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Why new parents repeat the mistakes of their parents

2023-05-18 08:06:00, Sociale CNA

Why new parents repeat the mistakes of their parents

For many parents, the act of raising children can feel like Déjà vu. Children can be an unusual reflection of one's traits: the odd shape of your foot, or the precise contours of your social anxiety.

But even stranger, is how parents often find themselves displaying their parents' vices in the process. Children are not like blank pages on the block. As my colleague Faith Hill pointed out in a recent article in The Atlantic, a child is the unwitting embodiment of a parent's legacy before it takes its first breath.

Some biological inheritance will dictate who a person is and the kind of life he will lead, as well as material circumstances, social support and also the values ??of his parents. Before long, her parents' childhood "baggage" may return home.

So usually new parents repeat the mistakes of their parents. Whether this is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing or an ongoing "intergenerational transmission of parenting," it's a consolidated child-rearing phenomenon, for better or worse.

And the limitations of a small family make this even more challenging. Faith Hill writes: "Elisabeth Stitt, a parenting coach and author of 'Parenting as a Second Language,' once told me that people are more likely to disrespect their parents' behaviors - including negative ones - if they don't have any other model to see”.

In the US, small family units are much more isolated than they used to be. Today many of us grow up without seeing many child-rearing models beyond what we ourselves are subjected to. As Faith points out, things weren't always like this.

Historian of marriage, Stefani Konz, has called the economically independent family "a historical fate", which crystallized in the public imagination within a short period after the Second World War. During this time, the age of marriage in the US dropped to new lows and the fertility rate among women increased.

Any ordinary (white) man could support his family without relying on at least some of the income-generating work of his wife or children. This precipitated a shift away from the distribution of childcare duties to a community of neighbors, relatives, and friends, a long-standing practice that anthropologists call "cooperative breeding."

The decline in the collective growth of children has had disproportionate effects on mothers. As David Brooks noted in a 2020 article titled "The Small Family Was a Mistake," though women benefited from "liberation from traditional family structures," becoming able to determine the kind of life they want to live. , the decision to raise young children away from the family can be "difficult and isolating" for women in particular.

"The situation is exacerbated by the fact that women still spend much more time on housework and childcare than men. Thus, the reality we see around us: Stressed, tired mothers trying to balance work and parenting and having to re-schedule work when family life gets messy," Brooks wrote.

It's hard to do anything with little support. This situation became even more apparent at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, which added to the limitations of the small family model. For these and other reasons, this type of family is going out of fashion.

According to a Pea Research Center survey released last year, the percentage of Americans living in multigenerational households has grown steadily since the 1970s. And although that growth has been driven largely by practical considerations, such as the demands of caregiving and finance, more than half of survey respondents said this approach has proven rewarding most of the time.

It is reasonable to say that a continued move away from the small family, and a shift towards more collaborative childcare systems, would help ensure that future generations are exposed to a wider range of child-rearing patterns. And as Faith explains, learning a variety of parenting techniques better equips individuals to build child-rearing toolkits that compensate for the particular shortcomings of their parental inheritance.

Parenting is a learned behavior. But hope is not lost for those who grew up in small families, who aim not to repeat the mistakes of their parents. Even for those who were not afforded a childhood with different parenting models, Faith notes that there are opportunities for continued education from grandparents, friends, children's sports coaches, etc./ Adapted from CNA.al

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