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  • Writer's pictureEmma Parr

How do we parent without a good role model?

All families bring up their children in a multitude of different ways and for most of us (particularly as we are growing up) we are not aware that another family might be different.

Even if we are conscious of this we don’t always question what we experience. We are treated as we are treated, no questions asked, it is as it is.

There are also multi generational aspects within families, how our parents’, parents parented reinforcing what we experience. Patterns of behaviour can be so strong that we don’t even notice them and are therefore more than likely to carry them on into our own family system via our children.

What might these patterns of behaviour look like? Some can be very subtle and may never be fully conscious while others we may already know we do not want to repeat. Food can create numerous patterns, those foods that are not allowed, foods that are only for a reward, food that is kept for celebrations. How we feel about food now and how we introduce it to our children can highlight patterns we haven’t been aware of. There might be cultural patterns of behaviour that our parents or grandparents bring into our lives that don’t sit comfortably alongside the culture that we are living in if they are different. Questions of belonging can arise. Who am I and where do I fit in?

Emotions are a huge part of who we are, they sit alongside our mind, our physical body and a more spiritual side of us. There are at times within families, certain emotions that are not spoken about and because of this it feels like they aren’t allowed. As we become parents, can we notice the emotions are children experience that we can’t mirror or acknowledge. Do we shut down their anger because ours wasn’t heard? As parents do we find ourselves thinking that because we were parented in a particular way it must be ‘right’?

I feel honoured to witness those parents who come to me with the knowledge that they have not been parented in the way that was right for them. Our work is an opportunity to explore what they experienced, so that their awareness of the unconscious patterns can be seen and they can make different choices. As I remind my clients, this is hard work and brave work. Breaking patterns is not easy, it goes against what we tell ourselves we know. If all you know is what your parents modelled, however much you may not want to repeat those patterns finding another way can be a real challenge.

If you need support to understand your experience as a child, so that you can actively choose to be the parent you want to be please get in touch.

Ultimately as a human we need to be seen and accepted for who we are, to be loved unconditionally.


Written for Darling Magazine Wimbledon, Winter 2021 - 2022 edition

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