was the sweetest, gentlest woman you could ever meet. She
loved being a mother, and I know I get that from her. And
my father absolutely adored me, and I adored him. He loved
all five of us kids and made each of us feel as if we might just
be his favorite. That was the good part of my father.
another part too, a part that had to do with him drinking and
not coming home and us not knowing where he was, whom he was
with, or what he was doing. It didn't seem to go with the
rest of him, and yet there it was.
learned from reflecting on my parents' legacy is that life is
complicated and love does not conquer all. I learned that
as much as my father loved me, he wasn't strong enough to save
me from his disease; and as much as I adored him, there were
aspects of him that I disliked immensely. I learned that I
admired my mother's strength, and that one day I would protect
my own children the way she protected us. But I also
learned that her refusal to acknowledge my father's alcoholism
had backfired, and her strategy of pretending nothing was wrong
was one that would not work for me. And so I made the
choice to embrace those parts of my parents' legacy that were
good and wholesome, and to absolutely, categorically reject the
The concept of
redefining your legacy is something I am passionate about,
especially when it comes to women, many of whom are merely
existing inside lives they neither chose nor contemplated.
So many of us have dutifully reproduced our mother's or father's
behaviors, duplicating our parents' patterns and manifesting a
legacy that we, however unconsciously, feel obligated to fulfill.
I want you
to know you have a choice: you do not have to haul your
parents' legacy into your life like that old dining room set your
great aunt left for you in her will. If it makes you happy
to eat at that table and sit in those chairs, by all means keep
them. But if it doesn't, remember you have options.
You can hold on to the table and toss the chairs. Or lose
the table and keep the chairs (perhaps reupholster the seats so
they're more comfortable). And if you just plain hate the
whole thing, get rid of it before you bring it into the house.
your great aunt's furniture might not fit your dining room, your
parents' ways of living might not suit your life. You're not
insulting your dead aunt by rejecting her old furniture, and
you're not betraying your parents by living your life differently
than they lived theirs; in fact, what you're doing is being true
to yourself. I believe in the core of my being that you
don't have to bring into your life anything that isn't working for
you, nor are you fated to live out a future you had no part in
creating. Each of us possesses the will to create our own
legacy. It's all a choice.
we want to be truly autonomous,
truly our own selves, and take our lives
to the next level, we must embrace the
good parts of our upbringing and refuse
to allow the bad parts to rule our lives.
is a gentle peer-to-peer counsel from the heart of
Robin McGraw. Whether
dealing with our faith, our family, or our friendships,
we create the life we long
for through the integrity
of our choices. In the
beautiful gift book, From
My Heart to Yours, Robin McGraw shares from her
heart, with simple but
powerful doses of "life
lessons" that will encourage
and inspire people from all
walks of life.