[ 6 min read ]
We worry that our kids might find out the truth about life.
So we often put them in a special cocoon and keep them there so that they could only see the pre-invented and approved notion of life. So that they don’t have to be exposed to the bad stuff.
We want them to soak up the good stuff, the proper examples, so that they will use them in their lives. And we believe that our failure will mean that they will suffer because of us, that they will not have a “normal life/ marriage/ family relationships/ career” because we failed and didn’t have a “normal life/ marriage/ family relationships/ career”.
That’s why we, at all cost, try to present them with something which would at least be decent. At best we want to project this perfect image (perfect life/ marriage/ family relationships/ career) and how one can have all these things. That’s why so called “successful” middle class and upper middle class and rich parents feel such a great need to lecture their children. They believe that offering them a recipe for a good or best life is their job as parents (because, just look at them — aren’t they amazing/ the winners in this game called life?).
More often than not we parents tell them children how things should be, not how they really are. We try to protect them from the reality of the situation (life). Probably because we also try to protect ourselves from it.
We also worry that other people will see the truth. That we aren’t “successful” for example. Or that we failed, or that we are broke, or jobless or something.
So we feel the need to feed them the untruth. And usually we feed them the untruth.
We worry that our kids will see their parents fight because we believe that the kid will get the wrong message. We want them to see a proper image. A proper example.
We worry that they might see real life.
We’ve been brainwashed to believe what marriage should look like, what two people together raising a child should look like, what relations between neighbors should look like, how “normal” people should behave, etc.
We often worry that we will screw up this image and that the kid will have bad role models.
We worry that we will screw up the narrative / the story we believe we ought to pass down to that kid. About a decent marriage, decent parents, decent citizens, decent believers.
Basically we worry that our children will see a real human being.
We have bought into a myth about parenting and being a couple and we want that myth passed down to our children and when we do things which are incompatible with that myth we are worried. That’s why we beat ourselves up so much when things aren’t the way they should be. And that’s also part of why children are worried when their parents are fighting or considering a divorce.
We all like to fool ourselves. We believed in some ideal and that being successful means that you fit that image.
Why not pass down the truth to our children? Why not dump this bullshit?
Maybe because the whole society bullshits itself too. We imagine how a perfect society should work and we constantly want to repair something. And we bitch about certain stuff and how certain people behave, and what is needed to heal the society etc.
At the same time we tell people that everybody is / should be free to live their lives the way they want, but matter-of-factly we don’t want it. Each one of us would like to live his / her life the way he / she wants, but would want to be able to control the behavior of others, because often something about other people is an obstacle on our path to our ideal life, or to our feeling of comfort). We prefer telling people what they should do, how they should behave, how so called “normal” citizens behave.
Thus the freedom is a fiction.
Making sure the child doesn’t find out that mommy and daddy fight or never divorcing each other, or holding each other’s hands and kissing and smiling and hugging all the time is not the secret to his / her happiness now and later. Being aware and honest about what we as human beings are really like, and what we are capable of, and what life can be like, on the other hand, is.
Hiding certain facts, sugarcoating reality can be way more detrimental to the life of a human being than being open about problems.
But it takes awareness on the part of the parents, and when this awareness is missing of course it’s better when the child doesn’t see fights and hostility between parents — the child understands fights and hostility as a threat to the status quo (he / she worries that family will break up and the feeling of security will be gone). And such child has nobody who could help him / her understand that dynamic better.
What if there is no choice — parents simply fight? Of course, we can always say that it would be better for the kid if they didn’t fight, but it won’t help much. It’s a wishful thinking and there is no way this child will be able to benefit from it (such statement).
When we dump this notion of a decent family, or marriage (what it all should look like, how members of a family should and how they shouldn’t behave, how spouses should and shouldn’t behave, etc.) we can better deal with different unpleasant situations in our lives. We won’t blame ourselves so much. We won’t beat ourselves up for having failed as parents or human beings (it doesn’t mean that we failed!). We all make mistakes (have our fair share of unfortunate choices/ poor decisions) in our adult lives and the sooner our children will learn this fact the better equipped they will be to face the challenges of life.
Of course this is not to say that anything goes and physical assaults and death threats are fine for example. They’re not, and if they happen providing an explanation won’t help much. But I guess that those who attack each other (not only verbally) and who use various threats, who did it once and then did it again, they obviously lack awareness and they will not be able to help their child in any way in this situation. Again, what option does the child have? If he / she witnessed it it can’t be erased from his / her memory and it can’t be undone. Saying that it should never have happened is pointless.
Telling parents what the psychological implications of their behaviour and their life choices on the development of their child are and turning them (the parents) into prisoners of some perfect or decent exemple of this or that (telling them that they should at all cost try to fit into a certain image, follow or avoid a certain behavior) is a very poor solution in my opinion. It isn’t going to help this child or them when shit happens. Shit (things most people in a society perceive as unwanted and unpleasant, because they’ve bought into various myths about this and that) happens and it’s way better to know how to deal with that.
What could help them? Telling them that there are certain myths we all want to pass down to our children, because we bought into this idea that those myths tell us what’s right and wrong in life, and how we all should behave, what we should and shouldn’t do (the myth about good families / good parents / good marriages, or a myth about all people being nice, harmless and loving at their core are such myths) and that we all fear passing down accidentally something which doesn’t fit into those myths but nonetheless is part of life. Because this is a huge factor which contributes to our stress.