You’ve seen these families before. Mom and dad ordering their children around, scolding, nagging and keeping their children very much under their thumb. All too often parents confuse over controlling bullying with over protective parenting. Protective or overprotective has a much nicer ring to it than over-controlling and bullying. Who doesn’t want to protect their children? We’re parents; it’s what we do. But often what passes for over-protective is really over-controlling. Over-critical, over-demanding, rule-oriented, forbidding parenting is garden variety bullying with a fancy name.
Of course I’m not advocating that parents provide no rules, structure, expectations or boundaries. Children should not be given too much freedom when they are not old enough developmentally to use the freedom safely. But when a child reaches certain ages and stages, rites of passage if you will, it’s time to ease up on the control a little. Sure you’re afraid of what could happen. Most parents are. But there comes a time to allow the child some room to grow, to make mistakes, to test out their wings, fall, pick themselves up and soar.
The parenting that I’m referring to in this article is repressive parenting. Bullies. Parents who have lists of don’t, can’ts, shouldn’t with plenty of negative consequences spelled out for non-compliance. Bullies. I’m talking about parents who expect their children to fail, plan for it and nail it mercilessly. Bullies. Parents whose modus operandi is failure punishment based, and not success reward based. Bullies. Parents like this will often make extravagant and drastic statements about their children, even when they are very young. ‘He’s a monster. He’s uncontrollable. If I don’t keep a tight rein on her, she’ll run wild.’ Children act out for one or a combination of reasons: inconsistent parenting, health issues or repressive parenting. There is no need to continually shout at a child and order him about. These parents don’t parent this way because they have to; they parent this way because they don’t know any better. Or because they like bullying and children are a captive audience.
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