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How Parents Harm Children

Whether it’s done heartlessly or from too much love, certain ways of parenting will likely ruin the parent-child relationship (and the child). It pays to know the no no’s if you’re a parent raising children, one whose progeny have left the nest, or are an adult dealing with your parents. Here are some harmful behaviors that parents engage in from “How to Get Your Kids to Hate You” by Judith Newman (AARP Magazine, Apr/May 2019, pp 58-61), along with some ideas of my own added in. The no no’s:

· Don’t maintain appropriate boundaries and demand that your children share every aspect of their lives in detail. Micro-manage all their decisions and make sure to repeatedly give them your opinion when they do something you think is wrong.

· Hold your children hostage to the gifts you give them. Whenever you give them one, let them know that they owe you. Remind them often of what you gave them and the sacrifices you made for it to happen.

· Don’t ask for help when you need it because you fear being a “bother.” If you need medical assistance, don’t tell your children. If you don’t know how to do something, act as if you do. In general, feel that anything you want is too much to ask of them.

· Insist that your children tell you where they are and what their plans are to the minute. Expect them to call as soon as they get home and get angry if they’re late calling. Let them know how badly you worry about them and how this gives you the right to know their exact whereabouts.

· Call or send emails frequently to check in, ask how they are, or share information. Ignore their requests to send fewer emails or call less often and insist it’s your right as a parent to hear from and have contact with them. Assure them that they’ll only understand your angst when they have kids of their own.

· Give outdated advice. To prove a point, tell them often about your experiences with dating/finances/careers/etc. and ignore the fact that times have changed. Fail to recognize that what was right for you back then may be wrong for your kids now.

· Make holidays about you and make your children feel guilty if they have other ideas about how to celebrate. Ignore the fact that adult children have their own needs and time constraints and that you are not the center of their universe anymore.

· Be critical. Second-guess your children’s opinions and invalidate their feelings. Make sure to let them know that you know better than they do what’s good for them. Make them feel guilty for thinking or doing things differently than you do and be angry at them when they live their own lives in a way you wouldn’t dream of doing

· (This one’s my own.) Act like a victim. Complain, whine, act depressed and tell your children how awful it is that terrible things happen to you all the time. Blame your

children or others for your misfortunes, even when something is your fault. Act as helpless as possible to show how pathetic your life is so they’ll feel sorry for you.

Look for patterns in your own behavior toward your children or your parents’

behavior toward you. It’s natural and normal to do any of the above once in a while. The goal isn’t perfection, but to have a parent-child/adult child relationship that is healthy, which means not engaging in the behaviors described above.







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