Perspective on Parents
Robin McGraw


My mother 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.

There was 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.

What I 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 rest.

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.

Just as 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.

Life Lesson

If 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.

This 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.


Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths,
but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.

Anne Frank


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