As parents, we often feel overwhelmed and mentally exhausted and feel bursts of guilt for not doing enough for our children. Sometimes, we may find ourselves replaying our reactions to our children’s actions and wondering if we should have reacted differently.
In my opinion, millennials carry a heavier parenting burden than the previous generation because they are the first generation trying to break the cycle. We are the first generation that must deal with an abundance of information about how to raise children, making us question how we were raised and form our individualized parenting style.
We are the generation of social media. We are more self-aware and realize the importance of mental health and how our children’s formative years will impact their future relationships. Therefore, comparing our parenting style with our parents’ is natural. However, our children are growing up in a very different time than ours, and consequently, we feel we have no choice but to make some different choices.
What makes our jobs as parents harder is that we will often find that our first natural reaction to our child’s meltdown might exactly be the same as what our parents’ reaction to our meltdown had been. However, the cycle breakers would continue trying to reevaluate their reactions in their head and deal with them differently.
When I see my daughters, I see so much of myself in them. I also see how they are so much more. When I hear my six-year-old telling me how she feels irritated and anxious when I keep asking her to hurry up during school mornings, my instant reaction is to tell her to deal with it and do better because we need to reach the school on time. However, with practice and more self-awareness, I realize that it is refreshing to see my child understanding and expressing her emotions better than I ever could at that age. So, I reevaluate my reaction in my head, validate her feelings by telling her how I would feel the same in her situation, and discuss how we can try waking up a few minutes earlier next time so that our mornings do not feel rushed.
A therapist once gave me a tip, which has helped me immensely in trying to raise my children differently from our parent’s generation. She told me that our reactions to our children are often triggered by our childhood, which comes out when we become parents. For example, do you find yourself getting upset when your child screams? If yes, think about how your parent reacted to you or your siblings when they screamed. Were you punished or scolded for raising your voice? Think about how you as a child felt when your parents reacted that way. This exercise has helped me discover my childhood traumas and view situations from a different perspective.
Breaking the cycle that has been running for generations is hard work, and stressful. I applaud every parent that is trying every day to raise more empathetic, authentic, inclusive, opinionated, and self-loving kids. There is no right way to parent, and no childhood can be perfect. What matters at the end of the day is your connection with your child and how loved they feel for being exactly how they are. You are doing an amazing job, and your children are lucky to have you.
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