I’ll Never Say That To My Kids!
Recreating the Past
So many people say they are not going to do or say to their children what their parents did or said to them. So many people find themselves doing or saying those same things anyway. The words just seem to fall out of our mouths, right?
Often the way our parents parented was authoritarian and conditional, sometimes loving and accepting. This wasn’t their fault, it was just what was normal for the time. I believe your parents did the best job they knew how to do with the resources they had available at the time. Their parents probably treated them the same, or worse. Parenting styles traditionally are just passed down, influenced by the latest research and a desire ‘to do better’ than our parents did with us.
So Why Don’t We Change?
It should be so easy not to recreate the past right? We know what we don’t want to do, what we don’t want to say. We know how we don’t want to treat our kids. And from this its very easy to determine what we do want. So why do we find ourselves habitually repeating those same phrases we heard as children?
The answer lies in the unconscious mind. Our unconscious minds are like tape players that record everything that was ever said, done or experienced by us. We may not be able to remember everything consciously, but all our memories are there, stored away in this vast depository just underneath the surface.
The 1st 7 years of life are the most impressionable for children. So our parents (or caregivers) are not just role models in life but they are our first and probably most thorough example of how to parent. When situations happen in our adult life that, on an unconscious level, remind us of a familiar situation with our own parents, (specifically or generally) old thoughts and patterns from the past will surface and be acted out. The most common time for this to happen will be in moments of stress or other highly charged emotional events. There may also be phrases or a tone of voice we use that we are not even aware of consciously.
So How Can We Stop This?
The first step in preventing yourself engaging in negative patterns with your own children is to become consciously aware of just what patterns your acting out. Below is a exercise in self awareness, its a tool to bring light to what may be happening in your relationship with your children that is a recreation of your own childhood. Its not something to beat yourself up over or worry about. I don’t believe any one of us are perfect parents all the time. What matters is the desire to do better. I want you to use this as something to help you become more conscious of any patterns there may be. In my next post I’ll be introducing you to ways to help shift these patterns, but first we need to discover what they are.
(Read this all the way through to the final part before you start the exercise so you have an understanding of what to do)
1. Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle so you have two columns.
2. On the left hand side, write down all the things your parents did that you didn’t like. This may be phrases they used, tones of voice, rules they had, the way they disciplined you etc. For example:
- Saying ‘Do as your told’
- Not listening etc etc
3. List everything you can remember.
4. Take a few deep breaths, close your eyes and then spend some time thinking about your list and the way you are towards your own children, and also how you think your own children experience your parenting style. Are there any similarities or glaringly obvious identical patterns?
5. Based on any insights you get, list anything you do that is the same or similar to your parents in the right hand column.
6. Think about: What insights did you get? How do you feel about them? Where abouts in your body is the feeling? Breath into this place. Allow any emotions to surface and move through you with your breath, (breath into them). Notice any places of tension in the body and breath into them too.
If you can’t think of any similarities or your mind goes blank, you can do this exercise again at a time when you are more relaxed, or you may find memories or realisations popping into your head as you go about your day to day life, write these down if you can.
As I mentioned, in my next post I want to help you shift patterns or emotions that keep you stuck in the past, so I’ll be introducing you to some ideas on how to do this!
Will you comment below on how you got on with the exercise? Would love your feedback!
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