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Do You Allow Your Parents to Influence How You Raise Your Children? by Barbara Desmarais

Over the years I've worked with a number of clients who feel anxious around the real or perceived disapproval of their parenting, from their parents. They feel a certain amount of shame that their children's behavior isn't living up to their expectations. They feel pressure to toilet train their two year old because their parent is saying things like: "Shouldn't he be using the potty by now?' or "You should spank her when she does that" or "You kids never acted like that".

It doesn't matter how old we are, we still yearn for our parent's approval. We somehow think if our kids are misbehaving, we've disappointed them by not being the parent they think we should be. We want so badly for them to be proud of our kid's accomplishments and be able to brag to their friends how polite, accomplished and well-behaved they are. We're adults but there is still a child in us wanting to make our parents proud.

When my kids were small there were many times I would be squirming when my parents would come to visit or when we were at their house. Lots of times they were noisy, when I know my dad wanted quiet. Often they wouldn't engage in conversation when one of my parents was asking them something. Sometimes there would be persistent whining that I knew would be grating on their nerves. My mom thought I should have stopped breast-feeding long before I did. When they became young teenagers I often cringed when "conversation" was limited to single words. I've had words of disapproval around the amount of driving I've done for my kids.

I've learned over the years to let go of the anxiety and just believe my husband and I are doing what is best for our kids. I have to remind myself that how we choose to raise them is no one's business but ours. Just because someone has a lot more experience than you in something doesn't make their way the right way.

One thing our parents don't understand is that their "constructive criticism" or "suggestions" don't inspire us to be better parents. We're left feeling inadequate and that we don't quite measure up. We want their support and encouragement, just as we did when we were children.

I have learned that the more I like myself and trust in my intuition, the less I am affected by any perceived or real criticism. When we feel confident and believe in ourselves, we exude that confidence which is picked up by the people around us, including our parents.

Remember how you raise your children is no one's business but yours. If you and your partner choose to seek the advice and support of an outside person, that is to be your decision and no one else's. There will always be some decisions you make that your parents will question, but that's OK.

Barbara Desmarais is a Parenting and Life Coach and mother to two teenagers. She coaches parents privately over the phone and is a speaker on parenting issues. Visit her website at Email Barbara at

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