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Life-wise

by Ray Wiseman

Often we mirror our parents

I grew up in a town served by one protestant church and one catholic church. We all attended the same school, played on the same teams and drew friends from both sides of the religious divide. Typically, we never asked newcomers which church held their allegiance. We knew our parents didn’t agree on faith issues, but that never influenced our friendships.

 The protestant minister and the catholic priest treated each other with respect. Everyone admired the Sisters of St. Joseph, who ran the local hospital. So when you grow up in a community like that, shock sets in on discovery that not all neighbourhoods think or act in the same way. When I came to Ontario, I noticed a change in the religious environment. Even though still a youngster, I detected less tolerance.

I count myself fortunate to have grown up amid religious tolerance. The way our parents and society socialize or condition us determines the pattern for the rest of our lives. Unfortunately, that works for negative as well as positive things; for tolerance or intolerance; or for good or evil.

I admit I had influences in both directions. My parents, like most, had imperfections.

When mother found herself with three children and no income, she took life by the horns and with sheer physical and emotional power wrestled most problems to the ground. When that didn’t work, she learned to manipulate the system to protect and provide for her offspring.

Being a bit of a coward, I learned more about manipulating than meeting issues head on. Somewhere in mid life my manipulating trapped me in a difficult and embarrassing situation.  Finding myself looking into a virtual life mirror and not liking what I saw meant I had to work hard to change the approach my mother and circumstances had unintentionally bred into me.

Not surprisingly, my youngest son early developed great talents as a manipulator. Fortunately, he figured it out and redirected his energies to become an excellent negotiator.

We all become what parents, circumstances and experiences make us, but sometimes we can change paths along the way.

The physical and sexual abuse of children has become a big issue in the media in recent years. It has always existed as a serious problem, but only recently have we, as a society, recognized it and chosen to deal with it. In case after case, court documents and scientific studies have indicated that men and women who abuse children, themselves suffered from abuse while young. The horrors that people inflicted on them, they in turn imposed on the next generation.

How often do we see parents, deeply hurt by separation or divorce, deliberately or unconsciously, using their children to get even with their ex-mate?

Or sometimes they use them simply to vent their frustrations. Either way, they have launched the child toward failure in later life. And so we reach the obvious conclusion: a negative experience in a child’s life duplicates itself in the following generations because persons injured by people or experience, in turn injure others. More simply put: hurt people hurt other people.

We are fortunate indeed if we can separate life’s positive experiences from the negative and live a life free from hurting others. And even more fortunate if we can identify children in bad situations and offer constructive help. 

 

 

Vol 43 Issue 33

 
 

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Maureen
April 11 2014 | 14:03
Kelly, I would like to commend you (rather tardily)on your column this year about depression when you referred to your own experience. Mood challenges like depression and anxiety run in many families just like other health issues such as heart disease. Thank you for having the courage to discuss your own depression. A column like that gives others courage to get help for a condition that can often be greatly relieved. Maureen Lewis MSW RSW
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