You are not trapped by your past
Some men who have had an unpleasant family life growing up may worry that they are going to repeat the mistakes of their parents. Life is like a stream and our experience is its current. We can passively choose to let go and let the current carry us along. For example, a parent who was treated with loving affection may offer the same to his children. Another parent who was abused as a child may abuse his children. If we felt it was harmful, we can choose to resist the current to navigate the stream on our own terms, to choose the route we take.
The past influences but does not dictate. The capacity to make our own choices and deviate from this influence is what makes us human. I recall what happened just following one of the rare spankings I gave one of my children. I suddenly blurted out, “There! That will give you something to cry about now.” I shocked myself because those were the exact words my stepfather used when he spanked me. They might have been the words my stepfather heard when he was a child and his father spanked him. I never did that again. (For more information about spanking, see my Responsive Discipline website. Clicking will open a new browser window.)
Blaming our past is an admission that we choose to surrender to the influence. Saying that we cannot be good dads because of our past focuses only on the current, not on our capacity to find the strength and courage to choose a different way. Blaming the past is a way to avoid responsibility and accountability for the present.
The key issue here is, “Can I accept the fact that I can break free of my past?”
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Journal 2 The currents of my life
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