Family history and parenting

‘You sound just like your mother!’ is an observation we often find cuts too close to the bone. If the truth be known, many of us have made the connection ourselves, but have been too embarrassed to admit it.

So why is it that we find ourselves instilling the same values into our children that we had instilled in us, to the point of repeating the very same phrases when disciplining our children? For most of us, it’s the convenience of drawing upon our own childhood experiences. We have a set paradigm from which we automatically draw and find it difficult to see beyond that range.

More importantly, then, how do we overcome our reliance on the automatic responses we have developed? These tips are designed to help you implement a more contemporary, considered approach to parenting.

  • Give your role as a parent some thought. Sit down when you aren’t actually parenting and review what it is you want to achieve. Write down a list of basic goals/ outcomes and values that you want to develop with your child. You can draw upon your family’s history, culture and experiences.
  • Acknowledge that you can incorporate new goals and values that were not part of your childhood and family experience. For example, some of the attitudes to relationships and work that were important to your parents will no longer be relevant in today’s society.
  • Don’t be afraid to review your values and beliefs. Once you establish a core set of values, don’t feel that they cannot or should not change with society.

Of course, as a parent, your decisions will at various times be challenged and critiqued quite ruthlessly. When a situation out of the ordinary does arise that requires you to respond, try to step back and assess yourself as you work through a resolution. This will allow you to refer back to the goals/values that you established at the outset and direct your energies to maintaining those.

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