Naked ape see, naked ape do

Question asked on Quora today:  In spite of one’s best efforts to be different, do humans often wind up to be morally just like their parents?

Reply from Gus Griffin: There’s a particular mistake that I see parents making all of the time. They want their kids to have everything that they didn’t have, so they put even their children’s superficial wants ahead of their own existential needs. In other words, they defer their own path to self-actualization in preference to facilitating whatever they can for their children.

And what do they achieve by all this sacrifice? What they are really doing is role modelling for their children how not to get what you want out of life and never find your bliss because there are more important things in life than actually being happy. Yes, it’s that stupid.

And the gorgeous little darlings—attentive instinctive emulators all—then act out the same self-frustrating saga in their own adult lives. For we do as you do—Mummy and Daddy—not as you say.

Yes, there is some pendulum swing from one generation to the next, where as parents we go out of our way to not to do to our children the things our parents did to us, or to make a point of doing those things that our parents failed to do with us. But this only plays out at a conscious level—we try to redress the parenting that we consciously didn’t like or didn’t agree with.

Meanwhile, at the preconscious instinctive level, a much deeper molding is going on governed by the mechanism of role modelling. Most of these parental effects upon you are hidden to your conscious mind; you take these tendencies of yours completely for granted or it doesn’t occur to you that you picked them up from your parents. Thus habits are carried from one generation to the next at a subliminal level.

If you can’t see it in yourself, you can never escape that particular aspect of this cycle which carries on down through the ages. If Dad or Mum thought, felt or acted in a particular way, there’s at least half a chance that you might end up behaving that way too—without knowing it.

There’s a lot more detail to know about what causes this modeling mechanism to take effect when it does—and when it doesn’t—but the basic principles as stated above are accurate.

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Posted September 9, 2019 at 10:15 pm by Gus Griffin · Permalink
In: Misc