How many times have you heard someone say, “She acts just like her mother.” or “He behaves just like his father.”? Usually it’s intended as a compliment or a recognition of some admirable trait. Sometimes during marital discord it could seem like an accusation, “You need to stop acting like your father!” The accused might then respond, “Oh really?” “Why don’t you stop acting like your mother!” But that’s another blog post…
Today I’m writing about how much some kids act like their parents. This “acting-like” behavior is not just genetic imprinting. I believe it’s a learned behavior. I’ve seen it in adoptive families. We all model the behavior we learn as children. Our parents (good or bad) are our first teachers. As adults most of us have experienced the sensation of opening our mouths only to have our mother’s or father’s words come out. It’s almost as if we lose momentary control and someone else takes over – if not our thoughts, definitely our words. Sometimes with regret but always with a sense of astonishment, we hear the words once spoken to us as children and now we are actually saying the same things and WE CANNOT STOP IT.
Fortunately for most of us this is a pleasant experience. Our daughter has a daughter who is her “spitting image”. Not only do they look alike but at times their behavior is startlingly similar. Anna acts so much like her Mommy that my wife and I often chuckle to ourselves. Our daughter Bess is not always amused, but I know that it is a good thing. Bess should be grateful after all, if Anna is half as good a daughter as she is, her life will be blessed. Bess and Anna don’t just look and act alike. They laugh the same way and at the same things. They share some of the same fears. They react to surprises both good and bad identically. These two have a spiritual and emotional connection that allows them to sense one another’s feelings. As the saying goes, “When one cries, the other can taste salt”. What a gift to one another.
Of course, I suppose it is a little disarming to “see yourself” so clearly in your own child, particularly those parts that you least appreciate. But it is a double blessing for me to see my beautiful daughter wrapped up inside my beautiful granddaughter.
God has given us a glimpse of immortality with all this ‘carrying-on’ as our parents before us. I just hope that the next time I “act like my Dad” I remember to thank God for that gift, too.
P.S. Here’s a song that all mothers can sing to their daughters ~