“Children betrayed their parents by becoming their own people.”
“It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.”
Let’s assume you come from a working family. Your mom and dad worked. Maybe one of them was in a managerial position. If that is how you grew up you watched and gained some business beliefs from them. Their successes often dictate how we view gaining success.
And then … well … you grow up. You gain your own business experience and there comes a time when your own experience permits you to view your parent’s experience & views.
I would suggest that this is actually the third phase in the parent/child dynamic in Life.
There is the point in time when all of a sudden you realize your parents are human. That isn’t business … that is Life.
I wrote about this in a post called ‘the slippery slope of embellishment’ in which good parents, with good hearts and good intentions get trapped on the slippery slope. If parents are not very very careful they can step onto this slope early on in their children’s lives and if they are not careful to nip the embellishment in the bud at a key point that little nugget of ‘not exactly truth’ has become a seed that will grow in their child’s minds to become the ‘super human’ aspect of a child viewing their parents.
It is natural and there almost always comes a time when we face up to the fact most parents do the best they can but didn’t always get it right or even live their own lives quite right.
Then there are our 20’s when most of us stumble our way through the career gauntlet gaining some business experience … good & bad … where most of the time we think we know more than our bosses and everyone else only to be continuously proven that is not actually so.
For the most part this is a separation from parent influence as you just have to deal with most shit on your own with some key interactions <at most> for guidance.
Let’s just say that this is the time when you have worked your way through most of what business demands of you and you have decided how you want to deal with it, manage it and get what you want out of it.
This almost always forces a family choice. This is because your decided path, or how you may walk on that path, may not be exactly what your parent’s is.
Sometimes you can quietly ignore it and figure out a way to walk in the gray and then there sometimes comes a point in which Life places a spotlight on the choice – embrace your mother or father’s view or your own.
This is the moment when you are an adult and for some reason the spotlight of Life forces you to view the flaws of your parents, or either your father or mother, and you are faced with the fact they had some hollowness you had chosen to overlook or maybe you actually realize that while they brought you up, with their best intentions, to believe Life should be lived a certain way … you have come to believe Life should be faced a different way.
This is the moment you have a family choice to make.
If you have half a brain you have been dancing around the issue for a while. Embracing some aspects just to keep them happy, embracing some others because … well … they had got you where you are today … and ignoring some others simply because you think they are stupid, old fashioned or just plain wrong.
You get forced mostly because all of a sudden you become representative of someone else’s business beliefs and acumen. You become an agent of what they believe and do … whether you actually believe it or do it.
A couple things can happen and I would suggest they are mostly sequential.
The first is you, as an experienced 30something, try to influence your parents’ behavior and beliefs. You attempt to pick away at what you construe as some of the more heinous aspects to get them closer to your acumen.
You do this almost always under the guise of “times have changed and this is more likely to work.” Sometimes this works … more often it does not.
But you gotta try.
The difficulty is you will not win all of them and you end up either focusing on the ‘wins’ while blinding yourself from the ‘sins’ or you get some ‘wins’ on the less meaningful things and still get slimed by the more meaningful ‘sins.’
The second is you, as an experienced 30something, try to distance yourself from the parent’s behavior & beliefs.
The difficulty here is that distance in distancing is almost always the key. Proximity screws you. Especially if you go your own way, pave your one pathway … and it ends up too near your parent’s path.
And to be sure … all of this gets cloaked in your personal relationship with the parent. It gets cloaked in family ties & ‘blood’, maybe some guilt in that you know they had best intentions, possibly feel some debt in that you know they helped you get t where you are today and then finally do you have a close personal relationship or not.
All of these things sound, in typing, as easy things to assess and decide upon … uhm … but it is family. It is a parent. It is the one “who brung you to the party.”
I would suggest most people reach their 30’s having taken one of two paths with regard to family:
- You got to where you were by following what you had been taught and tied to your parent’s business ideology, acumen and beliefs.
- You got to where you were by rebelling against everything your parents had stood for, believed and ideology.
Regardless of how you got there I could argue that your parent ‘brung you to the party’ either by showing you the way or shoving you away. Therefore when decision time arrives you gotta face who brought you to the party.
It ain’t easy.
Because my father passed away before I hit my business stride I never had to deal with it … but I know I would have.
I cannot envision how difficult it would be to say “no, that is not right.”
“no, I want to do it this way.”
“no, you shouldn’t do that.”
It is the family choice.
But maybe it is more about what is right or wrong for ‘self.’ And that is the choice … because family will have wandered down the business path of Life having defined right & wrong in a certain way … and, yet, you, individually, have crafted a business path with a slightly different right & wrong.
The semantics between the two become real – especially if it all takes place publicly.
Interestingly I thought about this after I wrote my ‘in this time, at this place, I will be defined’ post. In this time, and in this place, I believe more 30somethings are being forced to take a stand … and often versus their father, mother or older generation.
I call it a family choice.
And I imagine it is a hard choice.
And I imagine I can really only say one last thing … the future resides in the hands, hearts & minds of the 30somethings. They should make a stand for what they believe is right, or wrong, even if it forces a family choice.