They break THE CYCLE.
For each of us, ‘the cycle’ means something different.
What cycle/s did you experience as a kid growing up?
STOP AND THINK about this one. Your child’s life depends on it.
The quality of their connections and communication. Their marriage’s health and longevity. Their career. Their earnings. Their mental health.
- What were your cycles?
- Was it the silent treatment when others annoyed you?
- Was it speaking over people and using your status to win and argument at all costs?
- Was it reaching for a cigarette, the bottle or food when upset?
- Was it to only talk about the so called ‘positive emotions’ and ‘nice things’?
- Was it to people please, entertain and rescue others regardless of what you were going through?
Studies into epigenetics (how your behaviours and environment can cause changes that affect gene functioning) have now shown that genetic markers can be passed down through the generations and thereby affect our children as does what we model for them! Research also shows that we tend to partner with someone like us whether that’s sociable, high energy & sporty or a more introverted, quiet, private type of person. The same is true of things like depression, ASD, ADHD – logically the other person gets you because they are like you.
Some of us think that the past is the past and off we go into adult life, as I did, thinking I will be a better parent than my parents but for many of us the past affects the way we show up in every relationship from those with our colleagues to family and friends. What was modelled in the past is often how we do it now as adults because we have had no other role models!
Let’s take a fairly typical family from my era. My parents never addressed conflict in front of us to protect us no doubt, so I never knew how to do conflict! We never discussed problems or negative emotions, until the thing was resolved so in my first marriage, I did the same. What’s wrong? Nothing! Silently withdraw. If you absolutely must admit that something terrible has happened, laugh it off. Make light of it. Turn it into a joke! I had a very narcissistic father and a very co-dependent mother so I learnt to people please and put myself last.
Sadly, we taught our kids:
- Do not address conflict – withdraw and be silent!
- Do not express emotions!
- Do not talk about anything real (problems, tough days, bullying). Your problem = you deal with it alone.
- Limit conversations to transactional ones – How was your school? Good! What do you want for dinner? I dunno know.
- The problem is apparent and needs to be addressed – use humour to make light of it!
- Always put the needs and feelings of others ahead of your own.
- Never make looking after yourself a priority.
(Fortunately, I went through years of incestuous sexual assault. I say fortunately, because it made me the most loving, attentive parent that my kids knew would love them unconditionally and always be there for them, despite all the skills I lacked.)
I implore you to STOP and THINK about what you learnt as a child. What was modelled? What are you modelling now? What are the likely outcomes on your marriage and your kids? Is that the outcome you want or are you ready to invest in your marriage and your kids if not yourself?
The buck stops with you!
Don’t know how to do it?
Reach out to me as my mission is to break cycles and connect parents and kids in ways that I could never imagine as a kid.