Parents may be unconsciously gaslighting their children with the intention to shape them to become better people. This, however, makes the children suffer.
Just when you start feeling confident enough about your parenting skills and habits, there is always something which will tell you – no, there is something wrong here. Of course, we can never be perfect no matter what we do, but that does not mean that we cannot strive for perfection.
And when it comes to perfection, many parents think that perfection means toughness and endurance; the lack of sorry emotions and tears; the need to impose some unwritten rules that do not fit our natural frame but rather the learned things that were imposed on us when we were children.
Through the process of shaping our children, we often tend to neglect many of their natural reactions thinking that they should learn how to ‘control’ them. However, this is a form of gaslighting.
Gaslighting is defined as the process of convincing someone that their experiences are false; that they are not really experiencing what they think they are, but that they are fooling themselves.
By discrediting the emotions our children are experiencing (with the wish to protect them from such ‘weaknesses’), we are doing exactly that! Emotions are the response to the world, perhaps the most natural one, and they come as a result of one’s perception.
So, are we constantly gaslighting our children?
Here Are The 10 Most Common Situations And How You Could Solve Them Easily:
1. Convincing Your Child That They Need To Eat More Even Though They Are Full
Example: You put food on their plate and they finish it halfway, claiming that they are full. This does not mean they have finished their meal, so you make them finish it.
Reason: It is true that you want your child to be well-fed. You may think that your child does not like the dish enough to finish it, so you force them to finish it so that they are fed as they should be.
Solution: Just as you know when you are full, so does your child. Who would like to stay hungry anyway? Especially when they have a nice meal in front of them. And if they do not like it, it is best that you discuss what meals they prefer and what meals they do not like. Would you eat something you do not like? Then why should your children?
2. Convincing Your Child That They Are Alright When They Are Really Not
Example: Your child tripped and fell on the ground. Now they are crying even if they have no signs of visible injury. And in the end, whatever the case, you know that they are alright and that there is nothing to worry about, so you make sure you tell them.
Reason: You see your child feeling upset over something that is not that bad, and you want to assure them that there is nothing to worry about.
Solution: Even if it is nothing serious, your child is upset, and you should acknowledge their emotion. As an adult, you can see ten steps ahead, and this is good, but you should not forget that your child’s perception is tied to the immediate moment, and they need to learn to cope with the moment. Help them out by asking how they are feeling, and assure them that you are here for them.
3. Convincing Your Child That Whatever They Are Crying About Is Not Worth Their Tears
Example: Your child lost their favorite toy, or maybe they broke it. So, they are crying about it, and you convince them that it is not worth their tears.
Reason: You know that it is useless shedding tears over trivial things. In the end, your job as a parent is to teach your child that crying over nothing will not solve anything.
Solution: While you are right, your child is right in their own perception, and you should respect that. They are feeling sad, and they are feeling frustrated. Acknowledge their emotion and discuss it with them. Ask them how they are feeling, and once they have articulated their feelings in a healthy way, you can offer them a solution or ask them how they think they can solve the problem.
4. Inspiring Fear To Keep Your Child Under Control
Example: Your child misbehaves, and you immediately think of a situation which may seem frightful in their eyes, like “Santa won’t bring you any presents,” or “A man is going to come and take you away to sell you somewhere.”
Reason: You want your children to behave nicely, and if nothing else works, perhaps a little fear will not hurt to teach them to act nicely.
Solution: A child’s misbehavior is usually a plea for attention. Instead of making up stories which will make them afraid, you should respond to their plea in a healthy way. If not, your child may stop misbehaving, but they will feel more and more lonely with every passing day. The best way is to see the underlying cause for their misbehavior and help them sort those things out.
5. Discrediting Their Passions By Explaining That They Will Have More Important Things To Do When They Grow Up.
Example: Your child has a passion for collecting stickers, or maybe locating the best marbles and playing with them all day. Still, you know that this is a childish fad and you explain to them that it is useless to focus on it since it will fade away anyway.
Reason: You do not want your child to focus on useless activities that will not contribute to their future in any possible way. They are better off reading a book or taking up some course.
Solution: Your child has a mind of their own, and you should respect them. It may be a temporary fad, and it may have no use for the future, but if they do not go through it because you have discredited it, it can grow into a frustration (which means it does affect their future). Instead, let them experience their world and their passions fully, and they will know what to do with those passions later in life.
6. Teaching Them Not To Question Rules, Authorities, And Adults.
Example: Your child felt that something an adult in their life said was not correct, or that it owes an explanation, so they asked for clarification or offered their opinion. You feel ashamed that your child is acting that way, so you better scold them when you get home.
Reason: You do not want your child to offend anyone. How can a child know more than an adult?
Solution: Your child is an intelligent person, so do not underestimate them. If they ask for clarification or state their opinion about something their ‘authoritative’ figure has said, that means that they are intelligent enough not to follow blindly. You could explain to them that perhaps they should not do that in every given situation, but regardless, you should encourage them to think with their own heads.
7. Forcing Your Religion Or Beliefs Onto Them.
Example: Your child does not see a reason to believe in your God, or to follow the same spiritual path that you have chosen. You know that this is something that they are not aware of, so you do not think twice before imposing those beliefs on them.
Reason: Religion and beliefs are the core of your day-to-day functioning, so you see why they should not be the same with your children. They should be afraid of taking the wrong steps, and you are here to make sure that they do not.
Solution: Every person’s spiritual path and discovery of God is and should be self-paced. Imposing a world of beliefs on your child will not make them feel that they have to agree with it, but will only make them feel that they are missing something in their perception and you are putting an odd piece in the puzzle they are building. Let them discover the truth at their own pace. If they do not agree, perhaps their path requires some other discoveries first.
Do these things sound familiar? Every child has gone through these things because the parents meant them well. However, when you look at them from this perspective, they are very damaging for a child, whose perception is still in the process of making.
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A professional writer with over a decade of incessant writing skills. Her topics of interest and expertise range from health, nutrition and psychology.