Will I Turn Into My Mother?

Being pregnant is often a wake up call for us to get the help we need to heal our own emotional wounds from childhood and not to repeat a cycle of abusive parenting.

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Q I’ve just found out that I’m four months pregnant! It’s a shock because it’s not been planned. I have a lovely husband who’s happy and excited about it. He knows very little about my family and I haven’t told him much about my childhood. What worries me now is that I might be like my mother was towards me, and be cruel to my own child. Do you think this will happen? Is there anything I can do to stop it happening? I’ve been scared to have a baby in case I turned into my mother and made my child feel as bad and unhappy as I was as a kid.

A Many years ago I had a unplanned pregnancy too, and I’d also had an abusive childhood. I feared that I might pass the poison from my parents onto my own child. This was a catalyst for me to get the help I needed, because I knew that I had to do something to prevent history repeating itself.

I found bringing up my daughter (albeit alone) was by far the most stressful thing I’ve ever done. Nothing prepares you for that. With this level of stress our defences are low and we are more likely to emotionally react (as our own parents did) instead of being able to calm ourselves down, shift our emotional state and respond from a better place instead.

This subject is now very relevant to my work as a psychotherapist, and over the last 20 years I’ve seen many women with similar fears. Some were appalled that they were already repeating the patterns of ‘toxic parenting’ without knowing why or what to do about it.

We don’t have to repeat history. We have a choice.

The fact that you are aware of the possibility of repeating the pattern and wanting to change that is very encouraging. Those who do the most harm are either unaware of indifferent.

Self-awareness is always the first step - realising how we perceive the world; how we think, feel and respond to people and situations; and the impact we have upon others.

The next step is about understanding and learning about yourself - and how your past conditioning and programming have shaped you, and then finding new ways to communicate and behave.

With repetition of these new ways of perceiving, thinking, feeling and behaving, then real change and transformation can happen.

I call this process S.E.L.E.C.T. Your Life (c) - and not passively accepting the one handed down to you, or which someone else expects you to live.

Self awareness


Learning new skills

Emotional intelligence and balance

Control, clarity and choice


So in answer to your question – no you won’t necessarily turn into your mum… but you may have to do some work to ensure that. Preferably before your baby is born as you’ll probably be too tired and distracted after your child is here.

Remember too that our baby is affected by our feelings from the time they’re in the womb. So it’s for their benefit that we ensure that we do whatever we need to do to reduce our own fears, worries and emotional upset.

Counselling or therapy won’t give you the learning and skills you’ll need; and life-coaching lacks emotional depth.

Without wanting to sound biased I’d suggest my short self-help online self-help course called - ‘3 Steps To Sort Yourself Out – without therapy!’ which is available from my website mentioned below.

There’s also another course you could do afterwards with your husband too – so that you are both 'singing from the same sheet’ regarding your parenting styles and skills.

These short online courses are like having a few months of therapy – for less than the cost of one session (which is why I created them).

You might want to start by completing the free questionnaire from the website too – it's called ‘How To Tell If You Need To Sort Yourself Out’. Some issues may already be apparent to you – others may not appear until you have the extra stress of being a parent.

I applaud your search for a solution that will break the family cycle of abusive parenting – something that is all to common in our society and which I personally and professionally feel passionate about changing.

Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy) MIND HEALER & MENTOR

www.maxineharley.com - where you will also find plenty of FREE RESOURCES to help you to recover and heal from a troubled childhood and toxic parents. There's also a free e-booklet about how to be an OPTI-MUM - which will be of help to you.


Maxine Harley



Go to the profile of Diane Priestley
almost 2 years ago

This is an excellent, reassuring article Maxine. I agree that we do not have to repeat negative patterns set by our parents and that awareness of our wounds is the first  step to healing and change.