- Family and Parenting
Fed Up With Disrespectful Parents
These are awesome books to read if you want to have a more respectful relationship with your children
Yeah, you read that right. Disrespectful parents. I daily witness interactions between parents and children, and I find that parents who respect their children are a rare breed. No wonder we have so many anxious, depressed, and angry adolescents. Not to mention disrespectful. If a child is disrespectful, he often takes the blame for it. But what makes a child so disrespectful? Is it the child's natural inclination, or does it come from years of being disrepected by adults?
I have witnessed so much disdain for children that it breaks my heart. People treat children in ways they would never dream of treating an adult.
Parents Lie to Children
I work in a health clinic where children are weighed and receive finger pokes to check hemoglobin status. Almost 100% of parents lie to their kids. The child, upon realizing that he is about to get poked, starts to cry and get upset. The parents almost ALWAYS say, "Oh, it's not going to hurt." Why?! Of course it's going to hurt! The child knows it; he's gotten poked before. Sure, he'll be upset even if you tell him the truth about the pain, but it's better to tell the truth than to lie.
If you lie to your child about whether a shot will hurt, he will begin to not trust you. Then he will be scared about everything. Because you haven't been truthful with him, he won't ever know what is safe and what is not safe. I firmly believe that is why so many children are afraid to get weighed. All they have to do is stand on a scale, but some kids are absolutely petrified. They scream and cry and refuse to stand. I don't believe this would happen if parents told kids the truth about what is going to happen at the doctor's office.
Parents Deny the Validity of Their Children's Thoughts/Feelings
Even more upsetting is the way parents talk to their children. They ridicule and belittle them. Now, most of the children I work with are under the age of 5, and these poor kids just can't win for anything. No matter how they act, their parents ridicule them. For example, a child is upset because she's getting a finger poke. First, the parent lies to the child about the pain. Then, the parent gets upset and sometimes yells at the child for crying. The parent acts as though the child is intentionally misbehaving, when the child is actually scared. Lying to the child about the pain will not help, as the child knows it will hurt. Yelling at the child will not help, as the child cannot control her fear response. The child needs to be told the truth and then comforted as much as possible throughout the procedure and after the procedure.
When the finger poke is over, many children are understandably still upset and often still crying. Many parents will get angry, and tell their children "It's over. Stop crying." Or, "See? All that crying for nothing." But the child is not crying for nothing. There is a reason. The parents are telling the child that he shouldn't be feeling the way he's feeling, that his reaction is bad, that they are upset with him for having the feelings he has. There is no comfort offered, and the parents appear to have much disdain for their own children. What a horrible and isolating experience for such a young child.
Another one that gets me is "See, your little sister didn't even cry." First of all, babies cry less often than older children, as they often don't know what's about to happen. Older children have been to the doctor several times, and they know the drill. They have a lot of time to think about and anticipate what will happen, and therefore are more scared than the younger child. But secondly, why are these parents trying to make their children feel bad about themselves, to dash their self esteem at such a young age? Even the older kids we see are no more than 4 years old. One time, a mom was thoroughly disgusted with her child, who was just shy of his third birthday. She ridiculed him, saying, "How are you going to go to school acting like that? Do you want all the kids to laugh at you?" What the hell? Did this mom actually think her child is the only one who cries about pokes/shots?
Worse yet, there was an incident in which a mom was upset with her child because she had been crying all morning after being told they were going to the clinic that day. The mom kept saying that there was no reason to be upset. Then, after the poke was over, this poor child was finally smiling. Her mom still ridiculed her, saying "Why aren't you still crying? I thought your finger hurt." Good lord. If the child had still been crying, the mom would be mad about that. Now that the child was happy, the mom was ridiculing her. This child just couldn't win, no matter how she acted.
I bet that's how a lot of children feel - like they just can't win. And if they can't, then why even try?
What Parents Should Do Instead
Always tell the truth to your children, please. If you want to have a good relationship, you must tell the truth, just as in any adult relationship. You child will not trust you, and won't tell you the truth, if you don't tell the truth with him. You don't have to go into details that are inappropriate for the child's age, but still find something truthful to say.
Secondly, please respect your child as you would an adult. Validate their feelings. Listen to what they have to say. Don't ever make fun of them, mock them, or ridicule them. It's okay for them to feel what they feel. If you are upset about something, the last thing you would want is for someone to tell you that you're overeacting or that your feelings are stupid. So don't do it to your kids.
Don't expect your child to respect you simply because you're an adult. If you want your child to repect you, you must first respect him. You are the model for him to follow. You must act as you want your child to act. If you don't respect him, your child will quickly become frustrated, resentful and/or suffer from low self-esteem, and parenting will become much more difficult.