Are you a guilty parent? Then this clip is for you. Sean Grover‘s interview from the Bill Santiago Radio Show, aired May 20, 2015, 8pm, Channel 154, 8-9pm Eastern, with a replay at 11-Midnight Eastern.
Bernardo is played by Claire Buckingham
Samantha is played by Aamira Martinez
Chapter Five: The Guilty Parent
As you read through the following questions, see if any of them ring a bell. Do any of these traits sound familiar?
Do you tend to blame yourself for your kid’s problems?
Do you beat yourself up when you make a parenting mistake?
Do you negatively compare yourself with other parents?
Do you apologize to your kid more than you should?
Do your lose sight of what’s right and wrong in the face of your child’s demands?
Do you regret things that you’ve said or done as a parent?
Do you try to ease your guilty feelings with gifts or rewards?
Do you make excuses for your kid’s bullying behaviors?
Do you convince yourself that your kid is right when he is clearly wrong?
Do you struggle with the feeling that you’re failing as a parent?
If you answered yes to four or more of these questions, chances are, you’re a G.P. (guilty parent). Welcome to a very large (and awkward) club.
Don’t fret. Every parent feels guilty now and then. It’s unavoidable. You’re constantly faced with tough choices—choices you may feel guilty about, and choices that your kid won’t like. It’s impossible to be a good parent without being unpopular now and then.
As you begin to shed your guilt and gain confidence, don’t expect your kid to like the new you. Bullies are accustomed to getting their way with guilty parents. As you strengthen your parenting skills, expect an increase in conflicts, meltdowns, and protests. That’s right, bullying often becomes worse when parents begin to challenge behavior norms.
You are about to change the rules of the game. This will trigger resistance from your kid. Expect him to test your resolve.
But before we can design a plan to undo bullying behaviors, we need to take a good look at your guilty feelings. To be an effective parent, you’re going to have to stop letting guilt control you.
Meet the Guilty Parent
If you’re a guilty parent, blaming yourself feels natural. When something goes wrong, it must be your fault; when something doesn’t work out, you’re to blame.
Whenever I meet with guilty parents, many questions come to mind:
What is the real source of their guilt?
Why is their inner critic so strong?
What insecurities does parenting awaken in them?
As we learned in Chapter 3, your dominant attitudes about parenting spring from your history. That means that your guilt was there long before you stepped into a parenting role. Becoming a parent just magnified these feelings and brought them to the surface.
Most guilty parents were treated harshly by their own parents. Their parents were critical and disapproving, or held them accountable when things went wrong. The voices of disparaging parents leave toxic imprints that morph into crippling, self-critical feelings of shame.
When parents blame their children, children begin to doubt or question their own judgment. They lose confidence in their abilities; they struggle with fear and feelings of humiliation. And when they become parents, they take these insecurities with them. In fact, parenting intensifies their self-disparaging emotions.
It’s impossible to make clear-headed decisions when you’re filled with self-doubt. When something goes wrong, guilty parents suffer from a bad case of the “shoulds.”
I should have known this would happen.
I should have been more careful.
I should have listened to my gut.
There’s nothing wrong with self-reflection when it inspires greater mindfulness. But guilty parents never get that far. For them, guilt is a punishing force that blocks out the light of insight, generates angst, and undermines confidence. Over time, it causes them to question, doubt, or panic over the simplest parenting decisions.
How Guilty Parents Become Bullied Parents
Kids are quick to pick up on their parents’ guilty feelings. They sense their parents’ indecisiveness and lack of confidence. They see their parents as weak or ineffective.
When kids enter test periods, guilty parents typically have difficulty maintaining their conviction. They give in to their kids’ demands in an effort to avoid conflict. As children discover that they can control their parents by making them feel guilty, they slowly begin to bully as a means of getting their way. And before you know it, the guilty parent’s relationship with her kid is mirroring her relationship with her parents. Just as her parents blamed her as a means to control and manipulate her, so does her kid. She begins to accept blame, just as she did in her childhood.
Guilty parents are dedicated and enthusiastic, ready to sacrifice their own needs in a heartbeat. The problem is that their guilty ruminations have a corrosive effect on their leadership and their children’s respect for them. Guilty parents are too permissive and indulging, too avoidant of conflicts and confrontations to provide the leadership that kids crave.
But here’s the worst part: Guilt-fueled parenting decisions don’t resolve guilty feelings, they perpetuate them. And that’s the last thing any guilty parent needs! www.seangrover.com