Family Melodrama and Histrionics, Part I
The Intricacies of the Family-The Tangled Web Families Weave
Ahhhh, the family. The concept of family means different things to different people. Some people view their families as their staunch bulwark in troubled and perplexing times. Others consider their families to be pillars of strength and inspiration. Many more see their families as avenues of support who they can go to at any opportunity.
Yes, many people view their families as loving vestiges of strength, love, and support. Why not? There are many families who indeed represent these sterling characteristics. But subconsciously, an overwhelming majority of families have some quite melodramatic and histrionic issues. Now I sense your complete bewilderment which is now turning into anger! You are now hissing at me, screaming at me that this is not true! Oh yes, many families DO have issues which they refuse flatly to acknowledge!
Each family has their own dynamic. It can either be positive or negative. However, the average family has a combination of both positive and negative dynamics. Some families possess more positive than negative dynamics while, conversely, others possess more negative dynamics. There are other families who possess negative dynamics of an extremely pathological and toxic nature which require psychological intervention in order to help them become more functioning.
The average family has some type of issues whether they wish to admit or not. Issues are an integral part of family interaction. While many issues are not grave in nature, these issues can serious affect certain family members either now in or years to come.
While there are parents who are democratic towards their children, there are others who merely view their children as extensions of them. These parents have their own agenda and expect their children to adhere to such an agenda. There are parents who unthinkingly contend that their children are just blank slate who they can indoctrinate at will.
These are the parents who actually know what is "best" for their children hence they enroll their children into activities which they believe would "benefit" them. A few of these parents actually plan and dictate to their children the lifeplan and goals they should have. Some of these parents actually live vicariously through their children instead of establishing and achieving their own goals.
These parents believe in "protecting" and "guiding" their children as they want their children's lives to be as smooth and unfettered as possible. These parents also do not want their children to fail as failure would seriously hamper their chances in life. These parents further maintain that they want their children to have the ultimate regarding their life's goals and desires.
Many of these parents fail to realize that they are irreparably making their children risk aversive and afraid to make their own decisions. They are also retarding their children mentally and psychologically. They are, in fact, preparing their children to be dependent upon them for many of their life decisions.
Their children will find it difficult to develop into mature, decision making adults because they had their parents make their life decisions for them. They will possess little or none of the prerequisite life skills essential for life and career survival. Many of these children will become abject failures in life because they are being so "protected" for most of their formative years when they should be developing important life skills.
Then there are the parents who believe that there is only one family agenda and that EVERYONE in that household is to follow it. These parents can either be classified as either overcontrolling or authoritarian, even both. These parents assert that they as the adult are in change and that children should be submissive to their authority.
As you have guessed it, these parents value strict conformity and blind obedience. These parents contend that by maintaining such a familial environment, things will run much smoother and there will be less chaos. These parents have a strict dichotomized view on life "should be". These are the parents who inundate their children to have the former's view of life whether it is gender role issues, religion, politics, education, and/or related issues- and never to deviate from this view. In other words, this parents believes in running a tight and smooth operating ship with their children meekly agreeing with them.
Many children of of overcontrolling/authoritarian parents believe that they are total nonentities. They possess little or no leadership or decision making skills. They are often weak and vulnerable which makes them prey to the stronger people around them. They believe that they have no power and that "power" belongs to others who they deem stronger and more authoritative.
Many children of such parents, in turn, become quite autocratic and authoritarian in their interfacing with others who are "weaker" because that what they have learned in their early familial environment. Still other children become quite rebellious against any type of authority. They actually become quite antiestablishmentarian in their stance in life and believe in complete independence.
There are parents who do not believe in giving positive reinforcements to their children. It is these parents' beliefs that if their children are praised, they become "conceited" with an "inflated ego". These parents maintain that their focus is to strengthen their children's character, believing that it is in their children's interest to withhold any type of praise. Many of these parents are of the doctrine that praise and flattery are utterly superfluous in their children's lives. These parents believe in only telling their children the TRUTH about life.
However, many of these same parents are not loathe to give their children "constructive criticism", thinking that it would help them to become more resilient in life. There is the parent who dictum is children ought to be exposed to the harsh realities of life as early as possible. These are the parents who believe in calling a spade a spade so to speak. These parents assert that there is nothing wrong with critiquing their children. These parents figure that children ought to be prepared for life and the more and harsher the criticism the better.
Such children believe that they are never good enough. They are always striving and never arriving. These children often become quite driven and successful adults; however, they believe that THEY are not enough and always insufficient in one area or another.
Many of these children become quite perfectionist themselves in response to their early familial environment. They believe that they have to be THE BEST at everything they do or they are totally lost. They constantly push themselves to be FIRST because being first is their only point of validation. They contend either they are FIRST or NOTHING at all in the game.
Conversely, there are other children who become underachievers, figuring NO MATTER what they do, they will never be good enough so why try. Many more become abject failures in life, indicating that they heard that they were "no good" so they become what was perceived of them by their parents. These children feel as if they are NOTHING and expect such!
Then there are parents who view their children as they are from a different planet. Yes, there are some children who are quite opposite of their parents in terms of their physical, intellectual, and psychologial characteristics. There are extroverted parents who have introverted children. Strong, macho fathers who have sensitive sons. Attractive/beautiful parents who have plain children.
Of course, many parents love and accept their children for their individual characteristics whatever it may be. However, there are some parents who feel it is quite an afrront to and/or threatened by children who possess characteristics which are diametrically opposed to theirs. These parents are actually nonplussed and ashamed of their children's individual characteristics and wish that their children were more like them.
There is the macho father who enrolls, actually forces, his more sensitive son in sports in order to "make a man" out of him. This father is actually disheartened at the fact that his son is totally uninterested in sports, preferring activities which the father deem as somewhat "feminine" in nature. This father often does not or refuses to comprehend why his son would rather take dancing lessons than to enroll in sports. To this father, his son is not quite normal.
There is the wildly extroverted mother who cannot understand why her introverted teenage daughter prefers to stay at home on the weekends, reading instead of going out and galavanting like a "normal teenager". I know a coworker, who was extremely extroverted to the point of being utterly garrulous, expressed total perplexity regarding her daughter who was introverted. She was always remark to anyone who was around why her daughter was not outgoing. She asserted that she considered her daughter to be dull and quite insipid because of her introversion. She finally declared that her daughter was totally hopeless, throwing up her hands in utter disgust.
Such parents view their children's diametrically different characteristics as a bad reflection on them. However, these parents fail to realize that their children can be quite different from them and still be normal. These parents do not see that way and use their children's differences as a sort of contention between them. These parents see their children as an onus, wishing that they were more LIKE them. The parents' reasoning is if their child was more like them, everything would be so much better.
These parents often use comparison(there will be more discussion of this in latter parts of this hub) with these children. They either compare their children with a sibling, cousin, and/or another non-related child who possess the parent's characteristic be it physical, intellectual, and/or psychological. For example, I remember the extroverted coworker constantly comparing her introverted daughter to a more extroverted and popular classmate at her high school. This coworker glowingly praised the more extroverted classmate whilie simultaneously deriding her own introverted daughter.
Well, news flash for the parents. Yes, your children possess different characteristics but these characteristics are to be embraced and encouraged, not derided. Comparing your children to others only diminishes what is left of their self-esteem. In fact, constantly comparing one child to another "more favorable" child whether it is a family or non-family member makes the child believe that he/she is a totally worthless, nonentity. This insidious comparison invalidates the child's sense of self and makes him/her feels as if he/she is a failure even before the process has begun. Many adults have issues with worthlessness because they were consistently compared with other children.
Conversely, there are children who despite the comparisons, still have their sense of self intact or made stronger. Yes, there are some quite resilient children who can survive, even thrive, in less than ideal circumstances, who elect to maximize on their different characteristics and go on to great achievement in their lives. These children often find liked minded adult role models outside of the parental/family circle who encourage them to rejoice in and cultivate their different attributes.
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© 2012 Grace Marguerite Williams