Chip Off The Old Block

I don’t know what’s worth fight­ing for
Or why I have to scream
I don’t know why I insti­gate
And say what I don’t mean
I don’t know how I got this way
I’ll never be alright
So I’m break­ing the habit
I’m break­ing the habit tonight

—Linkin Park, Breaking The Habit

Studies have shown that kids with divorced par­ents are much more likely to end up being divorced them­selves. As role mod­els, we take the way their par­ents treat each other and use this as a model for our own rela­tion­ships. And even­tu­ally, our kids end up treat­ing their kids the same way because that’s all they know1.

I used to take my girl­friends for granted. It could have been a way for me to dis­tance myself to pre­vent get­ting hurt (as ther­apy has shown), or it may have just been what I thought rela­tion­ships were like.

I can recall my par­ents doing the same thing to each other. They didn’t marry out of love, they mar­ried because it was the thing to do when you reached a cer­tain age. Eventually, they merely inhab­ited the same house, not even sleep­ing in the same bed or room.

It’s a cycle, a trap. But that’s not an excuse for me.

I refuse to be like them. I refuse to end up like they did. I’m going to do my best to change that about myself.

And I will break the cycle.

  1. At least, that’s the excuse my mom uses. []

9 comments

  1. I always try to be cog­nizant of what char­ac­ter­is­tics in my par­ents’ habits and par­ent­ing tech­niques caused me pain, and fash­ion myself away from those emo­tion­ally and mentally.

    While i am a lot like my par­ents in many ways, I know my fun­da­men­tal beliefs and ide­o­log­i­cal dif­fer­ences will make me a very dif­fer­ent par­ent than they were. (They taught and ruled through the cloud of over-bearing Christian prin­ci­ples, and I doubt I will par­ent my chil­dren the same heavy-handed way.)

    • Hmmmm…I used to think that I was noth­ing like my par­ents, and now I’m feel­ing more and more like them in cer­tain ways. I guess I just never real­ized how much influ­ence they had. That’s prob­a­bly why I try to be con­scious now of the bad influences.

  2. Some peo­ple see par­ents as a les­son of how not to be. One or two options of infi­nite scratched off the list.

    Relationship behav­iors seem more in the realm of choice, than say, sui­ci­dal­ness, that’s leans more neurochemically.

    It’s good prac­tice to touch base with who you want to become and do course cor­rec­tions en route.

    • That’s exactly how I used to see my parents.

      I have to dis­agree about sui­ci­dal­ness though. There are some per­fectly sane, healthy, and log­i­cal peo­ple who choose sui­cide. I used to believe what you thought about the sub­ject until I read about the acclaimed writer Eric Hoffer, and how he decided to kill him­self at a very young age when he took a year off work and his life sav­ings ran out.

      • that’s a good point. it’s over­sim­pli­fied to say that it’s pro­gres­sive or pre­dictable out­come of imbal­ance. it can be an impulse not checked by any­one at any start­ing point.

        depres­sive peo­ple are more likely to dwell in the thoughts but per­haps no more likely to act. the pulling back is prac­ticed, with strate­gies more than some­one who is broad­sided and less pre­pared for the idea of self-killing. it becomes an art form to pull one­self back and to make nice and hide the guilty habit since depres­sion is such a taboo subject.

        Greg’s cre­at­ing an alliance for artists for men­tal health asso­ci­a­tion. http://www.ritallin.com/mhealth.htm

  3. Studies have also shown that kids with well-educated par­ents do bet­ter aca­d­e­m­i­cally than those with wealthy parents.

    People do take after their par­ents with­out know­ing it them­selves. You really are like your par­ents in cer­tain ways. I guess if noth­ing goes dras­ti­cally wrong, we will go on behav­ing like our par­ents. It’s only when dis­as­ters occur that they lead us to change our course (con­sciously or sub-consciously depend­ing on whether we have made peace with our failure).

    • Studies have also shown that kids with divorced par­ents have a higher divorce rate themselves.

      I find I’m not like my par­ents at all in most ways, prob­a­bly the result of a con­scious effort. But sub­con­sciously, I have no idea. I think it takes a 3rd party like you to point out the similarities.

      • On sim­i­lar­i­ties, how about indus­tri­ous, hedo­nis­tic, adven­tur­ous (will­ing to try new things), emo­tional, gre­gar­i­ous, single-minded? Both of your par­ents are like that. Your artis­tic sense could have come from the mater­nal side (you should have seen her Chinese cal­lig­ra­phy, prac­tised only recently). But your par­ents are not as stu­dious as you.

      • Hmmm…I agree with your list, but only one of my par­ents fall under each of your adjec­tives, not both (aside from “hedo­nis­tic”). Maybe I’m more like my par­ents than I realize.

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