What I call children parents are parents that became as such without having had the possibility to fully outgrow their childhood and teenage years. This could create tensions, as they did not receive all the “tools” to be emotionally mature when being there for their children. As a result, these children grow up missing those very same tools, because they did not receive any teaching on those. I grew up in this difficult situation, and I would like to share some signs that I recognised in myself to help others understand themselves and overcome these weaknesses.
After all, parents are figures from which we learn almost everything we know during our youth, and if given wrong examples we tend to make those ours without understanding that they are affecting our relationship with ourselves and others. A parent is stuck in their youth when they learnt wrong examples from their respective families and did not learn to overcome them. This could stem from situations in which the parent received “though love”, in which their family treated them harshly from the beginning to make them used to the world outside. The parent feels unloved, thus they could try and find that love in their children, making them feel responsible of being emotionally there. That is what happened to me, and what follows are some ways I felt during my youth which I found out later on were wrong examples that I was copying.
1. Never expressing one’s own opinion
When asked for my opinion, I frequently gave shallow comments or I simply said that I did not have one. It took me a while to understand that I was afraid to speak my mind because at home my opinions were dismissed or received as attacks. During the teens, one generally finds out more about themselves and wants to be heard. It is also the period in which we create bonds with other people, so we start to receive feedback about ourselves. So did one of my parents. They wanted to be heard and seen, to the point that I was put in the background. When asked about my opinion, if the feedback was not good the parent would get hurt and offended, which is a typical reaction of a young person who has not developed an identity yet. Because of this, I stopped giving my opinion, thinking that others would react the same.
2. You feel frustrated
An emotionally childish parents is never happy, or, their happiness about something fades too quickly and they have to find another stimulus to keep the motivation high, like a child. This could frustrate you if you are trying to understand and help out, because whatever you say is not listened to or you are constantly being demanded for more support, but you do not see any positive results coming along.
3. You feel like you are the parent
In some situations you will feel like you are teaching your parent a lesson rather than the other way around. This is normal in adult life, because our parents are not perfect and they can learn from others. On the other hand, while a child or teen one has to do a great mental effort to teach something to the one who is supposed to be the role model. This could be difficult because it is possible the we have not learnt that lesson fully yet, and at the same time we need to make another aware of it without being confident around the subject. Because of the amount of responsibility given too early to you, you could feel emotional drained as you are focusing on something which is too difficult without the proper mental preparation.
4. You feel angry because unseen
You could have feelings of anger towards a parent because they are too absorbed in themselves to notice you. You feel like you need some attention, but you do not receive it, so you start seeking it elsewhere. This cod be a friend or a teacher, but in some cases it can be worse. Always talk about your feelings with someone if felt unseen.
5. You feel useless
Because of unhelpful and unseen by our role models, you might wonder what is the point in trying in this relationship. I felt like that many times. The only thought that made me go on is the fact that I know that my parents grew up in a though love family, so I feel like it is my turn to try to make them understand that there are other types of love.
6. You feel like you are missing out
While everyone else is allowed to behave like their age, you are forced to grew up sooner. The result is that you cannot relate to people of your age, so you cannot connect with them and you feel left out, because they have not experienced what you did.
7. You feel guilty for doing good or being happy
As you parent is not feeling good, you can be feeling guilty about your achievements and happy feelings. So, you stop sharing them, and that leads gradually to a stop to any meaningful relationship, growing distant.
8. You push away others / others go away
It is possible that you apply the same learnt behaviour in the relationship with others, but, as it is a wrong example, you end up getting hurt or they end up giving up on you.
This are the ways in which I felt while growing up with a che parent. I overcame this with time, therapy and the consolidation of my identity. If you feel like you are stuck in a similar situation, I am here to talk about it.
Image credits: https://pin.it/5jipQPm
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