The Words of the Powell Family

Words Through The Generations

James Powell
December 28, 2013

Many times many people ponder many thoughts as to why their parents have behaved the way they do throughout their lives. It's a likely thing to assume that our parents' behavior is a result of their thoughts and that there's nothing more to it than that, but I'm writing this to let you know of a couple of revelations which have come to me this Christmas in 2013 through the words spoken by my family members themselves, relating to this topic.

About a week before Christmas I overheard my father speaking to his friend about his parents. My father and his friend were talking about alcoholism which my father struggled with for many years since his youth but stopped drinking over 18 years ago. They were talking about it in relation to the various drugs that many people take today. My father said:

"Just when all these new drugs were coming out my parents told me to stay clear of them and to just stick with alcohol and I'll be alright. So I've never had any trouble with those other drugs, only with alcohol but my parents told me to just stick with alcohol and I'll be alright... so that's what I did!"

My father suffered trouble with alcohol for many years but was it truly his fault? Could he have chosen to not drink so much? Sure, he could've, but it didn't help that he was told by his parents to stick with drinking alcohol and he'll be alright. My grandparents might have taken it for granted that my father would be sensible with his drinking but there were no guarantees of that, were there? My grandparents could have been more specific with their meaning and description when they told my father to just stick with alcohol.

Although I don't drink alcohol myself and don't agree with it, my grandparents could have told my father to not drink too much or only on the weekends and only then he'll be alright. They should have also told him the reasons why. Too many parents tell their children not to do things without given a reason for it but children incessantly ask "why?" because it is in their nature to do things with a purpose, and if children are not given a sensible reason then they will likely think 'I don't see any reason why not!' and might just do it anyway.

Another revelation came from my mother's side of the family on Christmas day. I was in my mother's house with my elder brother, my sister, my mother and my mother's mother.

When I've asked my mother what she thinks about something I'm thinking of doing or am already doing, my mother has always told me:

"As long as you're happy I'm happy... that's all that matters."

I've never been fully satisfied with this response because, for example, what if someone said it makes them happy to molest children? What would their mother say... "As long as you're happy, I'm happy"? Somehow, I don't think so. Or if she did, she would be wrong to say it. It's not a true principle.

I've never agreed with these words which my mother spoke but this Christmas I learned that they're not originally her own words. My uncle, my mother's brother, who lives in America, phoned to wish everyone a happy Christmas and to also inform my Nan that he was re-marrying, having previously divorced, and to ask her what she thought. My Nan's response was:

"You know I've always said: 'As long as you're happy I'm happy, and that's all that matters'".

Hearing my Nan saying this I suddenly realized that both my parents' lives have been heavily shaped by the views and opinions or words of their parents. Yet, I'm prone to asking why my parents never asked their parents "why?" more often. For some good reason, my nature is such that I continue to ask "How?" and "Why?" often. But why isn't this the way my parents are? How did I inherit this nature? ;)

It makes me think of how my parents have influenced me and what words or principles they hold that I've inherited which I would be happy to continue with and which I would rather abandon.

I don't remember anything about my father's alcoholism but he's since told me about it and has apologized for it, and although I already forgave him which was something he felt he needed to ask me to do, which of course I did, I can now understand more about the history behind how or why he started in the first place. Even though my parents still hold a portion of responsibility for their own actions and it's not entirely due to their parents' influence, which is the case with us also... I find that I can now, and should anyway, relate to my parents with a lot more compassion than before.

All this makes me realize that I should be very careful with what I say to children and to those of any age who look to me for guidance... it could affect them in ways I'm ignorant to at the time.

Thank you :) 

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