Childhood can be a time of fun, exploration, and joy. Childhood can also be incredibly challenging. The two sides of the childhood coin flip constantly. When a child is not around difficult circumstances, it is almost effortless for that child to be truly happy, and children can bounce back from sad experiences extremely quickly. For adults, this resiliency is in shorter supply. So what changes? Let’s consider the answer to that question and look at some common ways in which your childhood might still be affecting you.
From childhood to adulthood
Adulthood presents its own challenges—including self-awareness. This awareness provides adults with the opportunity to change and grow as individuals. However, it also offers constant reminders of our past in both happy and challenging circumstances, making it more time consuming to sort through your feelings and bounce back to the present. In addition, the choices you make and the way you behave are often determined by your childhood. Even if you do not consciously analyze your past, its effect can still make it challenging to revel in the current moment.
This challenge can even arise for those who have not had difficult or traumatic childhoods. Thankfully, your ability to analyze your own behavior through self-awareness enables you to evolve and grow as a person. If you find yourself wondering why you said something out of character or reacted in a certain way, then looking to your childhood may provide the answers. The great thing about self-awareness in adulthood is that you have the ability to determine exactly what parts of your past are affecting your present and can choose to make lasting changes.
The mimicking parrot
You may catch yourself repeating verbatim words that you heard from your parents as a child. Many people experience this phenomenon when they have children of their own, restating certain comments about life without knowing quite why. In many cases, it’s simply explained by the fact that people tend to learn by example. Try to think of phrases your parents often said to you. Do you ever find yourself saying them now? Do you actually believe or agree with these phrases?
The discipline of your kids
Self-awareness enables adults to examine their choices. Do you discipline your children or your young relatives in the same way that you were disciplined? This choice impacts the next generation profoundly—either in a good way or in a way that hinders development. For example, were time-outs effective for you when you were little? Think about what led to the most positive outcomes and responses in you—perhaps these are the discipline methods you should be replicating now.
Many parents choose to repeat patterns that they learned in childhood. Some decide to spank their children only due to the fact that they were spanked, assuming this is just the way you do things. In rarer cases, some parents may enact the same type of extreme and hurtful discipline that they experienced as children. Sometimes, adults who do this are trying to work through their complex feelings about what happened to them. By hurting their own children in the same manner that they were hurt, they may experience an odd sense of control over their past. They are no longer helpless victims; they are powerful adults now.
Regardless of the reasoning behind abusive acts, adults do not have the luxury of avoiding the impact of their choices, and there are many options and resources for parents of this generation that past generations did not have access to. Why put your children through the same challenges you went through when you can spare them? Even if your childhood was not full of extreme discipline, you still have the opportunity to benefit your own kids by asking questions about whether you agree with the actions of your parents.
Dating preferences and partners
What is your idea of what counts as normal? This question can profoundly affect how you view your current dating circumstances. For example, women who choose men with tempers may just be drawn to behavior that has been familiar to them from a young age.
Many people make the mistake of assuming that their fathers and mothers have shown them how all men and women will behave, but every individual is unique, and the world (in its enormity) offers a huge range of choices. If there is certain behavior that you have not seen in your family but would like to see in a partner, then go out and get it! You will find that most people will not act exactly like your own family of origin.