In the relation between parents and children we meet three forms of wishful extension of the individual personality:
1. Parents’ life is virtually extended through their offspring;
2. Parents self-sacrifice is imagined as an act able to transpose their life into a large domain of moral and civic values;
3. It is expected that parents’ self-sacrifice would be prolonged by their offspring’s gratitude.
If we free ourselves of the warm feelings habitually related to this human interrelation, none of the three forms would prove to have a realistic justification.
The individuals remain biologically caught into their limited individuality in spite of the feelings which keep them together. All three forms are rather awkward theoretical and imaginary attempts to strengthen parents’ feelings which become weaker as any other human feeling.
On the other part, the child naturally forgets that it is a child, so that the feeling of gratitude becomes fainter in time.
The second form of wishful extension is the most acceptable, even if it is not really an extension. It will not prove to be an illusion, only if the notion of self-sacrifice is not understood as a way of getting a reward or grasping some virtues.
The self-sacrifice should be conceived as a deliberate acceptance of losing ourselves for the sake of somebody else in order to shape our life according to our feelings for it. That loss will always damage the contour of parent’s personality.
But the sacrifice is a way of gathering the moments of our life together for the goal of giving them to someone else and the individual who does it seems to gain the power of overcoming his life.