Parents are an integral part of any child’s life. They are his safe haven, his stepping stones and his personal cheerleaders. They are the people who create a person in the first place hence he/she owes their existence to them (Laura, 11). They give a child his name, his characteristics and his personality. They also give him both his negative and positive traits. So, in my opinion it is a foregone conclusion that parents’ identities do affect their children and in a key way.
Some children may be affected more than the others but that everyone is affected by his mother and father’s identity to some extent (however small) is indisputable. I will try to explain in my essay how the children are affected and also why they are influenced the way they are. The first important way in which a parent’s identity determines their kid’s identity is their lineage. Kids in almost every part of the world are recognized by their parents’ pedigree or roots. Even we as teenagers automatically classify our friends as African-Americans, Caucasian, Asian, Jewish and Muslim etc.
Whether we like it not, whether it is identity and religious stereotyping or not, the fact remains that we are recognized by both our parent’s history and their religion. In the contemporary world, with all the talk of eradicating borders and walls between people, the fact remains that we still recognize people this way. Why, some may ask. Though no definite answer, it maybe because of the prejudices this world builds into us as kids where the color of a man’s skin or the God he believes in is more important than the quality of his heart.
A child’s character is also affected by their parent’s identity (Dr. Haim, 201). We see the proof all around us. If a child’s parents lie, chances are that the child will learn to do so too. If they stress on the importance of honesty, the child may grow up to possess an honest nature. This is because even before a child comes into contact with his friends, his parents remain the sole and most complete influence in his life at least until he is five or six. It is the parents who define the ‘innate’ characteristics of a child.
Other than identity and character, a child’s education and career is also affected by his parent’s identities. Most of the times, it has been seen that kids are only serious about their studies when they are pressurized to do well at home and enthusiastic interest is taken in their child’s studies by both parents. This point that I am enumerating now may seem to apply more to the Eastern world then the Western one where independence and choice are quite important. But in many Asian countries, kids are often encouraged to take after their father or pursue careers that most of their relatives make a living off.
Example a doctor may want his son to take after him and an engineer may want his kids to take an interest in physics and math. So, in a way, even a kid’s livelihood is affected by their parent’s professions. The reason to this may be because people often feel safer when their kids are following their line of profession as they believe their kids will receive the necessary support from them. In short, it is fear of the unknown on the part of the parents. Another important area where parent’s identities influence their children is in the child’s perception of himself/herself.
An apt example over here can be of India where the caste system is still staunchly followed (Thomas, 109). The lower castes (or Untouchables as they are called) are often ostracized and treated like animals. Many higher caste Hindus consider themselves polluted even if a whiff of their scent touches them. These so-called-Untouchables accept this inhumane treatment without question. Psychologists believe it is because of their low self-image. Therefore, even their kids suffer from low self-esteem. This is a classic case of parents’ perception influencing their child’s opinion of himself.
Of course, like every rule in the world, there are exceptions. There may be many instances when a child is not influenced by his parent’s identities and rises above it. An example is of Indian pop icon, Abhijeet Sawant, born into India’s lowest caste, but successful in becoming one of the country’s most famous pop stars. In our country itself, there are numerous examples. The creator of Peanuts, Charles Schultz was born in a very poor family. He did not let his parent’s identity as slum dog poor affect him. Another example is of veteran model Janice Richardson.
She was born to an alcoholic mother (which says a lot about low self-perception) but grew up to be a cult icon in the world of modeling. Another very important exception is the orphans or kids from broken homes. I take nothing away from them when I say that some of them never even know their parents so there is no point of their getting influenced by them. They choose life and career paths and have characters that may be completely different form the people who gave birth to them. To conclude, there are always such exceptions but they are far and few in between.
Most of the times, a person’s parent’s identity does tend to influence their kids minds in a large way. The reason for this may be that most of us look up to our parents and want to enumerate them. But having said this, seeing the current world phenomenon, parent’s hold on their kids may be more absolute in the Eastern world than the Western. Works Cited A Book Dr. Haim G Ginott. Between Parent and Child. Crown. (Jul 22, 2003). Thomas, G. Parent Effectiveness Training. Three Rivers Press. (Oct 31, 2000) Laura Davis. Becoming the Parent You Want To Be. Broadway. (Feb 3, 1997)