Variations in parenting style fascinate me. Not only because many people are so intense about the rightness of their method, but also because the results of each parenting style gives us predictable outcomes – and so few people seem to realise that.
It seems to me, there are two general groups of Childish Parents. The first group is obvious to most of us. They clearly operate with the parents’ needs coming before the children’s. Sometimes this is because the parents are in survival mode, such as in a violent relationship – where the parents have no energy or emotional strength to give to their children. More often it’s rampant immaturity, where the parents are stuck in their toddler state. These people see basic boundaries around things like treat-foods or early bedtimes as being mean. Where as an Adult Parent might allow visits to the golden arches a few times a year, a Childish Parent will give in to their children’s every demand to go. Childish Parents might also continuously provide sweets, fizzy drinks and other junk foods, regardless if their children have mouths full of fillings or are overweight; or allow their children to go to bed later than is healthy, despite being constantly tired and grumpy or ill.
The second group of Childish Parents may not be so obvious. These parents also put their own needs first, but in a way which is often endorsed by others (including some parenting experts). These Childish Parents work very hard at fitting their children into [their vision of] society – rather than considering what is truly in their children’s best interests. The parents have a personal need to appear to be doing the right thing, and this need out-weighs any questioning of the advice they follow. Their young children are often involved in a multitude of formal adult led activities…dance, swimming, soccer, drama, singing, piano, gymnastics and so on – because that’s what other people are doing. These Childish Parents often have a dependency on electronics. Sometimes as a form of baby-sitter. Sometimes as a form of keeping up with the Jones’. Sometimes because the parents can’t manage without constant electronic noise or visual stimulation themselves – so actually see nothing wrong in their children developing the same addiction. (And besides children make suce a fuss, when you take it all away…)
Childish Parents are non-supportive and/or intrusive with their children’s emotional needs. They will leave small children or babies to scream themselves to sleep, alone and in the dark. They’ll tell their children to harden-up or that they don’t feel sore..because they know better than the children…Some fuss when their children hurt themselves, so that the children become over-reactive to small injuries or annoyances.
Children, older than three and a half, with Adult Parents are mostly calm, obedient, kind, polite, brave, and able to entertain themselves (free of electronics) for hours at a time. [ and can make warm and constant eye-contact with their mothers.]
As someone said to me last week: parenting is a life sentence. Doing it well means years and years of putting another person before ourselves: every day; every hour sometimes. Children don’t conveniently stop needing us at 7.00pm because we need time out. They don’t understand the consequences of eating poorly or not getting enough sleep. Most of all, children aren’t preparing for life – they’re already living.
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