My mother was the oldest of thirteen siblings living in difficult circumstances in Germany. She had too many responsibilities too early in life, and her busy parents were unable to meet some of her most important needs. Many years later, while she was raising five children of her own in America, she talked about how much she had always missed the love of her own mother. “How can I love when I never was loved?” And the pattern repeated.

As a young girl, I missed her love and warmth, and recoiled against her harsh parenting style. I vowed that I would raise my children differently. Doing better for my own children became my life’s mission. I had to unlearn what I didn’t want, and figure out how to become a loving, positive, and playful mom.

If there were negative patterns in your family-perhaps involving addictions, abuse or neglect-you can do better for your kids. Old childhood wounds propel you to do better for your own children. Instead of repeating the old mistakes, you can learn from them. Instead of wounding your children, you can heal yourself.

In my parenting workshop Maria confessed that she spanked her child’s bare bottom; then she saw her red handprint and heard the heartbreaking sobs. It stunned her. She signed up for my class and bought my book, The Winning Family, to learn better ways to discipline her youngsters. That event helped change her parenting style and her life.

Childhood wounds propel us to be positive parents. Positive parenting practices, such as teaching, comforting, uplifting and playing, have great benefits for your family. Good parenting promotes positive connections. It also can prevent unwanted negative behaviors.

Raising children gives you an opportunity to create more joy and love in your life. It also gives you the chance to develop desirable personal qualities (such as patience), to understand and appreciate yourself at deeper levels, and to learn new skills. Your children may become your best teachers.

Changing family patterns is hard work. It takes courage and commitment. It is the work of heroes. Doing better for your kids is a personal triumph. You will thank yourself knowing that you have saved them from pain. I continue to reap the benefits many years later and enjoy loving connections with my grown children and my grandchildren. One of my greatest joys in my life is seeing the positive parenting patterns I initiated continue into the next generation.

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Louise Hart is a community educator, and author of two books. The Winning Family and On the Wings of Self-Esteem have been translated into half a dozen languages. A professional speaker, she currently teaches Positive Psychology as it applies to parenting. Dr. Hart has a Doctorate of Education in Community Psychology, which deals with the relationships of the individual to family, communities and the wider society.

Copyright 2010 Dr. Louise Hart is a Community Psychologist, author, and Grandmother.

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