- January 12, 2012
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How often do we get angry at our children and when they misbehave try to attribute their poor behavior to our spouse and say, ‘You’re just like your Mother/Father!’ Of course, the opposite is true when they do something good -we’re always quick to take credit ourselves. I’ve done it, my parents did it and I’m quite certain my kids will do it too. It’s almost second nature to externalize blame. I realize that it’s wrong the minute the words leave my mouth but sometimes I just can’t catch myself or resist the temptation. It may be said in anger or in jest but none the less, it hits a nerve and is hurtful.
You might not like hearing certain things your child’s experiencing, but take comfort when they are willing to talk to you about it
So, why do people follow in family member’s footsteps? We learn from what we see. Yet children also repeat cycles of parents who may have little to no contact with them. Even if the behavior is a negative one, people often subconsciously follow the behavior because it allows them to identify with and understand that person, who may or may not give them the time of day. This can happen to the children of abusive, alcoholic, negative, or just plain lazy parents or caregivers. It’s not just our young ones that are drawn to this but adults can be sucked in to these patterns as well. So how do you break the cycle and keep your children and yourself safe from being adversely affected by bad influences or experiences?
The first thing to remember is that no matter how bad the influence, it can still be used as a learning tool. As a parent you might need to help your child to analyze a behavior or situation, and you need to be comfortable talking to your children about everything. This way your children can come to you and use you as their sounding board. You might not like hearing certain things your child’s experiencing, but take comfort when they are willing to talk to you about it. This way, they can get the correct information and you can normalize it for them. If you can help them see why people act in certain ways – why someone has screamed or behaved badly – this can give them the tools to do this with their own behavior as they get older, and make changes in areas where they are not living up to their own expectations.
I chose to emulate the good qualities and tried to learn from the bad ones
You will burn yourself out trying to protect your child from all the bad influences as you can never defend against all of them. Make sure that they don’t waste time and energy attributing blame to who was bad to them or obsessing over why something has happened. The bottom line is that sometimes there’s no right answer as to why people do what they do. And even when there is a reason, it does not doesn’t justify the bad things that may have occurred. It is what it is! I know that both of my parents have their share of crazy habits and I had to endure plenty of difficult times. However, early in my life someone taught me that coming from poor parenting, though sad, is not an excuse for mistreating or hurting myself or others. I chose to emulate the good qualities and tried to learn from the bad ones. The constant struggle for me was to utilize the adversity as fuel for success rather than waste away in self pity. I consciously catch and remind myself to not repeat the less than stellar behavior (usually –though no one is perfect) with my own children. What your children (and each of us) need to realize is that there is a conscious decision to be made. Blame others or take control of your life! Which will you choose?
Filed in: Parents