How To Be A Good Mom Even If You Had A Bad Childhood

mom and child holding up cookies to their eyes in the kitchen

This article originally appeared on iMOM.com and reflects their mission and beliefs.

My mom yelled. A lot. So did her mom, and I’ve noticed I yell a lot too. When I look in the mirror after screaming, I see a failure. When the moment has passed and I have time to think, I wonder if I have any control over it. If this is how I was raised to react to frustration or misbehavior, even if I want to do it differently, is it too late to change?

Getting yelled at might be a walk in the park compared to what you went through as a child. And if you’re like me, you may have a great mom who was human and therefore made mistakes. Do you worry that your childhood wounds will show up in your parenting? If you want to do it differently, but aren’t sure how to be a good mom when you were hurt as a child, here is some encouragement and a few things to equip you.

Your kids are actually little life coaches.

I’ve always said that my kids have enabled me to know God differently, but they’ve also taught me to know myself differently. Kids force us to see parts of ourselves we might have kept hidden until we became moms. I get angry easily, but I keep it bottled up until the pressure builds to the point of explosion. My relationships with other adults never get me to that level of anger, but my kids… oh Lord!

My kids have revealed to me that there’s part of myself that has room to grow and change. I also see my older son lose his temper just like me and I know I have to do the work to be a better example to him. If motherhood has made you aware of the baggage you’re carrying from childhood, be grateful, because that means you know where you need healing and growth.

So start by working on yourself.

List your strengths and weaknesses.

Why list the strengths if you’re trying to grow? Shouldn’t you focus on what needs to change? You list the strengths because it’s important that you acknowledge that you know how to be a good mom and you’ve got what it takes. Reminding yourself of all the ways you’re succeeding will give you the strength to do the hard things. Even if it’s via a mental list, tell yourself you pack healthy lunches, pray for them daily, listen well, are patient with homework, or whatever else you see yourself excelling at.

Ask yourself this important question.

“How am I going to make meaning out of the difficulties in my past?” If you come from an abusive home or have a fractured or contentious relationship with a parent, ask yourself what you can do to give that a purpose for good. My friend had an alcoholic father and she said, “I’m grateful for him because I learned what I didn’t want to be as a parent.”

Get therapy.

Usually, to heal from a difficult past, you need the help of a professional. Look at it as a gift to your children for you to do this for yourself.

Then work with your kids to break generational cycles.

I follow the Instagram account Raising Yourself and have found so many great tools to recognize the things I carry into parenting that might be negatively affecting my kids. In one post, she asked moms to tell her what positive things can be done to break the cycle. I love these responses because behind each one is a scar, but these moms who responded are working to make things better for their kids. Here’s what they said:

“Validate your child’s emotions, especially the big ones.”
“Tell your kids they should be seen and heard.”
“Take responsibility for your own emotions.”
Speak kindly about your body in front of your kids.”
“Apologize to your kids.”
“Give your kids a safe space to disagree with you.”
“Give them permission to do what they want to do simply because they enjoy it, not because it will earn them accolades.”
“Celebrate failures.”

And for my situation with yelling, I’d add, “Practice reacting firmly but calmly and walking away when that doesn’t seem possible.”

Which one of those resonates with you? What from your past gives you doubts about your ability to be a good mom?

This article originally appeared on iMOM.com and reflects their mission and beliefs.

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