INTEGRITY MONTH: DAY 19: “My mother said I broke her heart…but it was my integrity that was important. Is that so selfish? It sells for so little, but it’s all we have left in this place. It is the very last inch of us…but within that inch we are free.”― Alan Moore
This quote sounds cold to some of us, because we were raised in a culture that told us to “Honor your father and mother” above other things, like our own desires or dreams.
This is how manipulation looks. It is an old cultural standby of families who push their children into the things they may have not been able to do or be in their own lives. Parents can be the ultimate manipulators, with expectations that their children will do what they want them to do, despite their own talents, skills, or dreams of wanting to do or be otherwise.
That is a cultural dysfunction that has been going on for generations. In dysfunctional family dynamics, families may use this kind of subtle (or not so subtle) coercion to get their members to perform as they wish.
That leaves all planning and decision making up to them, rather than the person who is being directed into a life that may not be suitable for them or does not match their true path. In some cultures, families will decide their life partner, which has another level of dysfunction attached to it, even to the point of being held hostage in some way to a spouse who then controls their life in other ways.
This may sound crazy to some of us, but there are many levels of dysfunction in our culture. It is not unusual for parents to fund a life that is dictated to the child, including which arena of study to undertake and how to perform that study, along with the career that may have been the desire of the parent, but is not that of the child.
If we are parenting properly, we have given these children the tools to make independent decisions on their own. They may choose completely different life-styles than those we think they should have. That is their right and should be completely honored. They may choose to go another route than traditional education completely. It is up to them.
We can see, as a culture, how many times people may have followed a path chosen for them by others, only to rebel against it at a later date. This explains, in large measure, the incidence of “Mid-life crisis” in our culture.
And why most people reach their late 30s and early 40s with addiction issues, or just throw away an entire career and marriage to do everything in opposite ways. We are all here with a path that is uniquely and solely ours. To make decisions for others is to trap them into a life that is going to be unhappy and forced. To allow others to make these choices for us is to learn to be a victim, over and over again. Self-empowerment means that we choose and make decisions based on what we know of our own heart and soul.
To truly parent well or to be a supportive person in someone’s life is to let them learn how to access their own compass well; and to become integral with listening and following our OWN northstar.