I’m sure you’ve seen the meme circulating about how parents make different choices in the rearing of their children, but in the end everyone has hit their kid’s head on the car when putting them into their carseat. It is funny and sad because it is so true. There are so many decisions and perspectives yelling for our attention as parents. Some people are able to narrow their frame of reference to include the traditions and history modeled by their own families. However, when your experiences are those of pain and chaos, there is no where to turn when decisions are uncertain.
Dysfunction is everywhere. Often it invades our families and distresses our childhoods. When it comes to parenting, remembering the parenting we have received can be a laundry list of our parents’ mistakes. No parent is perfect, but when the main parenting style you claim is “the opposite of my parents”, there can be some difficulty. There is nothing wrong with your struggle. There is the chance to be better. To do better for the next generation.
Here are a few ideas to consider when you cannot lean on your parents’ examples:
CONSIDER YOUR COMMUNITY
There will always be people you see and admire. Especially those that engage with their children with seeming supernatural patience and wisdom. These people are flawed, but can also be a great resource of information. If you feel particularly brave, ask their stance on certain issues and learn their reasons. Seldom are parents stingy with their parenting opinions. Often we have to ask others to keep their thoughts to themselves. Being able to share passionate beliefs related to caring for our small ones, is something we all find important. If you are not feeling brave, observe. We can learn so much from watching those around us and gleaning their ideas from seeing their behavior. The goal of observing is not with the purpose of comparison. Let me type that again, not for the purpose of comparison. Remember that parenting is a journey. Look around for those navigating a little ahead or at a little smoother pace and utilize that resource.
CONSIDER HELPING PROFESSIONALS
Seeking professional help related to parenting is not a negative. There are parenting classes available through some community centers, hospitals and churches. Find somewhere that mirrors the principles you want to instill in your children and take advantage of those opportunities. However, trusting professionals could be a more personal choice than training. Sometimes wounds from parents run deep. Finding a way to mend and heal from those wounds will make you a better parent. The phrase, “hurt people, hurt people,” is true. A more specific truth: hurt parents can create hurting children. You must deal with your own pain and consequences from your parents’ choices so that you can prevent the same injuries. A healthy you, is a step toward healthy children.
CONSIDER YOUR CO-PARENT
Apart from outliers, you intentionally chose the person with which you have a child. There was something within them and the relationship that created a sense of trust. A belief that they were someone reliable and safe. Lean on that. Even if both of you have come from dysfunctional families, you are two brains committed to a healthy childhood for your children. Utilize that partnership and become a team of advocates for your family if they have proven to be consistently trustworthy. Explore the positives and negatives from your formative years, decide how to emulate the parenting style you value. Do research together and share the load. Allow them to be a sense of reality apart from your experiences.
CONSIDER YOUR INSTINCTS
The fact that you are unsure and insecure about your parenting choices due to negative decisions made by your parents, is a good sign. It shows the dedication you have to making sure your children have a different experience. Often, when looking at many of the ideas related to parenting, you know what is best for your child. This may not always be true and without question. However, there is something to be said for your understanding and knowledge of your child and your family. Have faith in yourself and your ability to parent due to your dedication to your kids. Self-awareness goes a long way in being a better parent. Explore the effects of your parents’ parenting on you as an individual and decide the choices you will avoid or boundaries you will set in your own family. This is one of greatest gifts you can give to yourself and the next generation.
A perspective that you may appreciate, or may not, is the aid that prayer can have in this setting of new patterns. My own mother parented out of a new desire and new plan in contrast to her upbringing. She always shares that the way she was able to do things differently was “through prayer and asking God to show me how to make it different”. She often quotes the scripture 2 Corinthians 12:10, “where I am weak, then I am strong” and James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God.” Look, He is doing a new thing!
You are doing great. Sometimes deciding to parent after a difficult childhood can be the bravest decision of them all. Your concerns are valid, but you are not your parents. You are creating something new and different. You get to decide the tempo and culture of your family. Make it count. Make it different. Make it yours.
Battling with you for the next generation,
Disclaimer: This post is not intended to be a replacement for counseling or medical services. The information on this site is intended for general and educational purposes only. Before taking action based on the information you find in this blog, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals. The use or reliance on any information found on this site is solely at your own risk. You are welcome to contact us in response to this post. We will not provide online counseling services via our contact form. We encourage you to seek counseling services of your own if you are looking for more support, help, and advice. If you are in crisis or have a mental health emergency, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.