All Parents have their own style of raising their children. The way they talk to them and behave around them has a huge impact on who the child becomes as an adult. Some adults will tell you that they liked how they were parented and therefore would want to recreate that same style with their own kids. Others will tell you how much they hated certain ways of being or how they were spoken to by their own parent and would not dare to recreate that with their own child. Mostly, it will be a mix of both, because, let’s face it, no parent is perfect.
Some parenting styles are more negative than others, such as an uninvolved parent who does not show affection towards their child, is unavailable, or rejects them. Parents who do not manage to create safe and healthy boundaries can also have a negative impact on the child. If you are an adult who is still significantly affected by the negative parenting patterns you experienced, the following are some ways to try and overcome this.
1. Challenge the messages you were told – Critical Parents can easily influence what a child learns to believe about themselves. If you are constantly told that you are not good enough, that is what you will start to believe. Maybe you weren’t told explicitly, but unconsciously, you would still be interpreting these messages as such. For example, if no matter what you do you are told that you could have done it better, you start to believe that you never do anything good. Challenge these messages by proving to yourself that you are not the comments you were told.
2. Believe that you matter – It is not easy to feel that you did not matter to your parents and that you were not a priority for them. Children want to feel loved by their parents and feel that they are the most important factor in their life. However, this does not always happen. As an adult, you can choose who to surround yourself with, choose those people that make you feel a priority for them and that you do not have to fight to get their attention.
3. You can be seen by others – If you were a child who was not given a voice or felt unseen in their family, know that you are an important human being in this world. You can choose to make a difference in other people’s lives and build a life that matters. You don’t have to remain in the shadows, find people who make you feel special and be in contexts where you can shine and be at your best.
4. You are worthy of being loved – Everyone deserves to be loved, including you. Love can be found in many different forms; it can be romantic with a partner but also with other people such as friends, having your own kids, with a pet etc. All these can give you the affection you may have not been given before.
5. Conflicts don’t have to be dramatic – When there is a conflict within the household it does not have to be resolved with shouting, throwing things and involving a lot of drama. Conflicts can be solved by communicating calmly with the other person by telling them how you are feeling and try to find a compromise to the disagreements that have been created.
6. Find people who want to listen to you – If as a child you felt that your parents never had time for you, or felt like a nuisance to them you might have stopped communicating and telling them what goes on in your life and how you feel. Remember that for the people you matter, you are not a burden. There are people who want to know what is going on in your life, you just have to find the right people.
7. Creating healthy boundaries – This is very important in life. We need boundaries to create safe and meaningful relationships around us without feeling like we are being exploited. Think of your wellbeing rather than always thinking of what others need first and putting yourself second.
8. Ask for help when needed – Finally, overcoming negative parenting patterns can be challenging. If you are a parent yourself, you might realise that unknowingly, you are recreating some of these patterns with your kids and this is something that bothers you. If you want to go deeper and challenge these thoughts and behaviours, a professional such as a therapist can help you do this work, enabling you to grow on an emotional level.
Dr Marilyn Muscat is registered as an Educational Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council in the United Kingdom where she trained. She works with children, adolescents and their families to understand more about educational, social and emotional well-being concerns that they have and to help them improve upon their difficulties. She can be contacted on email@example.com or call us on 79291817.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.