My father was 20 years old when I was born in 1954. My mother was 21. Although being married and having children at that age was pretty much the norm in those baby boom years, when I think about it now, as a grown man who has raised children, and as a psychotherapist who’s worked with people of all ages, it is stunning. My parents, for all their good intentions, had no real wisdom to offer a growing child. They couldn’t. Developmentally, they had just begun the early stages of adulthood.

Erik Erikson, one of the few well-known psychologist who wrote about the developmental stages of adulthood,and who I referenced for a class I taught on adulthood, said this about the young adult:

“It is only after a reasonable sense of identity has been established that real intimacy with others can be possible. ‘Generativity’ is primarily the interest in establishing and guiding the next generation. This is a stage of growth of the healthy personality, and where such enrichment fails, regression from generativity to an obsessive need for pseudo intimacy takes place, often with a pervading sense of stagnation and interpersonal impoverishment. The mere fact of having, or even wanting children does not itself attest to generativity.”

The person I called “Dad” back then, now the 75 year old man I will call tomorrow to say “Happy Father’s Day” to, had issues… and consequently, so did I. And not just because he was young.

But as I’ve often said to people, underneath our character structure elements lies the true light of our higher selves, of our souls.

Technically speaking, my father’s main character structures were psychopathic and masochistic. By clicking on the words, you can see the problems that caused him... and me. His grandiosity, his need for attention, his sadistic style of relating to his underlings (both his kids and his employees) caused me, among other things, to think I was "too sensitive" as a child, so by the time I'd reached adolescence I had learned how not to cry (When I finally broke through my character structure as a 40-year old man, and once again became able to cry fully, it felt like the greatest gift imaginable.).

But there's more to our stories than the slings and arrows we must endure as children at the hands of our parents. If you check out the “higher self” part of the charts, you will find my true inheritance from my “old man” (still so young it’s embarrassing at times!) and perhaps yours.

My father embraced life. He got up every day, and still does, with an energy and attitude that said it was good to be alive, that there were things worth doing in life, and not just out of obligation, but out of desire. As a result, even though we were a working class family, and no matter what the economic ups and downs of the decades of my youth, our life always felt abundant. It was primarily my father's attitude that inspired that feeling. As a painting contractor, and then later a home improvement contractor, my father worked for some very wealthy people. I spent my summers working for him in the incredible homes of some of the rich and famous. Yet, we entered those homes, thanks to my father, like we belonged there, like we were partners in a project with the home owners, not like lowly laborers. (If anything, at times it seemed as if the customers were working for my father and not the other way around!)

My father created things. He was always building or re-building, designing or redecorating something, and it really made him happy to do so. It was (and still is) a family joke among my siblings that when dad was worried or anxious about something, he'd add another room or a deck or some kind of addition to our house.

We tend to form our personalities in both emulation of and in defiance of our parents, very often the one of the same gender. Miraculously, like everything that seems to "randomly" occur in life, our soul makes use of that material to fulfill our destinies. So, I am a psychotherapist in spite of my father, who even just recently referred to my profession of inner world exploration as not being "in the real world." But I am also a writer who has written music and screenplays and has this blog because I, too, in identification with my father, am fired-up by the need to create. And like my father, I don't doubt that even in my fifties, if I want to become a successful writer, I can.

So, thanks, Dad - for the good, the bad and the ugly! For dishing it out, and for taking a few blows in return.

And folks, take heart - if you do the work to face what was negative about your parents and your childhood, you don't end up empty and bereft. By surfacing the dark stuff into the light, it dissipates, and you end up with what was good about your childhood, and you can understand why your soul chose those parents to be born to.

Happy Father's Day!

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