Broken Parents Make Broken Children
by Francesca Cappucci Fordyce
To admit that you are a broken parent requires guts. Nobody wants to look at themselves and ask what is really going on. That would demand that the parent closely considers his or her own childhood, and possibly uncover pain that she/he would really rather keep concealed.
When parents have a baby, they unwittingly have to deal with their own brittle past. It is unavoidable. The baby makes it happen. At every new stage, memories sneak up. A parent recalls what happened when they were that age.
Just as we cope with unfulfilled expectations, the most effective way to avoid recalling childhood memories is to keep moving. There is a syndrome of "running parents", always on the go. The neurosis of running becomes a family affliction, parents insist that their children remain busy as well.
Like the passing on of genetic codes, children generally become impaired by the needs, impulses and frailties of their parents. A compulsive or obsessive parent transfers the same traits to his or her children. If mom or dad frantically pursues work and hobbies, so will the child. The entire household will be on the move. From play dates, soccer practices and games, art classes... whatever it takes to keep the family busy and in motion.
Busy-ness is a perfect avoidance mechanism. Confronting issues is not possible if you are constantly on the go. Parents are propelled to keep moving so they don't have to deal with the unappeasable emptiness they feel. In this form of escaping, the parent creates an environment prohibitive to real communication. There is only time to talk about getting ready for the next activity.
In most families, parents compare notes with other parents to regulate what their children should be doing. All the kids are on the same very active schedule. Ironically, personal progress is measured according to peer standards. Every activity in which a child engages is measured.
With everyone sizing up everyone else, there is very little room for imaginative play and spontaneous fun. The child is, instead, bound by the pressure to do it all, and fear of failure is immense. If it is pointed out that a child is not doing as much as or as well as another, then that child feels like he is letting everyone down, including himself.
Life becomes a series of unfulfilled expectations. When a child continually tries to prove his or her worthiness, there is little opportunity to cultivate self-awareness. The child measures his or her worth and identity not by his/her individuality but rather in terms of a job well done.
Many parents say they keep their children active so they won't get into trouble or to keep them stimulated. But, keeping children overly busy prohibits them from discovering who they are. They don't sit still long enough to get a sense of themselves. There is never time for quiet self-reflection. If there ever is any downtime, the child doesn't know what to do with himself. He gets restless, bored, and feels generally uncomfortable.
Over-structured environments further stifle distinctiveness and character, which spawn the creative impetus and expression in children. Tragically, if children don't tap into finding their bliss early on, they forge a life of living by rote and consequently are unable to cultivate a sense of inner happiness and satisfaction. The key is to strike a balance. Monitor if the hobby or sport is really in fact a babysitter, or if the activity truly brings your child genuine joy and stimulates his/her mind, body, and spirit.
You can help your child cultivate self-awareness and inner peace by initiating intimate and meaningful conversation. During the day, take a moment from time to time to talk to your child and ask meaningful questions. They can be simple or probing. The idea is to initiate self-exploration and discovery. You may not get an answer, but don't take it personally. The main thing is to get your child thinking. If you are a working parent who is apart from your child during the day, make a point of having breakfast and dinner together. By instigating meaningful conversation, parents can get to know their child.
"Solo Parenting: Raising Strong & Happy Families"
by Diane Chambers.
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