Have you ever said something and after you said it you realized that your parent’s words came out of your mouth? The good news is that you are not alone. Many parents have experienced this, myself included. This goes to show you how your childhood affects your parenting and how deeply influenced you are by your childhood experiences.
How your childhood affects your parenting plays a huge role, it plays a bigger role than most parents think.
Just like you are your children’s first teacher. Your parents were once upon a time your teacher as well. They laid the foundations for many of your values, truths, beliefs, attitudes, and parenting patterns.
The good news is that YOU can CHANGE how you parent from the ways your parents parented you. I have learned a lot of these techniques from the Jai Institute for Parenting. I am currently enrolled in their parenting coach program and I wanted to share what I have learned with you!
In This Article
How Your Childhood Affects Your Parenting
When you think of your childhood is it happy, sad, overwhelming, stressful, painful, maybe even a little confusing?
From ages 0-18 years of age, you consciously and subconsciously tuned into your parent’s words and actions that were subtle or maybe not so subtle messages they sent you. Which influenced how you thought about yourself and even the world around you.
The amount of crying, flighting, sibling rivalry, how you treat a boy Vs how to treat a girl, and how you discipline your children are all deeply rooted in what you experienced in your early years. You may parent your children how you were once parented without a conscious decision to do so.
Why is it important to become aware of the parenting patterns that are leftover from your childhood?
When you find what your triggers are and why you react a certain way when your child does something, you are able to remove any unwanted behaviors and understand more of the meaning behind your reactions towards your own child and you can consciously choose how you want to parent your children.
These questions below can stir up some deep and strong feelings. I would suggest talking with a partner or a trusted friend. Take some time to thoughtfully answer these questions below:
- List some behaviors and reactions that you find yourself doing often with your children. (yelling, spanking, shaming, blaming, ignoring, giving excessive rewards, blaming, etc.)
- Write down a time that you can remember when your parent or caregiver displayed similar behaviors to the ones you listed above?
- How did this behavior/reaction make you feel?
- What did you think of yourself as a result of the behavior of your parents or caregiver?
- How has this affected you in your life now?
- Did you feel loved, accepted, appreciated, cared for, or understood as a child?
- What did you believe about yourself as a child?
As you ponder and answer these questions you will find where your parents parenting patterns show up in your parenting. You can become a more conscious parent and work on changing those patterns in your own parenting. When we parent unconsciously 95% percent of the time we are parenting from how we were parented as kids.
How To Become A More Conscious Parent
One of the biggest and most profound things you can do as a parent is to be an active listener. How many times during the day have you really intently listened to your children? Listened to their stories, their fears, concerns, frustrations, and even their body language?
Becoming an active listener takes practice since you are rewiring your brain to listen better and not default to passive listening. We are all guilty of tuning out our children when they are telling us a story because it’s the 100th time they told us.
If you have responded to your children with “wow”, “uh-huh”, “sounds great”, “that sounds awesome” or any other combination of sentences that you use as your go-to phrases to respond to your child without really listening to what they are saying. Now, is a great time to practice active listening.
Being an active listener doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t mean you have to actively listen to the same story or situation 100 times. I have found that when I actively listen, meaning I have stopped what I am doing, I put down any distractions and I really listened to what Bobbie is telling me. She more often than not doesn’t come back to me trying to tell me the same story.
Why? because her need for feeling important, listened to, understood, and validated were all met the first time she came to me!
Here are 5 things you can start doing today to become more of an active listener. The results will amaze you as you become more of an active listener.
- Listen Intently: This means being completely involved in what your child is saying. Stop what you are doing and listen to the words they are saying and pay attention to their body language.
- Listen Without Judgements: Listening without judging is challenging so try to best to stay objective and open.
- Refrain From Interrupting: It’s easier said than done. As you bite your tongue and don’t interrupt you are allowing your children to express their thoughts and emotions and “get it all off their chest” to say.
- Refrain From Comparing: When you start to compare you are no longer in the process of active listening. You are thinking instead of listening.
- Don’t Try To Think Of What To Say: This is a big one and I am guilty of doing it as well. When you are trying to figure out a response to what your child is saying. It takes you out of the process of active listening. Remember to listen first, think/respond after.
Model What Qualities You Would Like Your Children To Have
If you want your children to be sympathetic, kind, hard-working, brave, etc. The best way for them to learn those qualities is from you! If you want your children to be open and honest with you, then you need to create a safe place for them to share their thoughts and feelings.
When children feel like they will be blamed, shamed, or made fun of then they will keep their feelings and thoughts inside. It is important to make your home and yourself a safe place for your children to express themselves and be able to find their voice.
Spend Present Time With Our Children
There is a big difference between spending time with our kids and being present with our kids. You can always be spending time with your children but how present are we with them? It is important to be spending present time with our children daily. In order to do so, we need to put away the distractions and be present with our children.
Lean Into The Pain In Order To Be Changed
When you want to change anything in your life that is causing you pain, disconnection, or anything you want to change. You need to lean into the situation in order to be that change to happen.
This reminds me of when I was giving birth to both my children. I did natural births with both of my children. My second baby’s birth was so much better because I didn’t fight the contractions. I leaned into them, I breathed with them, and when I did that. The pain of each contraction was better and they went by quicker.
We have taught this to Bobbie and we are teaching it to Owen as well. But when Bobbie experiences pain, frustration, anger or any other big emotion. We help her to breathe through it instead of fighting it.
To reiterate, if you want to change anything in life that is causing you pain go with it instead of against it.
When dealing with things from your childhood can open wounds that you are not ready to open. Talk with a partner or parenting specialist to help you remove the cobwebs from your past and free you from the pain of your parent’s parenting patterns. So that you are able to benefit your children’s future!