Tuesday, 5 June 2012
An awful likeness
Even if we're thinking more of our parents' virtues, we still don't want to be told that we're merely a carbon copy of a parent, we want to have our own identity and take our own route through life.
I certainly don't like to be told that I take after my father, who in my opinion had a stack of unpleasant traits I spent most of my time trying consciously to avoid. Self-righteous bullying, among other things.
It helps that he hasn't been around for 24 years. Once a parent is gone, you're no longer exposed to the character flaws you disliked, and you're less likely to copy them. And when nobody can see the two of you together any more, they're less prone to see resemblances. I'm especially fortunate since Jenny never actually met my father and knows nothing about him except what I choose to reveal. So it's extremely rare for her to utter that dread phrase "You're turning into your father."
But it says something about our underlying view of our parents that if we're told we're morphing into one of them, our reaction is invariably one of shock and horror. My God, you can't be serious? You think I'm like my mother? This is terrible! Even if we're aware of all their good points, we never say "I'm like my mother? That's fantastic. How lovely of you to say so!" No, we always assume the worst, that the other person can see some vile, hideous trait that makes us thoroughly unattractive.
But as far as I'm concerned, I'm not like my father in any way at all. Absolutely, positively not. And you can't say any different as you've never met him. So there.