We often talk about the influence of parents on their children. But what about the other way around? What if the parents are brave and loving while the offspring are lazy and selfish? Can we be influenced by our own children?
Children As Kings
In their desire to do too much, parents can end up spoiling their children’s character. Child kings, as they are called, are in fact children who have been the product of everything their parents could not have in some way. They are projections of unfulfilled desires, extensions of the self. Through them, the parents hope to live vicariously through what they were unable to experience themselves. Needless to say, such a scheme is a recipe for disaster. The children will suffer from not being able to be themselves completely and they may give their parents a hard time in retaliation. On the surface, they are pampered, but behind the attention they receive is the pressure of having to do what their parents could not do themselves. If parents do not realize their mistake, they may sooner or later experience a great disillusionment.
Life Gets Better From Generation To Generation
Whether we like it or not, children generally have a better life than their parents. There is certainly a debate today about boomers being a generation of spoiled children: the most privileged generation. They have undoubtedly had many advantages: cheap real estate, inexpensive education, early retirement, sexual freedom without the risks of AIDS, etc. However, the current technology, despite its flaws, has many advantages that benefit the new generation: entrepreneurship is possible by offering new remote services, online work has been democratized, there is a possibility to live in a nomadic way, there is a reduction of costs or even free access to services that before were excessively expensive etc. I am not sure that the current generation is worse off than the previous one. I would say that there are opportunities to be seized and it is a shame to envy the privileges of another age.
Generations generally improve over time, so it’s normal for there to be a comfort gap between the young and the old. Parents end up bemoaning the fact that their children are not putting in the effort they did or are not willing to sacrifice what they themselves sacrificed.
Parents Go Into Depression
Sometimes the mediocrity of the children ends up depressing the parents. Those who have put a lot of effort and attention into raising their kids see that they are going in a direction they did not expect. They replay the movie in their heads to try to figure out what they missed. The problem is that it’s often not their fault: kids are more the product of their times than their parents. Despite their efforts, they have not been able to win against the trends of a generation. Children are spending less and less time with their parents and more time with their peers and screens of all kinds. This is why children often escape parental control. This discrepancy between the parents’ desires and the result creates disillusionment and it is not uncommon for parents to actually change, in turn.
Since parents have not been able to achieve what they want from their children, they may eventually change themselves. Parents may move closer to their children’s culture, or they may move in the opposite direction out of rejection. For example, a father may be influenced by the hedonism of the new generation, even though he has led an austere and serious life all his life. Very often, the parental crisis can lead to divorce: the perceived failure of the children is above all the failure of the parents, so what is the point in continuing together?
The exchange of culture
As we have said, children are the product of their time. Parents must civilize children at birth who are in a way barbarians, foreign to the cultural codes of the society where they were born. However, the more time passes, the more the former barbarians become the new civilized ones: parents become more and more foreign to the surrounding culture, even though they are supposed to be its guarantors. Technology, video games, social networks are the main vectors of these cultural changes. Parents are excluded from the majority of these phenomena. The more time passes, the more adults are outdated and the more we see the emergence of two worlds: the old and the new. In the end, there is a growing incompatibility between these generational cultures. One is rooted, the other without borders, one is partly bookish, the other disregards books, one likes long time, the other likes short time, one is calm, the other is frenetic, one likes stability, the other likes change etc.
Children Necessarily Influence Their Parents
The child that comes into the world is a spirit to be shaped. The parents try to shape it in their own image, but as time goes by, the influence is reversed: the parents need the children to understand the world and its codes, even if it means adopting its culture for good and being a bit alienated.