How many times have you caught yourself quoting directly from your mum or dad?
Perhaps something as simple as the classic ‘why are all the lights on? It’s not a lighthouse’ or ‘you’ll get what you’re given’. It shows how you are influenced by your childhood experiences and why it is so important to be aware of how they have shaped your own parenting techniques today.
You are your child’s first teacher, just as your own parents were yours. Their techniques and how they were a role model to you laid the foundation for many of your beliefs, parenting practices and morals. You subconsciously tuned in to the messages they sent, however discreet or indiscreet, which in turn has influenced how you felt about yourself and others.
My biological father was abused by his own mum. This doesn’t condone the way he treated me, or how in many ways he left me a broken child afraid of being loved. I had two choices growing up: repeat the cycle, just as he did or learn from it, viewing it as a lesson on how not to parent or live my life. I chose the latter.
My toxic father taught me independence. He taught me how to love and likewise, how to be loved by unequivocally demonstrating the exact opposite. He taught me my worth by teaching me I was worthless. But most of all he taught me strength and how to pick myself up and always strive to be the best that I can. I will undoubtedly teach Tristan these things, in the opposite way I learnt them.
In the most unfortunate way, I have a lot to thank my father for. As a mum, I am hyper-aware of the fact that everything I do has a direct impact my son and it is down to me how positive or negative they are because these are memories he will carry with him always. Like most parents, I often find my patience wearing thin. There are only so many times you can repeat ‘mama said no’ before you get sick of hearing yourself say it and the guilt I often feel accompanying feelings like this are second to none. Tristan is only almost 1. I have to consciously remind myself of this, and I often find myself recalling the way my own fathers patience wore thin quickly with me and fear that I, too, however fleeting, will raise my voice unnecessarily and the constant reminder is sobering and frankly, it’s exhausting.
Despite this, I’m aware of how my feelings towards my own childhood have shaped the woman and mother I am today. I work exceptionally hard to prevent the cycle of abuse repeating, and if Tristan ever experienced the kind of parenting I did, I think I’d die a thousand deaths.