Be The Parent That Yor Parents Were Not — Breaking The Cycle
Working towards positive change
Not everyone grew up in an ideal home with loving parents who put them first. Not everyone had a mum and dad who kissed them every night before bed, cooked them healthy meals, and strived to ensure they were happy. And not everyone can look back on their childhood and feel joy and peace from it. In fact, many may still be to this day actively trying to block out those memories as they spark too much pain.
The sad reality is that nearly 700,000 kids are abused or neglected each year in the United States alone, and you may be part of that staggering statistic. Sadly, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse or neglect are a reality for too many young people. What's even more unfortunate is that there can easily be a domino effect, where those abused children (now adults) pass their adverse upbringing down to their own kids, just following the cycle. A 1983 study found that 47% of parents who were abused themselves went on to abuse their own children, a percentage significantly higher than among non-abused parents. But this doesn't have to be the case, for anyone. Thousands of people with abusive upbringings work towards breaking that cycle every day to shape a better future for themselves and their family, and you can too.
Be the survivor, not the victim – breaking the cycle
Though it can be hard to alter the heavily rooted mindset and adverse values your parents instilled in you during your prime development years, it is possible. If you're researching and reading this article right now, you're already on the right path to become a better person, and that's wonderful. But if you've hit a roadblock or are just beginning the breaking-away process, here are some helpful tips to get you on track.
Detach yourself from your abusers: This one is vital, and it's not to make amends with your abusers but to set your own self free from the anger, sadness, blame, and burden that you're likely carrying. Many people advise that you should or need to forgive your abusers, but I totally disagree. Only you decide what you do or don't want to forgive. But you can't stay mentally attached to them. It is totally fine to go 'no contact' and move on with your life if that helps you heal. You owe your abusers nothing. Detaching yourself is not for them; it's for you.
Recognise your character: Do you have any features that remind you of your mother or father? Maybe you have a short temper, react irrationally, are impulsive, or have depression/anxiety. Whatever it is, be mindful of how you face challenging situations. If you see yourself starting to act like the person you don't want to become, step back, breathe, and work towards changing your approach to healthier ways. Over time, old habits should begin dying down as you replace them with better, more loving ones. Your character isn't set in stone - although it's hard work, you can change and be the person you want to be.
Seek help when needed: You're never alone with your journey, and there are many professional resources that can assist you with transforming your life for the better. Don't be embarrassed or afraid to talk to a therapist who can guide you on your mission to break your cycle to start a better one. From medications, mindfulness practices, to methods on breaking unwanted habits, this could be a valuable outlet for you no matter which stage you're at. I can safely say that therapy has turned my life around and changed me for the better.
Never give up: The road to breaking the cycle isn't easy. It's taken me until my forties to finally have a safe, comfortable home that's actually a home, free from anxiety and worry related to my traumatic childhood. It's only natural that you'll take a wrong turn here or there. Don't beat yourself up but keep going. You're only human, and it'll be worth it in the end.
You have two options: either follow your parents' footsteps or break the cycle and foster a much better environment for yourself and your children to grow up in. You're not a young child anymore, and though yes, you hold a great deal of pain and it isn't easy, you can be that positive change and never allow your own family to go through what you did. And the mere fact that you have that control should feel so empowering.
In the end, you can't change your past, but you can cultivate an amazing future. Think about the loving parent and home you always dreamed of having as a child, and become that to be the best parent, spouse, and friend that you can be. The world needs more genuine, caring people - and it all starts with you and your desire to break that cycle.
*** Originally publsihed on Medium ***