15 Mistakes Our Parents Made and How We’ve Vowed to Do Better

15 Mistakes Our Parents Made and How We’ve Vowed to Do Better

Real women share how they hope to improve on the parenting techniques of their own parents.

By: Leah Maxwell

Long before we became parents ourselves, we all had an up-close-and-personal lesson on how to raise kids – from our own parents. Sometimes they taught us skills and values we’re proud to pass down to the next generation, but other times they made choices that inspired us to vow we’d never repeat the same mistakes with our own children. Below, 15 women reveal the ways in which they’ve sworn to do better than their own parents.

1. “I apologize when I inevitably mess up. I think so many relationships – parent-child or otherwise – are damaged by people refusing to own their mistakes. I didn’t want that for us. I already see my son [following] the ‘own it, apologize, try to fix it model’ we’ve set.” – Kacey T., 31, Newport, Oregon, mom of a 6-year-old son

2. “[I vowed that] my kids wouldn’t get in trouble for being mad at me. [When I was a kid,] if we got in trouble and stomped off to our room, we got in MORE trouble. I hated that. Kids can get mad! I don’t allow hitting or even talking back, but anger? They’re allowed to be angry all they want.” – Lisa G., 49, Benton, Arkansas, mom of 17-year-old son and a 21-year-old daughter

3. “My parents were very liberal and open, which was great, but my mother wasn’t very affectionate, and so I swore I would be very affectionate, and I am. I also spend a lot more quality time with my daughter than my mother did with me. Her priority was a spotless home, my priority is a confidant, secure, strong, and happy daughter.” – Helen S., 59, Toronto, Ontario, mom of an 18-year-old daughter

4. “I vowed to not be a yeller. I am still trying to unlearn the ‘he who has the loudest voice wins’ mindset. It’s been difficult, but I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve yelled at my son.” – Hillary W., 32, Coquitlam, British Columbia, mom of a 3-year-old son

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5. “I will expose my son to ideas I find uncomfortable so he learns that there are many views about important things. We live in a smallish town, and I’m trying to prepare him for the larger world. I hope my kiddo sees the beauty in difference.” – Jen L., 36, Greeley, Colorado, mom of a 5-year-old son

6. “I’ll wait until I get my child’s side of the story before [deciding on a] punishment or taking sides. There’s an incident that still brings back The Rage when I think about my mom’s total lack of listening to me.” – Kate M., 30, Lawrence, Indiana, mom of a 2-year-old daughter


7. “I will never say anything bad about my husband/marriage to my kids, even when they are adults. My mom shared too much. Even as an adult, it is none of my business. She wanted me to be mad at my dad like she was, and that’s not fair.” – Amy S., 37, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, mom of two sons, ages 4 and 6

8. “I try my darnedest not to lose my temper (much), and be (mostly) patient. I am very much like my dad: impatient with a quick temper. I vowed a long time ago that I didn’t want my kids to remember me that way, knowing how alike he and I are.” – Katrina R., 28, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, mom of a 2-year-old son

9. “[I always make sure] the jobs of parent and child are very clearly defined, as in it’s never the child’s job to parent the parent.” – Jess B., 39, Houston, Texas, mom of a 19-year-old son

10. “To be more compassionate and to LISTEN more [and] not judge. My parents are great, but to this day, if it isn’t something ‘normal’ to them, it’s weird and their reaction is, ‘Why on earth would you do/be/say/like that?’ I felt a lot of harsh criticism as a kid, about what I ate, wore, and did, and I still feel it when I am around them. I never want my kids to be 34 and changing the way they eat or dress to avoid commentary.” –Sarah L., 34, New York City, no kids yet

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11. “I [will] recognize my kids’ anxieties and actively work with them instead of brushing them off. My son shows so many of the same anxiety signs that I did as a kid. It breaks my heart that my parents didn’t help me.” – Sarah B., 34, Seattle, Washington, mom of a 7-year-old son and twin 2-year-old daughters

12. “I vow to yell less. My mom yelled when we were wrong, but didn’t often explain, quietly, why we were wrong. Half the time, her explanation was ‘Because I said so.’ I know I will someday say it too, but I hope I don’t do it too often. Even now, we are practicing saying why we say no.” – Melissa L., 32, Kalamazoo, Michigan, mom of an 18-month-old daughter

13. “I give my kids the one thing I never got from my mother – fallibility. They’re going to often get the gift of hearing, ‘I [messed] up. I’m sorry. How can I make it better?’” – Amanda W., 38, Portland, Oregon, mom of an 8-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son

14. “I will be a more open and approachable parent. My parents always said we could talk to them about anything, but they were SO rigid and obviously uncomfortable about anything outside of their comfort zones that ‘Come to us!’ never felt like an option. I want my kids to be able to talk to me honestly and without fear of judgment, and I want to try hard to find a way to be comfortable with the uncomfortable stuff.” -- Alison R., 36, Boston, Massachusetts, mom of an 8-year-old son and a 10-year-old daughter

15. “[I try] to not speak ill of my body. I grew up with a mom who cared immensely about what she looked like. To me she was the most beautiful woman in the world, so to hear her talk about what she’d change or what was wrong with her really skewed my idea of beauty.” – Casey C., 32, Indianapolis, Indiana, mom of two daughters, 3 and 10

What do you hope to do differently than your own parents?

Leah Maxwell is a book editor, freelance writer, cereal addict, wife, and mom to two young boys. She has been blogging at A Girl and a Boy since 2003.

Image ©iStock.com/hartcreations

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