Every child and childhood has problems and difficulties along the way. Some children may get more than their fair share and some problems may be bigger than others but I believe we have to treat them in the same way.
As a parent, we have to understand our child is hurt, listen and offer support. But we shouldn’t allow that problem to shape them or to become an excuse for bad behaviour, not achieving or giving up.
Part of my job as a parent is to help my children have the strength to deal with the problems that they will encounter in life. I will support them but I will not be their crutch or allow them to have excuses. They have to develop means of surviving by themselves in that big bad world.
If you tell a child that they are a victim, they will stay a victim. You may not say it directly, but you can imply it by focusing on those that have hurt them in the past. If you say to your child, “I understand that you are insecure and scared because you were bullied in the past,” then surely you are re-enforcing that insecurity label, resulting in them being more likely to be a victim once more.
However, if you state, “You have dealt fantastically with the bullying in the past and I know you are strong enough to deal with …..”, you are giving them the self-belief that they are confident and independent, which will carry them forwards over the next hurdle life gives them.
By wrapping up our children under the term ‘support’, we can actually encourage them to be reliant on us and never deal with their own problems.
I do wonder if some parents actually subconsciously desire this. They may be lonely and have only their child so wish them to stay close to them. But they are not allowing them to fly independently. They are clipping their wings to make them emotionally reliant on them, which won’t help the child when they are an adult.
Of course I believe in supporting my children. But I also believe in enabling them to be able to support themselves. We shouldn’t protect a child so much that they can’t protect themselves. We should enable our children to be able to be resilient against the attacks of others.
Tasha and Kaiya went through a very difficult time Two Years Ago When My World Fell Apart and I am currently paying for them to have counselling to be able to talk through the events. But I have consciously not over-compensated or said that they have issues because of their father as this would lead them to believe that they are victims of his behaviour. They are not victims; they are children who have experienced something negative (as have thousands of other children).
If this comes across as cruel parenting, then so be it. But my children will be strong, motivated and fulfilled adults with the knowledge that they can overcome whatever life throws at them. I won’t allow them to feel sorry for themselves or have an excuse for their actions. They have to take responsibility for their own actions.
Michael, my eldest, demonstrated this on the day that he was in the house when my ex came in drunk, shouting and swearing at me. He subsequently witnessed the police arriving and arresting his father. Less than three hours later, Michael took his A Level final exam. There was no talk of him not doing it or consideration of using his father as an excuse if he failed. His failure or success was purely down to him on that day.
Two months after the exam, Michael found out that he passed with flying colours and I was immensely proud of him.
I am not saying that he was unaffected by the events – of course he was upset and shaken up. But he had the inner resources to be able to acknowledge and manage those emotions in order to be successful.
Too often I hear adults blaming their actions on others, complaining about what life throws at them, yet not changing anything about their circumstances. They still haven’t learnt to take responsibility and are still perceiving themselves as the victim, waiting for someone to come and support them. Yet, as adults, we have to be independent and make our own choices.
If we don’t support our children to be able to be able to manage life’s knocks and treat them as victims of those who hurt them, we create adults who also see themselves as victims and remain unhappy and unfulfilled.
For your children’s sake, don’t let them see themselves as helpless victims of others’ actions. Give them the strength and resilience to allow them to fly for themselves.