Parent-Child relationship problems: Aren’t children responsible for maintaining it?
Sumit Singh and Ishani Kapoor meet at a meeting arranged by their parents. They like each other and soon they get married. They start their married life and soon their parents and society start expecting them to start their families. And they come under their pressure and without thinking much start a family. They become PARENTS.
What do you think happens next?
They now have a child and they don’t know anything about parenting.
How should you do the upbringing of the child?
What is best for him/ her? How do they manage this new change?
Everybody around gives them advice on parenting. And they start their journey of being a parent through trial and error methods. They learn along the way and experience the unknown and this journey leads them to become possessive of their child. They think they know the best for their child.
This is also because they have always been making decisions for them. But then children grow up and demand their space. This is quite unacceptable for parents because they still think that their children are inexperienced and can’t make decisions for themselves. Thus, as parents, their decision is the best for their children. Gradually this starts to create misunderstanding between the parent and children.
Does the above story sound familiar to you?
Isn’t it the case with most of us? The only difference might be instead of arranged marriage, the couple has a love marriage.
But once they become parents everything is the same as in the above story, especially in India.
Being a parent is like a full-time job that is full of challenges.
It is something every human experience at some point in life. But no one teaches us anything about these challenges except for giving vague advice. One learns on his/her own by trying different things and following what works and leaving behind whatnot. So is there a right method of parenting that can help us to face these challenges in an easier way?
Whether a parenting method is right or wrong depends on your perspective. What might seem right to me might be wrong for you. Also, every child is different. What is right for my child might not be right for your child.
One child might be sensitive and dependable while the other might be bold and fun-loving. Thus, they both demand different upbringings. Another factor that affects the parenting method you adopt is the type of person you are.
A person with conservative thinking will bring up children differently and a person while a person with liberal thinking will bring up children differently. Financial circumstances also play a role in the upbringing of children.
Though most parents try hard to give the best life they can afford to give to their children but financial constraints do play a role. But in all this what is to be highlighted is the intent of the parents.
As far as parents have pure intent of giving a good upbringing to their children even the negative circumstances would gradually result in positive outcomes or at least reduce the intensity of negative outcomes.
In Hindu mythology, it is believed that parents always want the best for their children and I am sure it must be the same in every religion.
So it’s natural to believe that most parents have good intentions in their hearts when making every decision for their children.
Yet at times parents unintentionally become authoritative and expect their every order to be followed and that it is only them who will take decisions for their children’s life. But it is only till a certain stage of life that children follow every advice or order of their parents. As they grow up, their personality is developed and they have thought of their own. This leads to a generation gap.
But we should not forget that parents are also humans and they can also make mistakes. They didn’t do a course on how to raise children. No one does. Yet they try to give the best life to their children.
Then why do children don’t understand this?
The parent-children relationship affects the physical and emotional development of the child and lays the foundation of a child’s personality, attitude, and outlook towards life. This relationship goes through different phases.
As a parent, you might be more caring for your child when he/she is a toddler, but as he/she reaches a teenager you might become a strict or disciplined parent. The way you treat your child affects the way he/she thinks and behaves.
According to Erik Erikson’s psychosocial theory of development, infants who have parents meeting their basic needs will grow into trusting adults, but infants whose needs are not met will develop feelings of mistrust in future relationships.
Children need and crave time with a parent at every stage of life. This need does not diminish as a child grows up, though it does change.
A shared meal, spending some time talking after dinner, and a short holiday can bring your child closer to you emotionally. Contrary to this, shouting at them or neglecting them because you are tired after work might leave a scar on their hearts.
But why am I talking about all this?
This is because the reason why children don’t understand their parents has a lot to do with their upbringing. Maybe as a parent, you never gave them the freedom to express their views.
It might also be that you have been an over-caring parent and these fears your child that they might hurt you. On the other side, you might have a friendly relationship with your child, which gives them the confidence to share their secrets, insecurities, and everything that happens in their life with you without any hesitation.
The understanding between parents and children is built over the years they spend together.
The best way to build it is to have open communication with your children. If there is a communication gap then there would be chances of misunderstanding popping up which might also strain your relationship with them.
What is the best way to avoid this communication gap?
As our children grow up, we also need to grow as parents. Parenting is a dynamic and complex process that needs to change with the changing circumstances as the child grows. Our development as parents can be divided into various stages.
- It starts with the pre-birth stage when the prospective parents draw an image of themselves as what type of parents they would be in the future.
2. The second stage is the nurturing stage (a child is born to 2 years approx) when the parents try to spend more and more time with their infant and build a selfless bond. The child is most dependent on parents in this stage.
3. The third stage is the authority stage when the parents start to decide what type of rules they would like their child to follow and how to set those rules.
4. The fourth stage is the interpretive stage (children in primary school) which involves the child being exposed to the outside world and starts forming opinions about different things. It is up to the parent to decide how much space to give to their children’s thinking and how to deal with their rising curiosity.
5. The fifth stage is the interdependent stage (child in the teenage years). It might be the most difficult stage for many parents as it involves many challenges. The child doesn’t only develop biologically but also mentally. It is mostly at this stage that a communication gap might come between the parent and the child. The parent’s major task is to know how much freedom to provide to the child. Also, this stage can define much of the future relationship between the two parties.
6. The last stage is the departure stage when the child leaves the home. It is more about parents evaluating their parenting in all these years and how their child has turned out to be. This stage requires parents to accept the separate identity of their children and let them make decisions about their life by being there as a support system.
You can read more about these stages here
Each of the above stages demands a transition in the parenting style. It also determines how strong the relationship would be between the parent and the child. Through these transitions, if parents accept that they can also make mistakes and are not perfect, then their child also doesn’t expect the parents to be perfect and always right as the way you think and the way your child thinks has a lot of similarities. This helps children understand their parents better and reduces the chances of misunderstanding in the future. It also helps in tackling with generation gap more easily.
But does this mean children don’t hold any responsibility for maintaining the relationship with their parents?
No, certainly not. Though the child’s development from a baby to an adult is highly affected by parenting, they also hold a responsibility to understand their parents. Of Course, we can’t expect a primary school child to understand his/her parents but as they grow their thinking capacity also develops. They become more aware of the outside world and the challenges their parents face to bring them up. Ideally, it should develop a feeling of gratitude in them. So maintaining a healthy parent-children relationship as the child grows becomes a responsibility on both sides.
Following are some ways to maintain a healthy Parent-Child relationship :
1. Children need to understand that if their parents are possessive about them it is only because they love them and have invested a lot of time and effort in bringing them up. It is natural for parents to be wanting the best for their children.
2. Children need to respect the intent of their parents in making decisions for them. From the point of view of parents, they just don’t want their child to suffer in life because of any decision made by their child because of a lack of experience. So at times, parents try to dominate with their decisions.
3. Children should not take their parents for granted and should have a feeling of gratitude towards them.
4. As parents, once the child grows up you need to be flexible in your thinking and try to understand your children as well.
5. Also, parents should give more space to their children as they grow up and rather than forcing their decisions, parents should act as a guide in helping their children make the right decisions in life.
A healthy parent – children relationship is the result of the efforts that both of them put in and neither of them should be burdened with this responsibility alone.