What’s Wrong With Us?

As promised, I’m back to talk about what is wrong with our generation of parents. Namely, why we seem to have so little control over our children’s behavior. I know I’m not alone in this. I see it played out all around me. Kids used to be well behaved. I know I was. For those of you who knew me back then, hush, I’m talking about when I was a kid.  Yes, I was a horrible teenager. Anyway, I digress. I’m gonna break this into multiple parts because it’s too big of a topic to address in one post. So, here goes.

1. We have identified our parents as being the root of all our deeply embedded dysfunctions.

We are the generation acutely aware of our parents’ influence. We have all been to therapy. We’ve all analyzed the effect our parents had on our subsequent development. Been on Prozac. There used to be a time when people hid the fact they went to therapy or were on medication. It was a dirty secret. Not so with us. We are the generation that discusses our medication in the same manner we discuss the latest brand of shampoo we are using or what’s on sale at Target. We look at people who haven’t been to therapy at least once as being a bit unevolved. They are a step behind the rest of us on the path to enlightenment. We have spent numerous hours and lots of money analyzing our defects and problems with living. These discussions are inevitably laden with tales of the problems created by the inabilities of our parents. We grew up in a time when “I come from a dysfunctional family” had been used so much that coming from a dysfunctional family just meant you came from a normal family.

So, when the table is turned and it is our turn, we are immediately aware of the responsibility in our hands. We imagine what our children will be saying about us in therapy as they relate stories of their own childhood to their therapists as an explanation for their own shortcomings. Previous generations didn’t have this to contend with and it has presented really unique challenges to parents. It has resulted in us being so afraid to make a mistake and damage our children in any way that we choose to do nothing and instead allow them to lead the way. We are determined not to make the same mistakes our parents made, but in doing so we have become terrified of making any kind of mistake.  We choose to not act rather than act.

This is one of the most important reasons, but it doesn’t function alone. If this were the only factor hindering our parenting skills, we’d just go to a few more therapy sessions and poof- we’d be alright. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. More to come on this tomorrow.

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15 Responses to What’s Wrong With Us?

  1. Tianana says:

    Wow! Thank you so much for this topic. I have often felt this way but could not find the words to express it. Just as you said, I have been so afraid to make a mistake that I find myself doing nothing. I am so glad I happened upon this site. Consider me an avid follower from this day on!

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Hi Tianana! Thanks for being my first official comment:) If you like this topic then please keep coming back because I’m going to be delving more deeply into this issue.

  2. Pingback: Toddler Gets Kicked off Jet Blue for Tantrum | The Mommy Psychologist

  3. Aimee says:

    I am a single, widowed patent of a 15 year old. I have been his sole and single parent since he was 8. His father ended his own life. My son has also dealt with the passing of his grandmother who suddenly passed when he was 6. He spent every other day with her from birth to 4 1/2. My parents raised to well behaved independent daughters. Yes, it was difficult due to my parents age (20 and 22 when my sister was born) however , they raised us the right way. A little fear but lots of respect. We were never allowed to talk back or blame our own failures on others. Why do parents think that is acceptable now? One of the things my dad and sister did when my sons dad died was not let him EVER use that as an excuse. I will NOT let him wallow in self pity or continually blame. He does neither. I make him responsible for his education ( his success is his own as I do NOT help him w/ homework) and for things like cooking and cleaning. If kids have everything done for them how will they function in the real world? The real world has bosses and landlords and those who don’t always agree. Helicopter parenting and strictly living a child centered life almost sets the kid up for failure. I will leave with parting words a little Eastern Montana logic from my dad to my son ” kid, the world doesn’t revolve around you and every decision you make effects everyone around you. If you make bad decisions it reflects on us that is what you consider ALWAYS!”

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks for your comments and your dad’s quote:)

    • FatSean says:

      Except that we often fail at things because of someone else’s interference. Don’t give your child too much of your baggage. You might find they will be less than sympathetic about your failures in your old age.

  4. New Mommy-to-Be in SC says:

    Amazing insight! Can’t wait to learn more! I thought I was original in my thought of loving therapy so much that everyone should be in therapy 3x a week…but apparently I’m not. That’s kinda a relief, too. But you’re so right…I am TERRIFIED about screwing my baby up. I’ve even kinda recinded to myself, “Well, they’ll have to go to therapy for something.” :) Hope to follow you as my little one arrives and grows.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      When is your little one “supposed” to arrive? Do you know what you’re having yet or are you going to be surprised?

  5. Sarah says:

    What a great post, I have never been able to express this feeling as well as you did, but it is definitely real. I personally have doubled my anxiety by choosing to live with my parents for the past year. My husband got accepted into an incredible (free) graduate program, that will ultimately be a really good thing for us…but for right now it means we have to live here. With my mother constantly around (she is still a stay at home mom to my 11 year old sister), I feel very insecure about my different parenting style. My mom was a helicopter mom before it was cool, to such and extreme that I don’t think it benefitted my brother, sister and I as much as she intended. Add to the mix the fact that she is my childcare when I work, so she is like another mother to my son, one I feel I can’t always compete with. I want to be different with my son than she was with me, I loved what Aimee wrote and completely agree. This makes my mother seem like a more appealing option, when she is always sneaking treats and wilting to every tantrum. In the end though, I am so grateful for all of her help I feel as if I can’t talk to her about this. It would hurt her feelings too much, I couldn’t say any of this without seeming critical her parenting.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Sarah. It’s got to be a tough situation for you. How long is his graduate program?

  6. Paula Conning says:

    I reached your site after clinking on a link you posted in a comment to Alfie Kohn- very outdated but I’m commenting anyway. Your intro to this post really struck me- particularly because I’ve been reading Khon and considering parent ed. options. You identify parents having little control of children’s behaviour as something wrong with parents, and go on to note that you were a perfectly behaved child and a hellraiser teen. Do you think different parenting might have better helped you cope with the challenging teen stage even if you weren’t such a ‘well behaved’ performing seal as a little one?.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Paula. I think what you are asking me is if I believe the parenting approach used in my early childhood contributed to my difficulties in adolescence. Is that correct? I don’t think a different parenting approach would have made a difference in my behavior as a child. I came out of the womb as an overachiever and behaving appropriately was part of it. However, I do think my parents could have taken a different approach in regard to their parenting techniques when I was a teenager. They continued to parent me as if I was a much younger child which only increased my need to be rebel. Is this what you were getting at?

      • Paula Conning says:

        I was referring to your premise that controlling children’s behavior is a goal of parenting. Perfectly mannered kids is not usually high on the list of goals- happiness, self-esteem, autonomy, empathy, resilience- these are the outcomes most parents wish.

  7. Paula Conning says:

    just sending again to be ‘notified of followup comments’

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