10 Ways to Emotionally Mess Up Your Kid’s Lives

This list was compiled by Sherrie Campbell, Ph.D. She is a licensed Psychologist. Although her original list only contained 8 specifics, I’ve added two more and, I’m sure you’ll understand why, when you read #9 and #10.

I debated, for obviously reasons, about editing the title of Ms. Campbell’s post. I decided to leave it alone as this is the title by which it can be found on the internet. The fact that it was first published by the liberal Huffington Post probably explains the poor choice of words.

Sherrie Campbell - Psychologist

Sherrie Campbell

8 Ways to Emotionally F*ck Up Your Kids Lives

by Sherrie Campbell, Ph.D.

Our children are the lights of our lives. We all start off as parents envisioning nothing but success, love and happiness for them. However, these dreams often do not manifest because they are not getting the important things they need to become disciplined, mature and motivated adults. The following are eight parenting f*ck-ups that will guarantee your child will suffer from depression, anxiety, anger, tense family relationships, problems with friends, low self-esteem, a sense of entitlement and chronic emotional problems throughout his or her life.

1. Ignore or minimize your child’s feelings. If your child is expressing sadness, anger or fear and you mock them, humiliate them, ignore or tease them you minimize what they feel. You essentially tell them what they feel is wrong. When parents do this they withhold love from their child and miss opportunities to have open and vulnerable connections teaching them to bond and to know they are loved unconditionally.

2. Inconsistent rules. If you never talk about your expectations, you keep your child from knowing how to behave appropriately. Children live up or down to what you expect. Rules give them guidelines and boundaries to help them define who they are, good and bad. If you keep your child guessing and life is vague, they will begin to act out to find the boundaries themselves, which leads to low self-esteem and problem behavior.

3. Make your child your friend. Never share all your worries, concerns and relationship problems with your child or ask their advice. If you act helpless and defeated to your children they will never learn to respect you and will treat you as an equal or an inferior because you have used them for your own therapy. You must show your children you can stand up to problems, face your challenges and handle life through all the stress and come out on the other side. Be real, have your emotions, but do not burden your children.

4. Put down your child’s other parent. If you never show affection and love to your spouse in front of your child, the child does not develop a barometer for what love is or what it looks like. If you are always putting your spouse down and rejecting him/her, threatening divorce, you create a chronic state of anxiety for your child. If you are already divorced and you remain cold, distant, bitter, angry and blaming of your ex-spouse, you are sending the subtle message to your child that your ex-spouse is the cause of the divorce and you need to be the preferred parent. This is parent alienation.

5. Punish independence and separation. When we punish our children for growing up, we make them feel guilty for having normal developmental needs and desires which often causes deep insecurity, rebellion, cutting and other forms of behaviors that indicate failure to be able to branch out and be themselves as independent people.

6. Treat your child as an extension of you. If, as a parent, you link your own image and self-worth to your child’s appearance, performance, behavior, grades and how many friends they have, you let them know they are loved not for who they are but for how well they perform and make you look good. This turns them into pleasers rather than doers, and they will always worry about being good enough.

7. Meddle in your child’s relationships. Directing every action your child takes in their relationships — from friends to teachers — inhibits their maturity. For example, if your child gets in trouble at school and you immediately rush to talk to the teacher to get them off the hook, or you are constantly telling your child how to be a friend, as your child grows he/she will never learn to navigate the sharper edges relationships bring on their own.

8. Over-protect. When we protect our children from every problem and emotion, it creates a sense of entitlement and inflated self-esteem that often crosses the line into narcissism. They expect life to be easier than it is. They want everything done for them no matter how they behave. They then become depressed and confused when they don’t get what they believe they deserve.

The following two items are my additions to Ms. Campbell’s list – kqd

9. Deny Your Child Christ – Without a life grounded in faith a child will have great difficulty seeing himself for the valued and loved individual that he is. He must know that God loves him and that He wants, and expects, the best from the child. Ms. Campbell says she is a Humanist, and this is a severe shortcoming o her part, as it is only through Christianity that can anyone be successfully imbued with the personal constraints and restraints necessary for a joyful life based on good judgement, common sense and a general sense of well-being.

10. Divorce Your Child’s Father – Although the author alludes to divorce as a “given”, that can be dealt with, my feeling is that for the child, it will never be OK. No matter how hard people try to make it OK, the children will be negatively affected by the divorce, and especially by the loss of their full-time father, for the rest of their lives.

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