It Really Is Your Parent’s Fault

I’m fond of reassuring my therapy clients that all of their problems are their parent’s fault.  I’m the guide, they make the discovery.

My mother’s constant criticism made me think I can’t do anything right.
My father’s workaholism taught me that people will abandon me.
My mother’s abusive relationships lead me to see the world as unsafe.
My father never cried so I assumed men shouldn’t have feelings.

It’s what they tell themselves.  The gist of it all:

I’m a failure
I’m unloveable
My needs don’t matter
I’m defective

As children, we learn negative messages that the world reinforces.  But there’s hope.

Everyone has negative tapes or scripts running, but lots of people learn to rewrite them.  Lectures, podcasts, self-help books, the Bible or therapy.  I have seen miraculous recovery from those horrible things we tell ourselves.  As a CBT therapist, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy provides a wonderful kit of tools to help people spot those destructive messages and do an extensive rewrite.

But what about the good stuff?  Surely all the learned messages can’t be bad.

Last week, I stood in the middle of my kitchen singing at the top of my lungs.  The acoustics are terrific.  I saw two scenes that gave me a deeper understanding of my passions.

  1. My father in his Lieutenant Colonel’s uniform; both hands on the steering wheel of his 1978  powder blue Cadillac DeVille.  Dad driving that boat down the highway and mom rolling her eyes, her head collapsing into the white leather headrest.

Dad would start, then I would join, singing as loud as I could.

Life is a Broadway muuuu-si-cal!

Singing about

Things that are


From the top!

Dad got me…he understood me.  In my world, life could be belted and choreographed.  It should be.  I saw rhythms in raindrops and blues in brussel sprouts.  All of life is “one singular sensation.”  My father gave me the freedom to live life as a glorious toe-tapping production.

I’m a steering-wheel belter and it’s my dad’s fault.

  1. Sure, mom rolled her eyes in the powder blue Caddy, but she was first in line for every top-notch production on the DC theatre scene.  I grew up in the Kennedy Center, Warner Theatre, Wolf Trapp, Ford, Lincoln, even the Little Theatre.

My father didn’t like musicals.  He’d sing them, but he would get bored of sitting through them.  So mom, my twin and I jumped in the Caddy and hit the highway.

The Wiz
The Nutcracker
Bubbling Brown Sugar
Guys and Dolls
Fiddler on the Roof
Hello, Dolly


Mom loved concerts too. RnB, gospel, jazz, blues.  She had the most amazing 8-track compilations.  Though tone-death, mom loved singing along with the legends from center front orchestra seats.

Patti Labelle
Diana Ross
Four Tops
Stephanie Mills
Rod Stewart
Luther Vandross

Mom’s motivation may have been to reduce the loneliness of being a mother of twins with a husband who traveled 25% the year.  To me, it seemed a win-win.  For a few hours, mom wasn’t lonely, and I had a front seat in the grand university of theatre.

I love theatre and it’s my mother’s fault.



Your turn:

What are the scripts you can rewrite?  Who nurtured your creativity?  What are your creative journey memories?

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