How Long Can They Hold Out?

We all want better for our kids. We want them to have a better life than we had. We want them to have better parents than we had. That’s why we’re trying so hard. That’s why we wrestle with our demons–going to therapy, reading books, putting in the work.

Here at Daily Dad we’ve talked about Bruce Springsteen’s critical choice–are you going to be an ancestor or a ghost to your children? Are you going to guide and support them…or haunt and menace them (the way that past demons did for previous generations)? Another great musician (who we talked about recently), Mikel Jollett, wrote a fascinating memoir which begins with him growing up in a cult that his mother had joined. Even though she eventually got out, he and his brother were still subjected to his mother’s profound issues and inadequacies.

“Our parents were like ghosts in Synanon,” he writes in Hollywood Park, “haunting us then disappearing again, leaving us to wonder what their connection to us was supposed to mean.” Then he adds a kicker which illustrates the stakes of what Springsteen was trying to communicate, given that Springsteen was similarly haunted by a distant, blocked parent. “How long can you live with ghosts,” Jollet asks, “before deciding to become one?”

All of us are working hard at doing and being better. It’s never too late to change and improve (as we said recently), but we should also be aware that the clock is ticking, the windows are closing. While we have our kids with us, while they’re young, while we are still young–now is the time. We have to do this work, we have to make this progress, we have to try to solve our issues before that choice gets made.

We want them to have a better experience than we had. So let’s give them that experience, show them what it’s like. Before they too are possessed with the demons that we met in our childhoods. Let’s do it while there is still time.

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