I’m sure you’ve heard or maybe even spoken the expression, “We’ve turned into our parents,” or “I married somebody just like my father.” Initially we are surprised, but we quickly realize that we all tend to model our parents’ behavior.
Parents sometimes don’t realize that kids are watching and paying attention to what they do and say. As the kids grow, their parents’ behavior becomes ingrained, and they unconsciously start doing and saying things the way their parents did. I know I do. Sometimes we can recognize it. Sometimes we stop and say, “Wait a minute. What am I doing? Where have I seen this behavior before.” Other times it slips by you and goes unnoticed.
A few weeks ago I met with a couple that are the model example for how divorcing parents put their children first. Believe me, they had their own problems. Their marriage wasn’t working. They were here to get divorced. But they didn’t really talk about the differences that brought them to divorce. It never came up and there were no disparaging remarks about the other person.
Their greatest concern was their kids. They said:
“We have a couple of kids that we love. They have some special needs, and we want to take care of them. We’re completely in agreement on this point.
We don’t always agree on everything, but we always work it out. We do it in front of the kids so they can see that even though parents disagree, they can still come to an understanding together.
We never yell or argue in front of them. If we have a disagreement, we try to settle it calmly. If things get a little heated, we step out of the room, try to resolve it, and then come back in and say, “This is what your mom and I decided,” or “This is what your dad and I decided.”
Isn’t that a wonderful model for their kids? Showing them that you can disagree but still work things out. Perhaps If people became more aware of the long-lasting effects that their behavior has on their children’s development, maybe they would change the way they behave in front of them and change the way they relate to each other. What a wonderful world that would be.
Are we really turning into our parents? Well, guess what? We already have, we just don’t realize it.