Friday, January 30, 2009

The Vicious Cycle of Idealizing Parents

A Christian perspective on forgiveness ~
From Dr. Stoop’s
“Making Peace with your Father”

From page 167:

The tendency to idealize a father is often passed on to us, often by our own father, who may have idealized his father.

Children who idealize Dad will vehemently express respect and admiration for him. Nevertheless, they are keeping Dad at a distance. They are not dealing with the real person, but with a character devised in their own imagination. They deny the existence of any negative or imperfect aspects of Dad’s character or personality and focus only on positive traits – which may be real or imagined. A good test of whether we are idealizing our father is to look at how we react when someone suggests Dad may have been inadequate in some way. An angry, defensive reaction is symptomatic of idealization.

One result of idealizing Dad is a sense of guilt over our own inadequacy. We measure ourselves against our picture of our father, and inevitably, we fall short. It then becomes a vicious cycle, because every time we fall short, we elevate Dad to an even higher pedestal.