In this time of lockdown with the COVID-19 there are many stories being told of trouble between parents having to stay home from work and their children being home from school and all stuck in a very enclosed environment. But most parents will claim that they love their children yet they can’t stand any extended time with their children. Why is that?
I believe there is a two-sided answer but I’m not sure which side has more importance. I will choose to start with the side that has greater responsibility; the parent’s side.
The parent’s side to this answer involves a hard truth to face. That truth is that most parents that I have observed in this American culture are actually self-absorbed and immature themselves. They have never allowed boundaries to be put on themselves and so the requirements for good and successful parenting are far from their focus. They only give attention to their children if they get some kind of reward for themselves and ignore the child for the rest of the time. This kind of parent loves babies because people make an “ooey-gooey” fuss over babies giving a vicarious reward to the parent. But when the child is older the only time the parent focuses on them is when the child is interrupting what they are selfishly focusing on. This produces whining, repetitive begging and temper tantrums on the part of the child because that is the only way they can break into the parent’s self-focused bubble. This parent doesn’t think “What is best for the life outcome of my child?” but only focuses on “How fast can I get rid of this interruption and get back to my world?” So they will threaten but never follow through or manipulate with gifts and candy. Both teach the child that their parent is foolish and they can completely run them. This belief has no good ending for the parent or the child and produces chaos when enclosed together at home.
The other side of this problem stems from the first and that is that the child has never been trained with proper boundaries. This requires that the parent have these themselves and know how to instruct someone else in them. When a child is trained in proper and consistent boundaries, they become delightful to be around. They go to sleep when quietly told it is bedtime. Because of this, they are well-rested and joyful instead of cranky.
They have learned and accept that “no” means “no” and “yes” is always lived up to by the parents. This eliminates whining and begging and arguments that wear the parent out so that they become cranky. As a result, each enjoys the presence of the other no matter how locked down you both are. Chaos happens quickly with children but boundaries can quickly bring it back down to peaceful co-existence without limiting the creativity on anyone’s part, parent or child.
I have told you what the problem is but not really how to fix it. That will come in a later blog.