We’ve all said it at some point: “I’m never going to be like my mother / father”. We know we can be better. We’ve given it a lot of thought. We still remember how hurt or angry or neglected we felt and we will categorically NOT do that to our own kids. No way!!
And life, being the ever present comical teacher that it is, makes sure that if we parent in reaction to our own parents, then we will create the same results no matter how hard we try to be different.
Let me give you an example of how patterns get passed from generation to generation…
A mother feels that she is not good enough (due to her own upbringing) and so she projects this onto and takes it out on her daughter – she shouts at her and tells her she is useless or naughty or lazy or not behaving as she should.
The daughter grows up believing she is not good enough and swears she will never be like her mother that she will make sure her own children believe that they are good enough.
But, because she hasn’t dealt with this issue within herself, she can only teach what she knows. She tries to be completely different from her mother and so she tells her own daughter that she is amazing and special and gifted and will do amazing things in the world.
Her daughter then has all this pressure on her to “be someone” and feels not good enough just being herself and so the cycle continues.
Each generation parents in reaction to their own parents instead of from a place of presence and authenticity. The pattern will continue until someone deals with their own issue of not being enough and therefore stops projecting it onto their own children. Being the opposite to your own parents is not the same thing as being a “good” parent for your child.
Each child is unique and each moment is unique, and what children really need is a parent who has let go of their past enough to be present with them in the moment and aware of what is actually called for; not what they think should be imposed on that situation due to their own baggage.
Could this be you? Can say with certainty that you are grateful for your own childhood and upbringing exactly as it was? That you wouldn’t change anything about it because it has made you who you are and you are happy with who you are? Do you know that you are enough? If not, well, there is still some work to be done.
But that really is the joy of parenting – our children will reflect for us those things that we need to focus on, and so they help us to raise ourselves.
Instead of reacting to our own parents, we need to slow down and contemplate our own upbringing and find the gifts in it. We need to see our own parents as whole people with multiple traits, none of which are good or bad in and of themselves. We need to acknowledge that they were doing the best that they could based on their childhoods and that not all of it was bad.
When we come to a place of gratitude for our own parents and the events of our childhoods and how these have helped us to grow and evolve, only then can we respond to our own children. This is how we finally break the pattern of reactive parenting.