One thing that I’ve noticed or rather observed is the lack of boundaries and structure that some parents today have. While there are several reasons for these actions, one of the causes that I’ve noticed is that of guilt. Going through an unexpected event, a nasty divorce, deciding to go back to school, or even working more hours at work can cause a lot of parental guilt. As a result, and maybe even subconsciously, these parents because extremely permissive and relax most of the structure in their home. This is done because they feel guilty and they want to make up for the time they aren’t spending with their child, their new single parent status or even because they have too many other priorities. However they don’t realize that they’ll end up hurting the kid more than helping him or her. I’ve noticed that extremely permissive parents who enforce no boundaries or structures because of guilt as a child is little, soon find themselves on the edge of sanity once adolescence hits. Their kid doesn’t respect them or take them seriously. They feel guilty about enforcing boundaries because it’s something that they never implemented in the first place. Their pleas for the teenager to change his or her behavior fall on deaf ears because they haven’t established enough rapport or even a relationship that requires mutual respect and communication. These parents often find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place in a situation that could have been avoided if they hadn’t allowed their guilt to get in the way of being a parent. However, family therapy can be a great way to start the process of restructuring some of the family dynamics and even making room for some effective communication along the way.
Excellent points. So how would you recommend that a parent not only realizes this guilt but work on overcoming this irrational guilt so that they can focus in a healthy manner on being a quality parent?
I think that it’s really an issue of differentiation. Most parents see children as extensions of themselves (and they are) but this also makes it easier to project their insecurities onto their kids. There needs to be another outlet that a parent can use to clear their head of all the conflicting emotions and not parent from guilt. This outlet can be therapy, a trusted friend or confidant, or even a new hobby that allows them the opportunity to express themselves in a way that can stabilize emotions and help them think more rationally instead of reacting to whatever is making them parent out of guilt. (my opinion, of course)