I have been asked to address the topic of ownership/identity as it applies to familial ties, and that is what we will do.
Your children are often a source of pride, and sometimes a source of disappointment. While this is not really accurate, some people see it as such, their identity is so deeply tied to their children, that it almost becomes a point of ownership. And in that assumption of ownership, there is a feeling of entitlement that seemingly permits the parent to dictate what their offspring does, says, becomes. This can and will keep going through the generations if it is not addressed and swiftly dealt with.
When Bill and I were getting married, his dad asked my mom “how do you control them now?”. My mom replied, “Ha! You don’t and good luck controlling her.”. You could say that I am a free spirit with a healthy distaste for control. I am a bit of a rebel too, in that I think on my own, at least half way intelligently. More so, my parents actually did a good job of making me understand that actions have consequences, and when I overstepped in my actions, I suffered the consequences. This really made me in to a person with a ton of self discipline, probably too much, as it made me have super high expectations of myself, but I think we have all learned as we have grown what is too much, and we can step back from that.
I don’t hold this having of expectations from me, against my parents, and I see how that helped me become a responsible, capable person. I was given just the right amount of expectation, coupled with the freedom to be stupid so I could make bad decisions and learn from them. Again, consequences. My parents understood well that my idiocy was not a reflection on them, more so my age, my maturity, my experience level of life. This is one thing I deeply value about my parents, the freedoms they gave me to succeed, fail, learn and grow!
When my dad and I have had some conversations in the past about expectations, I had to explain to him how similarly we thought, and that his insistence on the subject was unnecessary and wasteful. All we needed was to communicate and see that we were eye to eye on the subject, which we have gotten better at over the years. We are also at a place that we can tell each other that we can’t discuss a subject when it is clear we think so radically different, saving ourselves hurt feelings and frustration. So how does this relate back to ownership and identity? Pride.
My dad is very proud of his kids, grandkids and his great-Grayson. Part of his identity is in us, in that family is important, invaluable, we stick together, we support each other and we pass down parts of ourselves in the generations. I get that, agree with it, and love that about my dad and my family. However, fulfilling an expectation due to pride, that goes against myself or what I believe, is not pride at all, it is control. There is a difference. Remember, my mom said good luck controlling me, she is, after all, the original Miss Independent, and I love that about her, and love that she fosters that in her grandkids and great.
Telling someone what they will do so it doesn’t reflect badly upon you is control. Expecting someone to meet your needs for your fulfillment, and their detriment, is controlling. Forcing someone to bend to your will is not caring, it is controlling. You can see how controlling someone is ownership based on your identity of who you think you are. This does not provide an iota of respect towards you from the person you control or place expectations on, and maybe it looks good in public, but creates such division, hatred and disrespect in your family circle, to the point that you are not in the picture, people don’t want to be around you, or the only reason why people are around you is because you provide something to them, of a monetary or material value. Wow. This is so toxic and damaging. This is owning someone’s loyalty, feelings and self respect. This is control via expectations, not teaching how to have family pride.
If you find yourself only having an identity through your kids, grandkids or great grandkids, and how they represent you, you probably need to take stock and evaluate things, namely your life. I think a healthy percentage in your identity could be family, but not a majority, that’s really unfair for your offspring and theirs. This post is not about my parents, they are simply an example for certain points of this post, but definitely not all points. If you know them, you know how much pride they have in their family, but it is not their entire identity, nor was it their identity to be my parents as I was growing up, and definitely not now that I am adult. They do take a lot of pride in their grandkids and great, but again, not their defining identity. There is no ownership of their family, and they know this.
Recently, ownership was demonstrated, yet again to my family by other family members. There was only controlling behavior and assumptions of what is acceptable, due to a shortsightedness and ignorance of free will. Bending to the will of another is not choice…bending someone to your will is not giving them a choice. This post is for my husband, and my kids. Learning that life is not about being controlled, but to suffer inherent minor embarrassments, along with the feeling of family pride as a thing of duality, is what makes a family. No one owns you, you owe no one anything, and if anyone tries to control you, walk away, you are not a part of certain things, for a reason and you know it. Love is what matters, and when you love someone, you don’t control them, bend them, or force them to flatter your sense of identity…this is not an ownership, but a free will state-FAMILY.