Whether your parents are/were the kind of parents that you would want to be like or not, the fact is that you are not them. Some parents can be a little too pushy about the way they put across their values, hobbies, lifestyle and stuff like that. Maybe too much of the wrong sort of habits rubbed off on you, or maybe you experienced things growing up that you shouldn’t have had to deal with at that age. Whatever it is, it might be comforting to know that you are not them, and your life isn’t fully defined by whatever they passed on to you.

You’ve picked up a lot of your characteristics from them (behaviourally if not genetically, in the case of adopted parents) but you never have to say that you are doomed to follow in their footsteps, or continue to struggle with the things they struggled with. You may be more likely to, especially if you don’t decide to do something about it, but you always have a choice.

You can break the mould. It can stop here. You don’t necessarily have to be what they wanted you to be. You are your own person, with your own path in life, and you have to live through whatever choices you make. If they aren’t even your choices, and you’re having to live what is effectively someone else’s life, that’s going to make it that much harder to keep going when things get tough, which they always will at some point.

Chances are your parents just want good things for you, and think they know what will be best for you. Sometimes they’re right. You’ll need to use your judgement on this one because I don’t want to tell everyone to ignore everything they were taught! You are who you are partly because of your parents, and I know I wouldn’t want some book telling my daughters that they should ignore me and do whatever they like.

It might help to think about whether there are actually some things you would be proud to inherit from your parents. Sometimes we can miss this stuff when we are so focused on what we wish was different. Maybe it would help you to make a list of all the things you’re actually quite glad you learned from your parents growing up. If you’re brave, why not try showing them the list, or writing them a letter? They might really appreciate that. You know better than I do whether that will work. But even if you don’t show them, that list will help you to see them differently.

Only you know yourself and whether or not your parents screwed you up a lot or a little – there doesn’t seem to be a way to raise a kid without messing them up at least a bit. And if there are things you learned not to do when you’re a parent, great. But no matter what, you’re not them and you are not doomed to make their mistakes. Just try not to throw out the good stuff while you’re at it.