Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Transitional Characters

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Some of us may have grown up in rather unfortunate circumstances and we have a desire to provide a better life for our children. However, we may not realize that it is possible to stop the vicious cycle that seems to exist in our family. Those who completely change their family environment in one generation are referred to as transitional characters.

Consider the following definition:
A transitional character is "... one who, in a single generation, changes the entire course of a lineage. The individuals who grow up in an abusive, emotionally destructive environment and who somehow find a way to metabolize the poison and refuse to pass it on to their children. They break the mold. They refute the observation that...'the sins of the fathers are visited upon the heads of the children...' Their contribution to humanity is to filter the destructiveness out of their lineage so that generations downstream will have a supportive foundation upon which to build productive lives." --(Broderick, 1988, p.14)

Just because we may have grown up in terrible circumstances does not mean that our children our destined to the same fate. Each of us has the power within ourselves to be better than the generation before. It requires a desire and determination to be better.

I have a personal experience of the power of transitional characters that I would like to share with you all. My father grew up in great poverty on the streets of Mexico. By the age of eight he was the primary provider for his family. In addition, he grew up in a very abusive family where his intoxicated step-father beat him frequently. At a young age my father resolved to be a better father to his children than what he grew up with. As one of his six children I can testify that my father was better than his own father. He has always provided for all us and not once has he ever beat any of his children. The difference between his childhood and mine is night and day. My father made a commitment to himself that he was going to provide a better life for his children and through hard work and determination he was able to achieve that.

I tell you this story to portray the real power of transitional characters. My father is a transitional character in every way and although he still made many mistakes in his parenting and I hope to be better than him, I am very grateful for all that he has done for me and my siblings. It would have been really easy for him to follow the same path as his own father but he chose not to and because of that my life has been so much better.

We all have the power to be a transitional character if we make that choice to be better and learn from the mistakes of those that have gone before.

What do you all think about the power of transitional characters? Do you think they really make a difference? Is my story the rule or the exception?



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