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Cupcake's avatar

If you could hand-select your parents, what characteristics would be most important for your consideration?

Asked by Cupcake (14069points) March 11th, 2013

What would you look for in potential parents if you could pick them and then go back and grow up all over? You can’t change your date or city of birth.

What characteristics are most important to you? What parents would you have wanted? Money? Race/ethnicity? Married? Other siblings? Spirituality? Patience? Stay-at-home mom? Vegans? Gay? Tall? Affectionate? Approachable? Permissive? Attractive?

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31 Answers

tom_g's avatar

I’m not sure I would be qualified to make a reasonable selection. But through the years, I have wished that my parents had been more educated, interesting, wealthy, less anxious, and non-pedestrian. Really, though, if I had to grow up with my picks, I’d probably find them to be insufferable assholes like myself.

Cupcake's avatar

I was thinking of a few traits (artsy, more eco-oriented, more money, more siblings, more travel) and ended up wondering if this imaginary family would have driven me nuts.

marinelife's avatar

A sense of humor.

The desire to build self-esteeem in their children.

Cupcake's avatar

Happily married.

Belief that children are individuals with their own talents/abilities/interests and are not merely made up of traits from mom+dad.

janbb's avatar

More respecting of boundaries than mine were

Not narcissistic

Carinaponcho's avatar

I would want more socially liberal parents because my mother is very conservative and judgemental of people who’s lifestyle choices differ from hers. I wish my parents were more open about sexuality. This would have made it easier for me when I wasn’t sure who I was attracted to. It would also make talks about birth control easier. By my mother’s ensuring my strict adherence to her beliefs she is putting me more at risk of unwanted pregnancy.

bookish1's avatar

I lucked out in terms of: socioeconomic status, citizenship and country of birth, values of education and self-betterment.

Things could have gone better in terms of: propensity toward emotional and physical abuse, genetics, the ability to accept (or even to prepare oneself for the possibility of) a child who does not grow up to be your clone.

Seek's avatar

I’ll take my dad just as he is, minus the alcohol. I just want him to physically be here. He and I are a lot alike, or at least so sayeth my aunt and uncle.

Carinaponcho's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I feel the same way about my stepdad.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I would like a respectable, attractive and moderately wealthy Catholic family with the large rambling house, all the animal pets I want, and some brothers and sisters.

augustlan's avatar

Number one on my list: Less mentally ill than my actual mother is. A little crazy is ok.
Number two: Strong enough to stand up for themselves and for me.
Number three: Enough money to get by reasonably well.

My mother has some good things going for her, so I’d keep her intelligence, sense of humor, and affectionate nature.

cookieman's avatar

Honest would be a nice change of pace. Selfless is a good runner-up.

I’d say intelligent and engaging, but I feel like that’s being nit-picky.

flutherother's avatar

Mine were OK and I wouldn’t change them. I like them the way they were, flaws and all.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

What a neat question, @Cupcake!

I’d want my mother to be less interfering/nosy once I reached a certain age. I’d want my father to be more attentive and less of an inappropriate jerk. I’d want them to be fairly wealthy and my mom to stay home with me.

On the other hand, if I changed them, that might mean they’d still be married and I wouldn’t have gotten to have my wonderful stepfather. In that case, I’d go with extremely wealthy, and my mom got half when they split. :D

Earthgirl's avatar

Oh God! I love my parents! My Dad is gone but my Mom is still around. They really thought about what it meant to bring up their kids well. They had so many good ideas and intentions but they were human. They weren’t so good at instilling self confidence in any of us (I have 6 siblings) If you don’t have something yourself can you give it to your children? So, I would say I wouldn’t want any other parents than the ones I had except for the ability to instill social skills and self confidence in us. I also wish there was more open expression of feeling. I like to discuss ideas no holds barred. I love to engage in a lively spirited debate! In my family that made me the black sheep. My siblings were always telling me “Why do you bother? You aren’t going to change their minds.” My parents were conservative and I was liberal from the get go.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

My father was amazing. I might make him a little healthier so he stays around longer. My mother could be stronger. But that’s all I would change. I had a great childhood.

Pachy's avatar

I’d pick parents with the exact same traits as Mother and Dad were—honest! They were intelligtent, socially engaged, kind, supportive, liberal, passionate about Science and the Arts, and until they hit middle age and began to discover their own interests, which drove them to a trial separation, they were (or at least appeared) giving and loving to each other. My brother and I were very fortunate to have had the parents we did.

hearkat's avatar

Capable of unconditional love is first and foremost, and it is actually very rare. Many parents become parents without having fully grown-up and prepared for the responsibility of nurturing a human life. They see the child as a ‘mini-me’ and want to dress it up and control its behavior. They often place expectations on the child and are horrified when the child doesn’t live up to them. Some want to train them to act like little adults, others want to baby them forever. Recognizing that this being is unique and has their own path to follow is not easy, when you do love them so much and feel so responsible for their well-being. Often, the good intentions are not carried out in a realistic way, and control issues arise between parent and child.

Patience, maturity, compassion, creativity, and the ability to communicate in age-appropriate ways are also valuable parental traits and skills.

Cupcake's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe What characteristics of your parents did you especially appreciate?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Cupcake My parents both put all their effort into taking care of us to the best of their abilities. My father was a “man’s man” big and strong, and a hell of a hard worker, but also gentle and a hell of a lot of fun. I’d be working in the barn and I’d get squirted with a stream of water, and he’d be in the door or window with a huge grin on his face. My mother was a good caretaker and never mean. And they were good disciplinarians. We respected them and didn’t give them any shit. Plus they had a respect for education.

Cupcake's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe My parents both have that old-school strong work ethic. I think it was an excellent example for me and my brother. I have a lot of respect for that.

They sound like great parents.

Cupcake's avatar

@hearkat It looks like I have a similar issue with the “mini-me” child rearing.

My parents divorced when I was in kindergarten and both saw the other’s characteristics in me, which they disliked. It was quite painful.

Cupcake's avatar

@augustlan A little crazy is a lot of fun. :)

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Cupcake They were excellent parents. I had to work, but I was part of the team and not some indentured servant. I lost him way too early but that happens.

Cupcake's avatar

@KNOWITALL Can you expound on what you mean by respectable? Attractive is an interesting one that I hadn’t considered, perhaps because my dad is a fairly handsome guy and I have his eyes ;)

Seek's avatar

@Cupcake My mother looks like Rod Stewart. I don’t know what she looked like when she was younger, but I hate hearing that I have features that resemble hers.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I’m not sure Rod is the best look for a woman. :)

Cupcake's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr It took me until my 30s to not be offended when people told me I looked like my dad. He is a man, after all.

My mom is very average looking, so when people tell me I look like her it’s like “gee… um… thanks, I guess.”

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Cupcake Respectable appearing, good job, steady paycheck, bills paid on time, healthy foods, etc… Although I learned a lot of lessons about tolerance and spirituality from her, it was difficult to transform myself into a business-suit wearing yuppy and behaving appropriately.

My mom and bio-dad are both good-looking but alcholism takes it’s toll on appearances of both at this point in their lives. Mom wasn’t into acting or appearing real normal as I grew up and I just remember wanting her to be the yuppy married parents like my friends had.

I’m terribly proud of my mother now, but growing up was a little difficult for me. I learned a lot from her about what I didn’t want to be, and my friends parents taught me a few more manners of polite society, and what material things I could have if I were more like them, business-wise.

Cupcake's avatar

Thanks @KNOWITALL. In the context of alcoholism, respectable and appearance make a lot of sense to me.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Cupcake And endless tie dye’s and blue jeans. It got to the point I wanted to be opposite of my mom during my teens, and I refused to wear jeans to high school. I finally learned I could love her for who she is, while choosing a different path for myself.

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