Myth: Our Own Childhood Experience Has Little to Do with Our Ability to Parent Well
Fact: A highly significant determinant of being a good parent is our ability to reflect back on our own childhood and learn from it, so we don't repeat the same mistakes our parents made. For most of us childhood was a collage of both positive and negative experiences. Consciously evaluating the qualities or experiences we hope to pass on to our children, and what we hope to leave behind, is of tremendous importance.
Without an awareness of the themes of our own childhood, we will find ourselves reacting to our child out of our own childhood wounds, and embodying the same dysfunctional behaviors that our parents--albeit unintentionally and unwittingly--passed on to us: For example parents who were abused as children tend to abuse their own children unless they are able to reflect on and learn from their own experience, and find other means of dealing with stress than taking it out on their children.
Ideally, the expectant couple will have already explored the unresolved psychological themes of their own childhood and have contemplated and prepared for the emotional and mental considerations and responsibilities of becoming a parent. If not, it is important to begin this process now.
Throughout the years of our life as a parent, the unresolved issues of our own childhood will continue to reveal themselves. Conscious parenting brings a never-ending chain of opportunities to explore and heal the wounds of our own childhood, and the patterns we adopted as a child to compensate for these. To the extent that we are conscious of the source of our feelings and motivations as we relate to our child, we can respond in an appropriate and healthy manner, rather than reacting unconsciously and inappropriately to her needs. This will optimize our ability to meet the authentic needs of our child, and so the quality of the bond we form with her, and her ever-evolving sense of self.