Contributor Post Created with Sketch. “You Look Just Like Your Father”

 

I say it a lot to my almost-three-year-old son: “You look just like your father.” A lot of people say it to him. I have three blue-eyed, curly and red-headed kids, and then the third kid out of the four randomly looks completely different; dark skin, dark chocolate eyes, straight black hair. Before our fourth was born, more than one person flat out asked me if our third (nicknamed Altima, for where he was born) had the same father as my older two children. Now that the fourth looks just like the older two, I don’t get that question anymore. Whereas the other three kids don’t look anything like my husband, the one born in his car is a dead ringer.

We talk about it a lot, we call him Seth Jr., or when he’s being mischievous, Meth Jr.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the phrase “you look just like your father.” At the precipice of his third birthday, he’s the same age I was when my parents split up. Growing up, I used to hear the same thing that Altima does, “you look just like your father,” but because of my parents’ divorce, it took a different tone. It always made me feel on the defensive when my mother said it, and when he said I looked like him, I felt like I was somehow betraying my mother by looking like him instead of her.

And while I looked like him, I had all of my mother’s mannerisms and her manner of speech. I looked like him, but I sounded, acted and thought like her. And that expression played out in the same way; “you’re just like your mother” was a criticism when it came from him, but it was her way of declaring victory when she said it. And we do it too; whenever our older daughter gives her dad a talking to he calls her “Bethany Jr.”

In these little ways, it feels like I’m raising my kids in a similar home like the one I grew up in, but with a very drastic twist. Raising kids has a way of making me see outside of myself and see my childhood in a new light. This is one of the most striking moments; when we tell our daughter she acts just like me or when we tell our son he looks just like Seth… We say it, and the look on their face isn’t the one I must have made. It’s not defensive, it’s not fearful, it’s not sad; their face exudes pride. There’s so much research out there about what divorce does to a child’s self-esteem, and this is one of the most profound real-life examples I’ve observed of how that self-esteem takes a hit for children of divorce.

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  1. JoelB Member

    So glad your kids are proud to be like you both. You might have to go easy on this as they approach their teen years. They will still be proud of you, but by then they will want to be their own person and just like mom or dad might not go over so well.

    • #1
    • February 25, 2020, at 5:59 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  2. Arahant Member

    • #2
    • February 25, 2020, at 6:07 PM PST
    • 1 like
  3. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    Bethany Mandel: Raising kids has a way of making me see outside of myself and see my childhood in a new light.

    The beginnings of wisdom, sounds like. (:

    • #3
    • February 25, 2020, at 6:23 PM PST
    • 1 like
  4. Ultron Will Inject You Now Coolidge
    Ultron Will Inject You Now Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    World O' Crap: Happy Fathers Day...Or IS It?

    • #4
    • February 25, 2020, at 7:10 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  5. iWe Reagan
    iWe Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I try very hard to avoid comparing kids to their parents. I try to value them as they are, even when all they really are is a baby – so the only data we may have is appearance.

    I want kids in general to always try to be responsible for themselves and their own choices. So I try to stifle the urge.

    • #5
    • February 25, 2020, at 9:59 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  6. Annefy Member

    Who do my kids look like ?

    I have no clue. 

    They look like themselves. Others often claim a resemblance to me or their father. Or each other. 

    I don’t see it. They look like themselves. Which is funny coming from someone who seldom gets their name correct on the first try 

    • #6
    • February 25, 2020, at 10:33 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  7. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Annefy (View Comment):

    Who do my kids look like ?

    I have no clue.

    They look like themselves. Others often claim a resemblance to me or their father. Or each other.

    I don’t see it. They look like themselves. Which is funny coming from someone who seldom gets their name correct on the first try

    My great grandmother had daughters named Alice and Helen. When suitably provoked, she had a tendency to bark out “Hellice!”

    And my mom still occasionally calls me by my father’s name, despite my brother who actually has my father’s name. Maybe she’s just calling all the nearby males by the same name.

    • #7
    • February 26, 2020, at 3:30 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  8. Full Size Tabby Member

    Our daughter and son-in-law both have brown hair and brown eyes and relatively dark skin. Our nearly 3 year old grandson has fair skin, blond hair, and blue eyes. And now our 6 month old granddaughter also has blue eyes (we’ll see if they stay that color) and we’re still waiting on her to grow some hair. So far our granddaughter looks like a photocopy of her older brother except with a slightly more elongated head. Our daughter gets odd looks and the occasional question about parentage – until I’m in town and people see them with their fair skinned blond blue-eyed grandfather. 

    • #8
    • February 26, 2020, at 5:43 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  9. GLDIII Temporarily Essential Thatcher
    GLDIII Temporarily Essential Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    Annefy (View Comment):

    Who do my kids look like ?

    I have no clue.

    They look like themselves. Others often claim a resemblance to me or their father. Or each other.

    I don’t see it. They look like themselves. Which is funny coming from someone who seldom gets their name correct on the first try

    My great grandmother had daughters named Alice and Helen. When suitably provoked, she had a tendency to bark out “Hellice!”

    And my mom still occasionally calls me by my father’s name, despite my brother who actually has my father’s name. Maybe she’s just calling all the nearby males by the same name.

    When you are one of four closely spaced boys who’s name all begin with “G” it alway came out as “Grrrrrdge damn it”, get your butts down here now!

    • #9
    • February 26, 2020, at 7:43 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  10. Skyler Coolidge

    I’m glad I finally read the whole thing. It started off very depressing, but then you shifted and I really like it. Thanks.

    • #10
    • February 26, 2020, at 8:09 AM PST
    • 1 like