Trying to understand: Parental influences

Although a solid four hundred miles separate me from my parents, I still notice that I conduct myself like they do. Some of their habits have rubbed off on me, and distance doesn’t make that go away.

Children are prone to grow up and realize that the way they make certain decisions in life is because they constantly watched their parents (or guardians) do it the same way, and probably unconsciously started doing it too.

Every parent teaches their kids how to do things in a distinctive manner, and if we hadn’t watched them do it their way, we’d have learned it differently. It’s odd to think that, but you’re who you are because specific people have influenced you.

Your parents teach you as you grow and mature, and it sticks with you. Your beliefs and the way you conduct yourself may stem from how they raised you.

However, sometimes children don’t want to follow in their parents footsteps. Not only do useful habits and tendencies rub off, but annoying ones can too. I’m not going to focus on the major lessons that are commonly passed from one generation to the other, but instead concentrate on the trivial aspects of life.

Everyone is somehow influenced by their surroundings, but what’s interesting is when people make decisions based off of the knowledge that someone in their family does it the same way. Does that mean it’s the only way? It seems like that’s the case sometimes.

For instance, my mom has complex laundry techniques that I think are unnecessary, so when I came to college, I tried to break away from that and undertake my laundry with a more simple approach.

This is just one example of how some kids will watch the way their parent does something, learn from it, and maybe attempt to try it their own way.

The way I pack my bags for trips is a skill I learned from my parents. It often takes me much longer than it should to pack, but it’s just one of the mannerisms that they’ve instilled in me.

Parents can enlighten their kids with life hacks and helpful hints because they are older and wiser, which therefore guides children down a path similar to the one in which their parents traveled.

When it comes to the bigger questions, most people make their own decisions and create a unique path for themselves. They may borrow or take what their parents or guardians have taught them, and will then proceed to form independent decisions based off of that.

However, it’s often the insignificant and random aspects of daily life that masquerade themselves and all of a sudden, you’re thinking “Mom, you sneaky little woman… I do this because of you. I use this soap because this is what we used at home. I always bring a drink with me when I leave the house because you always did. I function by making lists because you always made lists, too. I put a napkin around the ketchup bottles in restaurants because you always did, and told us about the massive amounts of germs that accumulate on them.”

It’s these types of habits that you realize you do just because your parent(s) did it the same way.

Watching the way our parents go about their daily lives determines how we are most likely going to go about our daily lives. From the way they shop to the products they use at home, our parents’ actions lead us to conduct ourselves similarly.

Habits can transfer unconsciously and may seem uncontrollable. Every household has a unique way in which it operates, and many habits are passed down from one generation to the next. Unless if a particular habit irritates you and you stray away from it, you’re more than likely going to continue the trend.

It’ll probably surprise you if you think hard about all the things you do because of parental influences. Your guardians basically shape who you are and at least a few things, both big and small, have rubbed off on you, and will continue to spread to future generations.

SAVANNAH HOLMES can be reached at skholmes@ucdavis.edu or can be found on a bench in the park, evaluating her life decisions.

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