Does your childhood shape the way you parent your children, and is breaking cycles possible?

The short answer… YES!

I am not a perfect mom; some days, I’m not even a good mom. Wait, did I just admit that? Yes, I did. It is okay not to be the best mom 100 percent of the time. Our kids need to see us make mistakes. But how we respond to those mistakes will impact our relationship and how our children see us as parents.

I grew up with parents who made many mistakes and never apologized. I find myself apologizing all the time, even for the smallest things. I struggle with knowing if this is because I am stuck in my childhood persona apologizing for all the things I didn’t do or overcompensating as an adult for the trauma I endured.

Breaking cycles of dysfunction

Parenting is a journey filled with joys, challenges, and countless decisions. As we navigate this adventure, we often reflect on our upbringing, contemplating how our childhood experiences shape how we raise our children. Our childhood experiences serve as the blueprint for our understanding of parenting. Whether we were raised in an environment characterized by authoritarianism, permissiveness, or a balance of both, these early encounters shape our beliefs about effective parenting. Those raised in authoritarian households may adopt a similar approach, emphasizing obedience and discipline. In contrast, others may strive for a more democratic and nurturing style, mirroring the care they received as children.

The emotional atmosphere of our childhood home leaves a lasting imprint on our parenting journey. Children who grow up in households where emotions are freely expressed and validated are more likely to cultivate open, supportive relationships with their own children. Conversely, those who were taught to suppress their feelings or experienced emotional neglect may struggle to connect with their children on an emotional level, inadvertently perpetuating the cycle of emotional repression.

a women with cute girls playing over the carpet; breaking cycles
Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva from Pexels

The struggle is real but not impossible

For some individuals, childhood was marked by adversity, trauma, or instability. These experiences can profoundly affect our parenting abilities, triggering fear, inadequacy, or a deep-seated desire to protect our children from similar harm. Those who were subjected to abuse or neglect might inadvertently replicate similar patterns in their parenting, perpetuating the cycle of trauma. Alternatively, they may swing to the opposite extreme, becoming overly protective or controlling. While some may strive to shield their children from adversity at all costs, others may find themselves grappling with unresolved trauma, unintentionally repeating patterns of behavior that were modeled in childhood. Children who experience trauma may develop insecure attachment styles, impacting their ability to form secure bonds with their children. This can manifest as difficulties in providing emotional support and responsiveness.

While our childhood experiences undeniably influence our parenting, they do not dictate our destiny. Recognizing the impact of our past allows us to consciously break free from harmful patterns and make intentional choices that promote positive growth and development for our children. By fostering self-awareness, seeking support, and prioritizing our children’s well-being, we can chart a new course and create a nurturing environment that fosters resilience, empathy, and love.

Our childhood experiences are the foundation upon which we build our identities as parents. Whether we seek to emulate the positive aspects of our upbringing or break free from the constraints of our past, the echoes of our childhood reverberate through our parenting journey, shaping how we nurture, guide, and love our children. By acknowledging the influence of our past and embracing the opportunity for growth and change, we empower ourselves to create a brighter future for ourselves and our children.

Owning our mistakes and letting go of perfection

woman giving food to her kids; breaking cycles
Photo by KATRIN BOLOVTSOVA from Pexels

We as moms must seek therapy or look for support groups that can provide valuable tools and strategies to break the cycle of trauma and develop healthier parenting practices. You would be surprised at the number of moms who struggle with the same things you are, but we all try to hide it so that we appear to have everything together. I have struggled with this. If you look at why we feel this way, it stems back from our childhood experiences.

I have had to work extra hard to be the best mom I can be. I committed not to repeat the cycle of abuse. It has not always been easy. Sometimes, it is a daily struggle. I have prided myself on not being like either of my parents. Coming from parents who are abusive in different ways, I have had to make a conscious effort every single day to make decisions that don’t mirror their parenting or lack thereof. Whether it was physical abuse or neglect, I made a promise to myself before having children that I would parent differently. You can break the cycle.

Breaking the cycle sometimes means that you also remove those traumatic family members from your life so your children are not victims of their abuse. It isn’t always easy to separate yourself from your own parents, but know that you are not alone, and we can get through this together.


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