One of the things in our lives that we simply cannot escape is the role of heredity in our development. Whether we like it or not, our bodies, minds, and spirits bear some resemblance to one or the other (or both) of our parents. We may not like this resemblance, and the good news is that we can Be the Change about these inherited traits from parents as well as anything else in our lives.
I would like to submit that the first things inherited traits from parents we receive is the manner in which they think. We have no other basis in our early days, so that smiling face over our crib becomes our all. We seldom think to disagree with them until our ability to reason and our far-reaching experiences shows us that there may be another way than the way our parents presented.
Some studies on how traits are inherited say that a new baby relies on the thinking of his parents from 75 to 100% up to the age of reason. As a child begins to reason (around age seven), the parent’s role should decrease so that their thinking dominates about 75% of the time and the child’s thinking is apparent 20% of the time.
Between the ages of seven and fourteen, the percentages level out to a 50-50 percentage, and when the teenage years predominate, the child’s thought grows to 75% strength and the parents diminish to 25%. Hypothetically, by the age of 21, the child should be at 100% strength, and the parents should have gracefully bowed away, acknowledging their job has been completed. I realize that some parents really struggle with the last of these stages!
Heredity is there throughout this process. We look like our parents because we think as they do. We have traits and habits like our parents, because we think as they do. As we get older, we get to decide whether our inherited traits from parents are acceptable to us. We may keep some of their ways and reject others. This expresses the freedom of individuality and it behooves parents to understand this process and acquiesce to it. As Khalil Gibran so eloquently put it:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
As individuals with heredity running full course through our veins, we can consciously honor those wonderful traits we admire in our parents. We can also consciously honor those we find more favorable doing in a manner that suits us better. And as parents, we can understand how traits are inherited so that we can honor and support it in our children and make those teen age years less emotionally painful.
You are the one in charge of this process of becoming. You can control the traits from parents you truly want. You can also learn from their mistakes and make different decisions for your own life. It’s not necessary to be them. It is necessary to be you – and that is one unique individual. Your parents gave you an incredible gift, the gift of life, the gift of learning from them. Whether you accept their gift – or perhaps it’s better said whatever percentage of the gift you decide to accept – is completely up to you.