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What Will You Do the Same (or Differently) As Your Parents?

Photograph by Twenty20

Some mothers enter parenthood hoping merely to give their children a childhood as happy as their own was. Others want to wipe the slate clean and give their kids a completely different experience from their own. Most of us want some sort of blend. Here, real moms open up about one way they hope to parent the way their parents parented them and one thing they'd like to do differently.

Sherisad G., mom of one:

SAME: Always being a supportive, reliable presence and following their lead in the needs they express

DIFFERENT: Making sure I have some sort of social life that can include him, but doesn't have to. I want him to see me happy as a person and not just as his mother.

Jackie P., mom of one (and counting):

SAME: To make sure my kids always know they're loved and valued.

DIFFERENT: To help my kids learn to deal with conflict rather than frantically smoothing things over and accommodating.

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Judy W., mom of two:

SAME: To celebrate birthdays—big time.

DIFFERENT: To show great interest in their everyday lives, hopes, and dreams and talking to them whenever they want.

Julie S., mom of three

SAME: To inspire a love for wild places and the natural world.

DIFFERENT: To be unafraid to be overtly emotive with my love.

Nikki H., mom of two:

SAME: Using everyday circumstances as teaching opportunities to develop a lifelong love of learning.

DIFFERENT: To focus on loving others as they are rather than judging them for their flaws.

Sarah N., mom of one:

SAME: To encourage any dream he may have and to do whatever it takes to help him get there.

DIFFERENT: Not dismiss or gloss over his feelings even if I don't understand them or I think I know better.

For example, I don't think I'll be letting my kids watch "Aliens 2" when they're six...

Jessica K., mom of one:

SAME: I want my child to know that he can always talk to me about anything, no matter how awkward or uncomfortable the subject is.

DIFFERENT: I want to convincingly impart the message that failing at something is not only acceptable, but something to be proud of and to learn from. If you never fail, it means you haven't pushed yourself hard enough.

Claire Z., mom of two:

SAME: To make sure my kids know how proud I am of them and to encourage hard work and a variety of experiences.

DIFFERENT: Less hovering when it comes to class rank and placement into the best college possible.

Leena T., mom of two:

SAME: Never be afraid to have a fight and resolution with my husband in front of my kids. It shows them what a healthy relationship looks like.

DIFFERENT: Never be afraid to apologize for making a mistake, and to never hold grudges against them.

Linda R., mom of two:

SAME: Always be a source of unconditional love and support.

DIFFERENT: Make better decisions regarding what I expose my children to. For example, I don't think I'll be letting my kids watch "Aliens 2" when they're six (nightmares for months). Keep my anger in check (driving should not be an opportunity to teach children new and creative combinations of swear words.) And I also want our family narrative to be one of positivity: yes, difficult things happen, but look! We made it!

Laura R., mom of two:

SAME: Show compassion for others. Have an open mind and heart.

DIFFERENT: Be less concerned with what people think and pay more attention to the little things.

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Jenn N., mom of one:

SAME: Encourage her natural abilities and talents, and let her try new activities.

DIFFERENT: Tell her she's beautiful every day, not that she'll be beautiful someday.

Gemma H., mom of three:

SAME: I want to give my kids the same kind of open support to follow their passions—even if it's not what I had in mind for them.

DIFFERENT: Let them be bored every once in awhile and maintain my own life. I am not a one-woman circus for my kids, and they don't need five extracurricular activities a piece. It was great growing up, but I feel exhausted for my mother just thinking about it.

Rebecca S., mom of two:

SAME: Compassion. Kindness. Time to play outside. Camping, swimming, family time. Valuing us as people, listening to us, loving us without conditions.

DIFFERENT: Not much. I wish my dad would have succeeded at quitting smoking.

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