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STOP BEING IDEAL PARENTS

 

The psychologist Svetlana Roiz: about the dangers of child-centrism and parental perfectionism being now fashionable. Many fathers recognize their wives in this text. And not only them

When I see advertisements of each next training «How to be an ideal parent» or «How to raise an obedient/successful/famous child», once again I dream to create a vaccine against this ideality. Such parents are called the «ideal helicopter parents». The «ideal parent» often means super-present one in a child’s life, but mentally absent.

This metaphor appeared in the late 60’s — early 70’s in the book of Chaim Ginotta «Between a parent and an adolescent». The teenager in it said: «Mom is floating above me as the helicopter …» The helicopter parents hover and overhang above children and care, intervene, control and do not let them out of sight. They, of course, do everything sincerely and to the benefit of a child, and give, certainly, the best they have… Super-attending, at the same time they are emotionally distant in reality. Even if it seems to them that they know and feel children and they are their best friends.

The ideal parent as well as an ideal employee, husband or wife, is a myth created and imposed by the society. A person constantly comparing itself with the ideal is prone to neurotic depression; it is often anxious, unsure of itself and tense. It can not relax, rarely pleased of itself, and feels a sense of guilt. But it is convenient, because all its senses are a wonderful occasion for manipulations. Where there is a sense of guilt, the manipulation almost always begins. Where there is a shift, in focus of attention, to an external object, the feeling of the own self is lost.

I asked the «ideal mothers» to honestly answer to the question: «What will happen to the worst, if you are not an ideal mother?» The answers were as follows:

— my husband will be disappointed and probably will go to the other;
— I will not be loved;
— what will my mother in law /mother /sister think;
— then, I will realize that I am not capable for anything;
— then, I live in vain;
— the sense of guilt will gnaw;
— then, I will be like my parents;

What has it to do with children? It turns out that we use them «to collect likes» for our self-esteem of life.

Our myth about the ideality is formed very early. Firstly, it serves as a mediator between us and our parents. A mediator instead of a healthy attachment and confidence in the fact that there is a place for us: in love, in family and in the world. And it turns out that we serve it, this myth.

To the question: «what mom is ideal?», the majority of children answer: «mine». Kids do not understand the question at all. 🙂

And if to ask them: «if to touch your mom and dad with the magic wand and they will become magic?», the children said:
– they will not scream,
— they will not make reading and doing homework,
— they will not be fighting with each other,
–  they will buy all,
— they will allow to play with phone and tablet,
— they will never die.

The ideal can not be available, as the world is too diverse. What is ideal for one is absolutely not acceptable for another. Each child has its lessons that are important for it to be gone through and that it should undergo only with «imperfect» us. The ideal parents are arrogant, evaluative and often boring, or often «flirt» with their children. They are crammed with citations and useful knowledge on how it is right. But…

Read also about the way the child-centrism leads to

In one interview I said that I have my inner ‘anti-rating» of schools in Kiev. I created it after the therapeutic work with children. The school made my list only if there were many similar school requests and situations with very different children. After that I receive letters, almost every day, with the request to advice the ideal school. I answer that it is impossible. Because for compliance with the «ideality», it is important to take into account too many things: city district, psychological type of a child, and needs of the current time for a child. There are schools, in which a child will be very comfortable in emotional context: its self- esteem will be stronger and its communicative skills will be pulled up. But at the same time the level of knowledge may be weaker than that in school, where it will know a subject for sure, but will study in severe competitive environment.

Between my children there is a disparity in 12 years. And it is not only the «calendar» age gap. Between them there are 12 years of my own personal therapy. And I can not say yet, that the «virus of the ideality» exacerbated by the diagnosis «well-you-are-the-psychologist» is completely neutralized. I am almost sure that my younger daughter would have something to tell her psychotherapist about childhood. And this is despite all my doing internal work. Thanks to those, who often remind me that children do not need the ideal parents and that they harm for our obligations and responsibilities. It is difficult for them to correspond to our «ideality»; they suffocate on our correctness, pressure and expectations. They are anxious and uncomfortable in sensations of our «helicopter hovering» above them. Just imagine that above you, adults, the helicopter is overhanging around the clock. We will want to run — that is exactly what our children do, running away to phones, tablets, fantasies, social networks….

Read also, from where do bad fathers appear? Interview with Svetlana Roiz

If we are the «ideal» parents:
We do not give possibility to a child to be adapted to real life.
We often fix above measure on mistakes and do not allow both to it and ourselves to make mistakes.
We can not relax and lose contact with life itself and happiness.
We are not in contact with a child’s true potential and hinder our child to grow up to be its own self.
We do not often give time to a child to feel its own desire and need.
We often use its successes or expect its successes to raise our self-esteem.
We do not give possibility to it to enjoy childhood.
We are very tired and burn out.
And we often have a sense of guilt as well as feeling that we did not make up anything important.

And what to do? To temporarily direct all this «helicopter power» on ourselves.
As for me, in courses for parents (or in our personal work with ourselves) it is important to have the intentionality to contact with own self, to treatment of our own injuries, to acquaintance with our own «inner child», and to transformation of senses of guilt and shame. There it is important to have knowledge of developmental psychology, development of the nervous system, the brain of a child, and the needs of each age. Important are games, songs, creativity — tooling of a child’s world. Important are own practices to recover the resource and harmonization. And the contact with own race is also important. The speed in promise to get quick results is dangerous there – internal processes have their own laws and safety practice. It is dangerous to give promise of a magic pill against any «symptoms». Especially there is a danger in non-sustainability, window dressing and sense of vulnerability in groups. Wherever there is a touch to experience of our childhood, the special correctness and care are important. And, of course, dangerous are manipulative schemes — what to do and say to achieve something from someone. This even more «enchants» us and relations. That I have already written can be a rough plan to work with the own self — on the way from the ideality to competence and calm. There is no need to completely get rid of the gravitation towards the ideality and perfectionism. In any case we have that edge and «that its quantity», which can come in handy. I sometimes give a task for students and clients to analyze advantages (what I get from) of this quality and disadvantages (what I lose, when I show it). It is important not to lose contact with the force of the quality.

We put into children all we have. Often expecting the gratitude, closeness, respect and trust to get in return. And a child often «returns» the aloofness and selfishness. Maybe, that’s what it takes and catches «behind» our «helicopter ideality» and over-concern?

And some few for optimism:
A Jewish boy of six years old is admitted to school. At the interview he is asked, how many seasons does he know?
The kid thinks for a moment and says with confidence:
— Six!
The Director hints him:
— And if to think about?
The guy thinks for a moment and says:
— To be honestly, I don’t remember any more…
The Director expressively looks at the reddened mummy of the boy and sends them to the corridor for a moment. There the mother indignantly asks the boy:
— Sam, and what was this?!
— Mom! — answers her son almost in tears, — I really do not remember more, except Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi, Haydn, Piazzolla, Loussier and Glazunov!