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.

Self Awareness Exercise (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’
  • Spanking
  • 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!

If you like what you read please help me by sharing this with your friends!

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Emma Combes

Emma helps parents overcome the automatic negative reactions that are stopping them from parenting consciously and with love through her coaching practice. She also helps parents live the most awesome life in all areas, so they can know they were the best role model they could be for their children.

  • http://clearbluewindow.wordpress.com Kelly

    Brilliant post! I also love your blog's title. I'm not sure that too many parents are 'conscious' parents. I can really relate to this post because I made a decision the very minute I discovered I was pregnant that my child would not be raised in the same way I was. I made the decision that I would do everything humanly possible to ensure they would grow up knowing they were loved, cared for, and respected. My daughter is now 14 and shows me the same love, care and consideration right back. Parenting differently to the way my parents did has not always been easy but the rewards have been enormous.

    • Emma Combes

      Thanks Kelly, so glad you liked it! Wonderful comment, you must feel so proud of yourself for raising your daughter to be like she is! :) Fantastic example of just what this article is all about!

  • http://codenamemama.com Dionna @ Code Name: Mama

    Ah – you've been reading Aldort, haven't you? ;) I love her philosophy! I catch myself using expressions from my childhood – esp.ones that I have no intention of following through on: “if you don't help me pick up the mess, we are not going to the park.” Of COURSE we are going to the park – I don't want to be trapped in the house! But it is something my mom would have said. It is so helpful to stop, take a breath, and recognize those things for what they are – unwelcome ghosts.

    • Emma Combes

      Hi Dionna :) At the time of writing, I hadn't read aldort, just picked her book up in the last few days. I'm a hypnotherapist by nature, along with NLP and a few other wierd and wonderful things under my belt so a lot of this philosophy comes from that. I've read the first couple of chapters though now & agree with a lot of what she says, but am a bit unsure of her idea about imagining what you would like to say to your kid in your mind first, as from personal experience and other clients I could see how that could make some people go further into the emotions of stress, anger etc. But maybe she gives alternatives later in the book too!
      I'm definately feeling you on the Park thing! :) I say things sometimes to my little one still that I think, what??! Luckily he is just about to turn 1 so I have plenty of time to practice before he's old enough to understand everything I say! lol!
      Love your blog by the way!