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When I was growing up, I wasn’t really listened to. My parents would tell me what to do and I would do it, because I was afraid of them. I was forced to do things I didn’t want to do, like hugging my uncles, aunts or family friends that I didn’t want to – just because. I was also beaten, because that’s how my parents were taught “discipline”…I don’t want to do that to my children. So I decided: I’ll be raising my kids differently.
I don’t want my children to be afraid of me or not want to talk to me when they are older. I want them to know that they can come to me with anything. I want to be able to have a healthy relationship with my children, where we can communicate and empathize with each other.4
I went through emotional, verbal and physical abuse and I refuse to do that to my children because I wasn’t taught better. I am raising my kids differently than I was raised, because I want them to have a better life than I did.
I want them to feel loved and supported, to have their opinions heard and respected. I want to empower them to make their own decisions and guide them through the challenges they may face. It’s not always easy, and I make mistakes along the way, but I try to learn from them and teach my children valuable lessons. I want them to know that it’s okay to make mistakes and that we can work together to find solutions.
I aim to be a role model for my children, showing them through my actions and words how to be kind, compassionate, and understanding. I want them to see the importance of treating others with respect and choosing love over hate. In essence, I want to break the cycle of abuse and create a family where we can grow and thrive together. No child should have to experience the pain and trauma that I went through, and as a parent, it’s my responsibility to create a safe and nurturing environment for them.
I am doing everything different and not everyone likes it. I am raising my kids differently and my mother doesn’t understand or like it.
When I became a mother for the first time. I decided that I wouldn’t do the same things that my parents did – but I what I failed to realize was that it was going to be harder than what I thought.
It sucks, you know? Trying to be different. Raising my kids differently. Because of all of this, I became an emotional eater (click the link if you want to read more on that).
Below are things I’m doing in raising my kids differently.
One of the most important things I’m doing differently is actively listening to my children. For now, it’s only my 6 year old that I an have a conversation with. When she talks, I try to make sure to give her my full attention and actually engage with her. I try to validate her feelings and let her know that what she says matters to me. This helps her feel heard and understood, which is important for her emotional development.
I ask her open-ended questions that lets her to express herself freely. I try not to interrupt or push her thoughts and feelings to the side. Something, that was not done for me. Instead, I encourage her to explore her ideas and opinions. This helps her develop her critical thinking skills and learn how to communicate the right way.
As a child, I received too much negative feedback from my parents. I was always scolded for doing something wrong, but very rarely praised for doing something right. This made me feel like I was never good enough. That’s why I’m using positive reinforcement in my parenting approach.
For example, when my kids do something well, I make sure to acknowledge it and praise them. I use age-specific language to let them know exactly what they did well, which helps them understand what behaviors I’m looking for. This builds their self-esteem and encourages them to continue doing good things. Of course, for my 2-year-old, it is harder for me to explain things because his language is limited, but I keep repeating myself so he will eventually know.
The other thing is I make sure to not compare between my children and others. I don’t want them to feel like they have to compete for my approval. Instead, I celebrate their individual strengths and accomplishments.
Boundaries and Consequences
While positive reinforcement is important, I also understand that children need boundaries and consequences. However, I’m doing it differently than my parents did.
First, I set clear and consistent expectations for my children. I let them know what age- appropriate behaviors are acceptable and what the consequences will be if they cross those boundaries. This helps them understand what is expected of them and what the consequences will be if they don’t comply.
Second, when they do cross a boundary, I focus on the behavior and not the child. I don’t use negative language or labels, which can be damaging to their self-esteem. Instead, I focus on how their behavior impacted others and what they can do to make it right. This helps them learn from their mistakes in a positive way.
Finally, I make sure the consequences are appropriate and related to their behavior don’t use physical punishment or shaming, which can be detrimental to their emotional well-being. Instead, I use logical consequences that help them understand the impact of their actions and encourage them to make better choices in the future.
Empathy and understanding
Another important aspect of my parenting approach is empathy and understanding. I want my children to feel like they can come to me with anything, no matter how big or small.
To do this, I make sure to validate their feelings and emotions. I let them know that their feelings are important and that I understand where they’re coming from. This helps them feel supported and heard.
I also try to see things from their perspective. I don’t dismiss their opinions or feelings, even if I don’t agree with them. This helps them develop empathy and understanding for others, which is an important life skill.
Respect for autonomy
As a child, I didn’t have any say in what happened to me. I was forced to do things I didn’t want to do, which made me feel powerless. That’s why I’m making sure to respect my children’s autonomy.
I give them choices whenever possible, which helps them feel like they have some control over their lives. For example, I let them choose what to wear in the morning or what book to read at bedtime. This helps them build their decision-making skills and confidence.
Moreover, I don’t force them to hug or kiss anyone they don’t want to. I let them decide when and how they want to show affection. This helps them understand consent which is important for their safety and well-being.
One of the best ways to build a strong relationship with your child is through open communication. That’s why I encourage my children to speak openly and honestly with me, especially my 6 year old because she’s the one I can communicate with better.
When the time comes, I will talk to my children about difficult topics, like sex or drugs, in an age-appropriate way. I won’t shy away from these conversations, as they for their safety-being. This helps them feel informed and empowered to make good choices.
Prioritizing mental health
Mental health is just as important as physical health, but it’s often overlooked in parenting. That’s why I’m making sure to prioritize my children’s mental health.
I encourage them to express their emotions and feelings in a healthy way. I try to teach them coping mechanisms, like deep breathing or, for my 6-year old; talking to someone she trusts, to help her manage her emotions. This helps her build resilience and emotional intelligence.
I also make sure to take care of my own mental health, so I can be a better parent for them. I prioritize self-care and seek help when I need it. This sets a good example for them to follow in their own lives.
Raising children is a huge responsibility, but it’s also an opportunity to make a positive impact on their lives. By actively listening, using positive reinforcement, setting boundaries, showing empathy, respecting autonomy, fostering open communication, and prioritizing mental health, I’m raising my children differently than how I was raised. I hope this inspires other parents to do the same.
If you’re a parent who wants to raise your children differently than how you were raised, start by reflecting on your own experiences. What worked for you? What didn’t? Then, think you can incorporate some of the strategies I’ve mentioned in this post. Remember, you don’t have to do it all at once. Start small and build from there. Your children will thank you for it.