What effect did your parents have on you?

It’s a bit risky – but now my youngsters are grown I can ask them about my parenting. When I dare, that is!

Yours might be too small, but don’t forget, one day they might just tell you. I thought you might like to keep that in mind!

I was thinking about my own parents recently – don’t know why. They’ve been gone a while but somehow having my young people around over Christmas brought them to mind.

I was lucky. I had a super, supportive, warm, loving relationship with my own mum. I was not so lucky with my dad. An authoritarian of his age and dependent on alcohol he was volatile and terrified me to death.

But that was my reaction; my brothers didn’t feel the same. And we are all different and all respond differently to our parenting. It’s not what happens to us, but how we respond that affects us too.

I thought about this quite a bit when ours were young. I wondered about my own style of parenting, what I would want my children to look back on and see in the way they were parented. I decided that I’d want them to say what I said about my mum; the good things!

But I had to work at it because I did have some of my father’s genes and I could occasionally copy his behaviour without thinking. His tendency to fly into a rage, for example. I certainly didn’t want my kids to experience what I went through. I was determined our family life was going to be different than the scary one I had.

Through being mindful, through thinking about it and changing the parts of the experience we ourselves didn’t like, by imagining what we might like our kids to say about the way they were parented when they’re grown up, I believe we can become the kind of parents we want to be. But we have to be conscious and make sure we haven’t got a residue of habitual behaviours taught to us by our own parents that need discarding.

By self-examination and remembering that different children may need different approaches we can go some way to doing that.

If you really thought about it now, what bits from the way you were parented will you scrap and what will you keep?

And what will you want your children to remember you best for when, in twenty years time, they look back on the kind of parenting they received? What will you want them to say?

I know what I wanted mine to say and thankfully they do; that I was fun and loving and fair!

What about you?

(Read about our family life, our parenting and my super mum in ‘A Funny Kind Of Education’ and you’ll see what I mean!)

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