“Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their children than the unlived life of the parent.” A quote from Carl Jung.
I understand this as a child and as a parent. It pains me to hear about my mother’s disappointments and in some ways lack of fulfillment. Huge and small decisions are constantly made in child-rearing. While growing up children are not aware of their parents’ decisions and could not possibly understand the reasons for them. That would take maturity beyond their years. Sometimes people abandon their dreams as soon as their children are born, intoxicated with the joy of the sweet-smelling bundle of pure potential in their arms. Others see an opportunity to pressure a child to succeed in an arena that they did not succeed in. Maybe his child will be able to go further toward being a star in academics, athletics or in the arts and, with the incapacity to separate the child’s life from his own, the parent feels that he can finally attain that goal.
Dreams can change by circumstances or new desires created. A parent may truly feel that the old goal doesn’t feel right anymore. I suggest that the intention behind keeping the parent’s spirit alive and the right to a fulfilled life are, in themselves, beneficial to their children. We can’t truly guide our children to become adventurous, accountable, creative and self-loving unless we are. Children learn by watching and feeling how we feel. No matter how hard we try to cover up disappointments, resented sacrifices and feeling restricted, they get it. They hear it. They feel it. And they learn from it. By carrying the burden of an unfilled life of the parent a child learns what he can expect in life.
I think that children respect a parent who feeds herself as well as her children. She is better prepared to guide the child through frustrations and failures. We can’t make our children be who we want them to be. We can guide them to be true to their spirits and to humanity and pick them up when they fall. After all, if they saw us fall and recover with a greater resolve and grace then they are well-prepared to make their mark on the world.