Parenting in today’s era is the most difficult and challenging part of our lives. All of us at some point, knowingly or unknowingly have resorted to emotinal manipulation on our kids, although it may seem very subtle or hamless at the surface, this can have serious repurcurssions on the emotional development of the kid, especially if this behavior is repeated frequently, it can affect the pshyche of the child and can have irreversible impacts.
This impact is more visible in them as they grow up as adults and can prove out to be big barriers in the development of their emotional relationships.
Let’s look at some examples of seemingly subtle yet unhealthy emotional manipulations :
- Gain the child’s sympathy by showing “Victim Me” picture of yourself.e.g. “Well I wanted to buy the jeans for you, but your father doesn’t want me to, he did not give me any money.”
“Papa you are never there” – “Your mother is always nagging, that’s why I stay outside most of the time.”Many parents in the attempt to conceal their own insecurities or limitations / bad habits, project a “Victim Me” picture of themselves, so that their behavior is justified. Twisting facts and giving emotinal reasons for bad habits. Sometimes they even shift the blame to their own spouse (as in the above examples) or another family member, which makes matters even worse, since, if this is done repeatedly, this will draw the child away from the other parent or the family.
This may momentarily help you get your work done or keep you in the good books, but really what are you doing ?
You are teaching them that –
Problems are always someone else’s fault.
We can succumb to our bad habits as long as we have legitimate reasons to justify them, so let’s look to legitimise our mistakes/issues instead of trying to make ourselves better.
You are in-effect limiting their ability to distinguish between right and wrong, they are just tied to your view of things instead of developing their own individual thinking.
- Develop the feelings of guilt in the child, for things they do for themselves or if you do for theme.g. “I am so unwell but I will still cook for you, tell me what do you want to eat ?”
This is what I call faking love. I would rather be direct and say ” I am not well can you please cook something for yourself” instead of manipulating them into saying it after feeling guilty.So, what are you teaching them – Emotional manipulation, they will be using the same techniques on others in their life instead of being direct and clear.
Another e.g “Oh you don’t love us anymore that is why you want to go to the eating joint with your special friend instead of us” and then creating an emotional scene out of it.
What are you teaching them – “Insecurity in relationships” Your trust on your and your child’s relationship is so fragile that it gets impacted by a simple act of your child spending an evening with their romantic interest. They will always be scared of losing you or hurting you if they do not involve you in their plans.
You are hereby also imposing the view that thinking about themselves is not correct, that if they do anything for only themselves or their happiness it is sinful.
I am sure many of you may have counter arguments to this, that “We are teaching them to be less self centered”. Yes agree, that is important, but what needs to be taught is to achieve a balance between self and others and not to ignore yourself completely. Sometimes you got to do what pleases you, and that’s perfectly fine.
Remember an appropriate dose of Self Love is critical for their emotional well being.
- Over protecting, covering thier faults or helping them shift the blame
e.g. “It’s not your fault the teacher should not give such work, I will talk to your teacher”
It is very important for an emotionally developed person to be able to introspect and dig deep to see his contribution to a problem, recognize his faults, own up and grow from it. This is a pre-requisite to success in life. By supporting or not correcting, the child’s natural instinct of pushing the blame outside, you are, may be avoiding a temporary disappointment in your child but building grounds for much bigger disappointments in future as he/she grows up to be an independent adult.This is going to affect the child in all fronts, be it professional or personal. Not being able to accept faults or turning a blind eye can actually be a sign of narcacissm.
- Being a “Yes Man/Woman” to their views or demands, even if they are unreasonable – to maintain good willGiving in to unreasonable demands or views of the child to avoid conflict or temporary discontent, is not the right way to go. It’s important that the child understands that not everything in life goes as per what they desire. Failures, disappointments and mistakes are all a reality and he/she is equipped to deal with them.
Let’s face it – at times we all use the emotional built of our children for getting things we want done – instead of opening their yes towards their weaknesses and making them aware of them and help them deal with those.
I hope this piece here forrces us to think and introspect our behaviours, considering their probable impacts on the our children and their emotional development, and motivates us to make a concious effort to avoid them and use rather more open and positive strategies with our children.