Do I Have to Marry Someone Like My Dad? - Houston weather, traffic, news | FOX 26 | MyFoxHouston

Do I Have to Marry Someone Like My Dad?

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A Fox 26 viewer sent me thisquestion:


DearMary Jo,

Iam in my late twenties and grew up with a dad I didn't really respect. Hedidn't treat my mother very good, and was not faithful to her. He wasn'tinvolved with me, and I don't remember ever feeling special. He went to work,and that was the extent of his care. I now find myself dating men exactly likehim. I don't want to; they just seem to be the ones who come into my life.What's going on? Am I doomed to marry someone like him and repeat my mother'smistake? Thank you, Kellie.


This is a common question, and manymen and women date people like their mom and dad. After all, our moms and dadsare our first mentors of what is normal. As we grow up we begin comparing ournormal with other friends' normal, and realize maybe a bit late that our normalisn't normal at all.


When dating, feeling morecomfortable around people who feel familiar to you, such as what you sawdemonstrated by your parents is common and more likely.  The problem comes about when you haveresentment or anger from how one of your parents treated you. This unresolvedanger and resentment doesn't disappear, and often times are projected on toanother person or partner.


For example, Kellie, states that herdad was never there for her. He didn't treat her mother with respect, andemotionally wasn't available. The anger and hurt she feels becomes projected onto the men in her life. She is actually bringing her dad and her issues withhim back into her love life. The guy may or may not know what is going on, butone thing is for sure, he has a part to play and he plays it because Kellie hasgiven it to him. This also allows Kellie to bond further with her mom, andmaybe even say things such as, "All men are the same, or all men areemotionally unavailable." Kellie watched this growing up, and it is "hardwired"into her emotionally and feels familiar. She will most likely act this outuntil she works through her feelings and forgives her father.


Many times you will see thesedynamics acted out among your colleagues and friends. For example, if a womangrows up feeling closer to her father than her mother she may forever beunhappy with her choice of partners. The reason isn't the partners she chooses,but rather her distance from her mother. A woman's relationship with her motheris an indicator for how fulfilled she feels with a partner. The more distantrelationship women have with their mothers is also an indicator of their trustand ability to work well with other women.


Parents don't only affect theirdaughters; they also have profound effects on their son and his futurerelationships. For example, a very common scenario may be a son who isn't closeto his dad, but is very close to his mother. He may have difficulty withcommitment and being vulnerable because he may feel that a woman will be tooemotionally needy (since he and his mother are so close), and he will bereluctant to repeating that situation. He never learned or was mentored by hisfather how you can be close to a woman and still have your own space to do thethings you enjoy.

The keyfor Kellie, as well as anyone who has past resentment and hurt from theirparents, is to make peace. It is better to do this early before you date ormarry someone, so these feelings aren't acted out with someone unknowingly andnew. What we reject in our parents doesn't go away, but remains inside of us.Much of life is repeating old patterns, but when patterns are unhealthy repeatingthem for generations seems pointless and cruel. 90% of all prisoners have beenabused as children. Unhealthy patterns of resentment, anger, and cruelty affectour relationships, our families and our societies at large. Below aresuggestions for making peace with your parents.

  1. Realize that your way of continuingthe pattern of your parents is an unconscious way to bring them back and keepthem in your life. Therefore, the first and foremost thing you must do is writedown and make note of any good behaviors they had.
  2. Begin to look for these good behaviorsin others, especially with people you date.
  3.  If your parents are still alive, sit with themand talk honestly about what you resent, and seek to understand why your parentsacted in this manner. Many times understanding helps heal resentment.
  4. If your parents are deceased orunavailable, write a letter of what they did that was so hurtful or upsettingto you. It can help release the feelings if you put them down on paper. You maywant to burn the letter or bury it. If your parents are old and not able tounderstand, giving the letter to them will only cause more suffering for all ofyou. It is not part of letting go or establishing peace.
  5. Talking to a loved one you aredating or married to about your discovery will really help. They may feellightened by your enlightenment, and also relieved to see the pattern of whathas been created. When you understand a pattern you can usually work with oneanother in an effort to not repeat it.

Ourparents are the first people we loved. They are the first people who aresupposed to love us. When their expression of love is unhealthy as children wearen't able to grasp it because we have no other comparison. Therefore, the waythey expressed their love for you and your other parent is bound to leave alasting impression. The key to establishing peace as an adult with your parentis to be curious, honest, and forgiving. They may have been a broken childinside a parent body. Understanding and not repeating the pattern is Kellie'sand our ultimate goal. –Mary Jo Rapini



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