Shaping a Child's Individuality, One Parent at a Time

Eighteen years of childhood. Eighteen years of being nurtured under the prominent wing of parents. Eighteen years before one’s individuality is ultimately finalized courtesy of how they were raised. Family is forever a part of one’s individuality. In the memoirs The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls and Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam, the parents of Jeannette and Sonny, slowly begin to develop similar characteristics of their parents.

But these traits did not abruptly appear out of the blue; how one is brought up, over time, impacts them so immensely that they may begin to act in a certain way comparable to their elder. How parents raise a child affects the child’s individuality because experiences that the parents were key parts of affect the child for the future, and two unique, recurrent personalities undeniably influence strong traits in the end. Travelling on a plane for the first time, or breaking a bone falling off of a bike: experiences like these are ones that will never be forgotten. Yet they are even more monumental when flying with a parent or falling off of a bike when a parent is helping you learn. One day, Sonny’s father decided to bring his son to the place he could call home to hopefully show him what his passion is. Sonny only then realized how passionate his father was when seeing him in the mine: “‘ I go every day even though I don’t have to.

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That’s where I see if my plan for the day is working'” (Hickam 172). Although it tore their family apart, Sonny noticed how dedicated Homer was with his work and how he too should never, ever give up. When Jeannette was gifted Venus for Christmas by her father, she realized how you don’t need all of the sparkling, expensive gifts to make someone happy. Rex Walls, although his effort to make a living with an actual job was futile, tells his daughter about how “years from now, when all the junk they got is broken and long forgotten […] you’ll still have your stars” (Walls 41). The self-sufficiency lessons she received from her father taught her that food, although necessary, can be rationed and it should never be wasted. With both fathers being a little out-there, they also possess the information to shape their children.

Certain moments like these are what sticks in a child’s mind and is apart of their individuality forever. Harsh and cutthroat; lenient and forgiving; self-centered and irresponsible; every person, and parent, has a personality that at a sure point cannot be reversed. As a child is brought up with two different personalities in their life, the child is bound to have inherited a trait from each. Rose Mary Walls, Jeannette’s mother, has always been a loose soul with quirky passions and a whimsical future, but she never ceased to be the energetic person she is. This quality, though peppy, was not the right attitude for a parent and nothing seemed to work out. But once Jeannette was in the business world in New York City she realized that her mother’s description of herself being an “excitement addict” (Walls 93) was the proper way to think when going through life.

As years went on, the tall, lanky red-head saw the brighter side of every dark side and always tried to make the lightest of times. Homer Hickam, Sonny’s father, never had time for his family and spent more time in the coalmines than socializing. But his hard work would pay off: Striking a large thread of coal or successfully doing construction. As Sonny began his rocket building experience, he realized there were many points in which he felt like giving up and even fell into depression similar to Mr. Bykovski’s death where Sonny said, “The worst thing I had ever felt in my life had taken control of me.

I felt: nothing” (Hickam 250). But using his father’s theories to his advantage and trying to convince his father to support him, he worked hard and succeeded with the rocket boys in rocket building. The way these characteristics were taught may not have been the happiest, but they definitely get through. Sonny and Jeannette had parents that, while they were extremely difficult to work with, influenced their lives for the better and always provided help and support in odd ways. Whether it be Jeannette’s wacky parents sneaking clever life lessons through their peculiar gifts and selfish compliments, or Sonny’s father’s crazy yet understandable obsession with the mine.

Although it may be hard to realize, parents affect children’s individualities a great deal and no one will ever be able to change that.