9 Reasons Why Good Parents May Raise Bad Children
My wife gave birth to a baby girl and this happy event almost made me depressed. I was afraid that I’d ruin my daughter’s life and raise her the wrong way. I remembered my own mom and dad who could be called good parents. They worked hard so I had enough food, clothes, and was healthy. But in return, they asked me to always meet their expectations and were strict with me. I fought with them and probably turned out to be a bad kid. I didn’t grow up to become the person they wanted me to be. And there are millions of children just like me who got into the same situation.
Our parents probably just wanted to be role models for us and raise good children. But I’m sure that I turned out to be not nearly as good as my parents wanted me to be. So I’m ready to share 9 reasons with Bright Side readers for why everything might not go according to plan even in a prosperous family, from the perspective of a “bad boy.”
Attempts to completely control the child’s life
Parents try to take full control over their children’s lives because they want only the best for them. Otherwise, how else could they completely protect their child, if the world is full of chaos? Parents think that they have to set strict rules and boundaries to bring more order into the lives of their children. At least my parents tried to do this. I wasn’t allowed to stay with my friends for too long, I had to go to bed early, and I had to spend at least 3 hours doing my homework. My parents used to choose my clothes, my hobbies, and even the music that I listened to. And these measures probably weren’t even the most drastic ones.
A 16-year-old British girl has to put up with worse things. She posted her story on Quora and gave 23 reasons why her parents overdid it while trying to raise “a good girl.”
She shares that she looks like a completely normal person, who is satisfied with their life. But the truth is that she feels like a prisoner in her own home and she has some pretty compelling reasons for feeling like this:
- I didn’t have a smartphone until a couple of months ago. I got my mom’s old iPhone 4 because I passed my exams with flying colors. I can use it for 30 minutes a day. And I can exercise for only 20 minutes a day.
- I have no social life. I get to meet with my friends only once on Christmas and 3 times during summer break. And no boys are allowed! I study at a school for girls and don’t interact with any boys 99% of the time. My house is full of security cameras, but I don’t know exactly where they are installed. If I try to find it out, I’ll be punished.
- I have Facebook and Instagram accounts, but my parents have full access to them, including my private messages. If I change my passwords, they just restore it and get access again. They check my browser history every day and block all the websites that they don’t think are “trustworthy.”
- If I make even one small mistake during a test at school, they see it as a shame and disgrace. I have to study every day, even on holidays. I can’t be alone, even in the bathroom. My mom is always right behind the door and I have to talk to her. She and I share a bed and my dad sleeps in the same room. We always go to sleep at 22:30 p.m.
What consequences will this kind of control have? Her parents will be left with nothing and she’ll be all alone in this big world not ready to start her own life. Why am I so sure?
Before I turned 18, I had no idea what kind of music I liked or what my favorite band was. My parents always decided what I should watch and listen to. I didn’t watch any teen comedy when I was a kid. But when I finally figured out how to lie to my parents without getting caught, I almost failed my high school exams and I’m still not sure that I chose the major that is right for me. It turned out that I wasn’t prepared to live my own life. Parental support is extremely important for a child, but having too much of it doesn’t bring any benefits.
Expecting too much from a child
I don’t want to say that my parents are bad people. They are loving and caring and when I look back I see a lot of happy moments. They just wanted me to be different and they had a picture in their head of who I should become. But my desires were sometimes different from the ones that they had expected.
I’d always dreamt of studying martial arts, but I have been skiing since I was 4. When I applied to music school, I said that I wanted to play the violin, but my parents thought that I would become a great jazz pianist. Well, I didn’t stick to that music school, even for a year. I learned to play the guitar and I’m still dreaming of playing the violin, but can’t find enough time to learn how to do that.
A lack of praise and expectations that are too high
My parents have never praised me even once in my entire life. They never used phrases like: “Good job!”, “You’re amazing!”, or “Keep it up!”. But they never minded saying: “You did ok, but you’ve made a mistake there. And it’d be better to do it this way...”
My parents believe that praise won’t work without constructive criticism. They are always sure about what I could’ve done better. They’re eager to point out my mistakes and give me some tips on how to fix them. They did that even when I just wanted to hear them say, “Well done” to me. At some point, I stopped doing anything at all. Why should I bother if I don’t get any reward anyway?
Children whose parents are constantly unhappy with their accomplishments will have problems with living in harmony with themselves and enjoying life. And science has proven that. It turned out that children who have to deal with excessive pressure in their families are more prone to self-harm. They are also more likely to suffer from chronic headaches.
Using prohibitions as the only way to control a child
Parents often think that if a child doesn’t try to meet their parent’s demands, it means they need some more motivation. So parents start using phrases like: “We won’t buy you a new toy, if your room isn’t clean” or “You won’t go to the movies, if you don’t get an A on your exam.” Parents force themselves to be too strict. For example, my parents were literally obsessed with my grades. If I got a D or an F, I wouldn’t get any birthday presents. As a bonus, I had to deal with them screaming at me and their angry and disappointed looks on their faces.
Back then, I thought that things couldn’t get any worse than that. But now I know that I was wrong. A Quora user shared that, thanks to her parents’ attempts to control everything, she wanted to get some alone time for her birthday instead of a gift or a trip to an amusement park:
But science has proven that parents who are too strict and excessive when it comes to punishments can cause problems with speech development in their children. And as soon as a child finds out how to deal with parental prohibitions, parents will lose their only way to control their kid. I learned to hide the truth at 16, and this girl did it at 14:
“I have very strict parents and I’ll do anything to get out of the house as soon as I turn 18. But for now, I have to put up with their numerous rules that don’t actually work. I was banned from seeing boys, but I’ve been hanging out with them since I was 14. I’m a Muslim, so I have to wear loose clothes and hijab everywhere I go, except for my house. But I just take these clothes off as soon as I’m out of the house and change into crop tops and ripped jeans. I sneak out of the house after my curfew and find my own ways to earn money to buy the things I want. And I have been successfully hiding all these things from my mom and dad. Strict parents just raise sneaky kids.” © Adiba Chowdhury / Quora
Sticking to traditional upbringing methods
I’m talking about corporal punishment, screaming, and ignoring your kid. A child should see their parents as people with whom they can share their secrets and not be afraid of the consequences. Corporal punishment is never a good idea because it has serious negative consequences, both physical and psychological.
For example, my parents used this upbringing method a couple of times and I stopped telling them anything since middle school. And honestly, I still have problems with sharing my thoughts with them.
It may sound weird, but when parents start to use force, it means that they’re actually very weak during this moment. And there’s no use in giving lectures to your child, since children just copy their parents’ behavior. So they’re brought up in the atmosphere in which they live and the best motivation for children is to have a strong parental role model.
Turning home duties into a bargain
Many of us heard these phrases while growing up: “If you wash the dishes, I’ll give you $2,” “If you go to the grocery store, you can keep the change,” and “If you clean your room, we’ll buy you something.” This approach works if it’s not used too often. Otherwise, a child starts to look for their own benefit in any situation and becomes spoiled.
My dad used to give me $1 for taking out the garbage. Cleaning also paid $1. But once, he told me that I’m already an adult and stopped paying me. So I threw a tantrum. It was a shock for me because I couldn’t understand why I was being punished, if I hadn’t done anything wrong.
A child should have their own responsibilities around the house that they should fulfill for free. You don’t ask them to pay for the dinner you’ve made, right?
Ambiguous demands and threats that won’t be executed
My parents could allow me to do something one day, prohibit it the next day, and be fine with me doing the same thing again a bit later. My mom forbid me to do anything that she didn’t like. My dad sometimes was less strict. As a result, I figured out that sometimes “no” can be reversed into “ok, fine” and I started trying my parents’ patience. But it only led to more fights and crying. My parents insisted on doing things their way and I just kept on saying: “But you let me do it the last time!” Parents can’t force a child to do anything if they can’t execute their threats, and the child knows that. Besides, scientists have found a connection between inconsistent discipline and the risks of psychopathy development in children.
So now, as a young father, I decided to limit my list of demands. I just imagine that my child is asking for something and if I can imagine letting her do that, even for just a second, I’ll allow my daughter to do it. And if I prohibit something, it’ll never change. I hope that my child will be fine with my rules, just like this guy from Quora:
There were very few things in his family that weren’t approved. But if something was banned, it was better to not do it. For example, his parents were against him dying hair bright colors. This guy decided to find a way to trick his parents, but ended up coloring his hair back to his natural color under his father’s supervision. And he wasn’t even disappointed because he knew that he was doing one of the few things that his parents disapproved of.
There’s only one right opinion and it’s always the opinion of the parents.
I still have to fight this problem. My parents have an opinion on basically everything, starting from where I should work to what I should eat. I’m a 30-year-old married man but still, no conversation goes without them trying to moralize me. And it becomes easier for me to call and visit my parents less often. It seems like soon, I’ll only see them like once a year.
I agreed with everything they said to me before I turned 14, but then I decided to fight back and I’m still doing that. I made them let me study in the humanitarian field and I chose snowboarding instead of the skiing that they love. I also had to fight for my marriage. And every one of our meetings ends up with a debriefing and more resentment. The saddest thing is that they just don’t listen to me. I don’t want that for my daughter.
The desire to maintain the status quo
Every parent has to put up with the fact that their child will grow up, leave the nest, and start their own life one day. In my opinion, the main aim of the parents should be to prepare their children for this independent life. And if you managed to do that, you’re a good parent.
But my parents couldn’t deal with me growing up. I’ve been living on my own since I was 15. I’m married and I have a child. But my parents don’t seem to understand this. They expect me to call them every day and spend all of our weekends together. But I don’t have the energy for that. I even pretend to be sick or choose to work on the weekends just to stay at home. And these lies hurt me because I feel like a traitor every time I do it. It’s easier to not communicate at all. I hope I won’t make these mistakes with my daughter.
I love my parents very much but I can’t tell them about the mistakes they’ve made and they aren’t ready to admit that I actually turned into a decent guy. I hope you don’t have any problems with your family. But if you do, feel free to share them. Maybe we’ll find some answers together.