NORMAN — No matter how much we argue and deny what is staring us in the face, literally sometimes, at some point and to some degree we will become our parents.
It is one of life’s ironies or perhaps payback á la Mother Nature on behalf of parents. Whether your parents fall in the good or I-don’t-want-to-talk-about-them categories, parenting is not easy. The problems normally arise when children morph from adorable babies to good-lord-they-are-teenagers.
As one behavioral therapist states in a radio commercial: “When the child you love becomes unmanageable…” This implies that (i) such unlovable behavior happens frequently and (ii) it can be fixed. You may disagree with one or both of these assertions because not all children become unlovable hellions in their teens, some wait until their twenties and thirties to achieve such perfection.
Regardless, in certain ways we do become our parents, which include acting in exactly the way you swore you never would. Call it conditioning, environmental indoctrination or genetics, the results are the same. Mom or Dad pops out and it is you.
Some parental channeling may include looking like one or both parents. For example, if you line up my siblings and children, you know without a doubt we are related. Of course, some are prettier than others, but that would apply to your siblings and children as well.
Lifestyles are reflected on our faces and bodies.
How often have you heard “the eyes are the mirrors of the soul?” There is a kernel of truth in that. Using one of Hubby’s ranch style euphemisms, “some folks look like they’ve been rode hard and put up wet.”
Men may discover that they have turned into their fathers. On the other hand, women tend to be more specific, complaining about inheriting their mothers’ thighs or height. But the real channeling is in the mindset. Unfortunately, what floats around in the mind has a tendency to leak out past our lips.
Consequently, phrases like: “When I was your age” or “You’re wearing that in public?” will pop out. What is even worse, you may use the same inflection and facial expression as did the parent you channeled.
Some remarks are nearly impossible to avoid.
“Those kids just don’t get it.” Never mind that the “kids” you are referring to may be 30 or older. Just because we are getting older, surely our eyesight is not so far gone that we mistake adults for kids. Or is it?
“I’m turning into my mother/father or both.” A combo channeling is beyond scary.
Then there is the delusional comment: “I don’t know where he/she gets that.” This is usually accompanied by a sorrowful shake of the head and an expression of disbelief on the speaker’s face. To this we can only reply, “Denial does not become you.”
Children are determined to avoid turning into their parents. Sorry to break the news to you kids, but you live, learn and regress.
Of course, since each of us is a unique creation, not all good and less desirable parental traits will be passed down. Sometimes there are moments when both parents are channeled at once.
It used to drive me nuts when my mother tried to cajole me out of a comfortable grump. I finally told her, “Please, let me enjoy my grump!”
In my case, I have some of my mother’s wonderful qualities, like her optimism and sense of humor, and at other times I feel my father’s critical tendencies are hovering over my shoulder waiting to take control.
There is no cure, but Polonius’ advice to his son, Laertes, may help. “This above all: to thine ownself be true.”
Eventually, the real you will come into focus and your children will be able to say: “I’ll never be like mom or dad.”
Elizabeth is a freelance writer and author. Her novels “The Dionysus Connection” and “The Marathon Man” are available on amazon.com. Visit her website: www.elizabethcowan.com.