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Changing the Past

One note about families of origins: In our chapter on emotional baggage, we discuss families of origin that have burdened us with old wounds. Just remember that the sins of the past needn't be repeated in the present. If you want to see an interesting conversation, the next time you are among close friends with men present of a certain age (40 to 45 or older), ask the question: When was the last time your father told you he loved you? The conversation may surprise you—and may be quite poignant. Times have changed. Many of our fathers never changed a diaper. Many of our mothers never worked outside the home. Many of us come to parenthood with a “map” that was totally different from the one we are living with now.

Some of us come with even darker issues. We are so bound and determined not to make the mistakes of our parents that we stress ourselves out trying to be “perfect.” Well, guess what? There is no such thing as a perfect parent. There is no more admirable goal than to want to do the job of parenting well, but you can veer off the map that was written for you in childhood and write your own new map. And give yourself permission to make mistakes along the way.


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