You may have heard it many times, but this doesn’t make it less accurate: your childhood experiences shape your personality as an adult. As you mature, your childhood journey continues, and your unfulfilled desires and unsettled issues crop up as you build your own family.
Unsurprisingly, as a parent, you may commit the same mistakes as your primary caregivers did when they’re raising you. When children become adults, they’ll carry some of the things their parents used to do in their households—whether good or bad.
Below are four ways your childhood experiences impact your parenting style:
Experiencing Negative Attachment Styles
A study published in Child Development in 2014 discovered that the type of emotional support provided by a child’s primary caregivers for the first three and a half years of their lives has a profound impact on several aspects of a child’s life, even up to 30 years later. Most of those who received proper support performed better academically as adults and were satisfied in their romantic relationships.
Children who experience secure attachments tend to perform better in school, have good social relationships, and are more mentally stable and less prone to addiction. On the contrary, toddlers with avoidant attachment have difficulty establishing and maintaining close relationships.
In addition, those who have anxious attachment tend to be insecure and may become too clingy and too dependent in their close relationships. Those who’ve suffered from abuse or trauma are likely to have difficulties expressing themselves or may lack coping mechanisms. Trust issues may also cause them severe problems in their relationships as adults. For more information about healing childhood trauma, it’s recommended you read more about counseling and how it may help you.
As parents, you may notice these issues with other people that deflect on your children. For instance, you may be overprotective with your kids and prevent them from socializing with other toddlers.
Projecting Your Childhood Frustrations On Your Kids
Parents who think of their children as their ‘extension’ are guilty of projection. When you’re raised in an environment where you’re not allowed to make mistakes, you’ll likely feel that you’re never enough growing up. While this experience can become positive, too much of this can result in self-criticism that parents tend to project on their children.
Worse, parents who’ve experienced this tend to set impossibly high standards on their kids and pepper them with harsh words if they don’t act based on these standards. Perfectionism can also negatively impact your relationship with your children as they tend to withhold themselves. Children need unconditional love and support, and they should be accepted for who they are, not how you want them to be.
Overreacting To Emotional Triggers
Triggers are things that push your buttons, eliciting a negative response by default. This may manifest when parents overreact due to their children’s behavior. For instance, if you end up going berserk with your children for destroying things or breaking their curfew, it may be easy to blame your reaction on the child. However, if this happens too often, your childhood experiences are more likely to be blamed.
As adults, you may have forgotten unresolved childhood issues, but they never go away. They only become dormant and tend to resurface if your triggers are pushed. These triggers are often subconscious and remind you of your previous experiences. Expressing excessive anger may reflect how your parents reacted in particular situations when you were a kid. It may also manifest the fear you felt when your parents handed out excessive punishments. Understanding these unsettled issues will help you handle situations with your children better when they misbehave.
Developing Erratic Coping Mechanisms
People have different coping mechanisms when dealing with challenging situations. These can develop into psychological defenses that impact your adult brains and stay with you for the rest of your lives. Initially, these defenses may teach you to become resilient as a child, but they may also develop into deficiencies in adulthood.
For instance, if you’re terrified of your parents as a child, you tend to keep to yourself and learn not to rely on someone. In adulthood, you may find it hard to express yourself or choose to become self-sufficient, not wanting anything from anyone. As a parent, you may not become as nurturing as others and may struggle with establishing a loving relationship with your children.
Parenthood is one of the most critical chapters of adulthood. And while there’s no surefire way to become a perfect parent, it’s always crucial to understand your childhood experiences in order to detach yourself from the destructive patterns that limit you and your kids’ growth. As such, you can never go wrong in accepting your children for who they are and providing unconditional love and support.