With the holiday season around us, it makes me think of what one of the most important things in my life, family. We all have our own dysfunction, problems, habits, traditions and hobbies. It has always been so interesting to me how families follow what they know. I grew up in a racing family, so of course I love racing and my children are growing up in that environment. My husband loves to hunt and therefore my children love to go with him and will have a love for hunting that they will pass down to their children. What we love to do, our children get saturated with. They may or may not continue this but most likely it becomes one of those things that’s “in the blood.”
But it goes deeper then this. As children, most of us are not taught about feelings or mental health. We are not necessarily shown how to cope with the world around us and the emotions we experience. Instead we learn from example from the important adults in our life. However, they respond to a given situation, children follow. A lot of adults use coping skills they learned as children that may or may not be effective; they have emotions they don’t know how to understand or express in a healthy way, but they are comfortable and “work.”
We are products of our environment, meaning how we are raised is a big part of how we live our life. How we handle stress, interact with others, dynamics of our relationships, a lot of it comes from the generations above us and the world around us. Sometimes this isn’t the best as there may be characteristics handed down from our families that are toxic and very unhealthy. This is where the cycle of generational behavior exists. Many people have a hard time breaking that cycle as what they know is their “normal” and doing different is foreign or even at times, scary.
You can’t help the environment you grew up in, but most likely you are the way you are because of it. It’s nearly impossible to separate yourself from your childhood. The lessons, values and beliefs that you learn as a child are what shape you as an adult and also create the type of parent you will be to your own kids and spouse you will be to your significant other. So, as parents, it’s important to be aware of which life lessons and family legacies you want to carry on, and which ones you think could use a little improvement. It’s okay to stray from the path your parents set forth for you. Especially if it will benefit your children and those children to come.