You know that teapot you inherited from your great great grandmother? The one you never liked?
Let me be the one to tell you: you have a choice. You can keep it on the shelf, give it to another family member or sell it to an antique dealer. I’m just saying that there are options.
And I believe that some parenting habits fall into the same category - we inherit them but we don’t have to keep them.
What I mean by inherited parenting patterns are the thoughts or reactions that happen very automatically when we’re with our children. Those moments when you do the thing that you swore you would never do. When words come out of your mouth that sound more like your father than you. Some auto-response that doesn’t even align with who you are now.
What I Thought I Knew
I didn’t have children until my late 30s, which means I had a lot of time to watch my friends and sib
lings start raising their children. I watched my sister parenting exactly like Mom. I watched a friend stubbornly and awkwardly raise her children intentionally opposite to how she was raised. I watched people trying to follow books while others were raising free-range kids.
I had many years to observe these different approaches. And to make up my mind about what I was and wasn’t going to do.
And then I had my kids.
And I came face to the face with how powerfully some patterns are ingrained in us. Default behaviors and beliefs baked right into our muscles and bones so that, when that situation arises, the “appropriate” response is just right there. My mother’s words. My father’s facial expression. Reactions seemingly in my DNA. I was shocked by the power of this parenting auto-pilot.
Oh my gosh, the work I’ve done in debunking the parenting patterns I inherited. Tough, confusing work.
The First Step is Recognizing Them
I invite you to sit for a while with a question. But please go gently and self-compassionately into this territory. No sprinting or renovating here, just wondering and wandering in the garden to begin with. Set aside some time. Breathe. Be curious.
What automatic thoughts and responses have you inherited from your parents?
Next: Knowing that You are In Choice
Back to the teapot. If it’s ugly and you don’t like it, you are not required to keep it. And you are definitely not required to bequeath it to your child. Period.
What parenting patterns have you inherited that you don’t want to pass on? And why not? What loop do you get stuck in that isn’t working for you or your child?
I want to assure you that it is possible to free yourself from this programming. You can uproot patterns that don’t align with who you are and what’s important to you. You can gradually build the ability to choose your own way of responding. I say this because I witness it over and over again in my coaching practice.
You can most certainly step into a new way of parenting that allows you to be the unique, wonderful parent you are meant to be.
Hello authenticity, peace and freedom.
With you on the parenting journey,