Parenting is one of the hardest things you’ll ever undertake. Based on your own experience growing up, you may make vows about the things you’ll never do. Maybe your parents were harsh disciplinarians. So you make the decision you’ll never hurt your own kids that way. Or maybe you grew up poor. So you vow, “I’m going to take care of my kids.”
Our parents had blind spots and we were powerless to point them out. But we do get to choose what our response will be to what we’ve experienced. Many of us may feel so traumatized that we do the very opposite.
We’ve all seen the spoiled children who get away with murder. What we can’t see is the reason their parents decided not to discipline them. Very often it’s because they are responding to their own parents’ blind spots by swinging the pendulum in the other direction.
Other than discipline, here are five other areas where one generation’s blind spots may result in the next generation swinging the pendulum back the other way:
- Responsibility. Your own parents may have made you work hard. In generations past, it was common to have to get up early to help with chores on the farm. You may say, “I had it hard. My children won’t have to work so hard.”
- Control. Grow up under a controlling mom or dad and you may feel like running far away when you get old enough. And you may make the vow, “When I have children, I’m going to make sure they get to do what they want to do.”
- Poverty. You want to give your kids more than you were given. You vow, “They’ll never feel as poor as I did.”
- Privacy. I have a friend whose mom couldn’t keep a secret. As a result, he’s become a very private person who is slow to trust others.
- Absence. You grew up in a home where your dad was gone too much. You tell yourself, “I will always be around for my kids.”
Of course abuse is bad, but we need to be careful that our parents’ blind spots don’t result in our own issues. Our reaction may send the pendulum too far in the other direction. If your mom was an absentee parent, the best response may not be for you to hover around your own children. Or if you overreact to a controlling parent with too little control, and your own children may run wild, becoming the scourge of the neighborhood.
Better to ask some questions. What caused my parents to do the things they did? What can I learn from that so that I don’t repeat their mistake by swinging the pendulum in the other direction? If I gave my friends permission to really level with me, what blind spots might they point to?
The good news is that a blind spot doesn’t have to result in a pendulum swing. We get to choose our response. Feedback and prayer are the best preventatives. Do you have the courage to ask your friends about your blind spots? If so, asking them may be the first step in making a quantum leap forward in the quality of your own parenting.