No Pressure? No Diamonds.
Ones family defines the very identity of an individual. They are the first faces we see at birth and usually the last we see as we drift off into an endless slumber. Throughout life they attempt shape us, for or for worse, into some imaginative mold that we may or may not be destined to fill. Even though they may deny, it every parent, if only for a second, in the middle a single embarrassing incident, would wish that their child were different. Smarter. Taller. More fit. More obedient. This is clearly exemplified when young children are allowed to mingle with one another, each only exposed to the values defined by their parents. At this point, because they have not been exposed to other ideologies outside of their house and family, the children are nothing but a physical representation of the values of their parents.
But as they grow into teens, and eventually into adults, those very children are exposed to millions of other values through just their every day interactions and this allows them to break out of the template predetermined for them by their parents, and to some mothers and fathers this is seen as a problem. Some parents view this identification and adoption of new values as their child attempting to rebel against them, trying to erase the years of time and energy they spent grooming them into perfection. Some parents will see their children, even when they reach adulthood, as the same figment of imagination that they envisioned when conceiving the child, an action that is no more evident than in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet.
Hamlet’s father, old king Hamlet, regarded his son as the brave, confident, righteous hero that he believed he was. That is the reason he solely chose to speak with him about the revenge quest he sought for in private. He did not consider that his son, who he had no seen in years due to his decision to study abroad, might have changed. One would question why a powerful, supernatural being would seek the help of the depressed, cowardly, indecisive Hamlet that we are introduced to at the start of the play. It is solely because the king envisioned Hamlet, his son, the prince of Denmark, to be something he is not. The king said it himself, “Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works.”(III.iv.115), which roughly translates to: The imagination works strongest in those with the weakest bodies. In this scene the king is referring to Gertrude, claiming that she is too weak to handle the reality of the situation, which is why he doesn’t not appear to her. But as evidenced through the ‘controlled madness’ that Hamlet claims he is under, one could extrapolate that he too, like Gertrude, is too weak to handle the reality of the situation. Through this light his thoughtless actions, exploding on Gertrude and Ophelia and rashly stabbing Polonius take on a new meaning. Hamlet is just a small weak-minded individual that has lost himself while attempting to fulfill his father’s dream by being a man he was not meant to be.
Obviously it goes without saying that, fortunately, I have not experienced familial pressures to the extent to that of young Hamlet but I, like most children, have been influenced by my parents to practice certain habits and live my life a certain way. My parents however, have been open to the idea of change- understanding that I may need to live my life differently than they did in order to be successful. This belief is the one that I am most grateful for in my parents- far too many believe that their way of life was perfect that their children should be just like them. They fail to understand that society is rapidly changing and that their lifestyle as a child is no longer viable.
But one area of life that my parents held firm in is academics, always knowing that one would not be successful if they did not try their hardest. Since grade two and three they sat next to me while I studied in order
ensure that I was giving it my all and developing the right habits to succeed in high education. They obviously no longer do this but I find that I still study just as hard as I did when I was younger with them constantly looking over my shoulder. I owe all my academic successes to the habits they instilled in my youth, ensuring that I was provided with the tools and practices necessary for my achievements. It is also the reason I sometimes get upset when people claim that I succeed in my classes because I am ‘smart’. It is almost as if they believe that there is a gene in my body, coded to provide me with all the answers with no work. I feel as if they ignore both the countless questions I ask in class as well as the hundreds of minutes I spent preparing myself at home. What some don’t understand is that for checkmark I earn on tests there are at least three mistakes I made while practicing earlier. My success is not from being gifted with a bigger brain or infinite knowledge, it comes from the hours I put in every night to ensure I am ready for the next day as well as the years my parents invested to ensure I developed that habit.
At the heart of every parent’s actions there is a desire to see his or her child succeed. Those parents that are very firm and hold their child with a short leash believe that their own lifestyle is the best while those who let their child explore understand that not every person is the same. Eventually those children, who were either restricted or allowed to roam free, will become parents and will have the choice to raise their children, as they seem fit. Will they follow the same ideology that they experienced as a child? Or will they modify their parenting techniques to ensure that their child does not experience the same hardships they had to suffer through?