My last post was about adults who carry to their graves the wounding and scars they got from their parents. These adults never grow up mentally, emotionally and spiritually. They never leave their parents’ mental and emotional homes, even if they leave physically. While watching the John Adams mini-series, I saw a classic example.
Whether the program was factual or not, the picture it showed of John and Abigail’s youngest son, Charles, was so typical and true that I’ll comment as if it was factual.
Because John was gone during the Revolutionary years for long periods of time in Philadelphia and Europe, and Abigail also went to Paris, Charles did not get as much of his parents’ love and affection as he wanted. Charles especially wanted his father’s approval. But John would never approve of Charles’ lack of serious, studious devotion to a stable career dedicated to building his country and supporting his family.
Forget about what John and Abigail should have done. We can feel sorry for Charles, but the obvious reality is that Charles was never going to get what he wanted from his parents. And the more Charles wasted his life in whining, drinking, frivolous daydreams and squandering his talent and money, the less likely that he would get what he wanted from them.
Here’s the key: Charles is faced with an emotional reality that is as real as rain or snow or hail or drought or flood or grasshoppers eating your crops. What is Charles’ task? No matter what, Charles has the same task we all have.
We each and all must suck it up and succeed. We must take responsibility for creating futures that are wonderful, no matter what our givens are. In my forthcoming e-book on how to stop school bullies in their tracks, you’ll find a case study of a teenager facing this decision. But you know it’s true. You had to face it. Everyone has to face it. Charles’ brother, John Quincy, had to face it. And John Quincy sucked it up successfully, despite not liking it.
As Jawaharlal Nehru said, “Life is like a game of cards. The hand that is dealt to you represents determinism; the way you play it is free will.”
Charles ran from the difficult responsibility of being in charge of creating a wonderful future. He blamed his failures on his parents’ lack of giving him what he wanted. As if he was the first person not to get enough from his parents. Do you really think that if John had come home from the Continental Congress in Philadelphia and said that he thought Charles was a delightful, sweet, charming and lovable fellow, with good stuff buried inside, Charles would have become strong, responsible and successful?
Charles wasn’t resilient enough to succeed in the face of the bad weather in his life. He couldn’t put his parents off to his mental and emotional side. He wasn’t courageous, strong and hardworking enough for himself, his wife and his child. He failed. And history rolls over the failures.
Charles shouldn’t have let his parents’ deficiencies be more important in his life than his future. His parents – our parents – are not excuses for failing. Why let people ruin your future if they didn’t give you what you need when you were young and still don’t? Move beyond them. Find other parents (older people) who will love and appreciate you. Find models to inspire you. Succeed, despite the harsh weather.
What else is worth doing with the energy and days given you?