When parents become bullies

When parents become bullies

طوبیٰ Tooba 3 months ago 0 22

An image representing the silhouette of a child. — Pixabay
An image representing the silhouette of a child. — Pixabay

“Do not be your child’s first bully”. I read this somewhere long ago and thought what a lame statement this is. But it stuck in my mind and kept me thinking. Having observed the child-parent relationship for quite some time now, I find it surprising that this statement is true in many cases.

Parents often become the biggest obstacle in their child’s development despite having the best intentions. But do intentions even matter? What if the road to hell is paved with good intentions?

Many parents are ill-equipped to walk through the emotional terrain of parenthood, causing long-lasting wounds on their children’s psyche. Their children develop low self-esteem and struggle to form meaningful connections with others throughout their lives.

The emotional instability of parents inculcates a range of psychological issues in children, ranging from anxiety and depression to other behavioural disorders, as well as what is informally called ‘daddy/mommy issues’.

In order to ‘fix’ their children’s mistakes, they try to hit the pain points of their children by bullying them. Instead of listening, their focus is on speaking. And it is not just speaking; they speak in an aggressively intimidating manner. Does this bring any positive results? Certainly not.

However, it does give them a momentary relief, as if they have fulfilled an obligation of spilling out their stress for a good cause. In the process, the child suffers more though. Parents’ lack of understanding of a growing child is an outcome of their lack of emotional bond with their children.

Apart from being emotionally unavailable to their children, they remain unaware about what is wrong with them. They do not accept the need to change their way of life. In other words, they have cognitive inflexibility. Their rigid behaviour in sticking to their lifestyle compels them to behave rigidly with their children as well, and, hence, become less empathetic. Often it is passed through generations. A person who has not had enough love from parents in childhood is more likely to repeat the cycle.

Owing to their inflexibility, they have rigid expectations from their children. And that is where the perfect recipe of destroying a child lies. Humans are different and have different ambitions. Trying to make a child do things to fulfil one’s unfulfilled wishes only makes the child think of her/himself as a loser who lags behind in meeting his/her parents’ expectations.

They keep spending their energies trying to please their parents, and when they hardly see any output, they start questioning their abilities. An inferiority complex wraps such children when they grow up and remains tied to their thought process throughout their lives until they shred that off by working hard on themselves. Not many are able to do so, though. Impressions crafted on the mind at a young age impact people stringently later on.

It is understandable that good parenting helps raise better humans. But how exactly should people do that? The easiest and most workable way is to become friends with the children, and keep that energy going as they age. Become flexible. Listen to them. Understand them. Grow with them. That is parenting 101. It is simple, except that it really is not.

Cognitively inflexible parents resist change in their behaviour and are reluctant to adopt better parenting practices in response to their children’s evolving needs in development stages. On top of that, they do not have a willingness to become a better version of themselves and address their problems first. After all, why should learning about one of the most important aspects of life stop?

Parenting is hard and needs to be learned. And unlearned. And relearned. It is one of those things that are unfortunately collectively ignored in our society, assuming that it is a simple trait that passes from generation to generation. What is passing through generations is a dreadful idea of parenting, where parents’ job is to bring a life into the world without being ready for it. Thus, when a child is born, parents often seem reluctant to learn how to spend their energies and efforts in a way that nurtures the child well.

There is a stark difference between children raised under genuine care and love of parents and those grown up with parents who remain alien to them throughout life despite living under the same roof.

Constant learning, self-reflection and a willingness to change oneself for the better is required. The truth is none of these things is easy. You cannot do bad parenting with hopes of getting good results. But first, it needs to be understood what is good and what is bad. The earlier one understands what they need to change in their behaviour, the better it is to have a healthy parent-child bond.

Children adopt the behaviours they observe in their elders, especially parents. When they do not see emotional intelligence, empathy and adaptability in them, they are not able to make these things a part of their lives as well.

To raise children better, parents need to keep working on themselves and start better parenting practically. Without that, only good intentions remain. But do they even matter?

The writer is a political scientist with a focus on international relations and social issues. He can be reached at: abdulbasit0419@

Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed in this piece are the writer’s own and don’t necessarily reflect’s editorial policy.

Originally published in The News

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