If we put thought into it, it’s easy to see: Your childhood affects your parenting. Lately, I’ve been looking back at how my dad parented me—and I see now that it had a big impact on how I parent. I always knew my dad loved me, but I’m not sure he knew what to do with me. When I was a kid, he would send me to hang out with his friends’ kids or sign me up for day camps at the YMCA. While I knew he loved me, I didn’t know if he wanted me around. I didn’t think he enjoyed spending time with me. Because of this, I make sure I am always telling my kids that I love them and I want them.
There are so many correlations between how you parent today and how you were parented growing up. Spending time evaluating and understanding the impact my parents had on me has forced me to recognize both the healthy and negative ways I parent my own kids. Your origin story, your childhood, affects your parenting. Here are 5 ways I didn’t know my dad impacted how I parent until I took the time to evaluate it.
1. My dad worked hard to provide.
As men, we are wired to be providers. God has put it in our DNA to work, provide, and take care of our families. Not every man does this well, but my dad did. Because he worked hard, I work hard and I am driven to make sure my family is taken care of. As a parent, the impact on me is that I must guard my time to ensure I do not prioritize work over family. How does your dad’s work ethic (or lack thereof) remind you of your own?We need to parent our kids to work hard and do their best, but never to perform for anyone’s approval.
2. My dad set high expectations.
For school, sports, and activities, I knew my dad’s expectations and they were very high. This helped me be a successful student but at times drove me to perform to make him happy. I still struggle with this and seek the approval of others through my performance. We need to parent our kids to work hard and do their best, but never pressure them to perform for anyone’s approval. I never want my kids to feel unvalued the way I felt because I came up short of my dad’s expectations. I try to be more of a coach with my kids to help them grow and learn as they become adults. What kind of expectations did your dad have for you and how has that affected you?
3. My dad struggled with women.
My parents divorced when I was two and my dad struggled with women as I grew up. I never saw him in a healthy relationship. The impact of this is that I struggled with dating and being comfortable around women. Because I didn’t see an example, I am very conscious of loving my wife well in front of my children. I want my sons to know how to respect and care for their future wives, and I want my daughter to see how a wife should be treated. How did your dad handle relationships with women and how has that had an impact on you?
4. My dad wasn’t affectionate.
My dad did not show much affection and neither did I. In fact, the first girlfriend I ever had broke up with me because I didn’t like to hold her hand. But in college, I learned that healthy affection produces higher self-esteem, better parent-child communication, and overall happiness at home. Because of this, I make sure I hug and love my kids and show them affection. For most men, if your dad wasn’t a hugger, neither are you. So I made the choice early on with my kids that I would show healthy affection because I wanted them to get the benefits that I didn’t get growing up. How affectionate was your dad and how affectionate are you with your kids?
5. My dad never came to my games.
My dad worked and lived in different cities, so he never really came to my games. I always wanted him to see me play, but I knew he wouldn’t be there. His absence communicated that I wasn’t a priority and that everything else in his life was more important to him. So when I had my first son, I told my wife that I would coach all of his sports teams for as long as I could and that I’d make every game possible. The impact of my dad not being there has ensured that I will be there for my kids. My kids will never have to wonder if they are a priority. Did your dad attend your events growing up? Do you struggle to be present with your kids?
Earn some points: Are you married? If so, share this iMOM article with your wife: 6 Things That Don’t Make You a Successful Mom.
Sound off: How did your dad impact how you parent today?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What have I done this week that has made you feel loved?”