Parenting From an Emotionally Immature Background

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Sometimes parents have a hard time realizing that some behaviors of their own are immature and there’s growth needed on their part, especially if they are seeing a reflection of their children’s negative reactions from their behaviors as the problem. Maybe you became a parent at a young age, or had a hard upbringing where your own parents did not help you grow in emotional areas. What are some ways to be careful that you are not contributing with emotional immaturity?

Consider whether you are being insensitive to your child’s feelings.

Do you consider how your child might feel? Or do you see that as irrelevant? If your child is old enough, prompt them to express how they feel about any given situation. You might be surprised that they do not always feel how you might assume, or you may gain information that will help you guide your child in the situation.

Do you make the kids pay for your emotional state?

At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.

Jane D. Hull American – Politician

Have you developed a pattern of taking things out on your kids? It might not be physically, but emotionally taking everything out on your kids has a very similar effect. Your kids should not bear the brunt of your frustrations from work, relationships, or even their own behaviors. Controlling yourself means finding healthy ways to relieve the stress that these things may cause instead of treating your children unkindly.

Do you ask for more than what’s age appropriate?

Is it possible you demand too much from your kids? Sometimes parents get tired of all of the things they must do for their children and try to place a substantial part of the load on their children, but you must consider what they are actually capable of handling at their current age, stage, and skill level.

Asking your kid to set the table may be appropriate, but cooking the whole meal from a recipe may not be; in the same way, asking them to not whine is one thing, but not taking the time to help them deal with an emotion and asking them to figure it out themselves may be too much for them. Perfection in all areas, not allowing for mistakes, or even not allowing for an occasional bad day is asking too much.

Do you play the blame game?

Do you blame your kids for everything? We’re late because of you – but really you didn’t wake up early enough to get ready realistically. I’m yelling because of you – but really, it’s your choice. I burnt dinner because of you – but really, you needed to set a boundary and say not right now, I’ll look at your permission slip after dinner. Don’t blame your kids for things that are your responsibility.

Consider whether you are capable of admitting your own flaws.

To be a good father and mother requires that the parents defer many of their own needs and desires in favor of the needs of their children. As a consequence of this sacrifice, conscientious parents develop a nobility of character and learn to put into practice the selfless truths taught by the Savior Himself

James E. Faust American religious leader, lawyer, and politician

Similarly, learn to accept responsibility for your own shortcomings, and admit your own flaws. It’s ok to need to say sorry sometimes, and that can allow you to move on instead of spending an inordinate amount of time trying to save face. You can teach your kids to take responsibility for their own actions and work on their own flaws as you model this.

Are you a control freak?

Are you over-the-top controlling? Perhaps in an effort to try to manage your own feelings and thoughts, you try to control everything to an extreme amount. This can certainly give you the allusion that things are ok, but when something inevitably finally does go wrong, you still won’t have the tools and ability to manage your emotions, thoughts, and actions regarding the situation. You may even try to control things even more as a reaction, but you won’t get to the root of the issues.

Are you completely unable to be flexible?

Do you exhibit a low stress tolerance, where you are basically always unwilling to be flexible about anything? If you take any and every setback as a reason to throw a fit, withdraw, or start spewing angry words, you probably have a ways to grow yourself emotionally. Being able to roll with the punches a bit and have a plan b or c will help you feel less stressed out and overall more healthy emotionally.

So, before you can teach your kids how to deal with their own emotions, consider ways to work on your own emotional growth, through counseling, reading books, listening to podcasts on relevant subjects, and exploring how you process your own thoughts and feelings. Try journaling, taking the time to meditate or pray, or even reflect with a trusted friend on how you might change the patterns you’re in.

Reference and citation:

  1. Parent Personality and Positive Parenting as Predictors of Positive Adolescent Personality Development Over Time
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3399663/
  2. Authoritarian parenting style
    https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/authoritarian_parenting_style
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