30 Comments
Feb 26Liked by Heather Havrilesky

“If you’re gonna blame your parents for the bad stuff, you also have to give them credit for the good stuff. All the good stuff.”

-Matthew Perry ❤️

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*sniff* This is very true.

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Mathew Perry????? Really???

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??????????

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Oh I am sorry! I find the name that you mentioned so out of place in this conversation but again I apologize. 🙏

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"Out of place" because....people who struggle with addictions and mental health don't have anything of value to say? Or because they generally tend to have had super healthy childhoods and great relationships with their parents? Or....?

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Hey do they? They do have great relationship with parents and friends ? Just noticed I apologize and now the conversation is going to places that have nothing to do with the article. Be cool is fine....

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It is very interesting how you jump into the conclusion this is related to his adicción. I simply believe he is not that interesting....

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Out of place ???? Why because you don't like it?

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Feb 26Liked by Heather Havrilesky

The main thing my parents were right about is that being a good person matters. Solidarity, friendship, compassion, fairness....all of these things were taught to matter more than wealth, admiration, or self-aggrandizement. I have tried to keep these values at the center of my life and I feel like it's ultimately been worthwhile. It's this small, mostly unnoticed and unlauded work that keeps the wheels of society moving, however much it's malfunctioning these days.

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Thank you for this! I'm a big fan of self-aggrandizement, personally, I MEAN AREN'T WE ALL GRAND? HA. But I was also taught that pursuing wealth was overrated, as were status symbols and material goods. Looking back, this was a gift that gave me the freedom to experiment instead of following a rigid pre-existing career path. The pressures on those who were taught to value status can be enormous.

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Feb 26Liked by Heather Havrilesky

That's a good point...we all have to advocate for ourselves, and everyone has a bit of magic in them. I meant it more in the excessive narcissist way that hurts others, because it's sad we aren't taught to nurture each other's magic sparks, we are taught to stomp on them because THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE SPECIAL PERSON IN THIS VICINITY AND CAPITALISM SAYS IT MUST BE MEEEEE. In conclusion, fuck capitalism lol.

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The one piece of advice my dad gave me that feels true, and which I struggle to adopt: "What you think of yourself, people think of you."

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Oh, that and "Money is round; it will roll away from you as quickly as it rolled toward you."

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For me, one of the lovely things about aging is that as I’ve gone along in life, there have been fewer unknowns about what shape my life will take, as more of it is in the past. A lot of the big choices are made (career, city, marriage/remarriage, kids). Perhaps I like the reduction in indeterminacy because I tend toward fretfulness and anxiety. I could still make big moves in my life, I guess, but there’s a lot of chapters to this story that are written, and there’s a calm I get from that - even the parts I sort of regret. And maybe one reason why my relationship with my mom is better now than it has been, maybe ever, is because she’s an even more anxious person than I, and she can see that I’m okay, in a settled, middle aged way, and she doesn’t feel the need to prod and critique and try to manage my choices as she did (intensely, passionately, with no filter or boundaries) when I was younger, which led to a lot of friction and pain. She’s still an anxious person, but my life choices aren’t much of a focus any more; what’s done is done. Now that we aren’t on that terrain anymore, it’s easier to enjoy each other’s company.

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yes, this is a lot like me and my mom! We finally get along. her an octagenarian and me in my fifties. We actually have a pretty fun and cute authentic relationship, with good boundaries and in small doses. And I'm settled in my marriage and content in my life at long last, and this energy seems like it is very soothing for her. But oh she was vicious to me when I was younger, more unstable and more vulnerable. Certifiable. I continue to be so proud of myself that I have let all that go. After so much friction and pain, it is actually making this time in my life extra sweet, these improved relationships with difficult family members. Don't think this could have happened before now, very grateful for this unexpected bounty of getting older.

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I dunno - my parents have become right-wing MAGA die-hards. So all the good things I ~thought~ they valued and taught me have gone out the window: kindness, truth, being good to others over status and power. I've gone from my parents were right about things to they are wrong about everything. Anyone else dealing with this?

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this came to me at a time (the perfect time, actually) wherein ALL advice feels like such an attack, especially from my parents. thank you so much for this :,)!!! i hope i can learn to ride with the waves, and dissect what is right and wrong for me <3 your words are truly a treasure.

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"And did I truly know what she saw as acceptable? Not at all! I allowed her natural ambivalence, her shame, and her insecurities to trick me into believing that she was far more judgmental than she actually was.

This is such a common phenomenon, among family members, friends, lovers: We enter into a volatile, uncertain space in the company of a loved one, and we misinterpret that volatility."

👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

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Dad gave me useful stuff about journalism and writing.

The most important thing he said was when I was five years old: "Dave, if you want to work anywhere besides pushing racks of clothes up and down 7th Avenue, you will work in an office. That means you will have to type. So you will learn to type."

To this day, I can type at 110 wpm.

And I never pushed a rack of clothes up and down 7th Avenue in the pouring rain.

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This was such a deeply insightful post, thank you so much for sharing! Really helped shed some perspective on my relationship with my parents.

I’ve been at odds with my parents for a few years now, especially my mom. They’re the stereotypical tough-love Asian parents, overbearing and tyrannically loving in their own right. But me, I’m fiercely independent and a firm believer in “rely on no one but myself.” Needless to say, we clash severely.

I’m still working on getting over myself and all my (most likely) misinterpretations of everything they say, but it’s a rather grueling journey. I realized that as humans, we’re always looking for some kind of affirmation from other fellow human beings, esp those we are close with. However sometimes we don’t need to get so caught up in seeking approval from others, we just need to do what we think is right and people will just judge as they will.

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“Life is like an echo, what you put out comes back to you”

“The good things in life are free”

“It’s better to give than to take”

“Make sure you can look in the mirror”

I wish I had paid More attention.

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it's a strange one, because while we have to acknowledge our parents might not have been right on anything, equally as parents ourselves we have to acknowedge we're not right about everything either

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My parents... good or bad nothing will ever change today I am 100% into myself ... yesterday my mother was calling and did not take the call ... I feel better I am 👍

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I genuinely don’t know what my parents expectations of me were/are. I was the first in my family to stay past 16 at school, and I went on to get a PhD so I think they were just happy to let me continue on the study path that I was going without really understanding what it meant or was, or where it led.

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Nice work as always, Heather! The process of individuation involves exactly what you've discussed in this piece: weaving together the tapestry of your personal identity out of the good and bad threads of advice that your parents gave you. Many people define themselves based on their childhood experiences. While early development is important, it is perhaps even more important that we reevaluate what we've taken away from childhood, and learn to integrate the updated and broader view into our current self-understanding. In a way, we have to build a bridge between who we were then, and who we are (and choose to be) now.

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Thank you Heather. At 54, I am trying to consider a parental perspective outside of what my husband and I have been calling "The Value of the Do Not Do". Now that all 4 of our birth parents are gone, it is a real phantasmagoria of feelings, impressions, images. In some ways that is helpful bc we can just IMAGINE a lot.

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First blush- No! They weren’t right about anything. lol

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