Mandy Kloppers

Ignorant Parents

ignorant parents

No one is perfect and I am not referring to parents who make the odd faux-pas. We all do! What I am referring to here is parents who methodically and consistently deny their children certain rights and/or expose their children to situations that cause ongoing dysfunction in their children, well into adulthood and possibly for the rest of their lives.

Many years ago I was taking my five year old son to school in the morning. It had been raining that day and there was mud everywhere. As we entered the school gates, the little girl in front of us, who was walking with her mother, tripped and landed in the mud. Her mother yanked her up by her arm and shouted “You stupid girl, look what you’ve done!” She was covered in mud and her school dress was filthy. It was sad to see though because she had fallen accidentally and looked quite embarrassed. Instead of support from her mother, she was chastised in front of all the other children and their parents. Regular treatment like this from parents can cause low self esteem in children.

Here are the most common mistakes parents make:

1) Parents take their frustrations about life out on their children. We all face stressful lives but it is important to never direct that anger and frustration out on our children. Do exercise, speak to a friend, go for a walk but never take your anger out on your kids. They are easy targets but you will mess them up. Protect them from your stress.

2) Parents offer conditional love and acceptance. Children often feel they are only worthy if they achieve good results at school or if they behave in a certain way (ie. do what their parents want). This is very destructive to a child as they can end up feeling they are never quite good enough. Love your children unconditionally and always praise them. Give them affection and tell them you love them whether they behave as you want or don’t.

3) Parents push their own wants/needs onto their children. Parents often try to live vicariously through their children. They want their children to achieve what they weren’t able to. They push their kids to take part in all sports, after school clubs and push their kids, ignoring their own children’s wishes and needs. “You must go to football, you will attend this class or after school club”. Parents are so keen for their children to be seen in a good light as it is a good reflection upon them as parents. In the process, however, they lose the plot and forget what is really important – the happiness of their children. They put pressure on their kids to be popular, to get the best marks in class and to fit in and look good.
This can back fire. Don;t you remember being forced to do activities as a child and now you cannot stand that activity? Honour your children’s wishes’s all about balance. Realise when it is more about you and your agenda rather than what your children really want.

4) Parents forget that their children have feelings and emotions too. One of the most damaging things that we can do as parents is to deny the emotions in our children. I see it all the time – parent’s stifling their children. Children are not allowed to be angry. Parents take this as a direct attack. Instead of trying to figure out why their child is angry or upset, they get defensive and react angrily towards their kids. Children learn that they cannot safely express themselves and begin to suppress their feelings and this is when the danger starts.
Suppressed people harbour all sorts of destructive emotions. Anger that builds, hatred and mistrust of the world. From this, lies emerge and angry behaviour. I have never believed that there is a such a thing as a bad child, rather there are misunderstood children. Be supportive, try to understand rather than using blame and threats.

Consistency, love and affection as well as regular positive feedback will foster the most positive upbringing for children. Listen to your children, allow them to take part in decision making, make them feel important too. Just because they are children does not mean they have no rights. A child that is understood, listened to and consistently loved will grow up to be a secure,happy adult.

Mandy X

More on Mandy: The author of this blog lives in Surrey, UK and offers counselling to couples and individuals. All names have been changed to protect the identity of clients. Personal client stories shared in this blog have been published with prior permission from the relevant clients.