Whenever the topic of “child abuse” is mentioned, we generally contemplate about two types of abuse; physical and sexual. These abuses are comparatively more alarming in India, but today we are going to discuss about a type of abuse, which is less talked about. Emotional abuse of children… by their parents.
As a parent, you want the best for your children and for that, I understand that you will go to any length to teach them what you were not taught, and to provide them what you did not have. In order to achieve the desired outcomes, you might have found yourself using quite ‘unpopular’ means and strategies to shape their personality, for example, tough love. However, it’s hard to figure out the correct effect of our behavior and parental experiments. Your criticism can actually have a complete opposite impact than what you thought it will turn out. Your words can destruct your children’s mental health rather than constructing it. This article is to help you identify whether you are emotionally abusing your child and what measures you can take to become a better parent for your children.
Criticizing your children in front of their friends and family, continuously highlighting the negative aspects of their personality, yelling for futile things, being verbally abusive, humiliating them in public places, mocking their limitations are examples of this. However, you may not recognize them immediately. The key to identify emotional abuse is paying keen attention on how you feel exactly after criticizing them. Does it bring satisfaction? Do you find yourself grinning or secretly liking insulting them? Does it make you feel better about yourself? If any of these answers is ‘yes’ then you need help.
Frightening kids to abandon them, giving suicidal threats, excessive and unjust punishment, completely cutting off communication, screaming, blackmailing them to get your work done, extreme and unexpected reactions, mentally tormenting to break them till they agree to do what you want etc is part of threatening. You are older than your kids doesn’t mean that you are perfect. Parenting is a new experience and we all carry baggage of our childhood with us, which determines our behavior, nature, expectations etc. If you have history of bad parenting then there are good chances that you might reflect that on your kids too. In such case, you have to be vigilant with your actions and words you utter. Do you find yourself replicating the same pattern as your parents? How did that turn out for you? How did you feel and thought about your parents when the same things happened to you? Consider all these aspects and do not hesitate to reach out for help. Consult a good psychologist.
Displaying your anger to children, accusing them for your short comings, telling them that everything that is going wrong in your life is because of them, making them feel that your life would have been better without them etc are ways through which some parents tend to blame their children. Making them feel guilty for their mere existence; as if they owe you something in return of breeding them. Blaming children may temporarily solve your problem and bring peace but subsequently will cause a permanent emotional damage. Low self-esteem, low self-confidence, hostility, emotional instability, anger issues etc will result in an impaired development of personality.
Unrealistic expectations such as pressurizing children to do something which is not appropriate and suitable for their age, like earning a living or making them contribute financially at home as a minor. Enforcing studies and a lot of extra-curricular activities in which they have overtly shown their indifference is another remarkably typical example nowadays as parents want to create “the perfect” child. The second instance can be tricky to identify as abuse or general parental efforts. The key is to find how stressed your child feels. Talking to them directly without being intimidating or emotionally bullying is the simplest way to do it. This all can happen only if you have a set mindset of freeing your children with intentional or unintentional emotional abuse.
- Impairing Socialization
Kids are vulnerable to bad influences. So a little interference of parents on with whom their child should become friends is healthy but if all of their friends are “strictly parents approved” then we have a problem to deal with. Being overprotective or spending negligible quality time with them , both affect their emotional health. Some abusive parents pushes it to the next level by controlling every single move and communication their kids are having outside or by simply restricting them to go outside and develop any sort of relationship on their own. By this, they develop a kind of mastery over their children by manipulating them into convincing that they are incapable of doing things or developing relations on their own and that they will always have to be dependent on their parents for most of the things which children grow up into believing and ruins their adulthood. Remember, what happened with you will not stop till you break the cycle, by bringing change in the ways you think and if not, you will merely pass it on to next generation and they will learn the same.
Anyway, emotional abuse is a vast topic and it’s difficult to summarize it into one article perfectly. Situations are not always black and white so spare yourself from judging and comment down any doubts or scenarios you would like to share. I would be happy to help.