How Are You Like Your Parents?

My mother’s been going through my father’s papers lately, and she came across some things my father wrote in his 20s and 30s (before I was born): his reflections, his self-analyses, that sort of thing. Reading them, I was struck by how much alike my father and I were. It’s hard to describe, but we just — well, thought alike.

One one level it’s no surprise. In those years he used to say he wished he could be a professional thinker. Early in my life my parents could see that I shared his reflective nature, and they used to joke that I “got the professional-thinker gene.”

But of course, there’s no such thing. And that’s the part that struck me the most as I read through Dad’s writings. I got some traits through genetics and some traits through upbringing. I also got some personality traits from my father that can’t be explained by either of those. I can’t tell you how I got them. I only know that I did.

I’m not unique this way. It’s a universal phenomenon. That’s why adoptive children who never knew their birth parents often learn that they share aspects of their parents’ personalities. It’s a strange and wondrous thing, for good or ill. It’s also undeniably real.

How are you like your parents — in ways beyond what your genetics or upbringing can explain?

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About the Author

Matt Kaufman

Matt Kaufman has been a columnist for Boundless since the site’s founding in 1998, and did a stint as editor in 2002-2003. He’s also a former staffer and current contributing editor for Focus on the Family Citizen magazine. Matt is a freelance writer/editor who spent some years in Colorado, but gave up the mountains for the cornfields: He now lives in his hometown of Urbana, home of the University of Illinois. His house is a five minute drive from the one where he grew up, and he enjoys daily walks around the park where he used to play baseball.

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