Many years ago I was taking my son into school when a young school girl walking in front of us slipped and fell onto the muddy wet ground. Instead of comforting her, her mother yanked her up by her arm and shouted, “Oh you stupid girl, now look at you. You’re all dirty. We will have to go home and get you changed”.
I am sure the little girl who couldn’t have been older than 7 yrs. I’ll bet she would have loved for her Mum to dust her off and ask if she was okay. Not only had she been embarrassed by falling in front of everyone but she had been embarrassed and shamed by her mother’s anger.
Parents are partly responsible for their children’s self-esteem and identity
It is possible that the mother was just having a one-off bad day but I can, sadly, admit that I come across this so often, and it worries me.
I see many teenagers and they often have trouble that stems from the way their parents treat them. Many parents place conditions upon their love of their offspring and this invariably leads to low self-esteem. Conditional love is the worst thing a parent can offer their children and it can lead to lifelong issues such as perfectionism, never feeling good enough or worse – personality disorders if the treatment is repeated over a period of time.
Unconditional love is vital for good mental health
The ideal is to love and protect your children irrespective of whether they get good marks in school or whether they hang out with the cool kids and play sports. We project our own insecurities and issues onto our kids and they grow up with this legacy.
Ask yourself if you do this on a regular basis. When you are having a bad day do you tend to have less patience for your kids? Do you snap more when life is tough? Whatever is going on for you – never direct it towards your children. Buy a punching bag, join a gym…just don’t let your frustration with life filter through to your children.
I have met many teenagers with anger issues, hatred for their parents, and rebellious attitudes and the catalyst is misguided parents who feel it is their right to take out their annoyance on their kids. Many parents don’t even realise they are doing it. A child’s identity is formed up until the age of seven and the way they are treated affects the way their brain develops. Our neural pathways are affected by a stable or abusive childhood (and anything in between). Protect your children from dysfunctional behaviour.
Most dysfunctional behaviour comes from bad parenting..make sure you aren’t part of the statistics.
Recommended reading: The body keeps the score – Bessel Van Der Kolk; Why love matters – Sue Gerhard