On Aug. 21, Channel 4 had a news item about the theory that children instinctively take on traits of their parents. I got a kick out of the responses that people made and the senses of humor in their emails to the station when they answered back. It showed that the majority tend to be in their 30s when it dawns on them that they, indeed, are doing things that their parents did, about the age of 30.
I, myself, as a child retorted to my parents that I would never yell or get angry at my own child later on in life or that I would ever criticize anyone on their behavior. Of course, I never had any children, but dealt with many nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews and siblings. Many of the adults who answered this survey, who were parents, said they had to eat “crow“ because they are now doing the same thing that they said they would never do!
When I look at myself now, I find myself handling my different situations the same way my mother and father did. I always felt, in my heart, that they were doing the best they could for me. However, it didn’t mean that I didn’t express my opinion. I have never been accused of not doing that! Most of my friends will tell you that I’m very outspoken.
When I talk to my friends who had children, I find that they did the very same things that their parents did when they were growing up, so I am not alone. One of my examples of repeating my mother and father’s advice and not adhering to it was when I tried skydiving. I was fairly young, but decided not to let them know that I was doing it, but somehow they found out. I probably blurted it out at some point and they were not too happy. Not because I did it but because of the danger involved. My answer was, what danger! Then I proceeded to tell them that it was my choice and I needed to try the various things in life to see if I could do them.
Now I’ve got to admit, that did not really hit home with my parents. Today, I find myself telling people that should be more careful and not put themselves in harm’s way. Sounds like my mother! I always felt that my parents were overprotective because of my disabilities. Now that I look back I can see that they were guiding me.
In most of the answers in this survey I found that people generally do reflect a lot of their parents’ ideas and mannerisms and then say, “Oh my gosh, I sound just like my mother!” In my case, it’s not bad; my mother was really a very wise woman.
What really made me curious in this survey was that women quoted their mothers and men tended to cite their fathers. This shows me a trend in our culture that we still rely on our sexual counterparts to help us in our decisions. However, I like to feel that my father had a great deal of influence on my life. He made sure I was able to use a hammer and nail, drive a car, stick to a job until I finish it and do the best I can. My mother taught me tolerance and patience; love and understanding of others; and a deep commitment to my friends. No bad for two 95-year-olds! Their commitment to each other for 72 years of marriage didn’t hurt either.
And so life continues, as it does for those countless numbers that answered this survey, a lot of thought to their answers along with humor. That’s another secret to being like your parents: Humor always helps with the utmost problems that come into your life. I hope all my readers have a good experience remembering and doing the good things their parents instilled in them.
Sara-Anne Eames lives in Newburyport.