Thursday, November 11, 2010

Eye of the Tiger

I recently spent some time talking to someone about being a dad. He's not one. As far as I know he's planning on putting it off for a long time. He suggested that my assertion that our experiences as children, with our parents, shape us as parents, indicated that we're only carbon copies of our parents. We are in a way, Carbon (C) copies.

Really though, if you look at your life as a summation of experiences that influence your decisions, being a young parent could bias you. I consider myself a young parent, having a two year old at 24. I spent the first 19 years of my life under my parents' roof. That means that all the parenting (well, 99%) that I observed up to that point was my parents. So, when put into those tough parenting situations, when I'm closest to my primitive brain, all I can draw on is the experiences of my childhood.

My daughter, Red 2, was a pretty excellent sleeper from the get go. However, there was a two week period where she wouldn't sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time. I was not operating in my best frame of mind, nor was Red Leader. At times like those we rely heavily on the parenting/coping techniques ingrained in us by years of our parents, parenting us and/or our siblings.

It is a well known fact: "Your child does not come with a manual." You can read all the parenting guides in the world and none of them will hold a candle to all that training you received as a child.

That's what we do as parents. It's what our parents did for us, their parent's did for them, their parent's parent's did the same, ad infinitum. We train our children to be adults. We love our children as our parents love(d) us. So as adults, our parents can't make all of our decisions for us. Hopefully, they've taught us well enough and we've absorbed enough that we can function well. Certainly though, all of our decisions are influenced by them. Even if that influence is to consciously not do what they would support. So, as adults, we fumble around (or not, as the case may be) trying to find the right answer.

Even if you don't have kids your parents still trained you to be who you are. Even if you hate your parents, their actions still have huge bearing on all of your decisions. They may have caused you to radically alter decisions that you make because you "don't want to be like them."

No, we're not all carbon copies of our parents, but to deny their influence in your everyday life is foolish.

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