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Parental Influence

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
A friend and I were debating this recently. I said that I'm glad my Mother raised me because if I was raised by many other mothers I know, I would certianly have had a lot of problems.

My friend said that it wouldn't matter. She pointed out people we both know who came from highly dysfunctional families who are upstanding citizens. She also pointed out some "undesirable" people who seemed to have good parents.

So, what do you think has a greater influence on a person's character - the way they were raised or their own inner self, regardless of parental influence?

I'm not really looking for scientific studies. I'd like to see examples and opinions though!
post #2 of 22
Its not black and white. Nature vs. Nurture has been debated forever and the best way its always answered is..."its a little of both"...
It depends upon so many variables whether or not a person forms undesirable characteristics or not and these include: genetics, parenting, attachment and bonding, nutrition, levels of resiliency in character, obstacles, fortune and tragedy....

So, my opinion is it all depends, it all depends, it all depends...
post #3 of 22
My dad have two wives concurrently. He had a gambling problem. His second wife who belongs to a gang tried to kill my entire family............by using her ex-husband, who was angry because my father took her and his son away from him.........

You get the picture........

Others learn by looking at their parents and imagine to be the parents. I learn by looking at my parents and imagine NOT to be them.

I think I am alright. I at least have a good marriage.
post #4 of 22
I would have to say both too.

I mean parents try to teach their kids their morals and beliefs. A child can either choose to accept or rebel against these ideals.

There are way too many variables to say that is it one or the other, but that these work together to shape the child into who they are to become.
post #5 of 22
I think it has more to do with whether you internalize everything or whether you take it out on everyone else, and it also has to do with what else happens in your life. If your parents aren't very good at parenting but there are other people in your life who take up the role and help you out, then mostly you can be okay. If you have excellent parents but somehow fall into some bad stuff or things happen to you you can turn out with problems. And some people are just born mean or whatever, and some people have survived all kinds of horrible things and turn out to be angels.
My parents were way not strict enough on certain things and way too strict on others. And also our family is really good at being in denial about absolutely everything. And never telling each other the truth about anything. And my dad cries if you talk to him on the phone, so I don't. He's a control freak but doesn't have control over anyone anymore so he just hobbles around cleaning and going to the library...and my mom goes on walks alone at night to get away from him. My sister is all messed up about it because my mom got very very sick when I was nine and my dad used to be the "cool" one and he just went nuts and my mom used to be really mean to her when she was little and now she's like my best friend and hers too.
But we turned out okay. We both internalize everything.
post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by shengmei
My dad have two wives concurrently. He had a gambling problem. His second wife who belongs to a gang tried to kill my entire family............by using her ex-husband, who was angry because my father took her and his son away from him.........

You get the picture........

Others learn by looking at their parents and imagine to be the parents. I learn by looking at my parents and imagine NOT to be them.

I think I am alright. I at least have a good marriage.
Wow. You sure sound like you overcame very well.

I always liked the saying "the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world," but I guess it doesn't always work that way.

Your'e all right. It depends, both, etc.
post #7 of 22
I forgot to mention something that really rung true to me once...

The ideal situation for progressive society is to reconcile your parents faults and cling to their positives (something like that).
Essentially, the ideal state of humankind is to do the opposite of the bad and mirror the good we see in our family/parents...
(even crap families and crap people have some good somewhere somehow )

This is why we look at some people and go WOW, she really turned out well seeing who her parents were (for example).. What we don't know for sure is would she have turned out as well in another case? Does someone excel in their lives due to their drive and determination NOT to turn out like their parents? Some swim upstream and some swim down....
post #8 of 22
My parents are conservative, fundamentalist Christians and we kids were expected to toe the line.

I've managed to stay out of trouble with the law and avoid drug/alcohol problems.

My three younger brothers have all have drug/alcohol problems and have been in jail or prison. My youngest brother is in, now. All of their legal problems have been related to drugs and/or alcohol.

I attribute MY "good" behavior to birth order and being the only female, as well as my upbringing. My grandmother was a very proper Southern lady and I was expected to behave, too.

Granted, I have strayed from my fundamentalist upbringing - take a drink now and then, smoke and I haven't always been married to the men that I lived/slept with but, I've always worked an honest job, paid my bills, took care of my kids and respect my parents.
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by katl8e
My parents are conservative, fundamentalist Christians and we kids were expected to toe the line.

I've managed to stay out of trouble with the law and avoid drug/alcohol problems.

My three younger brothers have all have drug/alcohol problems and have been in jail or prison. My youngest brother is in, now. All of their legal problems have been related to drugs and/or alcohol.

I attribute MY "good" behavior to birth order and being the only female, as well as my upbringing. My grandmother was a very proper Southern lady and I was expected to behave, too.

Granted, I have strayed from my fundamentalist upbringing - take a drink now and then, smoke and I haven't always been married to the men that I lived/slept with but, I've always worked an honest job, paid my bills, took care of my kids and respect my parents.
I totally agree with what you've said.
My father was a strict penecostal minister. We went to church 4-5 times a week wether we were sick or not. My mother basically when along with it to please him even if she wasn't in agreement with it. I try to have solid family values but I know I will not pressure my children into religion like I was.
I have a little of my mother in me because I can be very forgiving and have a huge heart, which in return can hurt me. But I also have a bit of my father in me who does'nt take no for an answer and can be very head strong and argumentative. It's funny because my mother tried to teach me the whole "turn the other cheek" theory but my father also tried to teach me "if you turn the other cheek, you'll just get slapped on that one so fight back"... I have reached a happy medium with it but lord help the person who tips me over the medium!
My sisters are 8 and 9 years older then me and are from another marriage of my dads. One of them is in prison as we speak (same one who said I was a burden on the family) and the other one has been married 5 times and 3 of them to the same man who broke her son's arm and nose.
My brother is from my mother's previous marriage, he's 11yrs older. I would have to say he's never been in any real trouble. Not with drugs or the law anyways. Him and I don't really talk to my sisters but have a good relationship between us.


(Not sure if this is really in relation to this post )
post #10 of 22
You know, I remember theorizing something like this in college.

A little background: my mom would watch TV and I would have to ask questions or what for my answers during commercial breaks.

I remember my friend saying that no matter how much we try to change ourselves, we still teach/treat our kids the same thing. He said that I would be unavailable to my child as my mom was to TV if I decided to work a 40 hour (or more) week. I could take steps around it, but in the end, I would still neglect my child with a similar notion.
post #11 of 22
Something I see a lot in regards to a child's behavior is "He/she does great in school and is so quiet/nice. His/her parents must be awesome." or "Ugh! Such horrid behavior! there must be problems at home!"

That's just not always the case. I did great in grade school. Great enough to get into a gifted and talented academy, where I thrived. I then went on to highschool, where the education was a huge downgrade and I learned very little which wasn't covered in the giftes and talented academy. I got bored quickly, but still passed and graduated. I was quiet, and still don't really speak up much. Teachers liked me and sent letters home saying so. I was almost always early or on time, almost never missed a day of school, and was never, ever suspended. I got detention a few times, but that was only because of the tardy policy of the school at the time (a minute late to school=1 hr detention after). I constantly had perfect attendance, was on the honor roll a lot, and scored in the top percentiles on standardized tests. I also got the highest GPA in the school a few times.)

My home life was hell for pretty much my whole life until I left home.

Everything that went wrong at home was immediately my fault, and I was punished accordingly. If someone even suggested I did anything I was beaten. My side of a story was never requested. A few children in the neighborhood would come by saying that I'd done something or the other so that they could watch her beat me through the window and laugh. If she found that she was wrong, she would not apologise. Ever. To this day, she's never once apologised to me for any mistake she's made.

Mom's mere thoughts were always right. I was a "stupid child" whose sole purpose in life was to make hers miserable, and if she thought I'd done something wrong it was as good as if she'd caught me redhanded doing it, and I was beaten.

I asked for help with homework exactly twice in my life. She'd explain things to me as if I had her level of education and act like I was the dumbest child on the planet if I didn't catch on immediately (I was 10 at the time). I'd do all of my homework at school, and say "no" when she asked if I had any after that.

One semester (years later) I got a C on something. She took one look at my report card and told me "You are not worthy of being considered my daughter if you brought grades like this home. People will look at this grade and think that I am a bad parent."

Any opinions I shared with her, from childhood to adulthood were immediately dismissed as idiotic or cut off and talked over with her bigger, better opinion. To this day I have small panic attacks when asked to give my opinion on anything. She would frequently play mindgames with me, saying that no one was to be trusted, that she was my only real friend, and that everyone else was secretly laughing at me behind my back.

I pretty much stayed at school, at the library, anywhere as long as possible because I hated going home. I loved reading and learning in general (and still do), and pretty much lived in books, and was taught many key things by them. That kids elsewhere didn't immediately jump into bed and pretend to sleep when their parents came home. That I could legally move out at 18. That I would probably start bleeding from places soon, and that it was perfectly normal.

For those and a lot more reasons, I have quite a few issues that I am still struggling to conquer today (I coud go on forever, but I've typed more than enough and have now made myself a little less comfortable than I like being). I've gotten over some, but others will be tougher to handle.

I have never been arrested for any reason. I start college next year after taking a bit of time off between high school and college because I wasn't sure of what I wanted from life. I know now, and since moving away from home, have been happier in a small amount of years than I was for the duration of my life before it.

*****I'm not asking for sympathy, nor do I want it. I am just pointing out that good kid doesn't necessarily mean great parents, and bad kid doesnt necesarily mean horrible parents.*****
post #12 of 22
It hurt me just to read that, CommonOddity...
I am so sorry that you and other children in the world have to suffer at the hands of ill-equipped, selfish, sadistic people. I so wish I could have been there when you were growing up to make it right.

Your account of what is supposed to be the best time in your life is turning my stomach. Really.

I am glad that you sound like an articulate and compassionate individual and that you chose a different path. Hugs to you.
post #13 of 22
I'm confused about my own childhood. While I feel compelled to say it was good, I have really examine why I say that. I try to only remember good times and emulate them and I avoid the bad, such as physical discipline or put downs and try to never do that with my son.

I mean both my parents were abusive mentally, emotionally and physically(they called it discipline) and yet I would still call them good parents who did the best that they could. I know I could have had worse.

I've said it before, without my parents influence (good or bad) I would not be who I am today. I think I have good points and I know I am really screwed up too, but then who isn't?????

I just try to educate myself to do better everyday and try my very best with my own son, but there comes a day when every child has to make choices and decisions that are going to based on themselves and how they feel and will not reflect or say anything about the parents.
post #14 of 22
I really don't think it is a simply case of genetics versus the environment. There are plenty of people who claim they are bad because of their upbringing, etc. There are plenty of people who claim they are bad because they inherited genes. There are plenty of people who claim they are bad because their mothers had substance abuse while being pregnant......or they have different socioeconomic striata......etc. etc.

I think people either choose to be good or bad. There is a cross-road in life, usually accompanying the deepest, darkest traumas.....when people just choose to be good, or to be bad.

It is a matter of choice.

My BIL and my hubby looks almost the same and had the exact same upbringing. Yet they ended up so much differently. It is shocking how much your choice of mate could affect you.
post #15 of 22
It's not as simple as being a matter of choice because why would anybody choose to have problems? They may not realize that they should be doing things differently because there are honestly people who have never even once seen or met or talked to someone who does what most of us consider a "good life", such as not doing illegal things, behaving responsibly, etc. It is a matter of choice when it comes to serious crime like murder or drug dealing and such, but just screwing up a lot isn't a choice people make. If you never receive any guidance in any good direction from a single person then how can anybody expect you to do good?
post #16 of 22
My father had Aspergers just like me and he had his "problems". However, what brought him down was not his Aspergers but his gambling and porn addiction. He was a brilliant man, and if he never had gambled he would had been the head of his hospital by now, a millionaire, AND an excellent father.

There are things people can choose not to do, such as drinking, smoking, gambling, doing drugs, stealing luxury items that are not essential for survival, taking cars out for a joyride, stabbing people, sleeping with multiple partners without protection, sacrificing black cats for devil worship..........etc. etc.

A lot of the more innocuous things are gateways to more serious things like murder.

There is a choice about such things.
post #17 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for sharing your own personal experiences. Some of them sound like traumatic childhoods. It amazes me that everyone here seems to have overcome the negativity from their childhood.

Apparently we have a choice of whether or not to accept our parents' influence. In my own experience, my dad wasn't around much when I was a kid, but my Mom did everything she could to be both parents. We had our ups and downs, but she pulled us through. I didn't know we were poor. I thought pancakes or cereal for dinner was a treat. For awhile she worked 7 days a week, but our neighbor watched us after school and she was always there at night. She had few friends and built her life around my brother and I.

I made my share of mistakes and still do. I had my share of drug abuse and all, BUT it would have been a lot sooner and most likely a lot deeper if it wasn't for my Mom. Imagining her being disapointed in me and crying after she did so much for us kids kept me from doing a lot of things I may have done otherwise.

Congratulations to all of you who had a hard childhood and turned out to be the wonderful people you are.
post #18 of 22
Don't get me wrong I have much sympathy for anyone who had a horrible childhood. I actually think adversity makes people better cat lovers.....

However, I think talk therapy can often backfire, as it did with me a year ago.
post #19 of 22
I think the evidence is starting to weigh somewhat in favor of nature, though of course environment has a lot to do with it as well.
post #20 of 22
I think it's pretty apparent that it's both, although the degree to which it varies would be very interesting to study. Skinner said he could train children from birth to be whatever he wanted them to be, even their intelligence and chosen career, like he could take two identical twins and make one love being a janitor and make the other one a multimillionaire CEO just by training them. That's ridiculous. But so is thinking that you could program a kid genetically and then not do any parenting and have them turn out just how they were "supposed" to.
post #21 of 22
I still think it is neither. I think it is a choice.
post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rockcat
A friend and I were debating this recently. I said that I'm glad my Mother raised me because if I was raised by many other mothers I know, I would certianly have had a lot of problems.

My friend said that it wouldn't matter. She pointed out people we both know who came from highly dysfunctional families who are upstanding citizens. She also pointed out some "undesirable" people who seemed to have good parents.

So, what do you think has a greater influence on a person's character - the way they were raised or their own inner self, regardless of parental influence?

I'm not really looking for scientific studies. I'd like to see examples and opinions though!

It's funny you bring this up as it was a topic of discussion between DH and myself just the other night.

I was saying that I don't understand that despite my upbringing and my past with abusive parents, heinous peers and an abusive ex husband, how I still remain a kind hearted person when it sooo could have gone the other way.

But to that accord, I'm incredibly sensitive and always have been, I do have some personality disorders due to my upbringing that have made life a bit complicated at times...but I'm working hard at overcoming those as well.

But my sensitivity is a blessing and a curse. I wear my emotions on my sleeve so it is very simple for Joe Blo off the street to take advantage of my kindness.....at the same time I would be the person that would walk up to the little old lady sitting on the park bench looking lonely and depressed and ask her if she was okay.

That's who I am.

Both my upbringing and my one inner self molded me into who I have become as a grown woman. It's a learning curve with regards to life.

Take a look at my sisters:

Sister 1: Evil heinous temper, very out of control (22 years old has three kids). Yells at 7 mo old for getting his face dirty during meal times.... Obsessive compulsive, prone to panic attacks, very low self esteem, but her anger and temper overshadow it, she hides her self esteem problems behind her anger.

Our upbringing and her personality molded her into a continuation of the circle of violence.

Sister 2: Self reliant yet materialistic, just like me hospitalized for mental health issues, but more often than myself. Very distant with the rents, only calls if she needs something. Married, expecting baby. Her and I are not close and never have been. She has Depression, borderline personality disorder 'traits' and among whatever else I don't know. She just turned 24.

Me: Straight into military after HS. Met ex....accepted relationship though abusive because of a few reasons: 1. He was my first 2. I was expecting his child and 3. He was alot like my father (emotionally abusive to me, physically abusive to our child).

I've struggled with mental health issues as well...Borderline Personality Disorder, Major Depression, Avoidant personality disorder and PTSD.

I still struggle with them. It's made life difficult but it has not made me a bitter person or a mean person. I am not prone to anger....and I do not like conflict. I avoid it at all costs.

I don't know if that answers your question but giving an example of me and my sisters I thought that might be a helpful way to show the answer to the question.

Just so you know. I'm the oldest. Sister 1, is the youngest and Sister 2 is the middle child.
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