It may be impossible not to do, but maybe just being aware of it when we experience it, would be helpful.There may be almost nothing more painful than watching our kids hurt. Most often we'd rather do their suffering for them.I am sure it is "Mama Bear instinct" when we see our kids in any kind of pain - whether it is physical or emotional - whether they are the cause of their pain or not at fault.
There are, of course, situations when their pain needs to be our business.And there are plenty more situations where their issues need to belong to our kids.However, the focus of this article is not about whether or not to step in. It is aboutbringing to light the serious ramifications we could create simply with our perspective of the child's issue/s.
Sometimes when our kids have pain, we feelsorry for them. …down-right pity them. Learning disabilities, physical challenges or depression/anxiety, are a few examples where sympathy can turn to pity.Then, sometimes when our kids have pain, we feel guilt. A bad marriage, a move or financial difficulties may make us feel guilty. Any feelingwe experience in any of these situations is normal and to a point, healthy.I am not suggesting anyone suppress their emotions.I am suggesting you pay close attention to the way your emotions drive your dealings with your child/ren.
A pitfall many parents fall into, me included, is to not hold our kids accountable out of sympathy or guilt.I have had numerous coaching clients say things like, "I don't want to give him consequences. He is struggling so much already", or "I don't hold her accountablebecause I don't think she could handle it right now."
When our kids have strikes against them, we tend to want to make the rest of their life as easy as we can. Yet, nothing could be more off-base than this philosophy.By not having high enough expectations of them because of their struggles, we see and label them as victims.Once they realize that we view them as victims, they see themselves that way, if they haven't already.By thinking of them as victims, we pigeon-hole them into a "not capable" or "can't handle it" place. Life is tough enough without our parents pity and victim perspectives!
Instead of crippling our kids with "poor you" images, I am suggesting that we have plenty of empathy for them and for their plights and at the same time, hold high expectations of them. I realize this can be emotionally difficult to do.However, it is easy if we keep reminding ourselves of the long term benefits of high expectations, or it may be even more helpful to think of the long term damage that can, and most likely will, be done with your pity.I like to remember the fantastic example of this with Helen Keller. She was a very bright little girl that became blind and deaf after a serious illness and high fever. Her parents were naturally broken-hearted. They also felt extremely sorry for Helen and did not hold any expectations of her or ever hold her accountable. She became nearly impossible to live with and acted like a wild, rabid animal.Finally, and thankfully, Annie, her miracle worker teacher, came into their lives. Annie did not let Helen get by with misbehavior and pushed her to learn.Look what became of Helen all because someone expected a lot from her!
Periodically we see stories in the news of people who overcame great childhood hardships.They always seem to say the same thing; "my parents never acted like they felt sorry for me and always had high expectations of me."
No matter what the issues are, we can always do our best to help our kids over their humps. Whether they need special programs, tutoring, therapy, doctors or just our listening ears, they still desperatelyneed us to see them as whole and capable human beings. Only when they know that we view them as able, are they able to view themselves the same way. And only when they view themselves as capable, are they able to push on through, become accomplished, have high self-esteem and then, go on to fulfill their purposes and potentials.
In the end, it's all about them having as happy and productive lives as possible. It may not come second nature to hold them accountable when they are down, but it will likely serve them incredibly well in the long run. Happy Parenting!
Independent Facilitator of Love and Logic(TM) Parenting Courses
"Early Childhood Parenting Made Fun! (TM)" and
"Parenting the Love and Logic Way"(TM)
By: Amy Egan, CTA Certified Life Coach