Parents Parents

Are We Too Busy Blaming Parents?

Parentsflustered parent with children are often blamed for the misdeeds of their children. Parents often feel overwhelmed by the “experts” who, from a parent’s perspective, do not seem to get that they face more challenges raising children today than ever before. Between the bureaucratic public school system, the Internet culture that parents must navigate, and the pressure of economic demands that require both parents to work and that prevents them from spending time with their children, parents often feel it’s impossible to maintain any consistent authority over the lives of their children. Parental impatience and resentment toward the so-called child experts is alive and well, and in some cases not without good reason.

Parents often feel blamed by child experts for becoming doormats to their children, for not taking charge of them, and for allowing children to show a level of disrespect that would never have been allowed 50 or even 30 years ago. Too often, child experts seem to hold a level of disdain for many parents.

How can we, as therapists, provide the support parents need to effectively face the challenges they are often confronted with? I believe we need to try and put ourselves in the shoes of today’s parents in order to connect effectively with them and to help them navigate the daunting task of raising children in today’s society.

In today’s world, parents often fear their children being victimized by social cruelty and bullying. Fear of schoolyard bullying and the potential hurt caused by the Internet have become a part of most parents’ everyday lives. The Internet provides the opportunity for gossip 24/7. As a result, parents are extremely vulnerable to feeling no control over the choices their kids make or the potential victimization their kids are subject to.

Today’s parents need a strong, dynamic community that includes other parents. Parents need help establishing a sense of authority with their children. While we as therapists can help them, parents need the opportunity to build confidence and to be encouraged that they can be successful, despite the challenges they are facing. Through the process of talking with other parents, their confidence will increase, which will promote a sense of personal authority in the parenting process. When parents discover they are not alone in facing their challenges, they feel a sense of empowerment.

In order to facilitate parents overcoming the challenges they face, therapists need to look beyond the traditional modalities used in the past to support parents. Therapists need to observe what’s taking place in our communities and in the culture of today’s youth. The primary problem parents face is the isolation and sense of alienation they feel, which can overshadow the experience of parenting. More professionals need to take a leadership role in providing opportunities for small groups of parents to meet in community settings such as churches or schools in order to create a sense of connection, support, and to lessen the isolation and alienation parents often face.

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  • Sherree

    July 30th, 2014 at 11:04 AM

    Now more than ever we need to support our moms and dads in this world.
    This is a tough time to be raising kids. There are so many things that parents and children both have to deal with today that would have been unheard of even ten years ago.
    This is a tough job, and those who are busy looking down on them generally have no real clue how hard it actually is to have children today, meet their needs, provide for them and spend time with them in a quality way too.
    It is overwhelming and can be frustrating, and so we all need someone to lean on when those times get rough and not blame them for everything that you perceive that they are doing wrong.

  • Edna

    July 30th, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    But who else are we to blame if not the parents? You can’t tell me that behind pretty much every poorly behaved child is a parent who is somehow losing touch with the things that they need to do to be a good parent and role model for their kids. I am not saying to put them in mom jail, but they could probably use a quick lesson or two about how things could run a little more smoothly at home.

  • K

    July 30th, 2014 at 6:12 PM

    Edna, blame is far less productive than support. Kids can misbehave with great parents because they aren’t getting certain needs met in certain environments- fewer opportunities to run around at young ages in school can lead to pent-up energy being expressed in other ways even after school, they can act out because they can’t read and know they don’t have to at the principal’s office, their imitating other adults can even look pretty obnoxious! And if there are things a parent can do, you catch more flies with honey (gentle support) than vinegar (dirty looks or head shaking). Being a kid is tough and guiding them through it is too.

  • Shelley

    July 30th, 2014 at 10:06 PM

    Thank you for writing this!

  • kelsey

    July 31st, 2014 at 4:10 AM

    I remember when we were young it seemed like we were always getting pawned off on some neighbor or another, and they would do the same thing with their kids to my mom. That’s the way it was when we were growing up. There were numerous adults in our lives that we knew could take on the role of disciplinarian at any time and they would always take care of us if my parents needed help. They would do the exact same for the neighbor kids.
    Something about that has gotten lost. I don’t hardly even know my neighbors, much less feel like I could ask them to help out and I know that they feel the same. We are not as close knit as streets and communities as we once were and I think that this has caused us to lose some of that fabric of what is so great about growing up.

  • FG

    July 31st, 2014 at 10:17 AM

    I don’t think that for most of us it is about blaming the parents but it is about trying to understand where so many of us are going wrong. Children have so little respect for others these days, and I know that a large part of this has to be coming from home.

    So in thsi case it isn’t that you wnat to blame the parent for not taking contro, of the situation but you do want them to see that they could be falling down on showing the kids the difference between right and wrong.

  • Basia

    August 1st, 2014 at 10:23 AM

    I hear children talk to their moms and dads today in a manner that I would have rather died than to talk that way to my parents. The respect is seriously lacking.

  • Sulay

    August 1st, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    If your parents are your abuser than what happens? Is it not their fault? Should they pay for therapy for the rest of your life? How to pardon them now , Oh it’s not their fault it probably happened to them so ban your ancestors? Are your children now doomed to the same vices? Ok stop!

  • stress free

    August 1st, 2014 at 6:26 PM

    If your parents are imature have mental problems and are not willing to change there ways to better themselves and for you then,yes they are to blame. I have been emtionly manipulated been harrased and they put themselves first by not giving you help that you have needed for many years. had to fend for your self then ya I think it is the parents fault regardless of health condition.

  • Selena

    August 2nd, 2014 at 1:24 PM

    Raising kids brings on a lot of pressure to many people, even those who are seemingly the ebst prepared. We all have our times where we slip and fall down, even when it comes to big parenting issues, so it is noce to feel like we still have support instead of simply having people look at you and blame you for things all the time. We can all do a better job somethimes, but there are also those times when all we need is a little break.

  • tolly

    August 4th, 2014 at 4:21 AM

    Yes I do agree that parents have to shoulder a bit of the blame but what aboutt he other things we have to contend with too? Other social situations that can lead to bad behavior or other people in their lives like grandparents who allow the bad behavior to continue? There could be multiple things that are working against you yet the mom and dad become the poster child for exactly what is wrong with this child.

  • Jeffrey K.

    August 4th, 2014 at 12:54 PM

    Great article and interesting comments to follow-up with too! It is probably the hardest job imaginable to be a parent, especially in today’s society. And certainly, for those parents who are abusive or are applying their own poor coping techniques to address their children’s behaviors, an appropriate amount of redirection ought to be applied. However, not all kids are raised by incompetent parents. And yet, kids are indeed frequently disrespectful. I see this not only in session, but also with my wife’s students as she is a teacher. Kids may behave inappropriate, rudely, or negligently with regard to their responsibilities. While it is indeed frustrating and perhaps with appropriate blame to those parents who support the behavior of their children and blame others when their kids are disrespectful, ultimately, the focus HAS to return to the kid. THEY are the ones exibiting behavior while will impact THEIR lives. Parents responding beneficially will greatly aid in this endeavor, but unfortunatley that won’t always happen.

    Equally, I agree that additional support is needed for parents out there. I caution though to ensure it’s real support to provide empowerment and to identify with the difficulties in childrearing. If parent groups are aimed at gossip or ridiculing parent’s efforts and supporting the myth of the ‘perfect paerent’, these groups may only further the stigma felt by parents feeling helpless to control their children’s behavior.

  • JeniL

    August 5th, 2014 at 3:22 PM

    It is so hard when you see so many kids who don’t know how to behave anymore acting all crazy and naturally we all look to the parents and think about what a terrible job they must be doing if their kids are acting out this way. I am guilty of doing this too, when I know that the better thing would be to be compassionate and offer help to someone instead of scorn.

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