Article by Wendy McCance
There has been a running discussion in our household that has gone on for about a week. It began when my oldest daughter was asking some specific questions related to life after high school.
My own personal background was not the easiest. I wasn’t close to my immediate family. I always felt like I was out there on my own. From an early age, I learned that I should only rely on myself. It helped to make me fearless in going after what I wanted in life, but it was a hard struggle nevertheless.
I apologized to my daughter for having such a tangled history of bad experiences to relate to her. Her response stunned me. She felt that it was a huge benefit to learn from someone who had seen the good, but so much of the bad. It gave me a new perspective on my own past. I realized that I had a lot to offer my daughter. I was able to share a huge amount of experiences and what I learned from them.
Anyway, that conversation led into the question regarding what shapes a person’s life when it comes to making decisions? More specifically, how can you put two siblings side by side and see such different outcomes in the way they handle their experiences?
I have seen families where there was more than one child growing up in a pretty toxic environment. The kids would grow up and the paths they took were startlingly different. You would have one child who became very successful in work and in life. Patching the wounds from their youth and creating a much better life for their own children. The other child would be consumed with bitterness. Life was a constant flow of disappointments. Pessimism was that siblings best friend. Learning to play life in a role as a victim was what felt most comfortable for that individual.
So here is the ultimate question- How can two people with the same background learn to cope in such different ways? What were the influences that made them choose the paths that they ended up taking?
That discussion between my daughter and I led to the question that I have wondered for years. I want to know how to guide a child who you see going down the road of helplessness to reestablish themself on a path that is more secure. I want to be able to throw the breadcrumbs down a road that will lead to happiness and a life more fulfilled.
How do you change a pattern of bitterness? When a child is still growing up, can you help them to rework their thinking patterns to a more solid view of worthiness?
Maybe the brain is so hardwired that a person’s personality is what it is. Maybe I need to accept that some people are just going to live their lives in pain, viewing their lives as a fateful situation. Maybe I should, but I don’t think I will ever give up on trying to help someone who could use some support and words of encouragement. I guess that’s just how my brain is hardwired.
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