It’s a common trope in movies and TV shows. The young woman yells at her kid, or her husband, or a stranger, then, with a look of horror on her face, she says, “Oh no, I’m turning into my mother!”
Maybe you’ve even said it yourself?
Well, it's a trope because it's something that happens in real life. And it happens a lot. People draw on their own experience when faced with something new, and most of the times your only experience with raising kids is going to come from how you were raised.
Maybe your mother always sang you the same bedtime song when you were little, and so you sing the same song to your own child when they’re upset. On the other hand, maybe you didn’t get a lot of affection when you were sick, and so you’re extra doting when your little one gets sick because that’s what you would have wanted. Experience can definitely be a good thing that you should draw upon.
But what about when your childhood or your experiences were not so good? What if you experienced trauma, or were told things that lowered your self-esteem, or were raised in a way that didn’t nurture your best self? Because nobody’s perfect, and most of us are parented at some point in our lives in a way that does not really fit with our personality or temperament.
Maybe not only were you not given love and care when you were sick, but you weren't given affection at all. So you may not know what giving love and care to little kids looks like, because you never received it yourself. How do you break out of this cycle, and truly give your child a parent who is attuned to their unique needs?
It starts with self-awareness.
Look back at your childhood.What do you wish had been different? Are you acting in ways that emphasize the negative things you may have been taught?
What’s upsetting you or making you anxious in your personal life? Could it stem from something that you received or did not receive from a parent or caregiver? How is that affecting your actions?
What about times of the day that are challenging with your child? How are you responding to them? Could you change the way you communicate? Is there something in the environment that is bothering them? Are you stressed about something else, and they are able to feel that?
Does this sound overwhelming? It definitely can be.
These are big, hard questions that often have big, hard answers. But once you find those answers, either by turning inwards or talking it out with someone else, it sometimes takes a small shift in how you act to make things feel a little better.
Need some help figuring out what aspects of your childhood are affecting your own parenting? Read more here or contact us and we’ll be happy to work with you.