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My Parents Are a Disaster

     I've often heard in my line of work how bad one or both parents are.  Yes, most of what we face as struggles in our adult life comes from what we learned growing up.  What we really learned is how to protect ourselves from the hurt of not living up to someone's expectations, mostly our parent's.  But they had to learn those rules from someone as well.  And that was their parents who learned from their parents and so on.
     Each generation tries to do things a little differently than their parents did, but how often have we said to our children what we swore we would never say because we didn't like it when our parents said it to us?  It is an automatic response that has been programmed into us.
     Not long ago, I worked with a client that thought her mother was a terrible mother.  And I asked her, "What is a good mother?  How do they behave?"  She answered with her version of what that would look like.  My next question was, "How do you know what a good mother is?  Where did you learn what they should look like? And what do you think your mother thinks a good mother look like?"  It was eye opener for my client.  Where do we learn what a good mother or father looks like?  And if we know what they look like, why aren't we the perfect parent when we have our own kids?  
     Good parenting seems to be learned from books, or from watching the Waltons, or back in my day, Leave it to Beaver, My Three Sons, or any of the other family shows that portrayed the perfect parents who always knew just what to do.  But there isn't really any standard of what good parenting entails and it is different for each person.
     So I invite you to stop for a few moments and think about what you believe an ideal parent to be and then trace back where you got that notion from.  And if you have children, by all means, ask them what they think a good parent is.  You may be surprised to find it may not match your ideas.  It can also help you to understand your children better if you know what they are expecting from you.  You can work with their model of the world.  And it may help you to understand your parents better as well.  We rarely talk to our parents about what they think a good parent is and compare with them what we think a good parent is.  It might be a good dialogue to have with your parents as well so that you can better understand where they got their ideas of parenting from.  It might clear up a few things for you……………….

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