As a woman, I can’t think of anything worse than the moment you realize that you’re turning into your mother. Now, don’t get me wrong, my mother is a strong, loving, wonderful woman. But at 32, I don’t want to be like her quite yet. Unfortunately, you can’t fight nature. Or genetics. I already see the changes slowly taking place. When I wear certain outfits, make a specific gesture or find myself repeating those catchphrases she uses, I gasp in horror. Okay, that might be a little extreme but there’s definitely a small part of you that dies inside when you realize you’re turning into your parents.
Why is that? I mean, genetics is genetics. You’re a product of your parents so it’s not exactly shocking that you share similarities with them. Whether you adopted your father’s nose or your mother’s broad shoulders, some of your physical traits are bound to resemble those of your parents. But it seems like when you hit the age of 30 those subtle shared traits become more and more obvious. You actually start to look like your parents and that shit’s just scary.
But what about the makeup of your character? It’s not only your looks that you inherit from your parents but whether or not you realize it, so many of your idiosyncrasies, habits, and beliefs are a direct result of your upbringing. But it’s not all bad, I promise. And here’s why.
Think of your parents as a buffet. You’re presented with all of these amazing personality traits and some not so great ones. You have the ability to embody those you agree with and either reject or change the ones you don’t. This process allows you to be the best version of yourself, based on the hand you’ve been dealt.
Take my parents for example. My mom is a kind, loving, giving person. I’ve adopted her selflessness. But she is also extremely overindulgent, especially when it comes to her children. Sure, this worked to my benefit for many years, but it also hindered me in ways that I didn’t understand until recently. She sheltered me from the world. This meant that I missed out on some monumental moments in life like going away to college and living on my own. When I became a mother, I began to parent my son in the same way. I protected him from everything and anything. No one wants to see their child struggle. But without struggle and without making mistakes, a child cannot learn, grow, and evolve. Some of my own personal development was stunted by my mother’s overprotective nature. I acknowledged this and rejected that inherited trait. Kind of like how you eyeball the crab cakes at the buffet. They might taste good now but you’ll regret eating them later.
And then there’s my father. A hardworking man but one that lacks emotion and common decency in many ways. I am thankful that I inherited his work ethic and I’m even more thankful that I rejected his obsession with all material things. My father lives by the belief that if you can’t put a price tag on something, it’s not worth having. He is constantly looking to save a dollar and if you owe him money, he will hunt you down and find you. I could never live this way. Actually, my father’s obsession with money had the adverse effect on me. I saw the greed and pettiness and vowed that I would never be like that. He claims he’s only trying to be fair and balanced but I know the truth.
When someone tells you that you remind them of your mother or father or you look in the mirror and realize, “Holy crap, I’m turning into my parents”, understand that this can actually be a good thing! Your parents have presented you with a choice. A choice to become everything they are and everything they’ve taught you to be, without thought or consideration. Or the choice to evaluate their characteristics and pick and choose which ones you want to embody. They’ve also made mistakes. Mistakes that you can learn from. You’ve seen them in action. You know the results of certain behaviors because they’re living proof. So take these experiences, these lessons and learn from them. They’ve laid the groundwork for your development. Take from it what you will and reject all else. Maybe becoming your parents isn’t such a bad thing after all.