How do we avoid sounding like our mothers?

Uhhhh ok, well, it’s kind of unavoidable. Sorry. Our childhoods are firsthand data on being children and interacting with a parent, so our parents' position is often our default, especially when we are caught tired, stressed and overwhelmed - which, let’s be real, is most of the time. And that is why when we are in the presence of children, we have to reboot and start fresh. Otherwise, we will do and say the same things that horrified or annoyed us when our mothers did and said it. And some of us actually can’t help it, it’s kind of the only thing we know. And no judgement for that - it’s so important to acknowledge it so you can do something about it, if you want. To do that, just be present.

So what exactly are the concepts we don’t want to perpetuate?

  • Expecting that your child should know better

  • Saying, “How many times do I have to repeat what I said?”

  • Saying, “NO!!!” over and over

  • Hitting (When this has happened to some parents when they were young, they go ahead and do it to their child, thinking it was effective)

  • Grabbing them and looking them in the eye to show them you’re serious

  • Threatening that if they don’t stop a behavior, they’ll lose TV or get hit

  • Bribing them to do what you want with TV or candy

If you’ll notice, the statements above:

  • Expect WAY too much of young children

  • Are punitive, making the child feel bad afterwards (children cannot learn when they feel bad)

  • Do not build skills for the child

  • Scare the child, which is never a good option with one of the most important people in your life

  • Are an easy way to deal with an unwanted situation

As responsible parents, we have to create a new way of being a parent, and probably even being a person. If you had an ideal mother, kudos to you. But many of us were scared, bribed, threatened or just plain nagged to do what our parents wanted us to do. If we continue that, we are inflicting our own intergenerational trauma onto our children. Intergenerational trauma generally refers to the ways in which trauma experienced in one generation affects the health and well-being of descendants of future generations.

Instead, we have to facilitate, even begin intergenerational love and strength. We have find teaching moments in our parenthood. Every time we speak, it has to intentionally communicate something helpful to our child. After all, we are their first teachers. And our voices are the ones that will echo in their minds and hearts throughout their lives. So let’s try hard to make it loving, supportive and kind. That is the way they will talk to themselves for quite a while, until they have their own strong sense of self and maybe even their own children. Let’s help them along the road to happiness, independence and self-confidence.

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