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25 women on how their childhood experiences shaped their own parenting style.

This post deals with experiences of abuse and might be triggering for some readers.

In some way shape or form, what we experience as kids has a really powerful effect on us as adults. How we act, how we create relationships, how we communicate, and also how we parent later in life.

Perhaps your parents were incredibly strict growing up, leading you to rebel against their authority, and you have then chosen to do things differently with your own kids. Or perhaps you can see characteristics from your childhood that you have always wanted to emulate in your own family. 

Parenting is also influenced to an extent of what generation you are in. Only now, younger generations have the knowledge that smacking can have a lasting impact on a child's development. Not to mention, there has been a greater focus on emotional support as more families now have the right terminology and understanding of mental health.  

To go further in-depth on this topic, we asked 25 women how their childhood experiences - good or bad - shaped their own parenting style.

Here's what they had to say.

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"My mum was very hands-on but my parenting style is completely Laissez-faire, because I had kids in my late thirties, work full time and I'm tired."

"My mum was a young mum (she had me at 17) and she did everything she possibly could to try and prevent me from living her same troubles. She was very strict, and it was so difficult to please her! No room for error, boys, unwanted pregnancies, alcohol, or any kind of mistake. However, I truly believed the methodology just trained me up to be a really bloody good liar! At 20 I found out I was pregnant. I was certain my mum was ready to kill me. But I had a plan, and I stuck it out and I'd go as far as to say I'm doing pretty well given the hurdles. I do, however, parent very differently. I'm still my daughter's parent first, but I don't see how coming down hard on her every moment will allow her to feel comfortable to talk to me when big mistakes happen. We are very open and honest."

"My mum and I were very much just mother and daughter. I want my daughter and I to be friends too."


"My parents had a 100 per cent guarantee of punishment. They presented a united front and were very clear on what was and wasn't allowed. It was enforced by smacking and we knew what would come so we made educated choices. I followed a similar path but without smacking. My kids now know what is and isn't allowed but I found that by redirecting them and reinforcing with words, it achieves the same results: kids that respect guidelines."

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"My childhood was a little off centre, as I was raised in a Scientology family. Considering I don't have those beliefs as an adult my parenting style is the polar opposite. I was raised as a little adult, so I have no intention of my little one ever having the burden of growing up too quickly!"

"I parent completely different to how I was brought up. I talk and explain rather than smack and not communicate. I had friends and family who had kids before us and used their own parent's styles as a blueprint."

"Looking back, I can see there were so many instances I was anxious and needed emotional support but didn't know how to ask for it. I think this has impacted the way I raise my two children as I put a lot of effort into ensuring their emotional needs are met and that they know I've got their backs."

"I'm determined that my girls will grow up in a functional, communicative and respectful household. One where we eat dinner together and ask about each other's day. One where both parents take an active role. I didn’t experience this and want better for my girls. But as my own parents had experienced childhood trauma, it's hard to judge them for their choices."

"From a very young age, I can remember my mother telling me that she 'wasn't very maternal'. No hugs or kisses. I was determined that my kids were slathered in love, hugs and kisses."

Image: Getty.


"Similar parenting style, but with more openness and swearing!"

"I was born in '75 so my upbringing was quite 'traditional'. Women had a place, children were seen and not heard and we certainly didn't have opinions. Punishment was a swift smack - hand, belt, wooden spoon. The biggest shame I brought upon my family was expressing the desire to become a doctor in the early '90s. Because women and people of our social standing were not doctors. I had ideas above my station. I guess we knew we were loved, but it certainly wasn't really shown or spoken of, not until we were adults. My husband had quite an idyllic upbringing. So considering all, we've brought up two very well-balanced teenagers who are thriving."

"Some things the same, some different. I hate the memories of being forced to sit at the table until I finished my dinner. I don't do that with my kids."

"I grew up in a very confrontational family where my Dad didn't allow any conversation about anything other than what he said, and anything other than that ended in full out screaming matches. I am absolutely allowing my child to discuss things with me so that she understands why things are happening to her and not just having to accept that it's the way because an adult told her so. I want her to question when she doesn't feel it's right or if she's uncomfortable. I also will never get angry at her for coming and telling me when she's messed up. I was always terrified of telling my parents I'd made a mistake because they would rage and punish me. It takes all my willpower not to lose my s**t when she spills crap all over the carpet for example, but at least she comes and tells me she did it and doesn't feel like I'm going to turn into an angry monster."

"I was 17 when I was offered to play nationals for Netball. I was pretty good and had been playing since I was around four. I had no idea the enormity of the offer or how big this could have been for me so I went to my parents to share the news, and instead of encouraging me to go ahead with it, they told me NOT to do it. They said it would be shameful if I failed. I really believed them and now as a mum of four, I know to never speak to my children the way my own parents spoke to me. Taking an opportunity like that could have changed everything for me. So now I push my children to do everything."

"I'm making a conscious effort to be more connected to my son and making an effort to respond to his emotional needs. My mum was very strict. Didn't allow me to spend time with friends until I was a teen. She believed in physical punishment and is a great gaslighter."


"I parent incredibly similar to my own parents - stern but fair and also encouraging of the kids' dreams."

"I grew up in the '80s and it was a very free-range household. My mum worked a lot, so I caught the bus, letting myself into the home with a key from about age seven. I would love to give my kid more of this freedom but I think society has changed too much."

"I grew up as an only child raised by a single mum. She's amazing, but also very much wrapped me in cotton wool. It's made me pretty relaxed with my parenting and my husband often jokingly takes the role of helicopter parent because I'm 'too relaxed'."

Image: Getty.

"My parents always valued learning and family time and I'm the same. One area that is different is that I have spent a lot more time on my kids' mental health. I also talk openly about everything. My hope is to be just like my mum and be there when they need me, but not overbearing."

"I was adopted by my aunt and uncle at age five after living with them since I was 18 months (my birth mother died and my birth father was a FIFO). My adopted parents were insane and cruel. My parenting is therefore quite strict. Now I'm a grandmother and could not be prouder of my son for growing into the kind, well-mannered, gentle, compassionate being that I always envisioned."

"My parents raised me and my sister with complete freedom. They have an incredible sense of humour, and I remain very close to them. I think their sense of humour and calmness in all situations was the key, and I have tried to consciously emulate that style in my parenting as well (in the hope that my kid can still see a friend in me even when he is 40!)"


"Both my parents worked full time as it was financially necessary. I loved being a stay-at-home mum as it allows me to be involved in my kids' activities."

"My parents were strict, and we got smacked often. Now I realise it was abusive emotionally and physically and I refuse to put my kids through that. But not just has my childhood made me the parent I am, but leaving my girls' father who was emotionally abusive has too. I'm actively choosing to break the cycle."

"My parents are both university educated, which wasn't the norm in the '80s when I was growing up. I was always encouraged to push myself, but I am a reserved person. My parents were continually pushing me to do things out of my comfort zone, rather than just giving me the space to be emotionally ready to join in. I want my kids to know if they are not comfortable or want to leave something then they can."

"Overall, I'm aware that I default back to my own childhood experiences a lot for parenting inspiration. Spending time together as a family is crucial."

How did your childhood experiences inform your own parenting style? Let us know in the comments below!

Image: Getty.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

Feature Image: Getty/Mamamia.