Are You Following Your Own Parents' Parenting Model?

Many times, without realizing it, you act with your own children as your parents did with you. To break the cycle you have to inform yourself and apply conscious parenting.
Are You Following Your Own Parents' Parenting Model?
Elena Sanz

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

You’ve probably found yourself saying things, at some point or another, that you wouldn’t normally say at all.  “Where did that come from?” you ask yourself. Then you realize that they’re words that your mother or father would’ve spoken. As a matter of fact, repeating the parenting model with which you grew up is really easy to do if you’re not aware of it.

After all, your parents were your first role models and the first people you interacted with. Undoubtedly, their personalities and educational style have had an impact on you. In fact, to a greater or lesser extent, they remain in your unconscious. That’s why now, as a parent, you can find yourself repeating their patterns of behavior, especially in times of stress. These moments seem to activate old triggers.

Parents and child, depicting following your own parents' parenting model

Why are you repeating the parenting model of your parents?

It’s all you know

It’s often familiarity that leads you to adopt a parenting style similar to the one your parents used with you. Indeed, becoming a parent is a challenge that you’ve never faced before and your main reference points are your memories.

Furthermore, you might not even know any other educational styles or models. Therefore, you automatically revert to those you internalized during your own upbringing. For example, if you want your little one to fall asleep, you’ll sing the same lullaby your parents sang to you. Or, when they throw a tantrum, your first reaction will be the one you saw in your own parents.

You think it’s the right way

Maybe you’ve researched, read about, and discovered other parenting styles, yet the one that your parents used with you seems the most appropriate. Perhaps, after serious reflection, you’ve decided to repeat their model of parenting because it’s consistent with the values you want to pass on to your own children.

If this is the case, you probably remember your childhood as a really happy time and consider that your parents did a great job. After all, if they gave you the attention, affection, support, and tools to make you strong and capable, it stands to reason that you’d want to follow in their footsteps in bringing up your own child.

You don’t realize

On the other hand, you may not even realize that you’re following their patterns. This is the most common scenario. In this instance, you’ve probably thought back to your childhood and how your parents behaved, and you don’t want to repeat it. In fact, your moral principles don’t match the educational model that your parents adopted and you want to do things differently.

However, you’re only human and it’s impossible to have strict control over your actions and emotions at all times. Therefore, it’s possible that, in certain circumstances, especially in those that make you feel overwhelmed, you find yourself repeating your parents’ attitude. The one that hurt or infuriated you so much.

If this is the case, you’ll probably eventually realize and feel guilty for having resorted to what you always swore you wouldn’t do. However, try to be indulgent with yourself. Because the patterns acquired during childhood are deeply ingrained and act as a trigger on many occasions. The important thing is to be able to rectify your behavior.

father divorced parents

How to stop repeating your parents’ parenting model

With the exception of the second case, in which you consciously choose that educational model for your children, in the other two you must take action. Because raising a child is a complex and highly relevant task, and you have to do it responsibly. Nevertheless, you can’t choose an educational style that you consider to be most appropriate if you only know the one that was applied to you. Therefore, you should try and find out about other parenting options. You can only make a free choice when you’re properly informed.

On the other hand, if you’ve decided to follow another path and still find yourself repeating the same patterns, it may be because you don’t possess any alternatives in your behavioral repertoire. If this is the case, try to identify any particular instances that overwhelm you and make you lose control and plan in advance how you want to react. Being clear in your mind about what you want to do will help the right behavior appear at the right time.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Bandura, A., & Walters, R. H. (1977). Social learning theory (Vol. 1). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-hall.

  • Montesi, M. (2015). Información y crianza con apego en España. In XII Congreso ISKO España y II Congreso ISKO España-Portugal, Murcia: Universidad de Murcia. http://www. iskoiberico. org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/204_Montesi. pdf (accessed Nov. 16, 2016).[14].

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.