Research has shown that we begin turning into our parents at age 32. But, it turns out, it actually happens much much earlier. Think back to your college days. You worried, didn't you, when your roommate didn't come home...and didn't call. You nagged your housemates, a little, when they didn't get the trash out to curb in time for pick-up. And, I bet, you found yourself fretting over things like food and money. And if we go a few steps farther back, you when you were an infant and tolder, you were already mimicking your caregivers. That's how babies, both human and frog, learn. There's just no way of getting around it...we all become our parents, eventually. But does it have to be that way? Psychotherapist Victoria Donahue says no. Awareness is the first step in changing old patterns. Most of the time we operate eighty to ninety percent of the time from our unconscious; acting just like robots. But as soon as we become aware of these unpleasant habits. it becomes easier to modify, or even change, them. Don't want to be your parents? Then pay attention....
Here are a few other, scientific reasons we become like our caregivers:
1. Your brain stops getting enjoyment from listening to new music. As we age, our brains become less able to handle dopamine...that little hormone that excites us when we try new things, like music or dance. Sad as it is, musical tastes will stagnate sooner, rather than later, for all of us. If you're a teenager and want to know what "new" music will sound like to you when you're over 50, spend an hour watching TV shows that are aimed at toddlers.
2. The physical urge to rebel goes away. If you ask any parent, or grandparent, what's wrong with the world today, they'll probably tell you it's because of the unruly young people running around acting crazy. From the earliest age, kids eat when thery're told to eat, sleep when they're told to sleep, and when to go to school or play outside. A kid's life is governed by their parents. So, it makes perfect sense, that when they get into their teen years, of course they want to rebel and do things THEIR way! Who wouldn't? As parents and grandparent, we need to remind ourselves that every generation is the same, only the music and styles really change. And, at the end, each generation will contribute some pretty amazing things to the betterment of society...before they, too, morph into mom and dad. And so the cycle continues...
3. Your brain stops taking pleasure from new things. Kids, and young people, constantly need new stimuli to keep them interested. Old people? Not so much. The human brain isn't as flexible when it comes to learning, as it once was. That's why it's so important for everyone to continue to learn new things; to challenge the brain so it doesn't become mush. The youngest-acting old folks are always the ones with many and varied interests; they're always looking for new ways to challenge themselves. I know that's how I want to be.
4. Your memories of the past become your "good ol' days." As odd as this may sound, reliving old memories may actually be part of of evolutionary DNA. The reliving of old times, reminiscing about our past glories, can actually stimulate a natural antidepressant in the brain, making older humans feel good. It is also thought that the telling of these stories, from the oldest people to the youngest people did, in early days, serve as a way of passing on vital information for the well-being and safety of the tribe. The "youngster" learned from the elders the best way to grow crops, find the best streams for fishing, and the best way to vanquish a foe. Living in the past helps to keep us young. We remember how it felt to ask that special "girl" out on a date and having her say yes. We remember the athleticism of our youth by retelling the story of the Big Game. No one likes to feel old and memories allow us to keep connect with your younger selves.
So, while it's nearly impossible to completely stop morphing into our parents we can, if we pay attention, change and modify some of those behaviors. We can stop complaining about the youth of today and try listening and understanding that song; the one that sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard to you. Don't be so quick to dismiss it. Take up a new hobby or learn something new. These can all help us remain younger in thought, at least. For me, though, getting older means learning to live with the aging process. No enjoys it, but it sure beats the heck out of the alternative. And, really, it can be kind of fun. You just need the right attitude! Just ask any young person.