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When did you realize that your parents were bad at parenting?

Sometimes, as we become parents ourselves, we come to realize that our parents weren't actually good parents. In some cases, this can be a shocking and disturbing revelation. Everyone wants to feel loved and appreciated by their parents.

As we are considering our own parenting styles, and the way we want to raise our kids, we can do this with intentional awareness. Many of us read parenting books in pregnancy or when our first child is born. We want to learn how to be the best parents possible. However, some of what we find may be shockingly different from our own parents' way of doing things when we were growing up.

Some of this is natural, because as things change, people change too. There is research done about parenting all the time, and in psychology and sociology, there is a great deal of study about parent-child relationships.

Attachment styles

If you are beginning to notice that things your parents did when you were a child are upsetting you as an adult, you may want to look into your attachment style. When you have what is called a 'secure attachment' that means you have a relationship with your parents that makes you feel safe and nurtured.

According to MBG Relationships,

Attachment style includes the way we tend to respond emotionally to others, how we usually interact with partners in relationships, and how we behave when it comes to relationships in general, according to therapist Alyssa "Lia" Mancao, LCSW.

Your adult attachment style effects how you interact with not only your parents, but also relationships with your partner, friends and children. So, it is important to be as aware about your own attachment style as possible, so that you are having healthy relationships with others in your adult life.

Being aware about our own attachment styles allows us to parent in a way that most benefits our children. Even if we don't have a secure attachment style ourselves, by being aware of our attachment style, we can be intentional with our parenting, to foster a secure attachment style with our children.

To find out your attachment style, you can take an attachment styles quiz online, or you can speak to your therapist about getting a more in-depth assessment in their office. By taking this quiz, you will have some insights into your own attachment style, so you can determine areas that you may need to work on in relationships.

Could your parents be narcissists?

Even if you don't have a secure attachment style from childhood, most parents do mean well when it comes to taking care of their children. You just may have been brought up in an era when parenting research was not as much in the mainstream as it is today. Your parents may have made mistakes.

However, this may not always be the case. There are some instances where you may have grown up in a home with narcissistic parents. If this is the case for you, I can understand where you are coming from, since my mother was a narcissist as well.

If you think that your parents may be narcissists, this can effect your relationship with them even into adulthood. If you have a tumultuous relationship with your parents, or if you feel like they gaslight you on a regular basis, then it is possible that your parents are narcissists.

Like any psychiatric diagnosis, you can't know for certain if your parents are narcissists unless they have been diagnosed by a professional. However, you can still learn coping skills to deal with narcissistic traits.

This can include setting boundaries to protect yourself, making sure that your children are aware of the situation, or enlisting help from your partner or other family members to steer you and your kids clear of danger if it presents itself at a family event.

Learning to cope

If you are struggling with a realization that you didn't have the greatest upbringing, it is important to look for support. You can do this by speaking with trusted loved ones, or getting professional help.

It is helpful to speak to a therapist in many situations where you feel like you are emotionally struggling. They can help you work through your feelings, and learn helpful coping skills that you can apply in your daily life.

Here are some tips to find a therapist, if you are struggling to locate one on your own.

It can also be helpful to attend a support group, either online or in person. Finding like-minded people to speak with about your situation can help to provide reassurance. You will know that you aren't alone in what you have experienced with your parents, and that there is hope for the future.

Your own parenting

If you haven't had a good template for parenting with your own upbringing, it is especially important to make sure that you are raising your own children differently. You can do this by reading as much about parenting as you can, either online, or in books and magazines.

It can also be helpful to take a parenting class in your local area. When I was pregnant with my oldest, the hospital offered a parenting class in addition to child & infant CPR, and childbirth classes. You can find out if your hospital offers something similar as well.

Other good resources for parenting classes can be found through the school system that your child attends, or a Head Start program in your area. The Head Start program isn't just for childcare, they also provide services to pregnant women, and families.

You can learn more about the Head Start program and locate a center near you by reading these tips.

If you can't locate a parenting class in your area, not to worry. There are online parenting classes available too. Positive Parenting Solutions helps you learn to parent your child without harsh discipline methods. This is especially important if you have grown up with a narcissistic parent, or parents who were unable to foster a secure attachment in your childhood.


If you have recently realized that your own parents were bad at parenting, once the initial shock wears off, there is quite a bit of healing that you will be able to do in your own life. As you begin to heal with the help of a therapist or a support group, you will learn coping skills that you can apply on a daily basis.

Learning new parenting skills yourself is also key. You can learn through reading helpful tips, or by seeking out a parenting class that you can attend. The most important thing to do is decide to be intentional about parenting in a different way than your own parents did.

Research on parenting is continuously advancing, so keeping up on the latest trends and recommendations is important. You can do this by following blogs, reading books, and keeping up with news about parenting styles.

I hope this will help you on your own journey toward healing the relationship you have with your parents, and give you some tips on parenting your own kids differently.

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