Many of the traits that have become inherent and deeply ingrained into the fabric of your mind were most likely learnt a long time ago – most likely from a period you can’t even remember.
As humans, we act the way we do due to a lot of influences and habits picked up along the journey of growth. Experiential learning, as well as formal education and the powers of observation, combine to make us who we are.
And who could anyone have observed more than their parents?
Given the closeness and proximity of a family unit, habits are picked up from there, right from an early age. Up till your teens and young adulthood, chances are that your parents have influenced, moulded and shaped you in more ways than one – including how you relate, and things you consider to be right or wrong when dealing with members of the opposite sex.
Some of your tendencies would be traceable to one of your parents or both.
Your tendency to shut down emotionally during an argument with your significant other? That can probably be traced back to one or both of your parents. Your unshakable ideas of gender equality in a marriage? Those could have been imbibed from years of seeing your parents’ relationship firsthand, too.
Rayo Abe, founder of Mums Cafe, a weekly gathering for mothers to relax, unwind and learn together says that this is not strange as kids are more likely to “learn by example more than by words, and their first influence is [on] the home front.”
‘Rayo Abe aka Lagos House Wife ‘Rayo Abe
She adds that there is a link between someone’s love life and what they saw their parents practising in their romantic relationship, citing an example of how her son sees open expressions of affection and love regularly and would “automatically carry these over into his romantic relationship when the time comes”
There are positive influences and negative influences to pick from those relationships.
Some good parents are, after all, bad partners and at the very core, they are humans, too; susceptible to errors and poor judgments made in the heat of passion. So the things to learn from your folks’ relationship may be mistakes to never make, and toxic behaviours to actively purge yourself off in any relationship you find yourself in.
Rayo, who is a radio show presenter as well as being a ‘professional’ housewife in Lagos, Nigeria, says that domestic violence, verbal abuse, poor communication methods, and disregarding each other’s opinions are toxic traits in your parents’ relationship that could actually motivate you to be the opposite of what you saw; a better person capable of flourishing in healthy relationships.
On the flip side, people who saw their parents exhibit admirable relationship patterns like equality, mutual respect, love, friendship and communication can use that as a template for their relationships; something to aspire to in their love lives.
Mother-in-law from hell
On parents’ active involvement in their children’s relationships and marriages
Of course, there would be a conflict where one loves their parents but do not agree with their involvement in their marriage/relationship.
If you found yourself in such situation, say one or both of your parents were doing too much, getting too involved, or giving advice you are not comfortable with; what’s the best way to have them back off without appearing rude or dismissive of their assistance? Because, most of the time, these things are done out of love and in the kids’ best interest.
Sometimes you may have to tell your parents ‘I’ve got this and I’m handling this my way.”
On this, ‘Rayo says the best approach would be to speak with one’s parents, one adult to another. She says: “you might be their child, but you are grown up now so you are no more speaking as ‘little’ Motunrayo (as an example).
“So you tell them, ‘mummy/daddy you raised me and you raised me right which is why I can make good decisions. I owe that to you, now you owe me the opportunity and trust to use what you have taught me, if not I will never be able to stand on my own, and that will be an insult to you.
“I will always appreciate having you to advise me when I need it, but for now, I’ve got this and I’m handling this my way.”
If you found this advice helpful, you would find this one helpful, too.