Am I turning into my mother?
Do you say something to your kids and think, wait a minute am I turning into my mother? You might think this is a good or a bad thing. In my practice, I see two types of parents. Those who want to parent their children following their parents’ footsteps and traditions and those who want to raise their kids in the complete opposite of their parents. What we explore together in sessions is that either type is a reflection of their experiences growing up, not necessarily the type of parent they want to be. It speaks more towards the (dis)comfort of being raised a certain way and not so much on how to go about doing things in the present moment with their actual kids. Essentially, when parents I see in therapy talk about doing it the same or different as their parents, their compass is based on their reaction to their parents, not on their kids and their current lives.
For those parents who want to be the opposite, they often find themselves stuck in a pickle. For example, some are quite successful in raising outspoken and opinionated children because they were shunned and quieted when they were kids, come to find out that now they are shushed by their children in the same way their parents did growing up. Or for the parents who practice patience and mindfulness but haven’t gotten into the habit of boundaries and self-care, tend to lash out and say quite hurtful words verbatim, with the same stance and tone as their mothers did. Feelings of doom, despair, and suffocation are common because no matter how hard they try, they can’t figure out how to make it better.
The work begins when we start to heal parts of the parent who feels guilty for wanting to or not adhering to family traditions. The parent who wants to do the opposite begins to share compassion with parts of themselves that were rejected, neglected, shamed, or humiliated as a child, and only then can they begin to gain awareness of their parents’ level of psychological and emotional well-being that led to their actions and parenting styles. It is a process of letting go and finding trueness to parenting and making sense of how you want to raise your kids.