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We are plastic. I don’t mean we are mass-produced and cheap. I mean plastic in the sense that we have a remarkable capacity to change and adapt and recover.

I was talking to a lady last night. She had a terrible childhood – violence, abuse, abandonment. Fortunately, good people stepped in and helped her. She received help and support from teachers. The principal hauled her into his office and told her she had a good brain. The Salvation Army were a huge support. Even the local traffic cop and his wife helped her. The healing and help and determination paid off. And today she is a success in so many meanings of the word – a long happy marriage and a very worthwhile career.

But she told me how hard it was when she became a parent. Most of us unconsciously soak up what our parents did and then, when we become parents ourselves, we just replay what our own parents did. But what if those parents weren’t great role models? What if the only tools you learned for them involved anger, shouting and even violence? She consciously, deliberately sought out help and advice. She had big gaps in her own knowledge, and some of the knowledge she did have was wrong, but she soaked up the advice – and she changed. She has gone on to have great relationships with her own kids and grandkids.

This lady was proof that we can select what influences we choose to take with us into the future. It’s not easy – it requires energy and determination and probably some external help, but no one needs to be trapped by what has happened to them or even by our own habits and practices. We are plastic. Can a leopard change their spots? You bet. Maybe The Parenting Place can help rearrange your spots for you.

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About Author

John Cowan

Writer, speaker and broadcaster, John Cowan shares his insight and opinions about the latest in parenting and family news in New Zealand. Hear John speak on radio stations every week throughout the country and regularly on national TV.  Follow @JohnCowanNZ on Twitter

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