One of the universal truths of parenting is that at some point, every parent is bound to hear their own parents’ words come flying out of their mouth. “Because I said so, that’s why,” one might retort to a child who insists on more of an explanation than they are due — a phrase that, while infuriating when you’re on the receiving end, seems reasonable when you’re the one doling it out 30 years later. Is it fair to do so? Maybe not, but as my father would say, life isn’t fair — which is both an incredibly annoying thing to tell a person, and also a thing I have told my son.
For better or worse, no matter what we think of our parents when we are kids, or later, when we are adults, the bulk of what we know about parenting we learned from those who parented us. How that plays out in our own parenting, though, can be interesting. We may try to emulate their patience or vow to yell less than they did. We may find ourselves subconsciously creating similar rules or traditions; or, those of us who were raised in toxic households may actively attempt to parent in exactly the opposite ways.
That son of mine, who is now 10 years old, is of an age where he insists that when he has his own kids, he will let them do whatever they want.
“Everyone says that,” I told him. “You’re gonna be so strict, though. Probably stricter than me.”
“Nope,” he shot back. “I want them to be happy. I’m not going to have any rules.”
“You’re going to have so many rules,” I responded with the same dry sense of humour with which I was raised. “Like just an absolute ton of rules.”
Of course, I was joking with him (or mostly joking). But I do think it’s true that, if he has kids of his own, the way I am parenting him right now will impact the way he parents in the future.
How did this play out for you as a parent? Do you find that your mother’s voice comes out of your own mouth more often than you’d like? Do you strive to be just like them — or nothing like them?
Let’s talk in the comments about how the way we were parented informs the way we raise our own kids.