UR LIFE: 3 Ways to Avoid Becoming Your Parents

This article was originally published on PhiladelphiaMFT.com. Be sure to check out their site for professional relationship and sex advice. 

There comes a time in every adult’s life when something happens that lets you know that you are indeed becoming your parents. Whether it’s a certain phrase or a response to a situation; it will hit you like a ton of bricks. Even if your mother and father are shining examples of adulthood, they are human and have their fair share of failures and bad behaviors that have impacted their lives. As their child you’ve noticed these things and how it impacts you. If you want to avoid repeating the same mistakes and negative patterns, here are a few tips that could help you break the cycle:

1. Reflect on the things you do that remind you of your parents.
Our parents hold the key to a lot of our behaviors, both good and bad. If there is something that you do in relationships or situations that largely impacts your life, see if your parents do something similar. Making the connection on where your own behaviors come from can help give you some understanding as to why you do them.

2. Analyze how passed down behaviors influence your life.
Now that you’ve pinpointed what you do that is similar to what your parents have done, take a step back and see if it positively or negatively effects your life. Some things to consider would be:

“How does this action negatively or positively influence my relationships/friendships?”
“Does this behavior end up hurting others?”
“Is this keeping me from living the life that I want?”

If you find that the answers to the above questions lead you to rethink your actions, it may be time to retire said behavior and try something different.

3. Reinforce the positive and let go of the negative.
Once you have figured out what you want to keep from your parents, challenge yourself to let go of the things that you don’t. It may be difficult going against the grain of how things are usually done but that doesn’t mean you can’t do something different that will improve your life in the long run. On the flip side, reinforce those behaviors that have proven to have positive outcomes and success in your life and the life of your parents.

In the end there is one thing that most parents have in common and that’s the desire to see their children be happy and become better people than they were in life. In order to do that, you need to let go of actions that no longer serve you, no matter how much it may be engrained in your family history.


Alanna Gardner, MFT is a sex and family therapist practicing in Philadelphia. She is also a main contributor to TheUrbanRealist. For more advice and encouragement from Alanna follow her here.

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