The Influence of Parents

In twenty-two years, I have seen (and been one of) many melodramatic people.  I remember in high school being extremely angry and getting into arguments with my stepfather fairly regularly, and to this day, I'm still not sure why.  Sometimes I think that it's because I was wanting a father-figure to accept me, and that's what my stepfather was- and still is- willing to do.  On the other hand, I think that's what made me angry; not because I wasn't being accepted, but because my real father wasn't the one to show me acceptance.

In so very many ways, it still does affect me.  I still yearn for him to accept me for who I am, for what I believe in, for what I do and who I care for... but slowly- ever so slowly- I realize more and more that what I want from him will probably never happen.  It pains me to come to this realization, and it makes me not want to believe it, that he will eventually accept me, but the more I think back on my childhood and his influence on me, the more I see that, though I am his son, he never really accepted me.  He always seemed more concerned about what was going on in my sister's life than that of my own, though even that wasn't much better than he did with me.

I look back on my childhood and the people I have known over the years, and it becomes more apparent with each passing day that children perpetuate the behaviors of their parents, regardless of whether these behaviors are "good" or "bad."  It's rare that I talk to my family about my parents' behavior- particularly my father's- but on the occasions that I do, I notice that he seemed to lie quite a bit- to both his family (namely wife and children) and neighbors.  I would always get in trouble whenever I would lie about something, regardless of what it was, and now I see why I acted that way.

Knowing what I do now, however, I wonder just what he told me over the years was a lie (white or otherwise) and what was the truth.  How many times was I lied to, by choice or by accident, when simply telling the truth should have sufficed?  How many times did he consciously make the choice to tell me how I felt was wrong and deny me the ability to properly grow as a human being?  How many times did he make me feel small and insignificant when he could have- nay, should have- just talked to me about it?

The more I think about it, the more I see that I never really had a dad during my childhood- and the closest things that I have to one aren't even related to me.

So many parents act upon their child's behavior- whether it's as a spur-of-the-moment decision or a time-thought deliberation- with unjust harshness and an undue severity of reprimand upon things that any normal child should be doing.  And yet, so few parents stop to think about what their choices will do to their children now and how it will affect them later.

As I commented at the beginning of this entry, I notice more and more that children will replicate their parents' behaviors:  Take, for example, the bully at school.  They are unjustly cruel to their peers, doing everything they possibly can to physically, mentally and/or emotionally prove to everyone else that they are the end-all-be-all of the students.  These children are often reprimanded and punished for their abusive behavior towards their fellow students, but what of the parents or guardians?  Why is so little ever done about the adults that influence these children to behave as such?

More often than not, I would imagine that these youths act as such for one simple reason; they are taking out the anger and frustration of their parental abuse on their peers so that they feel like they have some kind of control over their lives.  Whether or not this is true, I'm not entirely sure, but it is of my opinion that virtually all school/office bullies are simply perpetuating what happened to them at a young age.  The choice of a parent to abuse their child can and probably will be "re-enacted," so to speak, by the abused child as either a school bully or, later in life, as a harasser in the workplace or by abusing their own children under the delusional belief that they are being "better parents than theirs were."

So many parents believe that they are "doing the right thing" while being particularly harsh on their children for misbehaving, though sometimes they carry these to the extreme, beating their children senseless for minor things.  They refuse to look at the consequences of their choices, refuse to acknowledge the fact that their actions is part of a vicious cycle that, in many cases, will continue on through their own children.

They refuse to remember that Newton's Third Law of Motion applies to more than just physics:  For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  To deny this is to deny that an influential figure like a parent can literally force a child into the same malign behavioral pattern as their parents- unless something else comes along to "push" them out of it.

Wanting to be a father myself, I am more than a bit apprehensive about it; my single biggest fear for when I do have my own child(ren) is that I will perpetuate the same attitudes that my father did for me.  I can only hope that my efforts to not go down the same path will pay off in a different parenting style than what my father used with me.

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