The Weight of Parenting

standard January 21, 2007 Leave a response

M and I had lunch with his sister, J, and her fiance, P, two people we adore. Our conversation covered many topics, the most memorable of which was our parents and their foibles.
I feel that I am very fortunate. I was raised by an amazing mom, a strong independent person who taught me that I can do anything I set my mind to and that I am an amazing person. (Sometimes I think she’s the only one who thinks so, but her vote of confidence is sometimes enough to give me wings when I’m scared.) She always encouraged me to try new things and thanks to her I have a decided “I might as well try it, if it doesn’t work out I’ll do something else” attitude. (Maman, I am not just saying this because I know you are reading!)
M and his sisters were raised by a mother who, while very loving, definitely has a “what if you fail” attitude. Having someone who questions and doubts your every decision and choice definitely chips away at your resolve, sometimes even your self esteem. Their father is an amazing man who happens to excel at everything he does, definitely setting the success bar very high. The combination of these two parents has led to M and his sister having something of a self confidence issue. P’s parents seem to have been a mix of mine and M’s. His dad has the same attitude as my mom, but apparently doesn’t apply that logic to himself.
Our conversation didn’t focus on criticizing anyone, just on noticing how our parent’s attitudes have affected us in our adult lives.
We are all 30 something. We live on our own. We have our own jobs. We are all pretty successful. Yet we are still influenced on a daily basis by what our parents say to us.
As a parent, that scares me! What do we say that C will remember or be scarred by? How do we foster independence, self confidence and a healthy sense of fear?

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