A Challenge: Parenting When You Were Under-Parented


Many are raised in a dysfunctional family environment, where screaming, untreated mental illness, and substance abuse are the norm.[1] All grown up and ready to become parents themselves, how do they unlearn that dysfunctional behavior and break the cycle while sleep-deprived, catering to constant screaming, and facing new hurdles daily? Parenting is challenging in itself, with many possible scenarios perhaps tagging along.1 (Financial struggles, single parenting, special needs, etc.) However, coming from a dysfunctional childhood home environment, parenting can be that much harder.1

The way we learn the skills and techniques of child rearing comes mainly from how we were raised.1 While there are books, videos, and an abundance of online information, it comes from people who are unaware of your unique situation, your culture, and your preferences.1 For parents, there is something very meaningful about the practices and traditions that our own parents used to structure our childhoods, and many wish to continue those practices.1 However, for those who need to do things in a drastically different way, they are often left feeling confused and doubtful.1

Parenting when you were under-parented can be surprising and frightening.1 It is easy to respond to your children in the same ways that you felt as a child: scared, stressed, frustrated, overwhelmed, and confused.1 Small, age-appropriate situations, such as a terrible-two tantrum, can send you off the deep end, causing you to yell and withdraw.1 However, this is not coming from a conscious place.1 Parents who were under-parented don’t start the day thinking “Yes, yelling is an effective and useful parenting tool, and I plan to use it as soon as I can.”1 Instead, it just happens. It is psychologically difficult for parents who were under-parented to make thoughtful, empathetic decisions at times.1 Instead, they just lose their cool.

However, there is good news—things can be changed.1 Returning to awareness and kindness is the base of building stronger, more positive parenting skills.1 Try to offer unconditional support to your children and praise them for their accomplishments, no matter how small.1 Make them feel worthwhile and valuable, and leave lines of communication open for talks about feelings and needs.1 When you feel the need to yell, take a step away and breathe for a moment.1 Recall your childhood and how it made you feel.1 Return collected and make a difference.1 No parent is perfect.1 Effort and realization, however, go a long way.1

[1] Naumburg, C. (2013). Parenting When You Were Underparented. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 29, 2013, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/mindful-parenting/2013/10/parenting-when-you-were-underparented/

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