How I learned how not to parent. From my parents.

The lessons my parents taught me about parenting are more of a “what not to do” guide for my own kids…

I’ve noticed something about my parenting style lately. I’ve noticed that I am using my own childhood experience as the ‘what not to do’ guide. My childhood wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t that good either. I know my parents tried their best but they really fell short in some key areas.

I was one of four children and we didn’t have much money. It seemed like every family around me did more than we did, had more than we had, were happier than we were, at least that’s how it seemed from my little corner of the world.

I was alone a lot when I was young, despite having three siblings. We lived on a large property and our frequent squabbles meant it was way too easy to retreat to different corners and there I’d sit, completely lost in the fantasy of what I wished my life would be:

I wish we’d taken family holidays, even just local ones;

When I was little we never took family holidays.

I wish we'd gone on special family outings, to the zoo, to the beach, not just to visit relatives;

I wish we'd been allowed to do after school activities like my friends, like Girl Guides or music lessons;

I wish mum had bought us the proper school uniform, not the cheaper version that was just a bit different to the rest of the kids. I was teased and I felt embarrassed;

I wish we'd gotten lunch orders;

I wish Mum and Dad had visited the school on special days, just sometimes;

I wish had dessert after dinner every night;

I wish my mum had read me bedtime stories;

I wish my dad spent time doing things with us, not just doing chores when he was home, really BEING with us;

I wish my parents hadn't smacked us when we were naughty. We were just kids and they hurt us and scared us.

So now that I'm a mum, I subconsciously repair my childhood through them. Thank goodness I'm not a failed pop singer or pageant princess.


So we take holidays together, not every year, but every second year. We sit down together and come up with lots of ideas of where we want to go. Disneyland and 'on a boat' are frequent suggestions. We haven't quite gone there yet but we've managed Queensland and the Central Coast. My husband and I figure out a savings plan and then we right down on a poster on the fridge how many days until we go;

My kids can play with mud and get really, really dirty.

Every weekend my family make a point of doing something together. It's not always bowling, a movie or the zoo but it's at the very least a couple of hours at the local park and it's so special;

My children all do swimming and school sport but they are allowed to choose one other activity on top of that like art class, dancing or martial arts;

I buy my children the proper school uniform. It's expensive but between second-hand shirts, hand-me-downs from older kids and planning ahead they look just the same as all their friends;

They get lunch orders, once a week and money to spend on a snack at the school canteen one other day;

I make sure I'm at as many school events as possible but when I can't go, we talk about it before and after;

We don't have dessert every night after dinner, just on weekends;

We read bedtime stories every night, no matter how tired I am. Now that they know how to read sometimes they read them to me;

My husband spends special one-on-one time with each of our children as often as possible. Even if it's just a trip to the hardware store and then fixing something together at home;

We don't hit our kids, ever, even when they make a huge, gigantic mess. I got in trouble so often for making messes when I was little but I was a child. Kids LOVE making messes, so my kids can do it, within reason. Muddy it up kids!

What lessons about parenting did you learn from your family?

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