Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Is everyone destined to turn into their parents?

A few months back, I overheard my mother's closest friend, who was looking for a prospective daughter-in-law for herself tell my mother," if I really want to know how the girl will turn out, I'd look at her mother". I frowned at this suggestion but didn't say anything for obvious reasons. But I did find myself thinking about it more than I should. Perhaps I realized there was some truth in it, but not consciously.

Throughout my teenage and early adulthood I have strived to be my own person. Irrespective of the genes I inherited from my parents, I consciously avoided mistakes that I thought they committed. And then very recently, when I was cooing lovingly to my daughter, I found myself repeating the phrases that my mother did to me when I was a child. And today, when I was struggling to get my daughter ready for school in time, I uttered the the very words that I vowed never to utter to my own child- phrases from my childhood when I was being scolded. Other things I noticed like I keep my kitchen exactly the way my mum does. A close friend of mine is up from dawn till dusk refusing to nap even when time permits, just like her mum. My husband trying to shield me from the big bad world (infuriating sometimes), just like his dad does for his much protected wife. Ironical, isn't it? For we all love the thought of being individuals exclusive of other personalities.

How does this happen? As infants, we obviously learn about interactions from our parents and siblings. And we do learn from there a lot more than we think we do. Our reactions to circumstances, pitch and tone of voice is all first learnt by observing our parents. Since we know nothing about the outside world as infants, we obviously think this is the only way things are done. As we grow older our interactions with outside world increases and we start observing friends, teachers and relatives. They form new brain patterns. Then comes teenage and we unlearn everything in the bid to be different (at least that is the way it happened with me).

Then why am I now regressing to my infancy?! Haha, as funny as it sounds, I did think a lot about it. And here is what I found. I am not a psychologist but I found there are specific times when my brain chooses to act like my parents.

  • When I am struggling with something
  • When I am extremely happy
  • When there is a festival
  • When I am undertaking a very risky venture
There are more but can't think of them now. 

Where does that leave me? Nowhere close to answering my question but there is something I would like to admit. Genes and family values, notwithstanding, I am grateful to my parents for passing on some wonderful qualities to me like reading, caring for others and how to have a blast on a family vacation, no matter what goes wrong. And then there are some things that I try to avoid like hurting someone or being unkind.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Are we all eventually going to turn out like our parents?

This is my second post and things look much better now. It took a little over a couple of hours and I am done just in time to pick my daughter up from school. Yay!


  1. Very often I too tend to think on the much debated topic of psychology- "nature versus nurture". Despite all the struggles to be an independent person, not having any similarity to our parents or as u mentioned "consciously avoiding the mistakes they committed"- I often think is it because when we are young our parents become our real life heroes, we admire them and look up to them for the solution to all our problems. As we grow older though we forget those instances consciously but somewhere down the line we still admire them and respond they way they did. Also I feel that when in instances where adult boys and girls are ashamed of their parents , I often think that it is not that they are embarrassed of their parents but embarrassed of being who they really are. This is what I personally and quietly analysed and believe to a certain degree.

    1. Indian culture relies heavily on the values and tradition passed onto the next generation, so I do agree that our parents are our heroes during our childhood. We lose that plot along our teenage and somehow get it back when the middle age strikes :) Which is what is happening to me right now. Or maybe I started observing more now. Whatever the case, I do honestly hope we are never embarrassed of our parents. We probably don't aspire to be "like" them in all respects but learn to respect them for the decisions they took about our lives and their own.
      Thanks for your wonderful insights, Mridusmita!