Are You Giving Your Kids a Better Childhood Than You Had?


bad childhood
These Gals Ain't Happy
News flash! Most of us had crappy childhoods. In fact, the CDC reports that 60% of American adults report having had a difficult childhood due to abuse, troubled family members, or dysfunction due to divorce or separation. This information initially shocked me, until I stopped and looked around at my adult friends and realized it was incredibly difficult to find anyone who had a "normal" childhood, free from adult drama.

Those of us who are parents, naturally, have sworn to do things differently now that we're the adults in the room. And for our children's sakes, I sincerely hope we do. Personally, I've made a list of things I'll never do, that may seem obvious today. But that parents in the 1970s and '80s seemed to regularly engage in that may have caused you, or someone you know, to wind up in that 60%. (But, not mine! Hi, Mom. :)

  • Use TV as a babysitter
  • Feed kids processed non-food
  • Try to force a child into a gender stereotype
  • Pressure kids into straight As, at all costs
  • Going out for milk and never coming back
  • Call a boy "fag" if he can't play sports
  • Call a girl a "slut" for having sexual feelings
  • Get loaded in front of the kids and cry/yell/hug them too tightly
  • Telling your child that "kids ruined your life." Offer examples of things you "could have been"
  • Working so many hours your kids don't know who you are
  • Just being a jerk

Have you promised to be a better parent than the ones you had?


Image via Anosmia/Flickr

discipline, in the news, toddler development


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jalaz77 jalaz77

I giggled a little at your list. I had a good childhood. My biggest complaint would be we did not have in depth conversations and my mom loved going out almost every weekend while my dad was the dd. The only times she did not go out was when we had sports events or when I was in trouble-one eye open thing. Yes she was a good parent and yes I will be doing things a little different. She came from a family of 9, second from the youngest so I think even though she had a very loving home I don't think she got a lot of one on one with her folks-ya know?!?! My mom has always cared what everyone else thought, I heard my mom say "what's everyone going to think"?? Still to this day I think who gives a SH*T? That was a mistake my mom made often was trying to make me be someone I am not. I hung out with good and bad crowds and finally grew up in my early 20's. My parents are proud, my mom said I always knew it was in ya! Had a good life really, just some esteem issues my mom did not pick up on. My dad was great but he worked so much that my mom felt like the bad guy often, I can see why. My hubby's fam was bankrupt and he said he will not make that mistake with his family so he got his MHA a year ago and is a director at a hospital. So he also said he will do things differently and he has. Sorry for the long post!!! Oops.....

jpfsmom jpfsmom

I came from a twice divorced home and like Jalaz my mother sometimes had her priorities mixed up (especially in my teens and midst her second divorce) choosing her social life over my needs but it was a mid life crisis of sorts she needed to go through but by my teen years I was pretty self reliant anyway) but considering that, I wouldn't trade it for the world, they gave me independence,encouragement and when I deserved it I was disciplined. They didn't cling or hover all over me, trusted me to make the right decisions and allowed me learn from my mistakes. I'm fortunate to be close to them today without any psychological baggage (which I think too many harp on anyway)

ArmyGal ArmyGal

Grew up in a broken family but my parents didn't divorce. They should had. Lot's of mental and physical abuse from my father. My daughter will not grow up like that.

melan... melanniek

I actually had the opposite family.  My parents were NOT June and Ward, but they were the parents all my friends wanted.  No they didn't let us drink, smoke, or do drugs.  They SPENT TIME with us.  We went camping, went down south to visit extended family, went out to dinner together.  My Mom is the BEST cook ever, and she cooked every night.  She has also worked her ass off since she was 14yrs old.  My father was military and and ex hippie lol.  I remember my mom telling me we never had babysitters when we were little.  My mom would get off work, and my dad would go into work.  My parents SACRIFICED who they were to be parents.  My parents were not just amazing parents, they're amazing people.  We all live in the same small town (parents, sister, and I), and I am grateful to say that I see all of them every day.  LOVE MY FAMILY!

kjbug... kjbugsmom1517

My kids will def grow up in a different home. My mom never got up and got us ready for school. I don't ever remember her being awake when I went out the door walking to school. I do remember going into her room sayin "bye mom I'm goin to school". She was a night owl and stayed up all night. In my teens she drank a lot and chose her social life over us kids. That has affected me in more ways than not. My dad worked alllll the time and if he was home we were in trouble. :/ my husbands childhood wasn't peachy either. So yes we try very hard to give our kids a better childhood.

Tracys2 Tracys2

My parents didn't get along when I was growing up, but I had a great childhood. I played with my friends in the street, read lots of books, had great teachers, enjoyed both healthy and processed foods in moderation, was outside all day every day, and went shopping with my mother. They werne't with me all the time (thank goodness), but we did stuff together occasionally (hikes, amusement park, occasionally my mother would be at swim meets). It was just right for me.

Not everything has to be perfect. If we wait for that, we can make ourselves miserable about what we didn't have. I didn't have brothers, sisters, parents that ever got along, or friends for much of ages 12-. My mother got annoyed at my messy room. But I had a great childhood. I rode my bike in the rain. I watched too much TV sometimes and hiked too much in the Summer other times. I lived and learned. I hope my own kids' imperfect childhoods will be as good as mine.

RanaA... RanaAurora

I actually had a pretty awesome childhood, free of "adult drama," free of abuse...

We actually don't have the resources to give my kids the awesome childhood I had, though we're definitely trying.

butte... butterflyfreak

I think that it's good if you want to give your children a better childhood than you had, especially if your childhood was awful for whatever reason.

BUT I think too many parents take it to the extreme and give TOO MUCH. Too many young adults/ teenagers/ young kids have a sense of entitlement these days because their parents wanted to give them a "better" childhood than what they had. 

Yes, I plan on giving my daughter a better childhood. No, I do NOT plan on giving her every single thing her little heart desires. She will grow up learning that if you really want something, you have to work for it!

kisse... kisses5050

 I hope I can give my kids the childhood I had

Samantha Wortham

i had to laugh at the first two. I remember when i was pregnant thinking, "I will limit my childs TV watching to 30 minutes every few days because i am going to be such a super mom I will want to entertain her ALL the time. " So nieve. My husbands first deployment I got so frustrated and just needed a shower that didn't involve me talking with my 3 year old through the glass shower paine the whole time. So I put her in front of the TV in my bedroom, so I culd check on her, and put on a movie . So yep, TV babysat my kid then and I have used it since. My kid does not mind and sometimes I need to get stuff done. She will survive! 

And, as for the processed food, how did that make the list too? I mean, if that and to much TV are something to complain about you had a decent childhood. Sure to much processed food is bad but to make the list of things you will keep from your child to make her childhood better or more awsome, give me a break. Try moderation.

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