A little more than twenty years ago, I started to speculate about how attitudes could be influenced by ancestors. At the time, my elder son was about to get married and I had been toying with the notion of offering some fatherly advice and, in so doing, it occurred to me that all of the most recent ancestors on the paternal side of my family had - quite deliberately, it would seem - adopted a policy of parenting almost the complete opposite to that which they had received themselves.
My own father's life, for example, had been very much influenced by decisions made by his mother and, although he was very successful in the career into which he had been guided, he harboured a lingering and life-long resentment for the fact that he had been prevented from doing something of his own choice.
Interestingly, the fact that my grandmother was the dominant parent might suggest that my grandfather may also have had a manipulative parent and might explain why, as a consequence, he seemed less inclined to push his own son one way or another.
What is certain, however, is that my father seemed determined not to make (in his opinion) the same mistake with me. So much so that, even though there were times when I asked for guidance, he refused to give it; insisting that it was entirely up to each individual to decide what they did with their own life. Paradoxically, this has had the effect of me becoming almost as resentful for not receiving guidance as my father had been for receiving too much.
Now, it probably won't come as a surprise to learn that I was anxious not to make (in my opinion) the same mistakes when I became a father myself. However, I have been fortunate enough to understand that - in much the same way that my father and I had different personalities and needs - the same applied to my own two sons. So, one might need advice whilst the other might not; however, although I have always been ready and willing to offer advice (when asked), it won't be pushed down their throats.
Speaking of throats, what has prompted this blog was a situation a young mother of my acquaintance mentioned on facebook, recently. Evidently, her three-year-old son had expressed a desire for, "A banana dipped in raw porridge oats and it has to be in the white bowl!" and this caused the young mother to ponder, "For a fussy eater ****** you really do have some bizarre tastes!"
Subsequently, someone else commented that their mother bemoaned the fact that the younger generation seemed to be given far more latitude than used to be the case in 'the old days'. In other words, they should eat what's put in front of them (a sentiment to which I subscribe, by the way) and my young friend wondered whether, by being too lenient, she might have made a rod for her own back.
The point I'm making is that - although this might not be so in this particular case - there is a tendency for a second generation to be too lenient towards a third if (in their opinion) the first generation had been too strict.