Mommy Dearest & Daddy Issues: Generational Narrative Equation

Mommy Dearest & Daddy Issues: Generational Narrative Equation

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whiteGirl_dadDrinkingThe research is clear. Your environment, relationships, and interactions from 0-18 impact the rest of your life in profound lasting ways. Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) provide a list of the trauma that has been shown to correlate with unsustainable choice behavior and poor health outcomes. Multiple studies have supported the parental impact on child development. Google scholar lists 16,500 between 2010 and 2013 alone ( keyword: parental impact on child development). This, and my experience with clients, leads me to the following conclusion:

Everything that you are is a result of your struggle to respond to the equation (deficit or addition) you understand from your parents.

The challenge of every human is to solve this equation sustainably leaving a progressive legacy to their next generation. I have written caution that the lessons of generations past are not neglected (LINK). This post seeks to inform your approach to your personal struggle. By the way, even if your childhood was great, free from what you would consider to be trauma, do not assume that you have no equation. Everyone has a mission handed down to them from their parents. To refuse recognition of this influence risks missing the lessons that would support your sustainable success.

Formulating Your Equation
I offer a basic equation for comparison with your equation in order to illustrate the simplicity of the task and how it is complicated by parental impact. Consider that Success is achieved by giving YOUR best. When you are attempting to compensate for a deficit or addition you perceive to be handed down from a parent, you modify the equation in ways that increase the complexity. Allow me to represent this mathematically:

Success = your B+E+S+T

your B+E+S+T stands for Boundaries, Equifinality, Structure of Transactions, Transactions. When you attempt to compensate, you change the calculus of the equation. In order to solve this modified equation, you must divide success by the deficit/addition.


Success/(deficit or addition) = your B+E+S+T * (deficit or addition)/(deficit or addition)

Yet, you refuse to do that because your sense of success is a truth that you hold that should not be divided or otherwise altered. You turn, then, to redefining your BEST in order to “balance” the equation. Your quest becomes a search for balance instead of a solution to the equation. You are resigned to pass on a lesson of survival to be maintained rather than a legacy to build upon. The further regret is that your attempts to balance WILL NOT support the success that you prize, because your compensating balance of your BEST results in choices that take you further from sustainable goal achievement.

In order to overcome this, you have to let go of the prized status of your Success truth. You have to allow the algebraic equation to be solved mathematically. You must divide Success by the deficit or addition you perceive from your parents. For example, without the deficit or addition, you may have been motivated to complete your doctor of philosophy degree. Due to the deficit or addition, it is more difficult for you to achieve (or even perceive your capability to achieve) your doctoral degree. You make these adjustments all the time. My assertion is that your adjustments are your attempts to balance (they are resignations) as opposed to solutions (calculations).

The result is a version of Success that is achievable in the context of your BEST. More importantly, once you are consonant with Math versus conjecture, solution rather than balance, legacy rather than lesson, thriving rather than surviving, you can begin to change the equation. You can begin to multiply supports toward your BEST, which multiplies your Success. The result is Success beyond what your parental impact and your BEST supported alone. I suggest to you that you may not make your first million by the age of 30, but you CAN re-calculate in order to achieve that milestone by age 45.

In a continuing “Generational Narrative” series, I will outline practical steps toward establishing a mathematical certainty that your success outpaces your current potential. Your parents have saddled you with complexity, but it does not have to complicate your progress. Yet, it is up to you to make the mental shift committing to find a solution in sustainable, often tough choice rather than playing it safe balancing chaos through justifying unsustainable choices.

[ Michael A. Wright, PhD, LAPSW is a leadership coach and organization consultant based in Nashville, Tennessee. With over 16 years of experience guiding individuals to their goals, Michael has the techniques and patience to help you succeed. Follow @MAWMedia on Twitter or connect for a consultation at ]