How to Recognize When Parents Need a Break
Back off and let the child be a child.
There is a danger in too much time spent with children.
One of the most obnoxious and clear signs is when parent spouses start talking baby talk -- to each other. Whoa that is way overboard and yes it does happen. Intervention by loved ones is recommended immediately. We are not joking on this. That is abhorrent behavior and will cause the supposed adults to lose friends and start living in a la la land. Truly we have seen cases where as the children grew they continued to speak baby talk, much to their development detriment.
(please watch out for this with pet owners also. Why would a dog understand baby talk better than normal human speech? And how does the dog know how to act to the normal world of others when they speak to the dog)
Yes we know that is jumping right into the mix with little preamble but this is important stuff. Our treatment of our children is important for their proper development. It is critical that we allow them a wonderful childhood but bring them along into healthy age appropriate action. We cannot do this if we are acting the fool or just getting too far out there into a child's world.
Easy listening music as this should be as relaxing as having your teeth pulled.
Who do you know?
Do you know a parent who is getting a little "out there".
Far off, unfocused look.
When the parent is doing something with a child but is looking off into the distance and not really focusing on the child or for that matter anything.
At a Play Town today we saw a lady holding her young baby and bouncing a bit but looking off seemingly unaware of the child she had in her arms. We call it the long distance stare. Just tired of paying attention to the child and looking for any distraction yet too glazed to find it. The same happens when playing with an older child. The parent looks anywhere but right at the game at hand or the child yet is still active.
Yes this would be the exact opposite of "being in the moment". As you can imagine this is dangerous but very usual with an overworked caregiver. But the unseen danger to the child is that the child will grow up with this and think it normal. Yikes! It could take years to get the child to come back to earth and start paying attention to the moment, if ever. Children need to pay attention to what they are doing. They will never get good at anything if they do not. And it is downright dangerous.
How many times have we heard: "I was right there watching him when ......" Well chances are they were off in la la land somewhere and not really there mentally at all. Get this parent a break and get it to them now.
If you do not let them drive how will they ever learn.
Keeping a schedule.
Watch out for the parent that cannot take their child out into the world because it will disrupt the schedule. Hey now schedules are made to be adaptable. If they are not then neither will the child be adaptable and how boring and sad is that. Feeding time can be moved and food can be adjusted. Nap time can be changed or missed for one day. Bedtime can be after the norm for good reason and bath time can be put off until tomorrow. (I must admit I use the schedule excuse so I can take a nap or go to bed early or just to avoid boring people,shame on me ;-)
But generally speaking this is a red flag that it is the parent that is stuck in the schedule of a child and not vice versa.
Here is a strange one that is annoying but hard to put your finger on why.
In a public setting like a playground the parent talks to the toddler saying like: "oh you are tired". "do you want mommy to hold you" "you must be hungry" "oh we have had a big day". "we still have to go shopping". "mommy is tired you were up all night". You see these remarks are not made for the child but to be heard by other parents around. Why?
Well it is a form of communication to others. Perhaps like starting a conversation or to show how attentive they are really. It is hard to explain but you will know it when you hear/see it. It just seems weird because they are talking to the child in a way as to be heard by others and not necessarily the child.
Now here is one with a fine line.
Talking to the child as an adult. This is good when explaining things or reading or focusing on the child. Where it becomes an issue is when the parent thinks out loud or has a pretend conversation with the child about adult things. Normally we will not see this as it occurs while the parent is alone with the child. But watch out if it happens in your presence. It probably is a defense mechanism to talk to you without talking to you so that the comments can be disavowed and not owned. "your father/mother has to work again late tonight so he/she cannot be at your game". That may sound innocuous but in fact it is a dig at the other parent. How about this obvious one "your auntie is grumpy because she has a problem she will not talk to me about". Or another obvious one "your mom looks funny with that red hat on doesn't she".
Well this type of passive aggressive technique is really not good at all for a relationship or the child. Children are smart and will end up mimicking or resenting one parent or the other. Don't do it and if it is happening you need to quickly start up more healthy forms and avenues of communication.
Put out these fires of the overloaded parent.
These are really hard to put down on paper.
Most of these are just hard to describe but we know them when we see them. Have compassion when dealing with it and know that it could be you. Here are some other ones to look for in a parent.
Following a toddler all over just a step behind.
Speaking loud to a toddler like some folks do when speaking to someone who does not speak your language.
Actually competing when playing child games.
Eating the same food.
Playing with toys all by themselves.
Not taking care of themselves.
Hovering when it is someone else's turn to watch the child.
Write your own crazy stuff.
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