The most ironic part of parenting is where deep down inside parents do not want their children to become like them when they grow up. There’s no harm in thinking that way as usually all parents have purely good intentions attached to this wish. They want their children to become better human beings than they are. They want them to become more successful in life. It is generally a pack of all deficiencies parents see in their lives which they wish not to be part of their children’s future.
The interesting part here is the fact that we do not want to work on these deficiencies ourselves. In some cases, we might not even see most of them as deficiencies and may even be proud of them but would still not want our children to inherit them. It is a vicious cycle that we are all part of. Some of us conscious about it and the rest not.
Remember the time when we were growing up? The time when ideals were made in our minds. A teacher who touched our hearts, an uncle with a macho attitude or an elder cousin who could do anything he wants with such great confidence. These are all examples of people who effect our minds and shape our personalities without us even knowing. We look up to them, copy them and want to be like them. Each one of us has a personality contaminated with elements of characteristics from our ideals. The biggest problem with that starts when we lose the sense of what’s right and wrong while blindly following these idols.
Human beings inherit a lot from their parents and ancestors. The DNA not only carries details about physical appearance and characteristics but also holds strong information about how a person will think, react and behave under certain circumstances. This is what basically forms the foundation of our personality when we are growing up. Call it our ‘default setting’. What makes us different from other living creatures though is the gift of intellect from God that enables us and gives us the option of overwriting certain settings inherited from the DNA and form our own personality.
This is where judgement comes into the picture. The sense of knowing what’s right and wrong while being completely detached from any prejudice or bias. We can all never be perfect, neither were our ancestors. To convince ourselves that we’re imperfect is the most difficult step. Of course, all of us agree that nobody is perfect but we actually don’t really count ourselves when we say it. The fabric of tradition and obedience with which our society is so closely knit sometimes does not allow us to explore anything outside it. Neither does it allow to test the fabric itself with time, religion or technology.
Many of us know about some of our habits that are not correct. In terms of the vicious cycle I was referring to earlier, many of us even know some of our parents’ and our children’s habits that are incorrect. We are usually proud of them for that and blame it solely (still not seriously) on the DNA.
- ‘O look! He’s so stubborn just like his Grandpa!’
- ‘She only does what she wants just like her mother. No point in telling her anything.’
- ‘He’s always late. Like father like son.’
For our children, we don’t take it seriously until it becomes a pain for ourselves when they start developing such habits permanently. In case of our elders, we just can’t find the courage and words to correct them in a polite manner. In fact, we aren’t even honest enough to ourselves to accept that anything they do can be incorrect. The purpose of this post in no way is to entice disobedience towards our elders. It is rather an effort to open our eyes to what is right and what is wrong not from an ancestral point of view but from a ‘religiously-correct’ contemporary perspective.
It is perfectly fine not to bring to notice of our elders some of their habits which may not be appropriate (from a contemporary point of view only). At the same time, it is extremely important to look at ourselves critically and explore if any of these habits exist in our own systems. The best we can do is be honest with ourselves and eliminate habits that we do not want our children to inherit. Besides, our parents probably didn’t want us to become like them in the first place.
You may be short-tempered like your father but that is certainly nothing to be proud of, neither would you want your children to become that way. People may love your child being stubborn just like you but that’s not something to be pleased about if you don’t want your child to grow up and become that way. So, what do you do? You work on yourself for this. Do not expect your children to be better than you without telling them what’s better. The best way of ‘telling’ is ‘showing’ what you mean by ‘doing’ it yourself. There are more chances of them learning from what you practice than from what you preach.
Hammad A. Mateen