How My Childhood Contributed To My Own Parenting

So much of the way we parent our kids is a direct result of the way we were raised (whether we consciously realize every impact or not). Some of us actively try to emulate the way we were parented, while some of us strive for the opposite result. Now that I'm a parent, I realize there are so many childhood moments that directly contribute to my parenting style.

I've never actively tried to avoid parenting the way my parents did, honestly. I had a nice childhood with lots of time outdoors and lots of time spent reading books. However, I also never set out to replicate my parents' parenting style. It was only when I stopped to think about the parts of my childhood that remind me of the way I parent. that I realized how much the example my parents set had subconsciously seeped into my parenting. From avoiding pre-packaged foods in lieu of DIY-style snacks, to limiting technology and encouraging my daughter to spend hours outside, there's a whole lot of (mostly positive) baggage I've brought with me from my childhood into my years as a parent.

There's a handful of things I've been trying not to make my daughter put up with (like making up ridiculous songs about everything and repeating them until even her dad starts to think they're normal) but those seem to be a little more ingrained and keep sneaking out despite my best efforts. Hey, you can't win them all, right?

When My Parents Made DIY-Style Packed Lunches

We still laugh about the lunches my dad would pack for us that always, always involved peanut butter on saltine crackers. Then he'd put them into those plastic baggies with no zip, the kind that just fold over. Those baggies drove me nuts, but you can bet we've got those in our cupboard as well, for toting around Cheerios or grapes or DIY-style peanut butter crackers for our daughter.

When My Parents Put A Ban On Branded

This was probably more down to budget and availability, but we never had a single thing that was branded, and I'm trying to keep it that way for my daughter. I don't have a single opinion on what other parents do, but aesthetically and financially it's a restriction I'm sticking with.

When My Parents Spent Time Reading On The Couch

Both my parents read to me and my siblings even until we were older. My mom read us the whole Little House on the Prairie series one winter, piled around her on the couch.

When My Parents Threw Clever Birthday Parties

My mom never threw Pinterest-style birthday parties with matchy-matchy anything, but she did put a lot of thought into games that would be fun and exciting for a gaggle of kids. My all-time favorite was a detective/spy party complete with "pin the magnifying glass on the detective" and an entire room full of string wound around every piece of furniture so we could find the end. My mom's birthday parties for us were magical and memorable in all the right ways and I hope to replicate those for my daughter when she's just a bit older.

When My Parents Let Me Be A Little Construction Helper

My parents bought an 1820's farmhouse when I was just a year old and spent most of my childhood fixing it up. My dad was forever sanding and sheet-rocking and my mom was always painting something. That was a ton of work and, now that I'm a parent, I have no idea how they did it with three kids running around.

However, it made me realize that every moment with my daughter doesn't have to be designed for her to learn something or magically catered to her every need. She's going to learn about work ethic (and what kind of house she wants to buy when she grows up) and tools and even safety, just by being around when there are chores to be done.

When My Parents Set Technology Limits

When we were in grade school, I can remember being allowed to choose one 30 minute show to watch before dinner. One show, and it wasn't allowed to be Saved By The Bell until I was about 13 years old. I think my parents are grateful they had much fewer technology options to limit, and doing the same will be a little more difficult in the age of iPhones and tablets. At least now when I'm going to limit my kid's screen time there's technology to help me do that!

When My Parents Took Us Outside For Hours

My daughter isn't old enough to get the typical "Just go out and play!" admonishment, but we do spend as much time outdoors as possible and it makes just as much difference to both our moods as my parents claimed it did all those years ago.

When My Parents Told Me To "Suck It Up"

My mom was a little on the "tough love" side. Not when when the situation really necessitated love and sympathy; mostly just when we were being brats. So it wasn't undeserved, but her saying "suck it up" still rings in my ears and I'd really rather my daughter didn't have that memory when she's a mom.