Traits of Our Parents

3 02 2017

beths-bat-mitzvah-largeFebruary 3, 2017

Several years ago, I ran into someone whose parents had been friends with mine. We chatted a few minutes and she exclaimed, smiling, “You are a perfect combination of your parents!”

I was a bit startled, as we hardly knew each other and it seemed like an intimate and surprisingly insightful observation to share. “Thanks,” I answered and we went our ways (and became Facebook friends).

I wasn’t quite sure what characteristics this acquaintance meant, but I’ve given thought to her idea, being the perfect combination of your parent’s positive traits. It came to mind again recently when a cousin on my mom’s side posted a cartoon about having no sense of direction. Another cousin (also on my mom’s side) commented that she’d be lost without her GPS. Not me. I have an amazing sense of direction, as did my dad. A former colleague used to lean back and let me drive around Little Rock on our work trips there. She knew I’d always get where we needed to be, even if I’d never been there before. But I digress.

dad-and-ebb-ess-ii-012

But only slightly. I started a list of the things I admired about my dad: besides a good sense of direction, his love being on the water, willing to live with “good enough,” enjoyment of music, honesty, integrity, goofy sense of humor. And then my mom: organized, logical, interested in biology, devoted to her family, strong inner compass, love of learning, community volunteer, skill with all types of crafts ranging from painting to crocheting. Yup, it seemed true. I bet those are all traits that my friends and coworkers might say about me.

milt-and-ruth-at-tanglewood-holding-hands

In younger years, I recall focusing on some difficult aspects of my parents and my efforts to avoid being like that. But what if instead I considered their strengths? Wouldn’t that emphasize that same part of me and draw in those qualities? Perhaps in a way similar to Ann Kubitzsky’s Look for the Good Project  or Oprah’s Gratitude Journal, the good would just rise to the top. Maybe you get what you look for. It certainly provides a softer, kinder view of both myself and my parents.

Just the thought of it made me smile and stand taller. When my daughter would say, “My mamma can do anything,” I looked behind me up the family tree and acknowledged my mother’s competence. When I would teach a novice to kayak, I remembered my father’s patience in teaching me to row (and drive a stick shift).

I encourage everyone to look for these positive traits, even if it seems impossible. The truth is that the genetic and environmental imprint of our parents is in and on us, whether we like it or not. Embrace what is there, focus on the good, and celebrate your unique results.

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22 responses

3 02 2017
Ellen A Bernstein

This brought tears …happy tears. Beautifully written, honestly true. And I knew them and know you. Blessed am I.
HUGS

3 02 2017
Beth Lapin

And think about how the same is true for you, Ellen! Your parents left their imprint on you in a unique way that is wonderful!

3 02 2017
Karen Brooks

I love this! I have a couple of siblings who have focused on what my parents did wrong, and I have continued to see the good in the them, albeit imperfect, and how I got so much of who I am from both of them– thanks for this!

3 02 2017
Beth Lapin

Glad to support your efforts to look for the good!

3 02 2017
Julie kramer

Nicely written Beth! From the sounds of it your parents had a lot of good qualities to embrace. I can remember over the years thinking you had made a transition to embrace what you ‘liked’ about your mom. You always seemed to admire you dad… sign of being a ‘daddy’s girl’ (?) LOL

3 02 2017
Beth Lapin

And what wonderful qualities of yours can you attribute to your parents?

3 02 2017
carol

I love this….I clearly have many of my maternal grandmother’s traits…klutziness being first and foremost, my mom’s love for literature and anxiousness, My dad’s love for jazz//I am going to think more about this. Thanks Beth.

3 02 2017
Beth Lapin

Sounds as though you’ve got a few ideas already!

3 02 2017
Buffy Smith

Beth, How totally sweet to see these photos and hear you talk about your parents, what a wonderful flashback, thank you! xo, Buffy

3 02 2017
Beth Lapin

Sometimes our memories of junior high differ from the reality, eh?!

3 02 2017
Susan Silverman

Thanks for sharing, Beth.

3 02 2017
Beth Lapin

Thanks for commenting. Do you see your parents in your strengths?

3 02 2017
Pauleen Schnaper

A lovely blog. I have written a book about how our parents, grandparents traits get handed down over the generations, Dead Ancestors Control Your Life. Have I ever given you a copy?

3 02 2017
Beth Lapin

Yes! Thank you for reminding me of that.

4 03 2017
Robin

I need to read this. I have always thought that Stephanie had so many of my moms traits.

6 03 2017
Beth Lapin

All the wonderful ones, of course!

5 02 2017
deborah dembo

Enjoyed your blog, especially since this is something I have been thinking about lately. So grateful for the qualities my parents had that I value so much. Thank you for putting it into words.

6 02 2017
Beth Lapin

I’m glad it resonated with you.

5 02 2017
Jo-Ann

Beth ~ what a beautiful sentiment and such a heartfelt tribute to you Kay and your parents. I wish I had the opportunity to thank your mom for blessing my life with you and thus, Kay. They both seemed to have rich full lives.
xxoo Jo-Ann

6 02 2017
Beth Lapin

Jo-Ann, You are a treasure!

5 02 2017
Theresa Crawford

Enjoyed reading this and it has made me stop and think…it is better to focus on positive traits rather than negative…now to try and have my siblings see it that way also!

6 02 2017
Beth Lapin

I wonder if we do best by modeling our new views and seeing what happens with the others in the family!

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