Ditch Your Parents' Thinking to do Better

Nicole Akers


Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

Parents can be loving unless they’re not. At least 1 in 7 children in the US experience child abuse and/or neglect annually. And neglect is the most common form of child abuse, followed by physical abuse, sexual abuse, and psychological abuse. Some parents lack the ability to love. Sometimes the best change you can make is to survive and overcome. Your best chance of being successful in life is to be different. To walk away from everything about the way you were raised and find a new way to exist. How do you do it, especially if your parents were awful?

Your parents sucked. Your gut lies to you about what’s true. The lessons you need to adapt to survive life are indeed survival skills, but you don’t have to become the monster(s) who raised you. You can do better, be better for your kids.

Again, how, you ask?

Become resilient.

You can become someone who is capable of helping your kids become adaptable and people who thrive, even if the skills are something you were never taught.

The skills here are ones I use with my own kids, and my parents were less than stellar. Raising your kids with skills you never had is possible. Sure, it takes work, and if your kids are worth the effort to you, you can do this. Don’t your children deserve better than your parents gave you? Yes, of course, they do.

If you were a statistic, you may be extra willing to make sure your kids don’t have to be one.

Build Resilient People

You didn’t get this far in life without building at least a little resilience. You know what it’s like not to be able to rely on your parents. You had to figure out life for yourself. You went to the school of hard knocks and you don’t want your kids to have to register their attendance too. Research says, if you are more robust after hardship, it is probably despite, not because of the tribulation. Dr. Barbara Ganzel says:

“We have known for a long time that trauma exposure can lead to subsequent vulnerability to mental health disorders years after the trauma. This research is giving us clues about the biology underlying that vulnerability.”

You wish you had someone to walk through these difficulties in life with you, so you know how important it is to walk through life with your kids to build their confidence.

Foster Unconventional Thinking

Feel like we’re preaching to the choir? Again, you’ve been the statistic, and you had to think for yourself to survive. Perhaps you gained some skills you didn’t necessarily want but needed. You know what it’s like to turn off emotions and be all about yourself, by yourself. Now it’s time to shift the thinking a bit. You know how to be tough. When the kids give you lip and spunk, you need to be able to hold back physically and show up emotionally.

You know not to respond to their emotion in the moment of heated debates. You may have to work on showing up in positive ways. Get help. You don’t have to do this alone. What was your weakness as you grew up can now be your strength for your kids. Bring others close who can help raise independent kids. Perhaps get them a mentor. Give them someone other than you to look up to and give yourself a break from time to time. Organizations like Big Brothers and Big Sisters can help.

Harness Powerful Feelings

Feelings are tough to deal with. Feelings also lie. At least that’s my experience with them and as they relate to my kids. Your response and your kids’ response can be misguided if you allow feelings to lead. Psychologist Mary Lamia says:

“By creating anxiety, anger, sadness, fear, guilt, shame, disgust, embarrassment, or any number of emotional responses that your brain has at its disposal, your emotional system attempts to inform and protect you by making you feel whatever it is you need to know.”

When you focus on your children’s strengths rather than their weaknesses, you build them up instead of pulling them down. We’ve found our strongest bonds are built when we problem-solve with our kids. When they’ve gone too far, try introducing self-discipline. Each time we ask them what an appropriate punishment would be, they are almost always harder on themselves than we would be as parents.

Acknowledge Progress

Offer grace, both to your children and to yourself. Acknowledge that no one is perfect and that everyone is a work in progress. You won’t get situations right every time, but together you develop skills and build resilience. Just because you grew up with hard knocks in life doesn’t mean that you can’t allow your kids the gifts of compassion and being resilient. You may have been a statistic, but your kids don’t have to be one too. Divorce yourself from what you know and build kids who thrive. You can do this.

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Professional freelance writer | Happy Mom of 2 bringing you amazing tips on parenting, travel, & lifestyle with a touch of humor & sarcasm | Dog Mom | Bestselling author.

Austin, TX

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