A to Z Theme 2016

For my 2016 A to Z theme I used a meme that I ran across on the blog of Bridget Straub who first saw it on the blog of Paula Acton. This meme is a natural for me to use on my memoir blog. It's an A to Z concept and it's about me. No research and nothing complicated. I'm given twenty six questions or topics to discuss that are about me.

In April I kept my posts short and uncomplicated. In the midst of it all you might learn a few things about me that you didn't previously know.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Fears We Inherit

fear (Photo credit: siette)

       We inherit many of our physical traits directly from our parents.  Our hair color, physical build, or facial features will more often than not be similar to how one of our parents looked.  Now I can look in the mirror and see a very distinct resemblance to my own father.  It's in the genes.

        Other aspects that may have been passed to us from our parents are not genetic, but cultural preferences, ethics, and beliefs about certain things.  Sometimes it may be societal while in other cases they be things that are mostly confined to our own family.  Mothers and fathers shape their kids to believe many things whether they intend to or not.

        Since I was a small child I've been told negative things about cats.  My father was never particularly fond of felines, but he never said much about the subject.  On the other hand my mother would tell eerie stories about cats and cat owners she had known in her life.  Many times she would come right out and say that she hated cats.  In turn I grew up intensely disliking cats and having a bit of a fear about them.

          My mother used to tell a story about how she almost drowned when she was a girl.  I can also remember riding in the car on a road that followed closely alongside a river and my mother being very afraid.  Sensing her fear, I too became afraid that we might run off the road into the water and drown.  We never went swimming many times when I was a small child so I had little experience with being in any water other than the bathtub.   My father was a very good swimmer, but I did not see him swim very many times.   Later when we moved to San Diego we would often go to the beach, but I would stay away from the water.  An aversion to large areas of water had already been instilled in me.  I actually never learned to swim until I was in college and took swimming as a physical education class.  Even now I am not a good swimmer and haven't been swimming in many years.  Being on a boat can make me very uncomfortable.  I am not excited about the prospect of having to swim.

           Many of my friends learned fix-it skills and craftsmanship from their dads.  My dad was never good at things like that and rarely did such work around the house.  His father had died when my dad was still fairly young so maybe it was partly for that reason that my father didn't acquire those kinds of skills.  Then again his father was a newspaperman and may not have done much in the way of work around the house either.  In any case, what basic skills I acquired I either learned on my own or from friends.  And believe me, I don't know much.  Now I have an unease about doing home repairs and will usually hire somebody to do it for me.   My fearing of making things worse if I do them is justified by some of my own bad past experiences.  Like my dad I am no handyman and it often scares me to think of trying.    

           These are all things I could overcome, but they are also part of who I am and have been.  I have acquired these attributes from my parents and I'm comfortable with it.  Years of habit and hearing the negatives about those things that I fear have made these fears very real for me.   In part it's my parents and now it's part of me.

             Are there fears that you have acquired from one of your parents?    Is there anything that one of your parents greatly feared that you are not at all afraid of?    Have you passed any aversions on to your own children?   If so, did you intend to pass them on?

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  1. The only thing I can think of is a fear of tornadoes that my dad had. This is a man who was never scared of anything (exploring deep caves, camping out in the wilderness no tent and canoeing). And yet, if a cloud or two appear and their's hint of a tornado, he freaks. So I acted like that (standing at the window looking out and pacing the floor) until one day my two year old son was clinging to me scare too. That was it, I literally stopped being fearful of storms.

    My severest phobias are spiders and the dark. These are all mine and not shared by my parents. :) But, guess what? Both my kiddos are scared of spiders.

    Interesting post.

  2. I agree, Lee, we do take some of our own fears from what we see or experience as a child. I'm not that fond of swimming, but I love living by water.

    My mother's fears, I def inherited, as she nearly drowned as a child and described it to me. She had to have CPR to get the water from her lungs. I was close to my mother, and this scared me quite a bit as a child.

    We are a composite of what we experience in our life. Some things we absorb, and some bounce off of us.

    Oh yes, I took swimming lessons during my college years, too.

  3. There is not much that spooks me out, but as I get older I have found heights now do my head in badly. Strange because I use to work on oil platforms and spent a lot of time very high indeed in some scary spots. But if I was put in them now I would freeze and scream a lot.

    It all started with having both ankles and feet smashed to bits, they have got better over the years but I stay closer to the ground as time passes.

  4. I learned to fear a few things as a child - all from my mother. She was afraid of water, and I picked up on that. I didn't learn to swim until I was almost 60, and still don't do it well, but I am much more confident in water now, especially when I go sailing with my husband.
    Mum was also a fearful passenger in a car. She didn't drive, so always had to be a passenger. I have driven since I was 19. My first husband was a very inattentive driver and I became a fearful passenger like Mum. However, over recent years, I have learned to control, and then dismiss those fears through using rational thought about why I am fearful.
    My 5 children didn't learn my fear of water because I always hid it, and didn't put myself and them in a position where they would see it. Their father is a strong and confident swimmer, and I let him take responsibility for them when we went to the pool, the river or the beach.
    The fears we pick up as kids are learned behaviours that we can change, but only if we recognise that and make the effort to change. Some things don't affect you enough to bother changing I guess.

  5. Interesting, my husband and I were just talking about the importance of recognizing why we "are like we are" but not use the excuse "that's just how I am".

    I too never learned to swim, my mother loved the water but was afraid of swimming. Me too, but I made sure all my kids can swim and they love being in the water. I even have one scuba diver!

  6. My family had so many fears/phobias it's a wonder I'm not worse. I personally hate heights and edges, though better if I can put a camera to my eye through which to view a scene from a cliff edge, for example. My children must have acquired their father's gene because they feel no fear and are thrill seekers. I'm sad you don't like cats -my mother didn't much like animals but Dad was a real cat person and so am I.

  7. My mom suffered from paranoid schizophrenia so her life was an endless stream of fears. I credit her great love for my brother and I that she managed not to pass her fears along to us. She was terrified of us drowning but let us swim. She was terrified of storms but let us stand on the porch and watch the lightning. My only irrational fear is arachnophobia - which is funny because mom wasn't frightened of spiders at all.

  8. Teresa -- When one lives in the Midwest I don't think fear of tornadoes is all that unreasonable. I'm not thrilled with spiders either.

    DG -- I'm thinking that mothers pass on more fears than fathers since men attempt to appear fearless.

    Rob -- Heights have always made me very uneasy. I'm very claustrophobic as well.

    Wang -- I guess I've been okay enough with my fears not to be concerned about them. They don't really interfere with my life that much.

    Sheila -- I'm glad to know that I'm so unusual in not having been a swimmer and not thrilled with swimming even now.

    Pauleen -- I've seen families that were generally very afraid of many things and others that seemed fearless. That's what makes us what we are I guess.

    LD -- Yours is an interesting case. It's almost as though you were rebelling against her fears and non-fears.


  9. I'm afraid of birds - peacocks especially, the kind that roam free at the zoo even though they are clearly menacing and evil. Actually, ducks and geese are just as bad. My kids scare them away for me.

  10. I don't think I inherited the fears, while I certainly see my mother in the mirror. Now that I think about it, my folks were not afraid of much, except for having no money. They watched every penny.

  11. Tonja -- Peacocks can certainly make a scary noise and I've seen ducks chasing after people, so maybe your fears had some grounds to them.

    Susan -- My father didn't seem to be afraid of much, but he might have been afraid that we were spending too much money sometimes. He never showed that either. We had good times.


  12. Interesting post Lee! I can totally relate to your uneasiness around home repair. Not sure if it is a fear as much as uncomfortable with it because my father never did much home repair as well and thus never was a role model in that area.

    I noticed my wife is a little superstitious like her mom so I can see how that was passed down. I will do my best not to pass any of my fears to my son. I'm sure all fathers want their sons to be better versions of themselves.

  13. Buck-- Kids pick up on a lot of things so we have to be careful about everything we do and say. Your son will turn out very well if you continue with the child-rearing diligence you've done so far.



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