Can You Avoid Becoming Just Like Your Mother or Father?

As children mature into adulthood, they strive to achieve their own identity and independence. During this process, many young adults vow to “never become like my mother or father.” However, research suggests that regardless of how motivated a child is to parent his or her children differently, the chances are pretty good that similar parenting styles will be employed. Jay Belsky of the Department of Human and Community Development at the University of California-Davis recently conducted a study designed to test the theory that adults who deferred parenting—specifically, waited until they were in their thirties rather than their twenties before having children—would be less likely to have trans-generational parenting styles.

To test this theory, Belsky gathered data from two decades of birth records and assessed several hundred individuals who had children in their early to mid-twenties. He found that for the most part, these young parents raised their children in ways that were very much like their parents had raised them. He compared that to the methods, attitudes, and behaviors used among individuals who became parents in their thirties, assuming that the further someone was from his or her own childhood, the weaker the effect parents’ influences would be. Instead, Belsky found that the trans-generational dynamic was nearly as strong in the older parents.

The finding that there was virtually no difference in how generational parenting affected older and younger parents was unexpected. “Because absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, caution is called for before concluding that age does not ever or at all moderate the intergenerational transmission process,” Belsky said. He hopes that this study will motivate other research to explore this effect in samples that include individuals who become parents in their forties. The results presented here represent only the first step in understanding how future generations, those who put off parenting for several years, will function as parents. This will be a rich area of research and will impact childhood behaviors and shed light on how clinicians can prevent maladaptive parenting strategies, such as violence, neglect, and emotional abuse, from being passed from one generation to the next.

Belsky, Jay, Robert J. Hancox, Judith Sligo, and Richie Poulton. Does being an older parent attenuate the intergenerational transmission of parenting? Developmental Psychology 48.6 (2012): 1570-574. Print.

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  • diego

    November 22nd, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    while trying to be different from your parents is not a bad thing to do per se,I think the influence does matter how much you try or how late you become a parent yourself,those memories of your parents and their parenting styles in your childhood will remain in your mind.its for the simple reason that those are some profound memories that are not easily gotten over or if you make a conscious effort to deviate from some of their negative parenting traits that might help but it will certainly need regular telling to yourself about the same.

  • The Dragoor

    November 22nd, 2012 at 6:09 PM

    If someone is considering parenting differently than their own parents then there must have been something they did not like about the latter’s parenting skills. Irrespective of age I think it has more to do with how you plan to deviate from what you dislike and make your own techniques for parenting.

    I always hated my parents enquiring about my friends and everything I was up to in middle school. Now as I see it that is not a very bad thing but I would want to change that a little bit for my own children. A less intrusive yet being aware is what I would want and hence that is how I must tune myself. If I do not then what’s to say I will not do the same my parents did?!

  • isabella

    November 23rd, 2012 at 8:20 AM

    Lawdy help me I don’t want to be like my mom!

  • Dezire

    September 1st, 2017 at 6:38 AM

    I am curious, why is that ?

  • Ned

    November 23rd, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    No matter how much you try some things are beyond our control and parenting is one of them.Yes it is certainly possible to be a different parent than your own parents but some characteristic just stick.I think it is has more to do with habit and mental tuning that we get accustomed to as young minds that is so hard to overcome later on.

  • BryaN

    November 23rd, 2012 at 5:43 PM

    I have so far been a very different parent from my father.Although I have no regrets looking back at my own childhood I think it is important that each one of us devises his own parenting method so as to best suit the way he sees fit for his children and how one sees himself as a parent.Model yourself and you methods on those beliefs and you will be fine.No sweat about being like or different from your own parents.

  • Kit

    November 24th, 2012 at 9:15 AM

    If I had not waited to have children until I was a little older then I would have been horrible.

    Since I decided to wait though, I think that this allowed my husband and I both to grow up a little bit and to be more mature.

    I wish that more younger marrieds would think about this before rushing in and having children so fast. It would be a serious benefit for everyone.

  • MM

    November 24th, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    Parenting styles are not always something that we pick out of books or model ourselves.It has to do with genetics too and its not for nothing that many people are similar to their own parents when it comes to parenting styles.Also,being subjected to a particular parenting style in one’s childhood further strengthens the bond between the child and that style of parenting, so it becomes doubly tough to get away from it!

  • 007

    May 10th, 2013 at 9:32 PM

    Well I role modeled myself and it was passed down to be abusive to your kids but it stopped with me I am a loving father I don’t abuse my kids nor neglect or mentally abuse them I love and respect them

  • Jacquiz

    November 25th, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    I always told myself that I did not want to end up just like my dad, but I swear there are times when I say things and then I have to look around to see if he is there because I know that I sound exactly like what I didn’t want to!

  • darlene

    November 25th, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    while deciding to have children later can help in become a more mature and responsible parent for some people,I think the predisposition that comes with regard to parental skills is something that will stay with us forever and only conscious effort in doing otherwise can help.

  • V.V

    November 25th, 2012 at 8:46 PM

    I’ve seen a couple of people who couldn’t have been more different from their parents..But that is mostly because both their parents were pretty abusive and the change may well have been a result of those people’s insistence with themselves that they will not be like their father/mother.

    As far as non-abusive parents are concerned,there is no change required and while small parenting mistakes may be repeated,it is far better to deal with those than to overwork yourself and miss out on the big things.

    Also,unless an abusive parent is the case,I think it would be putting yourself under too much pressure to be different from your parents just to be different.

  • chadwick

    November 26th, 2012 at 4:15 AM

    Lucky in the respect that my parents are actually pretty good role models, and if I do half the things for my own kids that they have done for me then my kids will be lucky indeed

  • J

    November 8th, 2015 at 2:36 PM

    Well. Looks like I’m just never having kids then if becoming my mom is inescapable.

  • Jeremy

    May 10th, 2016 at 9:07 PM

    I hate my father so much he so stubborn, weird, and always a mess and I means a hoarder like obviously was raised in a sh**** way from my grandpa’s behavior and always yells and scream whenever I make mistakes, He think he’s always right but he still lives like a slob and it’s all thanks to his grandparents like his whole relatives isn’t at least normal and whenever he speaks he can’t remember what word to use next and then he can’t make up the word for example he’s kicking the …… you know. Then I’m like what the f*** are you saying use words from the dictionary. Im sick of having Filipino Father like him Like I live in a wealthy neighborhood filled with white kids and I still make friends better, but my dad says I hang out with too much white people and he considers me to hang out with blacks and Mexicans probably Asians but with my father I easily can’t stand him he tries to act strict he expects me too marry Minorities instead of wealthy white girl i mean I get along with every chick at my school and my dad is like the biggest chach on the planet. I feel like I hate myself because Im living with him Im different then him because I listen to Country, Edm, and Hip hop and he expects me too listen too R and B and Hip hop all the time. Also another thing He tells me that I should Do Judo because he does it like b**** please I didn’t like it because of the people I had to deal with in the class like I rather be me and not someone else like your stupid a** I only want to be myself not like you and no sh** he forces me to have interest, like my dad is the dumbest human being and most disgusted human being on the planet like obviously another thing with drugs, booze, and white girls and Latinas who are white people decent he also tries to be awkwardly strict about girls like IDC if I hangout with this white chick because she’s smart, bad a** when it comes to drinking, smoking blunts, drugs, having fun since were young, sex once in a while, cuddle, talk about what’s bumping into our lives, Achieving academically, take one step in life about what we want to do in our lives, going to Starbucks, being free. Like my problem with my father is that I got in trouble with school on campus because one of the staff found out I took 1/2 of a bar of xanax and I was fine but then it all went to s*** and my dad kept yelling and say im going to jail since im 18 and it would still be on my record my mom isn’t as strict but she let’s me get away with anything as long if it doesn’t go too far and my dad always say she babying me too much and giving all my brothers too much freedom but my mom cares and love me my dad does too but still his personality is really gay I mean he’s hardworking but too much of a mess and he just disgust me way too much to much and about jail I’m not black and second of all you got to sell narcotics to get a jail sentence and I will never do that in my life and he says this just to be cheap or just to be strict when it comes to charges. My dad just acts cheap shop cheap, but my dad’s a huge f***boy because he talks weirds, he yells a lot too much, and always want’s everything his way and even though we are middle class with a big house it still looks like s*** after my dad cooks he never cleans afterwards and it ends up smelling like s*** and always blames at me and my family that we should’ve washes the dishes or clean up the f***** house but your the one who has dandruff and yells alot like your mentally retarded grandparants and still try to have the same personality like f*** you im gonna live my life and be who I am if you don’t like it then go f*** yourself. I am Jeremy I am who I am hangsout with white people group, loves Paintball and wants to do whatever he wants to do with his life, who has his own personality on his very own to enjoy I am proud to be who I am and Never be anything compared to my dumb a** father who Can’t enjoy s*** in life I am proud to be who I am and enjoy having a personality of wealthiness and a white people lover I am not racist at all I rather pick my own route and choose my own success in my way I love being atistic with designs and ill do whatever I love when I explore don’t let your father tell you what you can be in your life just go your own way.

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