Children don’t need perfect paents; they need happy parents.

Sigmund Freud is generally labelled as “the father of modern psychology.”  While very few counseling practitioners follow his theories and methods closely, he certainly raised our collective awareness of factors that have a significant influence on our personal development and, more specifically, our unique personality.  Freud strongly believed in the power of parental influence in the formation of our individual traits and temperamental tendencies.

This preface may lead us to an interesting (and perhaps even a little scary) question.  Specifically, “who are you more like, your mother or our father?  For those of us who are the products of divorce, separation,  or the early passing of a parent, the question modifies, only slightly, to “Are you more like the “significant same sex person” from your developing years, or to the “opposite sex person” ?

This often leads to quick, superficial responses, but I advise my readers to take this question more seriously.   I believe that a more thoughtful examination of this topic can yield dividends in the form of greater personal self-understanding.  It can provide answers into the source of our problems in both our personal and professional lives.

For example, who was the dominant personality in the home of your childhood?  And who serves that role in your marriage or committed relationship?  Are you proud of the traits that you share with your more influential parental figure?  Or do you feel shame and embarrassment when you recognize those tendencies?

I strongly believe that a courageous self examination of those behavioral (and attitudinal) tendencies can go a long way toward better relationships.  As my “snowman” would assert, a greater awareness of our own thoughts and beliefs ultimately leads to more positive and productive social habits and patterns.  Are you a “bully” like your father or a “doormat” like your mom?  Do you frequently interrupt a speaker, or are you the person who seems to get interrupted by others?  Do you “pick fights” or shrink from them?  And who from your developing years did that?  And which pattern have you, perhaps unconsciously, come to imitate?  It has been said that:  “Life is all about going against our tendencies”

Both good and bad tendencies can rob us of healthier behaviors now.  So, who are you more like; “Mom” or “Dad?”

Today’s homework:

Step One:  Make an honest determination as to which parental role model you are similar to, in terms of both good and bad tendencies.

Step Two:  This one is easy to understand, although perhaps challenging to accomplish:  Cherish and retain the good patterns that you learned from your dominant role model and endeavor to eliminate the harmful leanings you may recognize in yourself.

Enjoy this journey into your past.

Children are natural mimics, despite every effort to teach them good manners.  Twain