As a father to three kids, I can tell you that the way I parent is greatly influenced by how I was raised. As I reflect back on my life, as an only child, there were two significant stages: my life before my parent’s divorce and my life after their divorce.
I was an only child raised in a military family. I was 12 years old when my mother and father divorced. My father essentially left and my mother and I were left to start our lives over. This abandonment had a huge impact on my life and is part of the “emotional” baggage that is passed indirectly on to our children who in turn carry it with them into adulthood and eventually even into their parenting years.
For just a moment let’s focus on just one aspect of parenting: discipline. How do you discipline your children? How do you decide when to discipline? Do you and your spouse agree on the best way to discipline your children? There’s a good chance you don’t. After all, you were raised in separate families who each had their own ideas about how to teach a child right from wrong. Many parents aren’t even aware that their parenting style is a direct result of how they were raised.
Understanding who you are as a parent and why you are that way is a critical first step in being a better dad.
Here are six questions to reflect on to help determine what baggage you may be bringing into your role as a dad:
1. In reflecting on your relationship with your dad, how would you describe his support of you?
2. Was he consistent when it came to displaying his affection for you?
3. Was he an active and engaged father while you were growing up?
4. Did your father have any addictions or was he unfaithful to your mother?
5. Did your father abuse you or another family member?
6. Would you say your father was a good example?
These questions are designed to probe your childhood so you can recognize how your dad has influenced you. His time with you and the way he treated you absolutely made an impression. But, regardless of the specifics of your circumstances, you are a product of your father’s parenting or lack thereof.
When you read these questions what do you feel? Was it uncomfortable to reflect on the good and the bad aspects of your relationship with your dad? Or maybe you are one of the few men who have good memories of your childhood. Your answers to these questions will help you assess your fathering DNA. Once you begin to understand how your past reflects your parenting future you can begin to make positive changes that will enable you to be a better dad.
You can view the original post I did for WhatToExpect.com here: Parenting Baggage You Can Afford To LoseTweet