I took a class about the origin of the family as part of my undergraduate degree. One part of the class was focused on our parents and how they shape who we are, etc. At the time I was just a 22-year-old kid, who had gone back to college after taking two gap years, and to be honest I had no idea what it meant to be a parent or an adult really. It would be another five years before I welcomed my long-awaited first born son. However, it wouldn’t be until he was a few years old that I’d realize how much like both of my parents I am in my own parenting style and demeanor.
Perhaps you take after your parents in your parenting style, or maybe you are the opposite because of your upbringing. Or maybe you are more like your grandma, or a lone wolf in the approach you take to child-rearing. Here are six qualities many of us have as parents that most likely we learned from our own:
- Tenderness. When I was a little girl, I’d lay on the couch with my dad and watch “Star Trek: The Next Generation” with him while he ran his fingers through my hair. That was always my thing. I’d fall asleep instantly. My grandmother did it for me too, but there was always something about that simple, alone time with my dad that I’ve never forgotten. Nowadays, it’s my go-to trick for times when either of my boys are feeling sad or fighting sleep. Luckily, the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree as far as sleep-inducing tricks go.
- Tradition. This is one I get from my mom. She always went above and beyond for Christmas, birthdays, Halloween, Easter, etc. One Christmas, my sister and I received a gigantic, custom-built Barbie dream house and all of the furnishings that she kept hidden in our basement for at least a month prior. The headaches she must have gone through to keep us from finding that must have been insane. It was worth it. That is one of my most beloved holiday memories. My kids are still young, but I make it a point to properly celebrate each holiday and honor the traditions my parents instilled in me.
- Protectiveness. There was never a time during my childhood that I ever felt unsafe or worried about something bad happening. I know that is because of my parents. Though, as an adult now, I know very well times weren’t always great for them, but they never showed that to us kids. Whether it was them letting me sleep in their bed when I’d have a nightmare, or one of them stepping in when an issue would arise at school, there is nothing more primal than the drive to protect our young. I would do anything and everything to keep my own kids safe. This one is a given, but one they taught me well.
- Discipline. I use this one lightly because to be totally biased, I was a really good kid. Really, my brother, sister and I rarely got in trouble. I’m not saying we were angels, but I think we just knew to toe the line instinctively. My parents weren’t mean or harsh at discipline, but there was this inherent desire to stay on their good side. Whether that meant we just naturally respected them enough to not act out that much or they gave us enough freedom and rules evenly to let us develop our own sense of right and wrong independently, I’m not sure. Whatever it was it worked. I try to use the same approach with my kids. Let them know who is boss, but also try and let them figure out some of it on their own so that they can develop the skills to decipher what is right and wrong without me always having to tell them.
- Practicality. My parents had three kids. Most activities, meals, or purchases were done so with the idea to kill two birds with one stone– a basketball hoop will benefit all three kids, if one girl plays softball the other one will be on the same team, etc. Things were kept simple, and that’s something I’ve carried over into my own parenting. I try not to make things harder than they need to be. Of course there are times when things get complicated and there’s just no other way around it. But, it’s definitely all about perspective. That’s something I learned from both of my folks.
- Self-care. My dad is a runner. Running has always been his outlet. He even ran the Boston marathon one year. My mom has had a variety of hobbies throughout the years. She’s always been into some form of crafting and used to go to bingo with my grandma and aunt at least once a week. They both always seemed to understand the importance of taking time to themselves when the stars would align and they were able to step away for a bit. Now that I’m a parent, I wholeheartedly get why it is vital to take care of yourself in order to take better care of your kids. My husband goes hunting, and I go to wine-tasting events with my best friend or I write.
You may have noticed one thing I did not put on the list of qualities I’ve carried over into my own parenting – love. That’s because that’s a given for most parents. Love was something that was always present in my childhood home. It is something I tell my kids every day, along with more kisses and hugs than they probably care for.
I’m so lucky to have two amazing parents as role models. I know that’s not always the case. I just hope to be as good of a parent to my own kids as my parents have been to me. I want my boys to carry some of my qualities over to their own parenting someday. And by that point, well I’ll get to just be grandma.