As a young 20 something woman I found out that I have some problems not necessary with me, but with my parents. It’s hard for me to listen to them now that I am an adult even if I used to kind of be besties with my mom. I spoke with several psychologist about how I “lost” my understanding of my parents but as the problem got deeper than my budget, I had to figure ways to manage my anger by myself. I got some hobbies and begun to read a lot more to calm myself. By reading so much I found that my problem it’s not actually a problem but more of a repercussion of my parents behavior in my youth. One of the best examples I can give is this awesome article I found on huffingtonpost. com written by a veteran psychologist, Sherrie Campbell.
Our children are the lights of our lives. We all start off as parents envisioning nothing but success, love and happiness for them. However, these dreams often do not manifest because they are not getting the important things they need to become disciplined, mature and motivated adults. The following are eight parenting f*ck-ups that will guarantee your child will suffer from depression, anxiety, anger, tense family relationships, problems with friends, low self-esteem, a sense of entitlement and chronic emotional problems throughout his or her life.
1. Ignore or minimize your child’s feelings. If your child is expressing sadness, anger or fear and you mock them, humiliate them, ignore or tease them you minimize what they feel. You essentially tell them what they feel is wrong. When parents do this they withhold love from their child and miss opportunities to have open and vulnerable connections teaching them to bond and to know they are loved unconditionally.
2. Inconsistent rules. If you never talk about your expectations, you keep your child from knowing how to behave appropriately. Children live up or down to what you expect. Rules give them guidelines and boundaries to help them define who they are, good and bad. If you keep your child guessing and life is vague, they will begin to act out to find the boundaries themselves, which leads to low self-esteem and problem behavior.
3. Make your child your friend. Never share all your worries, concerns and relationship problems with your child or ask their advice. If you act helpless and defeated to your children they will never learn to respect you and will treat you as an equal or an inferior because you have used them for your own therapy. You must show your children you can stand up to problems, face your challenges and handle life through all the stress and come out on the other side. Be real, have your emotions, but do not burden your children.
4. Put down your child’s other parent. If you never show affection and love to your partner/spouse in front of your child, the child does not develop a barometer for what love is or what it looks like. If you are always putting your spouse down and rejecting him/her, threatening divorce, you create a chronic state of anxiety for your child. If you are already divorced and you remain cold, distant, bitter, angry and blaming of your ex-spouse, you are sending the subtle message to your child that your ex-spouse is the cause of the divorce and you need to be the preferred parent. This is parent alienation.
5. Punish independence and separation. When we punish our children for growing up, we make them feel guilty for having normal developmental needs and desires which often causes deep insecurity, rebellion, cutting and other forms of behaviors that indicate failure to be able to branch out and be themselves as independent people.
6. Treat your child as an extension of you. If, as a parent, you link your own image and self-worth to your child’s appearance, performance, behavior, grades and how many friends they have, you let them know they are loved not for who they are but for how well they perform and make you look good. This turns them into pleasers rather than doers, and they will always worry about being good enough.
7. Meddle in your child’s relationships. Directing every action your child takes in their relationships — from friends to teachers — inhibits their maturity. For example, if your child gets in trouble at school and you immediately rush to talk to the teacher to get them off the hook, or you are constantly telling your child how to be a friend, as your child grows he/she will never learn to navigate the sharper edges relationships bring on their own.
8. Over-protect. When we protect our children from every problem and emotion, it creates a sense of entitlement and inflated self-esteem that often crosses the line into narcissism. They expect life to be easier than it is. They want everything done for them no matter how they behave. They then become depressed and confused when they don’t get what they believe they deserve.
I am not going into personal details but I can say that most of these points apply to me and now everything makes sense. After a while, after I read the article I was even more angry with my parents. It seemed to unfair that they tried to control my life in a such way that when I took action they felt I betrayed them. And it seems so unfair I felt guilt because of their disappointment. The sad part it is that they didn’t even realize they were doing it because they were full of such good intentions and love that they forgot that I may be their child but I am not their clone.
Keep in mind that your child (or future one) it’s not your extension and not your clone! And what you might like and dream of it does not necessary apply to him/her also!
But if you, as a child, realize your parents mistakes, don’t tell them ’cause they can not do a thing about it now, but get professional help or at least try to understand as I did.
Maria Korodi here, see you around.