I was thinking about how I used to like the ‘likes’ on my social media pages. Now, they don’t matter so much. So I began to reflect on why that might be? I know that since starting these pages and sharing my thoughts, I have also began to clarify my feelings and experiences. Consequently I am feeling stronger and happier than I ever was before. Childhood experiences often shape us stealthily and it is much later when we ourselves become parents that we start thinking about these experiences. Thinking back to my childhood, I had a very critical father. Some of my work involves being critical- writing and to choosing employees, etc. But was I transferring my critical habits at work to my home?
Now, being critical has its good points and bad ones. Critical people are able to distinguish between important issues, make choices and reflect on things intelligently. In the fields of arts and literature, being critical helps us to edit and curate our choices. However, taken too far, being critical, can be very dangerous. Especially where personal relations are concerned. If someone is very critical, then they are less likely to have close friends or family. Critical people also have a need to be in control and to have a say in everything. Criticism can become all consuming anger at every one and everything that is not going someone’s way. Having an overtly critical parent can turn to us to wanting love and attention in other ways. Wanting ‘likes’ might be way of saying I need love and attention because I am not getting it in other ways.
I breathed a sigh of relief when my younger son announced the other day that he was not going to go for a school prize that is given to ‘popular’ children- that is popular with teachers. He said that he would be pleased to get it on his own terms (he is a polite and popular boy anyway). He didn’t want to do things like writing poems or ‘thank you’ letters to teachers for no reason, staying on for extra lessons (not because they want to learn but to earn points), smiling all the time, etc. He said he just wanted to be himself and if anyone thought he was good, then it was fine. Here was a boy who used to be anxious to see how many ‘likes’ he was getting in the social media posts. I realised that I had become happier, let go of the past and become less critical, so my son was a result of the change in my parenting.