If you’ve experienced as a child, long-term, a parenting style that is distinctly un-child-friendly, then you are not alone. I am with you there. One of the most difficult things as a result from coming out from under that is to learn how to parent one’s own children in a way that continues the good but makes improvements to the not-so-good.
Yet, even though being a parent (let alone a good parent) is very tough if you’ve been parented in some inappropriate ways, the way that we heal and move forward with our own lives is to be present with our own children. Instead of pulling away from our children because we don’t feel adequate or instead of treating our children poorly because it’s easier to copy what we know than to learn a new way, we must move towards our children with love and openness. It may be hard for us because some of where we are treading is unfamiliar territory, but our children will be better for it and so will we.
Something that has really helped me, especially if I’m having a particularly hard time wanting to do more for and give more to my children than I felt was done and given to me (especially in the areas of open grace, mercy, forgiveness, chances, choices, conflict resolution, reconciliation, acceptance, honesty, emotional fluidity, spiritual buoyancy, consistent positivity, and general happiness), is to view any interaction I am having with my children as an interaction I am having with my young self as a child. If I’m being tender, kind, and understanding with my children, then I’m as good as being tender, kind, and understanding to the girl I once was who needed more of those kinds of things.
The focus is no longer on trying to give what I don’t have or felt like I was never given (which only leads to more and more resentment and bitterness, which makes it more and more difficult to be the good and loving parent that we all want to be with our children). The focus is now on making peace with the past, making the best of the present, and moving forward into the future with hope and with a heart that’s fulfilled.
This is how the negative cycles are broken—by consciously doing something different than what the negative cycle entails.
How do you make conscious efforts to parent your children well, even if you may have experienced un-child-friendly parenting?