False Assumption 8: Doing the Opposite will Work

by | False Assumptions Series

Doing the opposite of what mistakes my parents made with me must be the right way for me to parent my kids.

Seldom in life is the extreme opposite of right, automatically wrong.  Likewise, seldom is the opposite of good, necessarily bad either.

We’ve all said it growing up:  “When I grow up and become a parent, I’m going to do things exactly the opposite of how my parents do things with me”.  Fortunately, most of us came to our senses well before we had kids and realized that often, Mom and Dad were not so wrong after all.  Or if we believe they were wrong about how they handled certain issues, we wisely realized that the very opposite was not necessarily a good option either; maybe something in the middle of both extreme possibilities might be an alternative to try out.

Examples of this could go on and on.  Here are just a few:

As a child you were raised in a very structured and controlling household where there was little wiggle room for making decisions for yourself, or for being appropriately independent. Virtually all decisions that affected you were made by others.

As a parent, you have decided that your parents were wrong in their approach and you will do things the opposite way.  Consequently, you provide few guidelines or expectations for your kids. They are left to make their own decisions with little guidance (control?) from you. They come and go pretty much as they please.  Not because you don’t care, but because you are bound and determined to be the opposite kind of parent from what you had growing up.

As a child, you grew up in a family short on physical and emotional affection. You longed to be touched and held, but for reasons unknown, it seldom happened.

Years later, you have a family of your own and, by golly, things are going to be different-just the opposite in fact, of the way things were in your physically-deprived family of origin.  So you hold and snuggle and touch your baby every moment you can.  A good idea at first, but as your baby grows and matures you continue to insist on the same degree of closeness and touch you showered your new born with.  Only now, it’s not showering, it’s smothering.

As a child you were raised under the thumb of highly and inappropriately punitive parents.  Absolutely nothing got past them and you had “hell to pay” for the smallest infractions.

Now you have a family of your own, and you are determined to not make the same mistakes your parents made with you (a wise decision so far). But you conclude that the best way to assure that you don’t follow their oppressive ways is to take the opposite tack.  As a result, you have few expectations for your kids’ behaviors, virtually no consequences for their misdeeds, and they grow up learning that there are few consequences for their behaviors; thus, they believe they are free to behave pretty much as they please.


Suggestion: remember that the opposite of what is wrong, is seldom what is right.  Think of options that fit neither extreme, and that seem appropriate to your current situation.



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