Parenting is often treated as a performance for other adults to see what the adult with children has made of themselves. Parents needs to be reflective of the way they treat their children, especially if they desire a healthy, honest relationship with their children in the future.
Young adults usually leave home having anticipated and dreamt of it for most of their young lives. The prospect of independence and everything the world outside has to offer are obvious attractions to young minds. However, a lot of young people obsess about the “outside world” and go out into it harbouring feelings of resentment towards their parents. These feelings are seldom resolved, resulting in unfulfilling, shallow relationships between duty-bound children and parents who feel entitled to these (sometimes empty) submissive relationships due to having raised them. More often than not, the youth’s negative feelings towards parents or other parental figures in their lives are very valid.
Projecting On Children
Adulting is difficult. Waking up and conscientiously deciding to exist and be of some use to yourself and the world is a great feat. One which, besides procreation and other things, has carried humanity for all the time we have been on Earth.
Going through adulthood, nonetheless, rarely feels like an achievement, but more of a cross one has to bear as a consequence of making it past childhood. Most of us usually vent or express our frustrations to our partners or close friends, take up some form of escapism or bottle our stresses up. Some of us, however, take these feelings of frustration out on children who, unlike our friends and partners, cannot (according to rules of propriety) give us an honest piece of their minds. Through that, they become emotional punch-bags to their parents’ effort to alleviate frustrations.
Normalising Abuse as Parenting
This very wrong practice of projecting our frustrations on people who we not only claim to care about, but who also cannot protect themselves, rarely ends after the stress has been released. Instead, it creates a culture of unfair domination and normalises all forms of abuse in the name of parenting. I have personally encountered too many parents and adults who endorse and practice sadistic behaviour towards children. Many parents brag about beating and even humiliating their children. A lot of the time, the related actions of the children do not warrant such reactions. The parents also know this. However, many parents and adults believe that domination is a crucial part of being an adult human being.
Control and Domination in Parenting
In many cases, parents do not punish their children because they “love” them. This is often done to reassert domination and control in a world which praises adults for appearing to have perfect lives and meek, unheard children.
Discipline seeks to elicit positive behaviour through teaching acceptable behaviour. The responsibility of behaving acceptably in future rests with the child, not the parent or society.
Punishment seeks to elicit positive behaviour through control and retribution. Parents and society are burdened with the responsibility for their behaviour.
Society presents domination and control as key, desirable aspects of adulthood. Adults are very competitive, even more so than children. Adults often have to compete for their dignity and personhood in a world which they do not have control over. What they do have control over, however, is their children. Many parents use underhanded tactics, including physical violence, intrusive surveillance and vindictiveness, to maintain this control.
Children are quite literally fragile beings. This naturally calls for uneven relationships based on care and guidance. Nevertheless, care and guidance do not translate into domination. Parents have to be honest with themselves in regards to decisions they take about their children. Are you taking that particular decision because you care about them? Or are you just guarding against failing in comparison to seemingly perfect families with seemingly happy, submissive children?