Your parents are partially responsible for who you are, but once you’re an adult, only you can control how you deal with the effects of your childhood.
No matter how much your parents try
they will inevitably fuck you up in some way.
A lot of times, good things turn on you, and thats totally natural. The defense mechanisms we develop to deal with our childhood don’t serve us as adults. Obedient children make complacent adults. People who seek constant approval through good grades or winning sports competitions can become co-dependent or completely aimless without the rigors of overachieving. What is there to do? You cant take your mom out for brunch and call her a bitch or a mean girl. You cant sit next to your dad while hes watching the game and tell him his emotional distance is why you have herpes.
So what is the solution? For your sanity, you have to acknowledge the problem, address it and then move on.
Types of Parents & Their Baggage
Ever wonder why you have trouble completing tasks? Do you have trouble committing or following through? You may have a saboteur-rent. They often throw obstacles in your way, unconsciously or spitefully. Whether its buying snacks when youre on a diet or interrupting your artistic or career endeavors with petty distractions, they often have advice or commentary, but its rarely useful. They can hold you back. The trick is to find a way to silence their voice in your head, diplomatically, and listen and trust your own judgment.
The Training Tires
Are you incapable of thinking for yourself? Do you not believe you can do things? You may have had parents that upgraded your training wheels to training tires. Human beings have figured out how to create nets, break open coconuts and ward off lions and sharks with rudimentary spears. Surely, you can figure out how to do your own taxes. Parents who run to help their children keep them from developing the confidence and adaptive skills to learn how to do things for themselves. Try to challenge yourself. Failing isnt as scary as your parents would have you believe.
Do you have an overwhelming sense of low self-esteem or a complete lack of confidence? Maybe your parents were needlessly critical. Some parents, in their effort to provide you with the best opportunities, dont realize their criticism will be your biggest hurdle in life. They must have missed that pamphlet about positive reinforcement. These overly critical parents say theyre telling you how it really is, but if a stranger criticized you this much, youd tell them to go fuck themselves. The challenge is that your parents are the people with whom you are the least guarded. The trick is to build up your defenses, ignore their well-meaning or just downright mean criticism and find your own source of self-esteem.
The Petty Victory Parade
Do you have an disturbingly inflated sense of self? Do you think everything you do is great? Do you have trouble sticking to things? You may have had parents who marched in the petty victory parade. If you celebrate everything your children do, they might not ever distinguish a real victory from what they have to do. The potty training applause breaks disappear after you can wipe your own behind. You dont need an inflated sense of adversity, but you should be able to recognize and truly enjoy overcoming it. Also, you might inadvertently turn people off with your inflated sense of confidence despite being totally par.
The Emotional Assassin
Armed with cutting remarks and emotional land mines, the emotional assassin knows how to hit you where you live. Probably because they know where you sleep and hide your porn and joints. Like Charlie Brown always listening to Lucy, you constantly expect a different reaction from your parents, so you get excited, and then they inevitably leave you on the floor rubbing your emotional bruises. Like that monkey raised by a wire mother, some people are colder and harsher. Your best bet is to distance yourself emotionally from what they say and instead find alternate sources for approval and affection.
Its the oldest story in the world: The strict parent who keeps his daughter from dancing or wearing any makeup and boom, she becomes a stripper. While trying to shield their children from ne’er-do-wells and trouble, they have left their children sheltered. The trick is to curb your own exploration, experimentation and troublemaking. Be wary of drug addiction and getting into cars with strangers.
You cant go back in time and change your parents. Like in the Ashton Kutcher classic The Butterfly Effect, and the film itself, it just wont work. Sadly, you can neither change them and oftentimes not even get closure. Acceptance is an important key in continuing relations. However, theres nothing wrong with having secret moments where you rip up an old birthday card and say, Wow, my moms a bitch or My dads a dickhead. Harboring ill will toward your parents serves nothing. Theyre so confused trying to figure out the Googles or the Blu-ray remote, they dont have time to deal with your shit. But hopefully you can find a sense of serenity in realizing why you might be the way you are and how you might change it just like you will almost definitely do something to mess up your kids, everyones just trying their best.
Christian Cintron is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.