Ask Goldie - June 2007

By Goldie Carlow


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Dear Goldie:

I don't understand how people in the same family, brought up the same way can turn out so differently when they grow up. My two grandsons were treated exactly alike, given the same education and opportunities and now have successful jobs. One is a kind, generous person, but the other is inconsiderate and rude to people around him. What happened?

R.V.


Dear R.V.:

This phenomenon can be puzzling, but not as unusual as you JUNE think. Differences in character are created by both nature and nurture.

Every individual has a unique value system from which he functions. This system is formed by what one learns at home, school, church, in social groups, etc., and by every life experience encountered since infancy. People continue to make judgments and act according to the values they accept.

Although your grandsons' lives appear similar, there were occasions when they would have seen, heard and encountered differences. As a result, they view their environments differently and continue to develop individual personal values.

I don't want to give you the impression that we are stuck with one value system, once acquired. As human beings, we have choice. Everyone needs to be aware of how they think, act and judge their surroundings, and consider where and how they came to absorb these values. We change as we gain knowledge and intelligence. And value systems can change too.

I hope this gives you some insight into your grandsons' behaviour. Hopefully the one who worries you will one day examine his value system and make a change.

Dear Goldie:

I wonder if you have a solution to our family dilemma. My parents are in their late 60s and have been divorced for several years. My father was an alcoholic in his late 40s, but finally joined AA and overcame his problem. My mother is still bitter and just won't forgive him for those unhappy years. Is there any way to change this so we can all meet as a family of adults and children and enjoy ourselves without this tension? She refuses to discuss it.

P.B.

Dear P.B.:

Al-Anon could certainly help your mother. I am quite sure she would have learned about it when your father joined AA. This support group is designed to help the family and friends of alcoholics. At the time of your father's recovery, your mother JUNE have been too bitter to want help. But it JUNE work for her now.

Keep talking to your mother, even if she resists. Tell her that her behaviour is upsetting the entire family, and is unhealthy for her. I am assuming the children you mention are her grandchildren. She must love them, so emphasize the example she is setting for them.

Persistence JUNE win her over, but if you aren't getting through, make a call to Al-Anon yourself and ask for suggestions. Keep their literature available in case your mother relents.

Best of luck!

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