, we need to surround ourselves with positive influences that will support us when we need it most.

Marvin is the brother that asked for Ilanya’s help. He was the only brother left in the foster home when his brothers ran away. After his family abandoned him, a fellow foster child befriended him during his time of weakness. Marvin was sexually abused by that “friend” and has been depressed ever since. He has suicidal thoughts, seeing suicide as the only way to escape the pain. The lesson Marvin learns is the most important; any time we feel depressed or suicidal, we must find help. Asking for help does not make us weak. Depression is a lonely disease and most of us cannot work through it by ourselves. Like Markis, moving on from our negative past will help us become the best version of ourselves.

Michael Jr. is the oldest brother and black sheep of the family. He has an undiagnosed mental illness and feels invisible to the rest of his family as the forgotten one. Michael Jr. has been involved with drugs and criminal activity as a cry for help just to get noticed. For those of us that are mentally or physically ill in any way, seeking medical assistance is vital. Receiving medical help can benefit or even save our lives. Individuals with undiagnosed illnesses can make irresponsible decisions when the side-effects become progressively more damaging on our personal lives.

The fifth brother Mikael is the peacemaker. Any time an argument begins to escalate, Mikael attempts to calm everyone down. As a child, he dealt with emotional insults in a responsible manner and uses his coping abilities to try and keep everyone else calm during fights. Mikael is the glue that keeps his family together amid the constant in-fighting throughout their lives. Every family needs a voice of reason to help everyone understand each other. Keeping the peace is vital to not let small arguments become overblown, leading to broken, irreparable relationships.

At the end of the series, the Mitchell family agrees to move on from their damaging past and attempts to build new relationships together. They all realize their specific roles in the family and accept one another for who they are. Once we move beyond the mistakes we made in the past, acceptance and forgiveness are truly possible.

This family is one of many that found its structure damaged from the start. Without parents or role models, orphaned children will do anything they can to survive. Individuals without love fill that void with hate and anger; over many years, those emotions overflow, causing explosions that splinter our relationships with those we care about most. Without the help of a mediator, broken families like the Mitchells fail to move on from their issues. Forgiving the past and fixing our problems will help us live the best lives we possibly can.