Insanity is Hereditary – You Get It From Your Kids!

I spend time these days, feeling disconcerted with, and discombobulated by, my kids. I seem to disagree (I hesitate to say argue, since arguing implies a give and take of words…) with my adult children about a lot of things; personal, political, spiritual and parental. I am a difficult person; I would be the first to admit it. I am opinionated, loud (partly because my hearing loss makes it difficult to regulate the timbre of my voice) and not the type, in personality or upbringing, to say, “yes, dear.” I consider myself well-educated, albeit mostly in the school of hard knocks, via massive amounts of reading and interaction with others. But I also consider myself open-minded, loving, giving and appreciative (mostly) of the opinions of others. I try to be respectful and forthright at the same time… a difficult task, admittedly.

Yet my children drive me mad. Why? Sigh, I am not so sure. I have learned, mostly in the last five years, to temper my expectations and assumptions. Certainly my assumptions have gotten me into major trouble in the past, for I had a tendency to assume that certain things were so, or would be so, because I believed in the idea, concept or action. YYSSW* Yet, I have been open to evaluating and changing my behaviors, based on what I have discovered about myself and my family members. This willingness, openness, doesn’t seem to go both ways though.

It may all be part of the generational difference, with which all parents struggle. For my parents, the difference between a generation post-depression and post-WWII, and my anti-military, anti-war, baby-boomer viewpoints seemed vast and sometimes insurmountable. I get that. But I never stopped valuing or at least paying some form of attention to my parents, respect being one of the things most important to my parents in our give and take. A friend and fellow hippie slash poet-writer, Diana Carson May-Waldman, part of World Wide Hippies, posted this on Facebook the other day…

I was raised to say please & thank you, to have respect for my elders, lend a helping hand to those who were in need, hold the door for the person behind me, say excuse me when it was needed, and to LOVE PEOPLE FOR WHO THEY ARE, not for what you can get from them! I was also taught to treat people the way I want to be treated!!

These values seem to have been lost in translation in my child-rearing of my own two.(Who are, for those who don’t know, 29 and 31) I raised them to speak their minds, to have their own opinions but to always value family. I didn’t quite get the message through, though. I reposted Diana’s statement, and the only people who commented or “liked” my statement were co-conspirators in the baby boomer/hippie generations. My children mostly treat me with amused tolerance. It is both annoying and saddening to realize that I have speciously exceeded my expiration date as far as my opinions and perspectives having value in their eyes. 


R-E-S-P-E-C-T Find out what it means to me...

So why am I writing about this? Because it is my blog, and I feel like ranting about my behavior that has led, perhaps, to this lack of respect, of value, and yes, importance in the eyes of my children! I fully understand that our relationship to our parents changes as we age, and that in order to grow and develop as adults, we need to learn to rely on ourselves, and to form our own opinions and core values. This is important. As an orphan, though, (my father died in 1978, my mother in 2005) I have regrets, mostly unresolved, about things not said or done. I had much respect for my parents’ accomplishments, and found them inspirational and still do.

I’d like to have that with my children. Now, rather than later, when it might be too late for me to enjoy and appreciate it. But there is little I can do to encourage it, besides remain available, accessible, consistent and reliable in my love and affection. It is a case, perhaps, of wanting my cake and eating it too – for what is wrong, after all, with wanting to be loved, respected and appreciated by those to whom I gave birth?!

What about your journey of parenting? Has it been a road of travail and drama, or has it been a comfortable easy passage? Do all parents go through what I have been going through in the last five years, or do they let go easier, move forward with a calmer mien, and accept their displacement in the lives of their children with greater ease and comfort than I have experienced? I am past the “empty nest syndrome” and not wanting involvement in my kids’ day to day life… instead, I want an adult relationship, a give and take that gives credit and respect to my experiences and skills, and honors my position as an elder statesman (woman) so-to-speak!

If wishes were horses…

Art by Diana Lancaster


*YYSSW means Yeah, Yeah, Sure, Sure, Whatever (a form of net lingo, used in chat or text messages as abbreviations. See Net

Picture credit – If wishes were horses – Diana Lancaster Art Gallery –

World Wide Hippies Logo –



About ReaderWoman

Professional reader and researcher for writers - Reviewer and Editor for online book review sites - AVID reader (well, duh!) writer, crafter (sewing, jewelry, fiber art) photographer, herb gardener, love to learn new things - Married 3842 years, 2 "kids" (now 34 and 36) and two grands (13 and 15) Born and raised California Girl, with stints in Tennessee, learning to speak Southern, and Arizona, learning that living in a trailer is NOT fun! Enjoy conversations with wine and chocolate, long walks and being with hubby and family. Life is good!
This entry was posted in Life is What Happens..., Personal Ramblings, ~ Rant ~. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Insanity is Hereditary – You Get It From Your Kids!

  1. Deb says:

    It ain’t easy being a parent, is it? The only comfort I can offer is this: your kids will one day be parents. Hee hee.

    • ReaderWoman says:

      One of my kids IS a parent – my oldest grandson will be 10 in June. Sigh. I just hope I am around 20 years from now when she deals with what I deal with now!

  2. Yes, I agree with Deb. I also want to say that I went through this with my adult children two years after my husband had died and I was starting to move on. I was 70 and beginning to miss male companionship and decided to try online dating. I loved it because I had never dated much before meeting Denny and then marrying. I was on five different sites in 14 months because after a few months the men were recycling with no new faces showing up so I would change dating services. It was an adventure. My point being that my four kids and my oldest granddaughter were shocked, worried, scared, and kinda perplexed that I would consider such a thing. You would’ve thought I was selling myself on the street. I had to ignore them with a few light comments such as these: “You’re not widowed so you don’t know how lonesome it gets,” and “You kids had your turn and now it’s mine,” and “You could meet a murderer in church.” Anyway, they finally had to trust that I was using my head and this was the modern way to meet people. On the surface I acted calm through all of this but it did upset me a lot because it meant that they didn’t respect my judgment. It’s disconcerting to feel like the child when the kids act like the parents who know better than you do. But as Deb said, my kids are going to be in the same boat someday. In fact, they’re half-way there. My older grandkids range from 28 to 37 so their children are starting to give them fits. Ha ha.

    • ReaderWoman says:

      I think what I wish for the most is that we could come to an understanding of our parents before it is too late. And that our children would see us for the remarkable, interesting, and worthwhile people we are, instead of constantly feeling they have to battle us, and keep their distance from us. sigh.

  3. susanideus says:

    You know, I seem to be a bit redundant in my kids’ lives right now. I don’t try to advise or give input (not a lot anyway…hehehehe). My girls have always said they always knew where I stood on issues–used to amuse them but now may embarrass or irritate. Surely I’m not becoming an eccentric????? Whatever, I’m missing the closeness.

    • ReaderWoman says:

      I think my kids see me as eccentric and are sometimes embarrassed by me. And is my daughter that has the most trouble with me – like you and your girls. I really miss the closeness (emotional as well as physical) with her. My son is still close, but he is not married, and still “needs” me and his dad. And being close, and being needed seems to be part of the cycle of parenting and grand-parenting (and being a daughter, albeit now an orphaned one) that is what I miss too!

  4. I think parenting is such an interesting part of the journey. When you set out on it, you don’t even realize how much you don’t know and how much you will learn 🙂 I am still somewhat new at it … but I have been able to strengthen my patience 🙂 and tolerance and realize that sometimes the best thing you can do is just try to understand their perspective. Interesting topic and post 🙂

  5. ReaderWoman says:

    Oh Sybil, I so agree – and you are wise way beyond your years, so you will be able to avoid some of the pitfalls, I think! Building on give and take, finding a common ground to discuss perspectives and sharing points of view as they grow up is SO important! Glad you enjoyed the posting! 🙂

  6. tammyparks says:

    Hmm, I guess I would qualify as ‘in between.’ My kids are 16, 17, and 20. I am 46 and still go rounds with my own mother.

    I think my kids go through cycles of great intelligence (worldliness) and great stupidity, the kind that makes you think you’ve failed miserably. My hope is that one day, the periods of intelligence and common sense will prevail, but I’m afraid the cycle will only continue.

    The thing that concerns me the most is their respect for others. They seem to be very discriminating when they decide who they respect and who they don’t, and it bothers me that they don’t have an automatic respect for their elders and people they don’t know. I taught them that some level of respect must be automatic, and disrespect should be earned, just as a higher level is earned, and I don’t see that in them. It also bothers me that they (or at least one of them) has an eternal ‘what’s in it for me’ take on helping others. That’s not what I taught them!!!

    Finally, their respect for me seems to come and go, in cycles. Perhaps that fluctuates with my own self respect. Something to keep in mind as time goes by I guess.

  7. ReaderWoman says:

    “I taught them that some level of respect must be automatic, and disrespect should be earned, just as a higher level is earned, and I don’t see that in them. It also bothers me that they (or at least one of them) has an eternal ‘what’s in it for me’ take on helping others. That’s not what I taught them!!!”
    YEAH! This is what I am concerned about. My kids are in the “me” or gen-X generation, and they too (at 29 and 31) seem to have the what’s in it for me mentality sometimes! Thanks for your thoughtful post!

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