Are You Parenting like Your Parent?
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Have you ever had one of those moments when something comes out of your mouth that doesn’t sound anything like you? You snap at your partner or scold your child, using words you never use or threats you’d never see through. Afterwards, you stand there stumped for a few seconds wondering, “Where did that come from?” Then, it hits you: You sound just like your mother or father.
For better or worse, many of our parents’ traits live on in us. This can be a good thing; qualities we liked in our parents help us take on characteristics we respect and admire. Unfortunately, on the flip side, negative traits in our parents, especially those that caused us misery, fear and frustration, can also linger in our psyche and impact our behavior. This is the case in moments of stress in our life that somehow remind us of our past and set off old triggers in us.
As you may imagine, scenarios that are reminiscent of our childhood are increasingly likely to arise when we ourselves become parents. We may not really remember how our dad used to snap on long car trips until our own kids start bickering in the backseat. We may not recall our mom teasing us when we cried until we find ourselves making a sarcastic comment to our own child when he or she gets fussy.
The good news is that by noticing these traits in ourselves, by identifying where they come from and by altering our behavior to match our own principles, we can differentiate from negative programming from our past. We can become more and more like the parent we want to be, not the ones who raised us, and there are several important steps in this process.