Let’s face it – there’s no perfect parent. And to be completely clear, I’m not saying you’re a bad parent if you’re making mistakes here and there. But it’s important to constantly analyze what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and what we want for our children. Many parents don’t realize how much of an impact they have on their children. They understand how their actions affect their child in the now, but often overlook how they affect their child’s future.
If you’re doing something on the list below, it’s important that you take accountability for it. If you feel defensive, take a deep breath and see if you can get comfortable with seeing a different point of view. Here are 10 reasons why your child is going to hate their life:
1. You’re too controlling
Children can be severely injured emotionally by controlling parents (or even one controlling parent). Over-control (unhealthy control) can cause such problems as:
• An unhealthy need to please others
• Low self esteem
• Emotional emptiness
• Eating disorders
• Mood disorders
• Relationship disorders
• Perception disorders
The list goes on…
If you’re afraid you’re over-controlling your child, see if you can describe yourself with one of the following classifications:
• Smothering (Overbearing)
• Depriving (Conditional love)
• A perfectionist (Pressure to perform)
• Cult-like (Rigid rules and beliefs)
• Chaotic (Unpredictability)
• Using (Self-centered)
• Abusive (Bullying)
• Childish (Induce guilt or pity)
It’s going to take some serious thought to figure out if you’re a controller or not, and whether or not you’re in denial. And then it’s going to take a major step for you to correct it. If you suspect you’re a controlling parent, make an appointment with a psychologist and get help.
If you came from a controlling family, it’s very likely that you are also a controller. A psychologist will help you deal with your own issues and help shield your children from those issues while teaching you healthier parenting and relationship skills.
2. You’re without boundaries
Boundaries are how we protect ourselves from the world and how we protect the world from ourselves. They are physical, sexual, emotional, and spiritual fences that allow us to block or accept during interaction with others. To put it simply, boundaries say to others, “this is where my property begins!” They define what is me and what is not me, what I am and am not responsible for, and they tell others that I own my own life.
Parents without boundaries raise children without boundaries. Why is that important to understand? Because people without boundaries often allow themselves to be subject to physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. They also abuse others.
3. You raised them to be co-dependent
Co-dependency, as defined by Dr. Pia Mellody, is developmental immaturity. It’s caused by the use of parenting techniques deemed as ‘normal’ even though they are relationally unhealthy. The consequences of co-dependency are:
• Difficulty experiencing appropriate levels of self esteem
• Difficulty setting functional boundaries
• Difficulty owning one’s own reality
• Difficulty acknowledging and meeting one’s own wants and needs
• Difficulty experiencing and expressing one’s reality moderately
4. You physically abused them
This one and the next should be obvious. If you’re physically abusing your child, you need serious help. Abused children exhibit a full range of horrible outcomes later in life. If you know someone who is abusing a child, it’s not okay to remain silent; call for professional help.
5. You sexually abused them
Sexual abuse presents a different, but no less severe range of horrible future outcomes. If you need help or know someone who needs help, call for professional help.
6. You emotionally abused them
Where physical and sexual abuse are obvious, emotional abuse often falls under the radar. Some ‘normal’ parenting techniques often fall in the category of emotional abuse. Typically, when you insult, shame, control, confuse, and parent out of anger, you’re emotionally abusing your child.
Like everything else, emotionally abused children will likely emotionally abuse their own children. Emotional abuse, depending on the severity, can be just as harmful as physical or sexual abuse. It’s a good idea for parents who do this to work with a psychologist to sort out their past and receive guidance going forward.
7. You forced them to be the parent
Some parents are so childish or completely out of it that their children have to assume the role of parent. For example, children of alcoholics often take on a parenting role when their drunk father or mother is too incapacitated. They switch into survival mode, turn off their inner child, and even feel a need to protect the adult that is supposed to be protecting them. Other parents are so childish that they raise their children to do everything for them. This is also a type of control that we talked about with point number one.
Lastly, children in large families are often asked to take on a parenting role with younger children. When this happens on a regular basis, it becomes unhealthy for both siblings. Forcing your child to be a parent is another form of emotional abuse and severely alters your child’s perception of reality.
8. You failed to teach them about money
So far, we’ve been discussing unhealthy parenting. While failing to give your child a good financial education may be negligent, it’s not unhealthy. However, it still negatively affects their future. A bad financial report card is a major reason why many adults claim their life is disappointing. The best way to teach good financial habits is to lead by example.
9. You neglected their health
While teaching poor financial habits is not relationally unhealthy, teaching poor health habits or neglecting your child’s health is both physical and emotional abuse. Failing to teach your children healthy eating and exercise habits can lead to obesity, disease, and eating disorders.
Your child isn’t going to live a happy life if he or she is fat and in trouble because you saw no problem with encouraging sugar and fast food intake while skipping fruits, vegetables, water, juice, and exercise. If you aren’t knowledgeable about health and fitness, there are hundreds of books on the subject. You can also hire a nutritionist and personal trainer for your family.
10. They became you
It’s important to understand that your child will eventually become one of you. He or she will take on certain identical characteristics and adopt a parenting style similar to your own. With that said, think for a moment – just how positive or negative is that going to be when it happens?
Parents with issues raise children with issues – and such children raise more children with issues. For example, if you’re an overbearing controller and your husband/wife is a passive/aggressive victim, your children could grow up to be either of those. They’ll also sprout new issues depending on how their mind dealt with the abuse.
This can affect their friendships, their children, their marriage, their career – and if they get themselves straightened out, their relationship with you. If you’re a healthy parent, you’ll likely produce healthy children (assuming other external factors don’t come into play, such as their relationships with teachers, friends’ parents, grandparents, etc.).
The only thing left for you to decide is which one you want it to be. Do you want relationally healthy children that will take themselves and your family’s legacy to new heights, or relationally unhealthy children that will reach new lows?
If you’re not careful, you’re child’s life is going to difficult and it could be your fault!
Copyright © Kevin Geary
Read more of Kevin’s personal development and parenting articles at his blog ‘Change Your Tree’ (www.changeyourtree.com). Kevin is also the author of The Good Parent’s Guide to ‘Teaching Your Children How to Retire Young and Wealthy’ (www.thegoodparentsguide.com).