“I blame the parents!”
Well, of course you do! No surprises there.
I’m sure we’ve all done so, at some point - observing behaviour in children that upsets our disposition - who else should we hold responsible?
I mean let’s face it, the things that children and young people get up to ‘nowadays’ is nothing like what we were doing back then!
Further, the frailty of these children – with their mental health issues and their diagnosis for every behaviour is mostly an excuse for a lack good upbringing!
Is it not?
These are the types of comments I come up against regularly.
But, just as I don’t ‘blame’ parents for their children’s behaviour - I don’t ‘blame’ people for comments like these either.
As far as I see it, we have been conditioned to think this way.
When there are no easy solutions to a problem the tendency leans towards blame. This notion can be applied to every single social challenge that we face.
Blame is our go to.
There are no easy answers to manage the multitude of challenges that children and young people bring to the table – so blame it is!
However, there are two problems with this way of thinking:
Discourse ends with the statement “I blame the parents”. It is a complete ‘sign off’ from the conversation. There is no parenthesis. That’s it. End of discussion - full stop – and everyone gets back to their day.
“I blame the parents” sits alongside no solutions being offered; no deeper thought into the conundrum, and most strikingly - zero empathy.
I argue that in these scenarios – if we really do blame the parents - then the searching questions that follow should be “What do parents need?” “What are we as a society, an organisation/friend/colleague missing?”
The next huge problem with the “I blame the parents” mantra, is that it is usually levied from a place of condescension. An air of superiority - looking down the nose at others.
Which is all very well, until our own children do a 180⁰ and the proverbial **** hits the fan!
What do those of us who have gone around finger-pointing do then?
How do we reach out and ask for help?
How do we face the challenges and not just bury our heads in the sand – in the prayerful hope that our teen-tyrannists will calm the **** down - somehow - sometime soon? 🙏🏾
In these cases, the shame we’ve levied on others is felt by ourselves, all the more sharply.
Shame makes us plaster that smile on our faces. It makes us post our best lives on social media and talk about the weather, and how great work/business is going - during those 'small talk' coffee breaks.
Meanwhile – behind that smile all hell is breaking loose at home!
Yep! We hold that smile and hope nobody notices it morph into a grimace 😬 of emotional pain.
We don’t seek help until crisis is squarely hit. Until the family is broken with the shards evident in our social and work lives.
After all, what does it say about us and our parenting/work prowess– if we admit to carnage at home?
So, what to do about it?
Well, the first step is to encourage conversations about the challenges faced in raising older children - in safe spaces.
We must recognise that parents/carers of older children are no longer meeting up with other parents as they did, whilst ferrying children on playdates. Nor are they bumping into others during the twice daily visit to the school playground – those days are long gone.
These parent/carers are spending their time at work. They watch the workplace accommodate those raising 0-5yr olds - within policy and culture – completely bypassing their needs.
The thing is – not getting support with our older children, is so ingrained in us – and so ingrained in the fabric of our society – that we don’t even question if it should be different.
Even the parent/carer networks within organisations often fail to adequately cater for those raising older children! Parents/carers who are in dyer need of support, are missing from those meet ups.
But why? We aren’t totally ignorant to the stressors older children bring!
The research shows us that 40% of parents decline in their own mental health as their first child hits the teen years.
This was research carried out years ago – are we really still sitting with that? 🤐 What's with the silence?
As I said – it’s time to create safe spaces to communicate.
It needs to be done where parents/carers gather.
The easiest and most impactful way I see to do that - is to begin expanding the provision offered within parent/carer networks - within the workplace, to accommodate those raising teens and tweens.
What are your thoughts?