I know, I know, no-one wants to end up like their parents, and they certainly don’t want to think about their parent’s relationship – let alone get into Freud and Jung and all that psychology. But….
The thing is we start learning how to be from our parents. We learned how to form attachments from the way our parents behaved towards us and each other. Annoying isn’t it? Long before we got to school, we’ve learned stuff that will put us on one particular path – potentially for the rest of our lives – until & unless we identify it, decide we don’t like it, and learn how to change it for the better. Philip Larkin put it better than I can…
They fuck you up your Mum and Dad,Philip Larkin
they don’t mean to, but they do.
They fill you up with the faults they had,
and add some extra, just for you.
You may have heard that you “marry” either your mother or your father. Obviously this came from the theory Freud posited that girls grow up wanting to marry their father, and boys their mother. Annoyingly, it is often the case that we do seek to replicate those parental relationships later in life – seeking mates who are like either father or mother. Conversely, we may also seek to fill a hole left by a poor parental relationship in childhood.
Don’t let all of this depress you. You also learned some wonderful stuff from your parents. I inherited my love of sports and sense of humour from my father, and from my mother I gained a love for and appreciation of beautiful things – such as textiles, art, design. I look like my father, but sound like my mother. I’ll wager you could carry out the same exercise yourself to good effect.
We gain both good stuff and bad from our parents, and we can make an active choice not to pass some bad aspects on to our children – even though it’s inevitable we’ll add some good and bad to that mix ourselves. So, cherish and enjoy the good. Identify and work on fixing the bad. And ask your kids to forgive you for any rubbish you missed or gave them on your own. They’re going to be going through the same experience themselves. For it’s not only in the Lion King that the circle of life applies.
What have you inherited from your parents? If you’ve children yourselves, what aspects of yourself do you see in them?
© 2022, Debs Carey
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