Anyone ever swore to themselves that when they grew up they would not be “like them”? How are you doing with that promise to yourself?
Sometimes we are unconscious of how much we imitate early role models for relationships. Sarcasm. Passive-aggressive comments. Abuse in various forms. These various forms of disrespect may be carried over into our own lives without us noticing.
Suppose we grow up in a family with a history of physical abuse. We vow to never, ever perpetuate that cycle onto our children. We follow through. We imagine that our children are so grateful that we didn’t beat them with a stick or withhold food as punishment.
But what if we tend to shame them with demands for better performance? What if we are withdrawn and not available for them on a daily basis? What if we are so needy and insecure that we ask them to think more about our own emotional nurturance than we ever think about theirs?
From our lens, we have improved the model; from their frame of reference, they are still not getting what they need to thrive.
Self-evaluation is tricky; let’s seek help by getting feedback from others (particularly folks who have some wisdom and distance from our family system so they can be both detached and objective).