The Parents We Wish We Had

How differently do you think you would have turned out?

Posted Oct 28, 2020

Gan Koon Lay, Noun Project, CC0
Source: Gan Koon Lay, Noun Project, CC0

Core to much psychotherapy is examining the impacts of a person's family of origin. Perhaps this little exercise will elucidate its impact on you:

What do you wish your mother would have been like?

In an attempt to spark your thinking, here would be my answer:

NOTE: Because my mom has been dead for more than six years now and she died at 89, very few of her friends or relatives are still alive, so I am judging that the benefits of my being candid with you about her outweigh the liabilities.

The mom I wish I had would have been more accepting of my being an active boy. So, for example, she wouldn’t have hit me with a belt, for instance, when, in winter, I couldn’t resist throwing a pink rubber ball against the living room wall. (True, one time, I broke a piece of her crystal.) She would have often asked me about my school day beyond, “How was school?” and not just half-listen and rarely ask a follow-up. Even though she was a stay-at-home mom, I wouldn't have expected her to make nice meals all the time, but occasionally, yes, it would have been a sign of caring about my dad and me. But dinner was almost always the simplest to prepare, for example, throwing “minute steak” under the broiler and serving it with a baked potato and canned vegetables. (Anyone remember Veg-All? I do. Ugh.)

So now, how about you? In what ways would you wish your mom had been similar and different?

As a result, if and how might you have turned out differently?

What do you wish your father would have been like?

In contrast, my dad was pretty much perfect. He was my idea of a role model: quietly working hard, almost never complaining, ethical, and in his spare time, pursuing gentle hobbies: photography, cartooning, fixing things around the house, and planting a dozen tomatoes every year so there was plenty to give to friends and neighbors.  He'd invite but not force me to help, and we'd chat—nothing profound, but comfortable. I'd guess that many kids say this, but my dad really is the person I most respect because I knew him from the inside—not based on a veneer presented for public consumption—He is the person I aspire to be every day.

So now, how about you? In what ways do you wish your dad had been similar and different?

As a result, if and how might you have turned out differently?

The takeaway

Insight is only prerequisite to growth. So is there at least one thing you want to do differently in light of this exercise?

I read this aloud on YouTube.