How Ideal Was Your Upbringing?

In an ideal childhood, we would have been nurtured by the presence of a person who was completely aware of us, who took us seriously, who admired and followed us.

Life has proceeded, of course, on a less than ideal basis for generation after generation. A man who was beaten by his father as a teenager, who intends to beat his own children, is proposing that is it good to break a child’s spirit.

Without a qualm, he feels it necessary for a child to live in fear of severe punishment. The word “respect” for him basically means “terror.” This sort of untruth gets passed on because one generation fails to solve the problem of the false self and then has no choice but to pass the problem on.

Broken spirits do not see anything wrong in breaking the spirits of their children.

The ideal parent would serve as a sensitive extension of the child’s psyche. As father and mother mirrored the child’s feelings, he would see the reflection coming back to him, and conforming to it, he would be shaped by both his own psyche and theirs.

A cry of rage would meet, for example, with an understanding look that said, “I know why you are angry,” and dissolve. It is our checked feelings, the ones that our parents labeled “bad” in their eyes, that cause so much hidden conflict later.

Without this sensitive, loving interaction, which must begin from birth, we walk through the rest of our lives wounded, unable to accept ourselves but never fully knowing why.

The image of “dying to your father and mother,” does not mean running away or turning your back on them. Rather, it means taking on their role yourself, developing inside your own heart the give-and-take of awareness that fashions a complete person out of the raw material of existence.

Adapted from Unconditional Life: Discovering the Power to Fulfill Your Dreams, by Deepak Chopra (A Bantam Book, 1991).

Love This? Never Miss Another Story.


Jo S.6 months ago


Jo S.6 months ago

Thank you Deepak.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson2 years ago

foster kid. 6 families, 6 years. not particularly ideal

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson2 years ago

wont let me comment?

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson2 years ago

foster care sucked

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson2 years ago

Pretty darn non ideal. Abandoned as an infant, I grew up separated from my 11 brothers and sisters, bouncing around foster homes until I was adopted. Still wasn't ideal then (although it was much safer and my physical needs were met) My brother (I was lucky to be adopted with a bio sibling) got into drugs and crime and ultimately went to live in a group home. My other brother (no blood relation, rather adopted from a different family) came out as gay when I was 14, and my adoptive parents were strict fundamental Christians, so it did not go over well. He was kicked out. I spent my last couple of teenage years as an "only child" and had issues with a severely abusive boyfriend, going blind in one eye gradually (with the fear of eventually becoming completely blind in both eyes) and beginning to doubt and question religion and the concept of "god". However, I used all of these things to learn and live more fully.

Miranda Lyon
Miranda Lyon2 years ago

Good for you Angie! My sister and I both successfully broke that kind of pattern in our family, too. If you don't get caught in repeating the cycle, you have all the information you could ever need about how the cycle works...and how to stop it.

Angie B.
Angela B.2 years ago

My mother was from 'old school' Europe as she put it and she believed in spare the rod and spoil the child. It was a nightmare of physical abuse and I left as soon as I was old enough to do so. I have 7 children of my own and although I know I am not perfect, I feel as though I've managed to foster a loving, caring, and open relationship with my kids. They are grown now and starting to raise their own families and I hope I've managed to put a stop to the abusive trend my family seemed to be on when I was young and pass on something of value.

Jane L.
Jane L.3 years ago

My parents weren't perfect but they did the best they could given the circumstances. I always felt loved, beautiful, and enough no matter what - and ultimately, that's all a child could ask for.

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola3 years ago

Thanks for sharing