Reality Check: Worried about becoming my dad (or mom) syndrome?

It seems that marketers will do anything to convince us that their product is the one for us. (Sounds like I’m choosing skepticism, eh?)

Just for fun, picture this as your problem: You’re trying to market a product to young men. The product is basically the same product that their fathers and grandfathers use. How would you make it appealing?

As most young men don’t choose products by deciding, “I’ll buy that brand because my old man uses it,” a men’s grooming company surveyed young men to measure concern about “becoming my dad.” They even have a quiz! (You can do it online). It suggests that their product can protect you from the danger of becoming like your dad.

Of course, this quiz isn’t a serious effort to assess deep-seated concern about becoming your dad. I know that because the symptoms identified as non-cool dad-characteristics included wearing comfortable clothes and using real words. As if those are hallmarks of old folks. Harrumph.

But seriously, has the thought that you are becoming your dad (or, as this is a gender-neutral column, your mom) crossed your mind?

Think back. What was your perception of your parents’ words and actions? How about their antiquated, unreasonable opinions? Were you embarrassed? Uncomfortable? Determined that’ll never be you?

When you hear the same words coming from your own mouth, how’s that work for you?

Apparently, some people find it distressing.

And if the only words echoed are the negative ones (yelling at kids, baffled by contemporary music, fashions, and gadgets, and complaints about every change) that could be distressing.

But you know that I’m here to give you the good news, right?

And there is good news! Being fearful or depressed about becoming your dad or mom aren’t the only options! When you take charge of your life, you can find plenty of opportunity to choose which characteristics to retain and which to discard.

You probably can’t change inheritances like your dad’s big feet or your mom’s short stature, even if you wanted to.

However, we have some control over the characteristics that matter, those that truly make us who we are. We can choose qualities such as attitude, work ethic, friendliness, competence, even sense of humour.

Regardless of whether you viewed your parents with embarrassment, disdain, respect or admiration, if you were fortunate enough to have parents to observe, then you have information.

You know what worked and what didn’t. Did they set an example of hard work and perseverance? Could they find fun for free? If so, is “becoming your dad” with those characteristics such a bad thing?

Conversely, was their criticism of your haircut, clothes, or taste in music helpful? If not, do you think that expressing similar criticisms yourself now will somehow work more effectively for you than it did for them?

If you saw what they did as ineffective, then don’t do it yourself. If it was effective, then use it as an example. Use the information to make your best life.

Do you detect that you are “becoming your mom or dad”?

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