Friday, September 2, 2011

Tethered -- Writer's Poke #309

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The dad of one of my best friends likes to play golf. As long as I have known him, he has worn Polo shirts, driven a nice car, and held true to his Republican and Presbyterian ideals. He has two sons, including my friend, both of whom have gone never against family tradition. As adults, both maintain the same upper-middle class lifestyle, and both now live on golf courses. Their political and religious beliefs remain pretty much in line with those they “inherited” from their father.


Rebels and “degenerates” and “black sheep” get all of the attention, but my suspicion is that most children are heavily influenced by those that raise them. They, in fact, in ways conscious and unconscious, become reflections of their in-home models. Most children embed the behaviors, attitudes, and flaws of their parents or guardians, whether they are biologically related or not. That’s my theory.

And at the same time, forces outside of the home domain are credited for having more influence on the shaping of character. Granted, peer pressure is real, but it’s also situational and temporary. The family “pressure” of how one is raised transcends contexts and, in most cases, has lifelong effects. How unusual is it, for example, for individuals even in their 30s and 40s to be dealing with issues related to childhood and how they were raised? Not very unusual at all, I would suggest.

In many ways, adult children still feel tethered to the traditions of family. More importantly, sometimes adult children do not feel the tethering, but that by no means indicates that the tethering no longer exists. Most people, at least to a certain degree, like being independent agents, but most people also fail to recognize how powerfully family influence affects anyone’s ability to be truly “free.”

In what ways are you still tethered to your family?

“A bird on a tether, no matter how long the rope, can always be pulled back.” -- Ronald Reagan

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