To Be Or Not To Be … Just Like Our Parents

Everyone has their own idea of what makes a good parent, whether they are a parent yet or not.  Our opinions on that have a lot to do with what we experienced growing up and whether we thought our parents were good parents or not.  And whether we like it or not, we will be at least somewhat like our parents.  This may be in our temperament, in our mannerisms, in how strict or lenient we are, in how we handle disciplinary situations, and so many other things.

What I find interesting is what we end up doing the same way our parents did or completely the opposite and why.  Some things are pretty clear, like why my mom for the most part only asked us to make our beds when company was coming over who might check to see how clean the house was and if all the beds were made.  My grandmother was such a stickler about having the beds made that she actually woke me up a couple of times when I stayed at her house so she could make the beds before other company came back upstairs to get dressed after coffee and breakfast.  Or she would make other peoples’ beds when staying at their house.  She couldn’t stand looking at an unmade bed.  I’m sure that wore on my mother’s nerves for many years, so she was the opposite.  That’s a pretty minor detail in the grand scheme of things.  It’s parenting styles that are more interesting.

I know people who had very strict parents who are strict themselves, but I also know people who had strict parents who are very lenient parents.  I wonder how much of that is subconscious and how much is a conscious choice.  I suppose that depends party on if you have put much thought to it, whether you like the fact that your parents were on the stricter side, or whether you are even capable of doing anything differently.  If you had strict parents but are lenient, perhaps you are over-compensating in order to not be like your parents.  If you are strict and controlling and also had strict and controlling parents, perhaps you do things more instinctively because that’s all you know.

If you don’t think your parents met your needs, you might consciously or subconsciously bend over backwards to do everything for your children, or you may not meet their needs either because you don’t know any different.  I don’t think either one of these situations is necessarily all that great.  If you do everything for your children, you run the risk of learned helplessness setting in, which I will discuss in more detail in my next post.  If you don’t meet their needs because you aren’t nurturing enough for your children, then the cycle continues.

It’s definitely an interesting topic to ponder.  I can see ways in which my siblings and I are similar to each of our parents and ways that we are the opposite as well.  And I can do the same with my parents and their parents.  Have you ever thought about how and why you are similar to or the opposite of your parents?

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