Monday, October 6, 2014

Parenthood: Week 71 - Unpacking Your Chidlhood

One of the common exercises that is done in diversity work is for a person to examine their own journey in the field of diversity. This requires the person to ask themselves questions and come to terms with their own feelings is an open and authentic way. This is not an easy thing to do and sometimes it can take a lot of strength. However, this is one of most important steps because everything a persons says or does related to diversity work is influenced, whether the person knows it or not by feelings and experiences from the past.

The same goes with parenting.

Parents make all kinds of choices about parenting every single day. There’s many different influences that help us parenting, from the doctor to the random blogger. We rationalize our decisions by trying to base them on sound advise but the reality is that much of the time, we go with paths that we feel more comfortable with and then find the person, research, author, or random person on the street to back up and help us rationalize our decisions.

Our choices are also informed by how we feel about our own childhood, how our parents raised us and how we think our parents raised us. All of these things, swirl around in our subconscious and come bubbling up when we least expect it and have a far stronger influence on the choices we make as parents than any of us would like to believe.

We as parents have to unpack our own childhood and ask ourselves a lot of tough questions so that we can get to the root of our own feelings about being a parent and the decisions that we are making.

What if you tell yourself that you use disposable diapers because of the time it saves when in reality the reason you are doing this is because cloth diapers remind you of the times your parents forced you to change your younger siblings diapers?

Unpacking our childhood experiences may not change any of the choices we make but it will make it more clear what insecurities, feelings, fears and hopes are influencing you as a parent.

You’ve got to dig deep and it’s really hard. There are some parts of my childhood I like thinking about and other parts I’ve left behind. It’s probably the later, which keeps me up at night when I can’t make a decisions about something related to Ollie.

We aren’t destined to become our parents when we have kids. But we are destined to try to capture the best parts of our own childhood for our children and steer them away from the moments we’d rather forget. This is not a bad thing, but we have to be careful. What was glorious for us, may not interest our children and what once felt so scaring, may not be so bad through the eyes of the next generation.

Kid’s force us to look back at our own childhood. Don’t fight this, stay with it. Have tough conversations with your parents and siblings, figure out what worked and what did it. Don’t always try to rationalize your parenting instincts with other people’s words, look within and try to find that reasoning in your own experience as a child.

Once you understand this and accept your childhood then you can let go of it when you need to make decisions about your own child. Only by finding those fears and insecurities, looking at them and getting to their core, can you then put them aside.

There’s a lot of things that are hard about being a parent. Being forced to reexamine your own childhood is one of the hardest things. This process may be rough. Under further examination the good things may not seem so great, and the bad things, well, you might realize, really weren’t that bad.

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