kidsDo you remember times growing up being frustrated or disappointed with your parents for one reason or another? Do you remember telling yourself, “I’m never going to be like him/her when I grow up and have a family.” Everything goes well until you finally actually have your own family. You inevitably find yourself looking in the mirror on one of “those” days, saying to yourself, “I can’t believe I just said/did that. I’ve turned into my mother/father.” The truth is that most parents have been there at one time or another. It turns out that relational habits and attachment styles form in our families of origin, and they tend to perpetuate in future relationships if unchecked. Unless we stop and evaluate why we love, feel, and act the way we do, these early imprints can run on autopilot without us even recognizing them. While we cannot undo the past, the good news is that styles of relating and attaching with the ones we love the most can change with some awareness and effort. Teaching ourselves and our children to be emotionally intelligent, that is to recognize feelings and manage and communicate them to one another in healthy ways, can dramatically improve current levels of family functioning and change the course of relationships for future generations. When there seems to be a brick wall you keep running into over and over again, take the time to come in and explore it. You just might find the wall to be more flexible than you think.

For some common parenting tips, check out these tip sheets by John and Rita Sommers-Flanagan.

Laura Westbrook is a Licensed Professional Counselor Intern supervised by Christy Graham, M.A., LPC-S, RPT-S. She is currently accepting new clients, and enjoys working with couples, individuals, and children of all ages. To schedule an appointment, find her on, or click here.

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