This is one of those clichés that gets thrown around so much that people don’t really think about what it means. It’s like You can’t judge a book by its cover. – Or – A Wink is as good as a nod…. to a blind horse…… Wait…. that’s the title of a 1971 album by Faces (featuring a much younger Rod Stewart on vocals). Anyway….
The point is that after a while the wisdom of the adage gets stuck on the back burner, especially after we’ve had it up to here after hearing it so much that one more time is going to put us through the roof. (Take that! – 3 clichés in one sentence.)
Some call The Beatles song Yesterday the greatest popular song ever, and they can’t get enough of it. However, others will say, “Good song, but I’ve heard it so much that I’m sick of it.” I say, that’s not the song’s fault. You might blame the Beatles, their record company, or Casey Kasem (R.I.P.), but you can’t blame the song itself.
People tend to view Rule #6 through a negative lens. They see it as a parental warning: Beware! Your bad traits will be revisited tenfold in your children! Therefore, some conclude that they need to hide, disguise, or eliminate their negative traits. Author James Baldwin (1924-1987) hit the nail on the head (whoops!) when he noted, “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”
However, try looking through the other end of the telescope, or look on the bright side. (Sorry, but at least I’m down to two clichés per sentence.) You will then see that your positive traits will also be revisited in your children. So, rather than focus on disguising your bad traits, focus on developing your good ones. A wonderful quote by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung (1875-1961) speaks to this: “Children are educated by what the grown-up is and not by what he says.”*
So, think about how it all applies to you. Trust me, it’s not apples and oranges.
Onward, Malcolm Gauld
PS: I also credit Jung with the quote that best captures the real reason we spend so much time working with parents at Hyde: “The greatest burden a child must bear is the unlived life of the parent.”