General Question

nikipedia's avatar

Do you inevitably end up like your parents?

Asked by nikipedia (28080points) January 26th, 2009

Have your adult relationships been similar to the relationships your parents have or had?

Do you like your parents? Do you actively emulate them? Or do you strive to be dissimilar?

Would you avoid entering into a serious relationship with someone whose parents had a poor relationship?

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43 Answers

lataylor's avatar

JFK just rolled over in his grave

augustlan's avatar

God I hope not!

Seriously, mine is not the best mother/daughter relationship to examine. In my case, I try to be as different from my mother as possible…for reasons most of you are aware of. We do not speak.

AstroChuck's avatar

Eventually we’ll all end up dead.
So, yes.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I think a person who isn’t super self-aware may replicate in his or her own relationships the stuff learned at home. I’d see how the individual in question is handling their life. I know that until I realized what was happening, I was doing the same ruinous, insecure things in my relationships that my caretaker did in hers.

Also in my relationships, I never knew how the man’s parents were with each other until it got serious. It’s a risk we all take, being in a relationship.

Bluefreedom's avatar

That’s a lot of questions so we’ll start at the top and work downward.

My first marriage was an accident waiting to happen so no, that relationship was not like the one my parents had. My parents were happily married for 34 years until my father passed away from cancer in 2000. My second marriage has been very good and it would be comparable to the relationship that my parents had.

Yes, I like my parents so much that I love them to death. I miss my father very much and my mother and I are very close. I was raised very well by my parents and I do try to emulate them and put into practice all the excellent things they taught me as I was growing up.

I wouldn’t think very highly of myself if I based my reasons on entering into a relationship solely on the poor relationship status of the parents of the person I was interested in. It wouldn’t be fair for me to judge someone about being a poor partner because their parents weren’t compatible or had marital problems.

girlofscience's avatar

I think we selectively end up like our parents. We actively take on some of their positive traits and actively avoid some of their negative traits. We also accidentally acquire some neutral, but potentially annoying, traits that we’d probably rather not.

For instance, I took my parents’ politics and rejected their religion. I took my mom’s overzealous attention to detail and rejected most of her overbearing nature (hopefully). I took my dad’s late 60s mindset and rejected his timidity.

When I adopt my babygirl, I plan to take on the same educational policy my parents had with me (expensive private education, emphasis on the importance of education, and many learning resources at home) and reject the overly strict social rules that my parents had imposed on me (which I still believe were so over-the-top that they played a serious role in causing me issues later in life).

Finally, I have certainly accidentally acquired some of my mom’s really goofy qualities. I only allow them to come out in the privacy of my home, so only my boyfriend gets to see me act like a total nutcase. I get super excited about absolutely nothing, squeal, jump and run around like an idiot, make up words, and speak nonsense. This ridiculousness was accidentally acquired from my mom, haha.

Regarding the other questions, I don’t think my adult relationships have been very much like those of my parents. Yes, I like my parents, and I actively try to emulate some qualities while avoiding some others. The last question, Would you avoid entering into a serious relationship with someone whose parents had a poor relationship?, is SUPER hard. I really love how it is right now—both my parents and Jim’s parents are still married and still in love. We can all get together and get along wonderfully, and it’s just so easy this way. So, I do prefer to date people whose parents have a good relationship, but I don’t think having divorced parents would be a dealbreaker for me.

tennesseejac's avatar

I would love someone to slap the shit out of me if I ended up like my parents.

I grew up hating everything my father did and swore to never treat my wife or kids the way he has and to never complain about things that you cannot change. I think his bad example was the best thing I ever learned from him.

My mother on the other hand just takes all my dad’s shit and crys about it, which helped me not take shit from people (especially people that say they love me)

jrpowell's avatar

I’m 31. I lived longer then my father.

My mom spent over a third of my life in prison.

I use them as an example of what not to do. But I am a drunk like my father. I was just smart enough to not have kids to beat.

Staalesen's avatar

I do not actively try to emulate my parents, but I have caught myself acting and talking more or less exactly like my father does….

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

I find aspects of myself that are like my parents, like the way I sit, interests in certain things, etc. I’ve very consciously tried not to be like my mother, because someone once told me that, in times of stress, you become your parent. I do see aspects of myself in my daughters, particularly the oldest one.

eambos's avatar

I hope I do.

My parents met in their early twenties, got married after a few years and had me. I’ve never seen them have a real heated fight, they were always kind to me and my brothers and helped us through everything. My father was very successful in his career, so he provided us with a comfortable lifestyle.

I would be very pleased to end up just like my parent.

flameboi's avatar

Thank God no!
I mean, my parents are super good and stuff, but I want a life of my own, I want to do all the things they didn’t do because they got married when they were way too young! (per se, I’m not getting married) :s

blondie411's avatar

I find that I can see it more in other people than myself with my parents. I see my boyfriend acts exactly like his dad in certain situations in the way he reacts to something good or bad, the way he walks, nervous ticks. It is very weird but fitting to say you are father’s son. Even my sister and my mom, she has ended up so much like my mom when she was in her late 20’s that it is scary. But for some reason the strikingly similarities make it harder for them to get along.

I think with anything parents for 20+ years were the most influential in your lives, so you can filter out what you liked in your upbringing and say “no way am I ever going to do that to my kids.” What I think is great about me is that I am so different from everyone in my family, is that I want a life of my own, to do it my own way.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

I believe I do. My parents were married for many years before my dad died in ‘74. They were committed to each other. My husband I have been married for 41 years, so obviously we’re in it for the duration. That’s not to say their marriage was perfect. Our’s isn’t either. We’ve had some bumps along the way. Even the best of marriages do. But the longevity of them is similar. I loved my parents to pieces. They were the best any kid could have.

Jack79's avatar

I’ve recently realised that no matter what we do, we tend to fall into these patterns only too easily. In my case this was not so bad, as my father was always a family man, a caring husband and a generally good father, though perhaps too strict sometimes. I find that, even though I am nothing like him as a person, I have been like him towards all of my girlfriends, but especially towards my daughter. To the point where he’s now accusing me of being too strict on his grandchild! I think that we tend to imitate the behaviour we consider “normal”, even if we don’t realise it.

fireside's avatar

I think I am more similar than different.
My parents have been married for 35 years and have worked together for almost that entire time. I don’t think they’ve been apart for more than a month or two in total over those years.

Of course, not every woman has that same experience or belief that a long term relationship could work with that much time together. I guess it’s just a matter of finding the right woman.

As far as the rest of my personality, I do feel that I have picked out the better traits from each of my parents to develop my personality and character. Some of the not so good ones crept in, but they are not as prevalent.

Likeradar's avatar

I’m still fairly young (28), unmarried, with no kids. I’m fairly self-aware, I think, and I try to pick and choose things I’ve seen in my parents to emulate or avoid.
I think I’m doing a good job- I have my mother’s laid-back attitude about big picture issues, which I’m happy about, but I work hard on being nicer than she is on a day to day basis. There are things about my parents’ relationship I try to emulate in mine- they’ve been married 30+ years so they must be doing something right. However, I notice things they do that I certainly don’t want to do, and I work hard at avoiding becoming like them in some areas.

cak's avatar

I’ve been told, a lot, that I am like my father, which I think is great! I know I have some of my mother’s traits, too. Which isn’t bad – except for one. I am a control freak. So is she. Well, I’m a situational control freak. The house is my domain. I’m nutso about the the closets, kitchens – well, every room.

I did adopt my Dad’s way of viewing things. Generally, I do think before I react and take everything with a huge grain of salt. Like my dad – I laugh before anything else. I consider the dumb things that kids do, boneheaded; however, before I say anything, assign blame…whatever, I mull it over – or excuse myself to another room and laugh my butt off.

I wouldn’t say I’m exactly like my parents, but sure, there are some similarities.

Sloane2024's avatar

I love my mother more than most people can imagine loving a person, and I have heard, more times than I can count, that I look, sound, and act like her; however, I will never be her. I can’t. A long time ago I decided I would learn from her mistakes instead of making the same ones myself. She’s going through her second divorce, and never got a college education because she felt obligated to take care of her sick grandmother. She’s experienced a tremendous amount of pain in her life, and because of the choices she’s made, so have my sister and I. I desire to be just like her in some ways. She’s kind, considerate, outgoing, and beautiful, inside and out, but I will not allow history to repeat itself with me.

mea05key's avatar

Definitely. Especially if you like your parents and do not have anything againts them. Eventually you will be them. I get my behaviours from both of them. I really wonder how they are able to be toegther for 30 years now cause right now, I am always conflicting my ownself because of my double personality.

maybe_KB's avatar

Oh, Nooooooooooooo

cdwccrn's avatar

I hope not. I do have my dad’s sense of humor, and mom’s propensity for blue days, but I do not consciously strive to be like either one. I am who I am, a unique and blessed daughter of God.

windex's avatar


Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t think any becoming is ‘inevitable’
I think we all inevitably analyze how we’re like and unlike our parents

Zen's avatar

Yep. Imho.

rolfen's avatar

Some people in our lives try to set the standard for what is normal or not.
For example my mum always complained to me how i hurt her. She blamed me for everything, I took that behavior for normal, sometimes being the victim (from people who take advantage from this weakness) sometimes the blamer.
My best friend used to fight with his gf and call her awful names to her face, then getting back with her. To some extent, it sank in as a normal thing to have fights, and I have found myself doing that and considering it to be a good sign…
Its subconscious. We just associate things. Offcourse we dont want to do this, nobody wants to. But sometimes you find yourself facing a problem or challenge and need a way to cope with it, and thats where these things come out and you do them.
unfortunately, nobody can set a perfect example. Most people can cope well with one type of difficulty, but cope awfully bad with another type of problem.
I think it all boils down to one thing… association. Beaten children associate love with beating… etc… Its like you associate milk with breakfast. And associations go deeper, to an emotional level. Feelings get associated to situation. And defense mechanisms are nothing more then association between the feeling of immediate relief and the defensive action. I think thats just how the brain works.
Parents tend to teach us lots of these associations, so yeah we do take something from them.

notabridesmaid's avatar

I’m not sure but it will be intesting to see. Both of my parents are deceased. I have been told that I am much like my mother. So I guess we can credit much of how we are like our parents to genetics and not just living with them since I have lived without parents much longer than I lived with them.

russian123's avatar

I think that if someone has a great relationship with their parents, then they will surely be alot like them. However, if as a kid you see the things in your parents you wouldn’t want to be, usually you turn out opposite of that. Many times, it’s just differences in certain areas. In most relationships there are a lot of similarities, but for example: if you’re a kid in a family where you have no freedom & you hate it, when you have kid’s you’ll still be a lot like your parents BUT in your case, you will give your kids freedom when it comes to that issue. So, overall, I think most people do turn out to be similar to their parents but in the end they change that which they most want to change..

Val123's avatar

@augustlan That’s so sad…
I think it takes a conscious act of determination not to end up like your parents.

Cruiser's avatar

I sure hope so!! Otherswise I will be more than a little pissed if I don’t get to play golf everyday after paying income tax for over 50 years! I plan on KHA at golf every day of my retirement!!

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

Oh, my stars.

Something else for me to lose sleep about at night. :)

Storms's avatar

Unless you examine yourself and your motivations, yes.

DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

Gawd…..I hope not. I didn’t spend all that money on therapy for nothing, I hope. :)

amandaray's avatar

Your question is very complex. I love my mom, but I really hate the thought of being the same kind of mother she was when I was growing up. She was very Conservative and wouldn’t let me do anything. When I found the man I wanted to marry it was very important to me that we have a talk about how we want to raise our children before hand. Like me, he grew up in a conservative home, and we agreed it was a suffocating experience. So now that I have a son, I do try to remember not to be like my mom, which of course doesn’t mean I don’t love her to death.

amandaray's avatar

What a scary question!
I mean, I love my mum, but would not wanna turn out like her. Sometimes I catch myself act or do things like she does, and it freaks me out. I sometimes find that I eat like her, chew in the same way or say certain things like her. I then switch whatever it is I’m doing completely around and do the exact opposite. Is that bad?... :/

CaptainHarley's avatar

I have no idea what my mother is like, since she left my dad and me right after I was born. She treated my father like dirt, and since I looked like her, my dad use to beat me over the most trivial of offenses. I wouldn’t emulate any of those behaviors.

However, I love reading and study, like my father did. I think a lot of our personalities and behaviors are coded into our genes.

CaptainHarley's avatar


It’s not “bad,” per se, but it still represents your mother’s behavior controlling you. “In reaction to” is just as much being controlled as is meekly following a parent’s lead. Learn to set your own course, and then adopt effective behaviors from other adults, as well as those behaviors from your mother which you wish to retain ( if any ). : )

zander101's avatar

Interesting question, especially concerning the fact that indeed our parents are our first teachers. I feel it depends on the person, @aprilsimnel brought up a fact that I do agree with concerning self-awareness. In life we are governed by the decisions to make choices and based on those choices we can develop and/or adapt to habits and patterns. Whether or nor it’s something that associates to our parents can be connected as such but not necessarily accurate in identifying their personality/behaviors due to an person’s perception, individuality and thought process. I’m sure we all can agree that our parents were brought up in a different time and in contrast perception of the world can be different to observing eyes.

Strauss's avatar

I see my dad look at me from the mirror every once in a while. It is always a surprise.

chinchin31's avatar

Sometimes I do find myself saying and doing things my parents would have done.

I laugh sometimes.

You should never avoid someone who came from a broken home and is willing to openly talk about it.

If they don’t talk about it and see as normal…. maybe..

My parents were divorced and argued a lot and had a horrible relationship. I would hate if a guy judged me and assumed I would be the same.

I am not my parents.

As a matter of fact people that come from broken homes may have a stronger belief in marriage and more willing to make it work and take relationships more seriously. That was me.

I am married now to a guy from a family of no divorces. His family are often intrigued by my messed up family but we don’t care.

You shouldn’t judge someone based on their parents.

You don’t pick your parents or your family life. There are lots of people who become the complete opposite of their parents when they grow up.

Ettina's avatar

You don’t have to end up like your parents, but parents are a powerful influence on your life in a lot of ways you might not even be aware of.

For example, how responsive parents are when their one year old wants to cuddle and when they want to go play teaches that child a basic message about whether or not they can trust people. Adults whose parents usually let them cuddle when they needed it and let go easily when they were done cuddling tend to be people who trust their friends and romantic partners to respect their needs, and who tend to pick friends and romantic partners that can be trusted.
Adults whose parents usually ignored their cues, or else intruded on them and didn’t give them enough freedom, tend to either keep people at a distance or be overly clingy, and also tend to have poor taste in friends and romantic partners, picking people who also have issues around close relationships. (A clingy person with a partner who keeps them at a distance is a bad combo, but it happens more often than you’d expect by chance!) Either way, they’re acting this way because of stuff that happened while they were still in diapers!

Does this mean they can’t change? No. Studies also show that a good relationship with a stable friend or romantic partner can change how an insecure person sees relationships, and so can psychotherapy. Conversely, a person who had a good bond with parents could end up insecure because of a bad break-up, trauma, or loss. Most of all, recognizing the way your past can affect you and resolving to work on becoming the person you want to be makes a huge difference.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You certainly need to guard against if you think one or both did a bad job.

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