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How Much Should My Past Experiences Affect My Children’s Future?

Everyone has experienced things that they would rather not re-create with their own children.

02/07/2017 10:55 AM IST | Updated 02/07/2017 10:55 AM IST
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The popular theory is that our children are reflections of us. We are their mirrors in which they look and see themselves, at the same time also mirroring our behaviours and actions. There is a famous quote by David Bly that says "Your children will become what you are. So be what you want them to be." Everyone has their own perspective of this. Do I agree with this? Before I became a mother I may have said yes. Now two children later, I don't believe I agree.

We all come with emotional baggage from various aspects of our lives, mostly from our relationships. From the time we are children ourselves through adulthood, we experience various ups and downs. Whether it is a broken heart or the death of a loved one, there is always an imprint that is left on us which helps mould the kind of people we become. No one survives life by just floating through on a silver cloud. Everyone has their own challenges to face and hurdles to cross, some rockier than others. How each person handles those challenges and hurdles is also very different. Some approach the negative situations in their lives with anger, clouded minds and unclear plans, whereas some approach them with reason and clarity. A person's emotional and mental state is challenged when a negative situation occurs. But what we learn from and how we come out of those situations are what our children will eventually learn and will reflect on them. The impact from our past experiences is what will help us parent our children today.

[T]he lessons I learned are what I would like to pass onto my children, but definitely not the uncertainty I have faced and the mistakes I made.

I have always believed that our past should not affect our children's future. Should we think twice and make conscious well thought out decisions about which elements from our experiences should be passed onto our children? Yes, that goes without saying!

We all love our parents. Many times I have opened my mouth to say something and my parents' words have come out. It shows that they have shaped me and my approach to how I parent today. However, everyone has things they have experienced in their own past that they would rather not re-create with their own children. It would be denying reality to say that a person's childhood was all smooth sailing. The relationship between mother and child is the most pure and at the same time the most volatile relationship. You don't agree on everything and every child has a moment where he/she believes that he/she has the best and worst mother. I know I did. There are countless elements of my relationship with my mother that I would love to pass onto my own children and which will help shape their future in a positive way but there are also some which I would like to keep at bay. In other words, while there are aspects of my parents that I hope to re-create, there are certain things I hope to avoid. I think this may resonate with every mother out there. This could be because we want very different things for our children compared to what our parents wanted for us.

[D]o their lives need to turn out exactly like their parents? Do their experiences have to be the same and their futures determined by our likes and dislikes?

My children are their own people. There are many things in my past which I know I could have handled better. I don't regret making the mistakes I have made because I have learned from them. However, the lessons I learned are what I would like to pass onto my children, but definitely not the uncertainty I have faced and the mistakes I made. They will have their own mistakes to make and lessons to learn. I lost someone very close to me when I was young and still in school. The impact on me at that point was of epic proportions and I promised myself that I would avoid any form of attachment going forward. Making a decision like this and especially when still so young was not something to take lightly and this did have an effect on many of my relationships for the next few years. Till today, there is still a part of me which raises alarm bells when I see myself becoming attached to anyone or anything. But this is not an element of my personality that I would like my children to imbibe. Forming attachments is healthy and essential for both emotional and social development. It helps you grow. I do not want my children to prevent themselves from giving and receiving the love, happiness and closeness they can experience from various relationships in their lives—and definitely not because of any negative situations from my own past.

As mothers, we only want what is best for our children and nothing less. A mother's natural instinct is to shape her children to be exactly like her; it's only human. I have seen this personally. However do their lives need to turn out exactly like their parents? Do their experiences have to be the same and their futures determined by our likes and dislikes? These are the important questions which we as mothers need to think about and which will help determine the kind of people our children will turn out to be.

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