Did anyone else’s parents tell them to “Do as I say, not as I do?” If I had a dime for every time I heard that as a child, I could purchase two round trip tickets to Senegal.
I can’t count the number of times I did (or didn’t do) something because I was supposed to or because of tradition. The interesting thing is that pressure to do (or not do) certain things doesn’t come from society. We follow the rules—full disclosure on the loan docs, report tips on our income taxes, be polite, etc. The pressure to follow tradition often comes from within our circle of family and friends. There is comfort in doing “what we are supposed to do”. Tradition doesn’t leave much room to think about the “why” of our actions.
But what happens when tradition leads us astray? Or when we develop a sense of self and decide we don’t want to attend a particular church service, or have children (gasp!) or cook black eyed peas on New Year’s Day? What happens when speckles of individualism start creeping out and differ from what Grandma Hazel taught you?
Tradition is an explanation for acting without thinking. – Grace McGarvie
I’m no psychologist, so I have no idea what the answers are—if there even is an answer. I know that family pressures and dynamics can be complicated, and when we deviate from family rules and tradition, we tend to feel doubtful and confused.
These are the kinds of issues I explore these issues in my writing. My novels are fiction, but existential family dynamics are present in all of my stories. Mostly because I’ve lived this stuff. I resolve those issues through prose, but how can we address these issues in real life?