Parenting In The Modern World

Parenting is complex and may require a lot of time and patience; there is no right way of raising a child, but there are tools one can use to avoid abusive ways

The relationship between children and their parents is one of the most defining bonds. It impacts the child’s self-esteem, self-concept and future relationships. According to the object relation school of thought in psychology, parents are the first ‘internalised objects’ for the child. This means that they serve as the foundation for all relationships, demonstrating what the child can expect.  

For instance, if the child thinks of the parent as overly critical, they are likely to adopt a behaviour pattern based on the assumption that they are not good enough and have to achieve things to be worthy of love. This can lead to a lifelong cycle of anxiety and over-productivity at the cost of their mental health.

An analysis of the parent-child relationship is thus essential if parents wish to break free from abusive parenting cycles and incorporate ways of connecting with their children. Here are the five most common parent-child relationship problems.  

Enforcing a strict rule of conduct

Many parents feel that to inculcate discipline in their children, they must enforce a strict code of conduct. This ‘no means a no’ rule is applied without exception and uniformly, and may result in the child feeling helpless against an all-powerful adult. Besides, it may communicate to them that rules cannot change irrespective of circumstances and that their views are not important, leading to feelings of inferiority, anger and rebellion.  

Instead, parents can try a strategy where children can choose from options acceptable to them. For example, if a child demands multiple toys, rather than trying to enforce a hard ‘no,’ one can ask them to choose small toys of a prescribed value. It will give them a feeling that they have control over the situation and can exercise their will within reasonable limits. However, if the financial conditions permit, tell the child why they cannot buy the toy and assure them that things will be better.  

Overly permissive parenting

Modern parents may feel good parenting entails being friends with their children. Although this assumption has a certain degree of truth, it is essential to understand that children look to their parents for guidance. Giving them a structure and permissible frame of functioning is vital. This allows the child to understand that not all demands are fulfilled and acquire impulse control and other life skills. It also helps them have realistic expectations for future relationships.  

Handling a teenager

Teenage is a rollercoaster ride for most children and their parents. As a parent, one may find it challenging to connect with a teenager who seems rebellious and unreasonable. However, it is important to remember that hormonal changes are rampant at this age. They are neither a child nor adults and may find the transition confusing. Additionally, according to Jean Piaget, ‘adolescent egocentrism’ characterises this stage of development.  

The teenager may find it difficult to understand the perspective of adults and challenge the uniform application of rules. The phenomenon of an ‘imaginary audience’ is also prominent at this stage. This means that the adolescent feels that everyone is watching them and thus may have the pressure of maintaining appearances.  

Understanding behaviour problems

Many teenagers today indulge in delinquent behaviours, which may be infuriating for the parents. Many caregivers, at this junction, may feel that they failed or come to resist the child. However, it is important to remember that through their behaviour, the child is trying to communicate. These are aggregations of conflict resolution techniques that they have adopted over time and they are employing them to communicate their anger and disappointment.  

Understand that your child is in pain and needs help. They might require a professional and learn alternate ways of addressing their concerns.

Expecting the child to fulfil the parent’s emotional needs

One of the distinguishing features of trauma is that it perpetuates itself. Abuse experienced as a child may influence one’s parenting. Most parents whose emotional needs were not fulfilled as children come to rely on their wards to meet these requirements. They may expect the child to look after them, handle crises and stabilise their lives. This puts undue pressure on the child and creates a highly unhealthy dynamic.  

Parenting is complex and may require a lot of time and patience. There is no right way of raising a child, but there are tools one can use to avoid abusive ways. However, it is essential to consider that you cannot wholly craft the child’s personality as a parent. Sometimes there are hurdles, and you may need to seek help to overcome them. Feeling guilty and afraid will only worsen the situation. Cater to your emotional needs and take time off if needed. Remember, parenting is a marathon and not a sprint.  

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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