There is a Thai saying that goes (translated) "For elephants, check the tail; For women, check their mothers", so I guess this belief is true in at least some other culture around the world.
I think it is partially true to a certain extent. I wasn't very close to my mother and she wasn't a very good mother. She was an alcoholic and pretty abusive and my parents divorced when I was 13. I chose to stay with my dad (of course) and haven't seen her or talked to her since. Knowing that, I am happy to say I am not too much like her! I am a very good mommy to my daughter and a pretty decent wife, I would say :) HOWEVER, there are some traits that I suppose I inherited from my mother like the tendency to get hysterical when really angry, but I've gotten much better as I age and especially since I got pregnant.
So, long answer short, what wychic said :P But in the end, it's you who have control over what kind of person you choose to become, I think.