Personal Portrait

Personal Portrait

The course of development is determined by the interaction of the body (genetic biological programming), mind (psychological), and cultural (ethos) influences" (Harder, 3).

Lawrence Kohlberg believed that moral development arrives in stages, just as other elements of personality do. His stages are the pre-conventional, the conventional, and post-conventional. Using Piaget's constructivist example, Kohlberg professed that people progress through these stages as they grow, that no one functions at their best all the time, but that each stage provides a step toward a higher, more comprehensive development (Kohlberg, p. 570).

From birth to 18 months I was nurtured by my parents, my older brother and my sister. I was the spoiled baby boy in my family. In the Spanish culture, men are treated as higher royalty, a status I was pampered with only a little bit because even though I am the baby boy, my older brother, who is the first born, was treated like a king or a papi chulo. According to Kohlberg, I was in the first stage of moral development, the pre-conventional, or learning obedience from punishment orientation. All I could think about at this stage, of course, was myself and how I only was hungry or thirsty (Kohlberg, p. 560).

A learned to trust my parents, both my mother and father, in different ways. I believed everything my father said and my mother was always there for me. Learning to trust is one of the things that Erik Erikson said we must do at this young age. If we do not trust, we will feel constantly frustrated because we feel we are not satisfied and end up with feelings mistrust of the world and worthlessness in one's self (Harder, 7).

From 18 months to 3 years a child develops an ego through mastering skills, such as walking and talking and toilet training. Autonomy (learning to say "no") is gained and adds to the ego-building. In the Spanish culture, the family is very strong and fathers spend a lot of time with their children, taking time to go on picnics with the family or do other family things every weekend. This builds relationships with the parents for the children. One's relationship with the mother and father or significant caretaker is very important at this age. I was learning to trust other people and learning that one has the right to live in this world. The tendency to commit suicide comes from a lack of developing this basic belief. As far as my moral interests, they were still pre-conventional as all I could think of at this age was "what is in it for me?"

From age 3 to 5 years, we copy the adults around us, through play and imitation. I was curious and explored what I might want to do when I grew up. I admired my older brother and tried to be like him. I became proud of my heritage and realized why the Spanish are very proud people. My family meant a lot to me then, as I was not going to school. Growing up in New York was cool. I don't remember too much about it, except that we had lots of friends. In Kohlberg's theory, I was moving into the conventional stage, where interpersonal accord and conformity were being developed and I was trying to be a "good boy" (Colby, p. 34).

My mother and father had two children; my brother Jesus and me. My parents repeatedly and determinedly emphasized to us the importance of education. Yonkers was not a safe place to live, and did not have the best school system, so my parents moved us all to Pleasantville, New Jersey. Pleasantville was different for us - farther removed from the city and more suburban than the city we were used to. I used my first environmental system for support as I started my next system of school and friends.

My parents did their best to support my brother and me in everything we wanted to do. My mother was the primary driving force behind my school and social development. She and my father made Jesus and me speak English and Spanish in the home, rather than just Spanish as was the way with my Puerto Rican friends. Also, my parents continued to emphasize that education would be key to my success in life. This is not to say that my parents were not proud of who and what they were. My father was a very hard worker. I always admired his work ethic. No matter what the weather was like, my father walked half a mile to work every day. My mother was an educated person herself, and was proud of how she kept the house for us, and how she raised her children.

During the school years, from 6 to 12 years I was growing and learning. We moved when I was in second grade. When we moved to Pleasantville it was a bit of a culture shock because we had grown up in the city, but in the small town my brother and I quickly made friends. Our friends became very important to my brother and me. We became a part of a group of kids at school and kind-of grew away from our parents, though we still were very much a part of our family, since our family did a lot of things together. I was developing an identity and felt torn between my friends and my family during these years, even though when I had to choose, I chose my family. I loved hanging out with my friends more, however.

I had a good social support system at school. My brother and I had friends, but we also spent a lot for time together. We were perhaps best known for our huge comic book collection. Maybe it was the comic books, maybe not but I usually found it very easy to make friends, and had a varied circle. This made me feel comfortable with people from all walks of life.

From 12 to 18 years of age I had a lot of events happen to me and my friends as I went through school. I graduated from 8th grade into high school. In high school I had no problems because everyone knew my older brother. I graduated in 1991. I was still a part of my family, but had very strong loyalties to my friends. Now my friends and I did everything together. In the Spanish world our culture is just like most Asian countries: men hold more power over women, in the family or even when you are just hanging with Spanish friends. I believed this firmly, but have learned somewhat better since my teen years. I was also learning about law and order, in that I had to obey authority and maintain the social order. This was part of the conventional level of Kohlberg's theory (Kohlberg, p. 630).

My mother and father frequently noted that they did not leave their home in Cuba, with all their family and social support being left behind, for my brother and me to simply "get by." Bronfenbrenner noted that parents nurturing could be a "superfactor" in a child's life, meaning that if children do not feel cherished and loved, and then little else mattered. Above all, my parents were nurturing to Jesus and me. While my parents were more than willing for Jesus and me to make friends, engage in extracurricular activity and do the things average children do, they were also clear that they expected us to work hard in school, which they considered to be our "job." Many of the teens I went to school with did not go to college; in fact several of them did not even finish high school. My parents kept me grounded and helped me keep my eyes on my goals.

From the years 18 to 35 is the period where one develops intimacy and solidarity rather than being isolated. Since I was 18 years of age, I have had a lot of changes. After I finished high school, I realized that I was not ready for college right away. I knew that I wanted to finish my education, but also knew enough from the experience of my parents and my friends that I needed to be ready for school before I could commit myself completely. Because my friends joined, I too joined the U.S. Navy and traveled the world, but Boot Camp was painful, as I was dealing with fellow shipmates that could not relate to me. After Boot Camp I served for four years. I did a good job and eventually I made many great friends who helped me to mature and achieve what I wanted out of the Navy. I received an honorable discharge and decided to attend college, as my parents always wanted for me. To support myself while I attended school, I worked in casinos during the mid-1990s. Once I received my Associate's Degree I…