Parenting Beyond Your Parents

I know my parents raised my siblings and I to the best of their ability. But I also know that no matter how hard we try as parents, we will fail them in one way or another; it’s inevitable. The good thing is we have choices to make as parents. Do we want to raise our kids the way our parents raised us? Or do we want to take a different course? 

I guess the answer depends upon how your parents raised you, right? Mine grew up in a different era. An era where it was normal, and expected, to punish your kids. Yell, spank, guilt; do whatever it takes to let your child know you are the boss, and they are expected to behave or else. My mother was rarely the one who doled out the punishments. It was always, “You just wait until your father gets home…” (with a wagging finger and a stern tone). The instant Dad came through the doorway, you knew you were in for it.

Now, for the most part, my siblings and I turned out okay. All but my youngest sibling have kids of our own. Some of my siblings have even raised their kids to adulthood themselves. But the single thing I struggle with most as a parent is how I was punished as a child. I can vividly remember feelings of intense rage towards my father for how I was treated whenever I did something wrong. I can remember thinking, “Just wait until I get older, I’ll show him…” 

Looking back at this now with a parental perspective, these feelings just makes me sad. I don’t want my kids thinking the same thing about me. And yet, when things get stressful, or if I’m at a loss at what to do in a specific parenting situation, I find myself yelling at my kids, making threats, and doing things I know I will instantaneously regret.

So what do we do about this? If you’re like me, you beat yourself up, privately, and then spend massive amounts of your free-time worrying about how to change your behavior and what you can do differently. You might even read a parenting book, or two. Maybe something will click, and you’ll find something which works for you and your family; or maybe it won’t. But regardless, you get up the next day and try your hardest to be the best parent you can be all over again.

Because that’s what we have to do. We have no other choice, right? So if you find yourself in this situation, mama, know that you are not alone. And rather than suffer in silence, let’s reach out and help each other out. Parenting is hard, but parenting beyond your parents is even harder. But it doesn’t have to be. Not if we find our tribe, and let them in with our struggles. So what are we waiting for?

Dan was born and raised in New Berlin, WI. He is married to the most amazing woman, Dawn, and has two children, Joe (born September 2014) and Nora (born April 2017). Dan has a background in Psychology (BA from UW-La Crosse) and Nursing (BSN from UW-Oshkosh). He is currently staying at home full-time. He enjoys cooking, biking, running, and yoga. He is also an avid coffee aficionado and hopes to one day be able to roast his own coffee beans.

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