I’ll Never Do *THAT* Like My Parents Did

or not to do…

One of my roommates in college used to keep a running list of the crazy things that our parents would do: a list she called “Things I’ll Never Do as a Mom.”

I don’t really remember what was on that list, other than vague memories of things like not calling our daughters fat or calling some boy a boyfriend in front of him unless he’s been introduced that way.

Oh, and never send your daughter flowers on Valentine’s Day, pretending to be a secret admirer.

Whatever it was that was irritating us as young adults that we thought we’d never do to our college kids.

But what about our younger kids?

Is there something your parents did that you definitely don’t want to repeat with yours?

Growing up, we weren’t allowed to have any sugar. No Cheerios for us because there was a single gram of sugar per serving. It was way too extreme and when we could sneak sugary treats, we went way overboard. So with my own, we don’t make those foods forbidden: my kids know they are treats.

Something else that sticks out for me was the tradition of everyone getting a gift, no matter whose birthday it was. In some sort of effort to diffuse sibling rivalry, my siblings would get a present on my birthday and I’d get one on theirs. But it made each birthday be about what the others were getting and not about the birthday child. Here, for the birthday child’s day- it’s HIS day. He gets the presents and gets the choice of what to do, what kind of cake, etc. It’s his special day. And each child knows that he gets his own day.

But what I remember violently hating as a teenager was waking up hearing my mom talking about me on the phone to one of her friends. Things I thought were none of her business or at the very least, none of her friend’s business. And then some weren’t even true- they were just what she thought was going on. So, I thought I’d respect my kids’ privacy more. And yet here I am, writing this blog… two out of three ain’t bad?

Do you have a “I’ll never do *that* like my parents did” list?


  1. says

    I think we all have a list of I am not gonna do that parenting rules. It just comes with growing up. How many times have I heard from my oldest already I will NEVER do that.. then turn around and do exactly what he said he wouldn’t do, even if it is with friends. I just shake my head and go yep. I said it too lol.
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  2. says

    Something that used to drive me crazy when I was little was for me to do something, and then my mom would think it was so cute/funny/crazy/etc. that she would have me repeat it over and over for anyone else we happened to run into that day.  It was EMBARRASSING.  I try not to do that with my kids.
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    • Shell says

      Oh yes! I can remember using a phrase wrong and my parents having me repeat it while everyone laughed. I did not appreciate being laughed at!

  3. says

    This is definitely something to think about because I am sure there were a ton. Off the top of my head, my dad made us do our homework on Fridays before we could hang out with friends. I HATED it. My kids don’t have to do their homework until Sunday and there are times I realize my dad’s way was easier but I just can’t make them do it no matter how stressful Sunday is. The other is that he hated when we slept in so he’d pretend like he was blowing a horn in our rooms. I let my kids sleep in (maybe that’s why I am not an early bird as an adult). I am guilty of your #3, too. :)
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    • Shell says

      My boys have to share so much- I think at least their birthdays can be just for each of them.

  4. says

    I couldn’t agree more about the birthday one. 
    Things I never want to do… hmm, kind of hard to think of any right now. Oh.. the one where they have to say my name a million times before I’ll answer. I can understand doing that a little when they’re a little younger and say you’re name a lot, but Mom would do that to us even when we were older and had something valid to say. So annoying. Also, when my daughter wants to actually play with me, I want to actually play more often instead of telling her I can’t because I need to clean or whatever. I always remember wanting Mom to play Barbies with me. 
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  5. says

    You can respect their privacy when they become teens – right now they are just little (maybe not so little anymore) boys.

    The only thing I remember not liking was when I was pretty much forbidden to date someone. But they were just trying to protect their lil girl.

    • Shell says

      Just trying to protect, but being forbidden never really helps a situation. Even if we can look back and see why.

  6. says

    I will never allow my sons’ girlfriends to sleepover! When we were growing up all of my older sister were allowed to have their boyfriends over ALL night! So crazy!! When I look back at that, I’m left scratching my head??? Sex before marriage is a topic I hope and pray  will handle so much better than my parents did. 
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  7. says

    My mom used to pick me up from activities REALLY late. Sometimes, up to two hours late. This was before cellphones, so at age 12, I’ll be waiting alone for hours, with no idea when she was coming, or whether she’d be coming at all. So, this is something I will try not to do with my boys!
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    • Shell says

      Oh, that would have sucked! I hated having to wait for any length of time to be picked up.

  8. says

    My mom had this way of saying the meanest things in the heat of an argument only to calm down and then act like nothing had happened. It’s amazing all these years later to think of what seemingly harmless “insults” I remember. This post is a reminder to myself that I will *never* speak to my children that way.

    • Shell says

      Mine, too. No apology, just pretending it never happened- but us kids remembered it all. 

  9. says

    NOTHING was off limits food wise as a kid. If I wanted to come home & eat 18 cookies with a glass a milk, I could.  If I wanted 3 big scoops of ice cream with a large coke, I had it.  I never learned self-control when it came to food.  It’s amazing I never had a serious weight issue.  Or diabetes.    With my own kids, they’re allowed desert & treats, but it’s not just carte blanche in the kitchen.  

    As far as privacy,  while my parents SAID I could talk to them about anything, I always felt judged if I did.  If I confessed to something that they disapproved of, I would be punished and then NEVER hear the end of how I had done whatever crime.  Which led to me NOT being honest and then to her snooping to find things out and then on to huge fights about what she found.  
    Now, we have a rule that they can come to us to talk w/o fear of judgement.   Yes, if they’re doing something harmful I would step in.  But for the everyday, teenage stuff?  I would much prefer to have them TALK to me then sneak behind my back. 
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    • Shell says

      Sounds like we had the opposite ends of extreme when it comes to food- I think moderation is the answer.

      Good rule- I’ll have to remember that- especially as my boys get older.

  10. Cynedra says

    I probably had a mental list as well, but I’m old enough that I don’t remember what was on it. My mother never did the other children getting birthday presents when my siblings and I were little. However, now she does it with my children. Older son has a birthday on this coming Saturday, and she wants to know what to get younger one as well so he doesn’t feel left out. Uggh.

  11. says

    Ohhhh yes I remember how much I hated it when I’d hear my mom talking about me on the phone! Funny how things change but stay the same…

    I want my kids to know that life is limitless. I was raised with the mindset that there are limits to everything and there always has to be fear, and that only certain people have certain things. As an adult that’s difficult to break free of, and it’s interesting just how insidious a mindset it is.
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  12. says

    The list of things  my parents did that I hated is long – and I am guilty of doing many of the same things to my kids!  I  do talk about my oldest daughter a lot to other moms – to burn off frustration and to get perspective.  But I have to be more careful to have these chats when she is not around – because in a rage, I have been known to complain about her when she is in earshot – and that can’t make her feel very good about herself.  It took this post for me to realize that – so thank you. 
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    • Shell says

      I think we all need that support of other parents- to be able to vent and share. But just being careful to do it away from them. 

  13. says

    Oh…I have a list. I’d probably eat up your entire comments section with it. However, what makes me proud is that for the most part I can still look back at those things and know NOW that I’d still never do them. It wasn’t a result of some bratty kid not liking what her parents were doing. Knowing that I’d do things differently after being a mom for a few years sits well with me. 
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    • Shell says

      Same here- my list is much longer, too. 😉 And the majority of them, I really never would do. 

  14. says

    I always said that I would never use my own spit to clean my kids’ face. although I have done it, it’s only been in extreme cases where there was no bathroom or anything else to use! now, I tell them to use their own spit!….my mom used to send me flowers at school for my bday..I know she did it out of love but it was sooo embarassing!

    Birthdays are difficult for us. our twins’ bday is oct 5 and our son’s is oct. 9. Yep. So far, we just always have one big party because can you imagine having 3 parties in one week? I know eventually they will want their own and I have no clue how we will handle it all. ….but wow, giving the other children a gift on your bday is a lil overboard!

    • Shell says

      My youngest two have birthdays 2 weeks apart and we have done shared parties. But on their actual day, they still get to have individual attention.

  15. says

    Great post, Shell!  I won’t play the food game with my boys…or what I consider the food game.  My mom used to make me sit at the dinner table until I finished my dinner.  But the thing is, I never finished my dinner.  I would just sit and sit and sit (feed some to the dog) and sit until my mom would tell me to get away from the table because she was sick of looking at me there.  I really believe that you can’t make a kid sleep, eat or poop.  It’s frustrating at times, but this mamma don’t play that way..haha
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    • Shell says

      I agree with you. 

      We’re trying to make everyone stay at the table and dismiss as a family- but it’s not about if they’ve finished everything. 

  16. Lisa says

    I have several:
    1. I will never ever ever hit my child in anger
    2. I will never ever ever tell my child he is stupid, untalented, or unworthy
    3. I will never ever ever call my child fat
    4. I will always trust that my child is being honest until the evidence proves otherwise.

    So far, 7 1/2 years in, I’ve done pretty good in following this. It just takes one to break the chain of abuse, and I pledge to be that one.

  17. says

    Two out of three! I am cracking up! I wonder what our kids will think of these blogs when they are older. Right now my girls feel like they are “super stars” because people “all over the world” know about them (I wish). I hope when they are 16 they aren’t the anonymous troll leaving me mean comments. 😉
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  18. says

    I love the idea of this list.

    Mine would include never referring to myself as cool in front of my kids friends, never asking my children for money to pay bills (something my in laws did), never assume anything unitl I’ve talked with my child.
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  19. says

    This is such a great topic because there have been things that I swore I would never do and ate crow after! My mom was never the type to participate in school or other programs. I wanted to make sure I didn’t recreate that so I have always worked in the classroom, volunteered, became a Brownie leader, field trips…the whole thing. I am really happy that I changed that so my kids know I am invested in their school and interests. :)
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  20. says

    I do have a mental list that I keep of things I wouldn’t do like my parents. BUT I also have a list of things I would, things that I loved. I’m happy to say, that’s longer than the don’t list.
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  21. says

    I don’t think my mom ever did anything “horrifying” in my mind, but then I am the baby.  So by then the parent is worn down. and trained! hahaha.    I do, however, find myself saying things and then shuddering and thinking, “OMG! I’ve turned into my MOTHER!” LOL
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  22. says

    My husband and I were just discussing this yesterday.
    I will attend every single event my children participate in, be it football games, or art events, or UIL competitions.
    I will help her if she decides to redecorate her room, if she wants it. My mother would take me to the store, but that was the extent of her assistance.
    My daughter will not be responsible for waking me up in the mornings. Ever.
    She will have chores to do, but only if I am also doing a chore. Her chores will not be assigned just so I can sit on the couch and veg.
    Like my mother, my children will be allowed to pick out what they want to wear, but I will also make sure their clothes are nice and well taken care of and leave little room for others to ridicule them for. I have the means to do so while my mother did the best she could. This may be very vain of me, but it was such a sore subject for me as a child.
    My husband said he will not be like his mom in that he will allow our children to fail when appropriate. If they wait until the last minute to do their science fair project, he won’t be staying up late to help them get it done, like his mother did. Therefore, he’ll probably be a little more insistent on them getting it done early, creating something our children will say “I’ll never do what my parents did…”
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  23. says

    Oh where to start! I think my biggest one is not trying to limit my child’s world or choices. I was always told not to consider certain careers because they didn’t pay well and pushed into pursuing teaching b/c there was a scholarship involved or told that I’ve been out of the country enough. I’ll also never steal money from my child just because it is under my control.
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  24. says

    Oh yes and the list is long. But the one that I find the most irritating comes from my husband’s family. They let the kids “help” the grown ups open presents. And by help, I mean open it for you and play with it even when it’s a breakable gift. I hate this! Can you let me open my own present please? I refuse to let my kids open anyone’s present and it makes my in-laws nuts. Too bad, my kids my rule.
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  25. says

    I will never let my kid suck their thumb.
    Flash to me with no sleep and 2 week old baby…frantically trying to TEACH them how to suck their thumbs.
    Didn’t work.
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  26. says

    Oh, yes. I mean, I think everyone has a list like this one, right? I was pretty lucky though. My parents respected my privacy and kind of let me be because they thought I was responsible (HA!). What drove me crazy? Couldn’t put polish on my nails or get my ears pierced (that was the ol’ man, my mom could have cared less). 

    I like that my parents had a “if you’re going to drink, call us,” rule. I just thought it was really cool. They would never ask questions, but stressed the importance of calling if I was too drunk to get in a car or go with someone who had been drinking. I think I’ll definitely pass that on to my kids one day. 
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  27. says

    Good list, girl. Especially the birthday one. I mean, really? That’s BS!
    One thing I vowed I’d never do was hide my sadness from my kids. If I’m upset, they know it. And I explain why. I know my momma hid a lot from us, and now know as an adult that she had it really really hard and I wish she showed it to us a little bit more. We might have been a little more respectful as tweens…maybe not, but anyway – my kids see my range of emotions and I encourage them to show theirs, too.
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  28. says

    I used to hate when my mom read my notes between my friends and I. She said if it was in sight it was fair game to read. Oh how it used to drive me nuts! I’m going to try my best not to do that. Although I have to be honest, last year I came across a note my Kindergartener wrote {it was honestly by accident}. He asked his friend to come over and play in the note. He even gave his friend our address, home phone number, and my husband’s cell phone number! So glad I was able to intercept that one!
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  29. says

    Great idea for a post! And I agree with you about food and birthdays! My kids don’t have to hug anyone they don’t want to and they can pick out their own clothes – two things I hated growing up. One thing I do that used to bug me:  my mom would be really loud in the morning, unloading the dishwasher, etc. and come in my room in the morning and open the curtains to wake me up. I hated that! And I do both to my own daughters. Oy!
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  30. says

    My mother used to look at my efforts at school projects and then ‘improve’ them a bit. I never felt like she thought I was good enough at whatever I did, because she always had to change it. I try not to do this with my kids (which is hard because I homeschool them). I want them to feel like they are talented enough and smart enough to handle doing many things on their own – but I also want to show them the right way to do certain things.
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  31. says

    Oh yes. There are definitely things that my parents did that I do NOT want to do. One of those things was extreme partiality. I know that a lot of kids swear their parents had a favorite child, but it’s very obvious to so many people who know my family and myself that my parents treated my sister and I differently. I never want my boys to grow up thinking that we preferred the other over them. 
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  32. says

    I will make sure my kids always know how much I love them. Not only do I tell them, but I make sure to show it too. My parents never did that and it still effects me today.
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  33. says

    Overall my mom didn’t do too much that bothered me until I got older. Particularly when I became a parent. So now I say, when my kids are grown, I will not smother them and tell them how to raise their own children. 
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  34. says

    Been thinking about this just topic about every day lately…so I really appreciated this post! And as my gal is getting old enough to get what I’m saying; I’m finding I really have to work on the third item on your list as well. When they are babies, you get used to sharing, and support seeking in front of them, but as they start to understand what’s going on, well, I remember my own feelings about that going on with my mom and her friends. I keep catching myself doing it in spite of those memories! There are many, many things that I hope to do differently. Sometimes, it feels so daunting to avoid those things I experienced as parenting issues. I’m trying to balance that with appreciating their good parenting practices I want to bring into my daughter’s life as well. I want to pass on the love of learning, value of hard work, and humility that my parents modeled for me. But there are a lot of things I am determined, in spite of myself, to work through…
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  35. says

    Word on the sugar thing. My mom was the same way, and we binged whenever we went to our grandparents. I also had no sense of portion when I went to college and gained 20 pounds.
    I will never cut my daughter’s hair short unless she has requested such a cut. 

  36. says

    It is something I think about frequently, you know I have slightly crazy mother.  With Nate I try to make sure he knows I love him, let him know sugar is a treat and make sure he feels like he is important and worth a lot.  There are probably more but that’s all that comes to mine right now.
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  37. says

    I parent by not doing what my mom did…seriously…not that she was a horrid crack head or anything….but she was more the cool mom who didn’t mind if I came home high or something-as long as my grades were up and I was a good kid I could whatever I wanted…
    Um, I don’t think so…
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  38. says

    I do worry about the privacy issue too when it comes to writing about my son… but, thankfully, he’s still young. Funny enough, I’ve found the warning “You’ll turn out just like your mother” to be true. As much as I may try not to be like her, I totally am! The one thing I will not negotiate on, though, is being in an abusive relationship. I refuse to expose my son to that because I know how much witnessing such a relationship between my parents negatively affected my life and mentality.

  39. says

    Strangely enough, I’m struggling to find anything to add to your list.

    Growing up I was certainly as disgruntled as the next kid about what asses my folks seemed to be, their restrictions, their curfews, their old fashioned parenting.

    Great topic, Shell.

    Strange thing was once I became a father figure to my own kids, the less like cruel, insensitive, out of step with the times idiots my parents seemed to become.

    And the more like wise sages.

    My parent’s way of raising kids became an absolute blue print for me to follow when it became my turn. That, to me, is one of the greatest compliments I could give my parents.
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  40. pat west says

    Just found this blog and it made me smile. I’m a grandmother with two sons in their 40s and I remember the time my oldest was in his teens and screamed at me that he would NEVER treat his kids like I did. My response was “I sure hope you do a better job than I did….I certainly don’t want any bratty grandkids.

    Each generation is responsible for making the next one better. That means identifying the good and eliminating the bad techniques. It is learning from our parent’s mistakes as well as our own.

    Glad to report he is doing a wonderful job. :-)