You Weren’t Raised That Way! {What To Do When You’re Doing It Differently Than Your Parents Did}

by Mrs. Sarah Coller on September 30, 2014 in Grace, Home Culture, Inspiration in Child Rearing, Legacy, Nurture, Purpose, Standing Firm, Training Ground for Mature Adult Character, Unity Between Generations

One evening, in the fall of 2002, I called my Dad and his wife to share some good news.

We were expecting baby number three and were super thrilled. A few months before, we’d made the decision to leave our family planning and timing up to God, and this was our third baby in three years.

Instead of the excitement and congratulations I was expecting, I got condemnation, criticism, and judgment. Over the course of too many years, I received even more hurtful emails, letters, and phone calls. How are you going to buy all those kids the things they need—the things you had growing up? How are you going to put them all through college? You’re homeschooling? At least put them in a real school! That baby you lost was God’s way of telling you he’s ready for you to be done having kids. One phrase that hit me hard that night and still resonates today was this: You weren’t raised that way.

Before I go any further, let me add that my Dad and I are working on mending our relationship and there has been some apologies and forgiveness that has taken place. You may be wondering why I’m writing this article–if not to just air my dirty laundry–but it’s more than that. This issue of today’s parents wanting to do a “new thing” with their families, and getting flack from their own parents about it, is the single most common subject that I get emails about. The Bible tells us to respect our parents, but how do we do that when they have no problem disrespecting our adult choices?

My husband and I, as well as many Christian parents today, have no desire to raise our kids the way we were raised. This is difficult for our parents to hear because they take it as a personal attack against their parenting. Yet, every single “bad” thing I was involved in as a kid happened because my parents failed in some way. I totally own every single heart issue—but improper actions were only allowed to happen because there wasn’t a parent there stopping me.

My parents chose to allow me to attend public school. They allowed me to begin working at age 14. They allowed me to attend sleepovers with families they didn’t know, and ride in cars with boys, and date without limitations. I had unlimited access to television and internet (even though it was the 90s and no one really knew what the WWW was). I moved in with my Dad on my 13th birthday and his biggest dream for me was to go to college. Didn’t matter what I was studying or if I even wanted to be there–it was just a given and I was going.

Not one of these things is being encouraged for my daughters. Every one of them is actually being avoided like the plague. We are doing everything humanly possible to guard our children’s innocence as long as is reasonable and to gently introduce them to all they’ll need to be fully functioning adults–in a way that honors God. Still, there’s no guarantee that any of this will work out the way we’re hoping. It ultimately depends on their hearts and choices, as they’re free to make them.

So here’s my point. We think we’re doing a new thing. We think, If our parents would have just understood these principles of good parenting, then we wouldn’t have so much about ourselves that needs fixing now. We blame our parents for not doing enough or being enough or being there enough. What parents of adults, as well as we adult children need to get, is that our “new thing” is the same new thing that all the generations before us did. Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” 

Even though I wasn’t raised “this way”, I’ve got to have grace for those who’ve done this parenting thing before me. While it may not have looked the same, it was definitely done with the same desire that I now have to see good fruit come from my kids. My Mom would have made an excellent homeschooler, had homeschooling been a “thing” in the 80s. Having never had a sister, my Dad was a bit too worried about the boys who would lead me into trouble, than the reality of it being me leading them. He was trying to allow me to be that Independent Woman that his generation cursed my own with.

My advice to my readers who write me with this struggle is to not let it be a divisive issue, as much as it depends on you. Stand your ground, and stick to the commitment you and your husband have made for family structure and philosophies, but respect the fact that  your loved ones are often speaking out of fear and ignorance and give them grace. You might never make them understand the whys in what you’re doing, but you don’t have to—that’s the beauty of adulthood, right?

Many of us are doing different actions with our own children than were done with us, but the heart issues are still the same. The unity between generations happens when we understand that we all want what’s best for our children, no matter how old they are, and that the only perfect parent is our Heavenly Father.

Mrs. Sarah Coller

Happily married to Jamie and mother to nine sweet blessings, Sarah stays busy homemaking and homeschooling. Her passion is creating a comfortable and peaceful home for her husband and children. Thankful for God’s saving grace, Sarah hopes to leave a legacy that reflects His faithfulness. She blogs at Classical Homemaking and Belle's Library.

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christy virgil September 30, 2014

Amen. You are doing great and I love your heart. Love, mom

Paige V September 30, 2014

I am lucky to have an awesome relationship with my mom and she is my best friend but I think every generation should strive to do things a little better than our parents did! This world definitely needs improvements!

Paige V September 30, 2014

my dad passed away 7 years ago, and that is why I did not mention him.

Erin @ Magenta & Lime September 30, 2014

It breaks my heart that you received this reaction from those you are close to! Thanks for sharing this post and your story. Praying for you and your family this morning!

Debbie Johnson September 30, 2014

I have not seen your blogs, very good. Yes this is a gift you have to write & teach or share. You and your husband have done such a good job with family, Its obvious through your children, I am so impressed. Your parenting skills should be taught to others. Thankful for your influence.


being raised in the 50s & 60s by parents of the 30s & 40s was very different. i did rebel some & did get into trouble, yes trouble but they forgave me & we all still loved each other. i did have a sis & she was the opposite of me. i married young to an older man & settled down to be a house wife. she worked & married late. i was happy with one child, she made an oppps & had 2. she got divorced in less than 4 yrs from an abusive husband & i waited 28 yrs to divorce a mentally unstable one. I guess my point here is that it doesnt matter what era you were born in it still happens that your parents will say “You werent raised that way”. We never were. I was raised in the Cleaver household all the way but my MOM worked all the time in our business. We never do what out parents expect for most of our lives. If your grandparents are still there they are saying the same thing about you DAD. No lie they are !!!! My aunt is 92 & she still says it about everyone, REALLY, she does. So when your Dad says that say yes dad you did raise me that way, you raised me to think for myself & thats what im doing !

Marcia September 30, 2014

Great article.

Jane Spunaugle September 30, 2014

Good stuff. History continues with each new generation believing that they are smarter and more enlightened than those before. And you are so right our Heavenly Father is the only perfect parent. As I look back, if I have done anything right, I can truly give Him the credit.

brooke September 30, 2014

Another perspective….I do not agree with all her theology, but these words have much to offer.

Starla J @ Pressing In and Pressing On September 30, 2014

Great post. Shared on Twitter.

Annette Whipple September 30, 2014

Oh wow. Parenting is hard, but being my mom and dad’s child is sometimes harder.

Lynn September 30, 2014

It’s ok if “that’s not how you were raised”!!!

Amy September 30, 2014

OMW I feel you had a glimpse into my world. My dad raised me to count on no one but yourself. Which I am grateful for but it didn’t do me any good for learning how to be married. Mom got married to leave her home and dad got married to have children and lots of them. Well that didn’t happen. Mom had my sister and went on the pill. God had a plan for me because I came anyway. Then she had to have a hysterectomy. Mom and dad fought all the time and were divorced by the time I was 13. I pretty much raised myself after that and got into a world of trouble including an unwed pregnancy twice. I got married after the second kid came around. My dad was worried about my sanity, being I suffer from depression and Mom well she has never said anything nice about my pregnancies ever. We have 8 children. My hubby has one from a previous relationship as do I. We never had the chance to meet her yet. I pray we do one day. I know she lives in Kenosha, Wisconsin. After I had my son and I knew my hubby and I were going to make it, we decided to let God set our family size. We even hear nasty comments from the people at our church. I hate hearing this because I feel they aren’t understanding God’s word. May God use you to let others know it is ok to be different and may He also bless you with more children.

Cheryl Smith October 1, 2014

Beautiful words, Sarah. No one can really dictate another person’s path. The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and I believe God gives each new generation the wisdom it needs to raise children in light of the current circumstances. Our parents never had to cope with a lot of what we are dealing with in raising our children. Things have changed SO drastically since I was being raised in the 60’s & 70’s. There was no internet, no computers in our homes, no cell phones, no VCRs, and video games were just coming on the scene when I was a teenager. Oh, how I long for the simplicity of those days! But, my parents’ lives were even simpler when they were being raised. So, each generation that comes on the scene has to cope with the current dynamics that are in place. So very thankful that our eternal God never changes, and His Word is ALWAYS relevant…always applicable to the times! I am SO sorry you have been wounded so deeply by such careless, thoughtless remarks. No matter what anyone says to you, God is using you and your husband to raise a beautiful family, and your children will one day rise up and call you blessed. You are a shining light to so many. Unfortunately, many times, the ones who hurt us the most are the ones closest to us…Jesus said a prophet is not without honor save in his own country and in his own house. Those closest to us know our ever discrepancy, and sometimes, they cannot see beyond that or see the person we have matured and grown up to be. God bless you and heal every hurt.

Letitia Maurice October 1, 2014

Well said, friend!

Rachel Rockwell October 1, 2014

So much like my story… only you already know that! Keep up what you are doing… we do it unto the Lord and not man. <3 Rachel

Lisa Bergmann February 2, 2017

I was raised differently than how my husband and I chose to raise our children. Now I have about half adult children and half still at home. We need to remember also that our adult children may choose a different path or lifestyle than our own how will we respond then?

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