If you are like most parents, sooner or later you are bound to experience something like the following: Your child does something that annoys you, such as tearfully refusing to put on the new overalls that seemed to delight her so much in the store. Your normal, controlled response would be, perhaps, a reasoned explanation as to why we must wear the clothes that we buy, but instead you hear issuing forth from your mouth, in an eerily familiar tone and phrasing, statement along the lines of “Is this my reward for all the nice things I do for you?” Or “If you are going to cry, I might as will give you something to cry about.” These words should familiar because they echo those of your own parents- and perhaps of their parents, or even grandparents. Indeed, of all the baggage that men and women bring into parenthood, none is quiet so heavy as what they carry from their own childhood days.
Whether you are conscious of it or not, your way of handling certain child rearing challenges is apt to be strongly colored by the way your parents dealt with you in the same situations. Consider your reaction, for example, when your toddler talks back to you at the dinner table. If your parents were right disciplinarians who never let you get away With back talk, you might well consider it only natural to deal sternly with such behavior. Or you may react in the opposite fashion and be overly lenient with your youngster, as a kind of delayed protest against your own parent’s strictness.