Sun, 21 May 2000

We are what our mothers make us

One day I read on the wall of the examination room of our family doctor: Waar liefde heerst geeft god zijn zegen (where love predominates, God gives His blessing). In a family where parental affection predominates, the children will never become cold-hearted, callous, cruel human beings. It is said that criminals, hoodlums, the riffraff of society grow up in homes where parental affection is lacking. In other words, the character of a child is more or less molded by the mother as the head of the household.

Reminiscing this matter, I automatically think of a colleague in my office. He told me that his mother was left an orphan at a very early age. She spent a couple of years in an orphanage and she had the good fortune of spending some time in Holland with a Dutch family. As an orphan she lacked the warmth of parental love and this in turn molded her into a woman who has no feelings of pity or compassion. Even though she later married a devoted man, her past background and experience as an orphan left an indelible mark upon her.

I do not know how she brought up her children, but the son who worked at my office did not exude a sympathetic attitude. It seems to me that people, including the company's customers -- for some unexplainable reason -- shunned him or kept him at a distance.

Although he was a Catholic, perhaps he violated God's commandments as misfortune upon misfortune befell him. He was deported from the United States as his papers were not in order, or he was considered an illegal alien. Needless to say, he and his family (his wife and three teenage sons) were compelled to leave the U.S., leaving behind his belongings, lock, stock and barrel.

When he arrived in Jakarta he was penniless and had to start from scratch. He was compelled to stay at his mother's house. But the strange thing was that his mother did not show any pity toward her own son or her grandchildren. She even told her son to live elsewhere.

The lesson we can draw from this is that parents' love and affection play an important part in molding a child's emotions and developing sympathies toward other people.