The Toxic Parenting Cocktail: Over-supporting, then Judgement

I have to warn you of something. Be wary of the toxic cocktail. It breeds power struggles and disconnection. This is what it is: too much helping of a child followed by blaming and shaming a child. It makes it really difficult for a child to want to attempt things on their own. It plays out like this, the oversupporting usually happens when the child is young. Parents do too much for the child and the child doesn’t learn to do for himself. It takes away opportunities and motivation for the child to learn skills and build confidence. Parents think they are helping by supporting so much, but what they actually teach the child is to become overly reliant on them.

As the child gets older, the parent realizes how much work they are doing for their child and how tiring this is. There may even be the realization that this is not good for the child. A decision is made that the child needs to take on more responsibility. I’ve experienced this. A mistake that I made was to try to give too much responsibility at once, without transitioning properly. It ends up being a shock to the child’s system. The urgency the parent feels is sudden and can come across as overwhelming and as judgement to the child.

Initial efforts from the child to take on new skills or responsibility can be met with low effort and resistance on the child’s part. It’s understandable if this is a new way of doing things for the child. They may not fully trust that this new way is the new way of doing things.

Here is where it can go off track. The low effort and resistance from the child can have the parent feeling even more urgency, panic even. When a parent feels panicked, tone changes and communication suffers. Children pick up on this and resist. Enter power struggles.

Here is where it can really go off track: The parent, without the proper perspective that they have over-supported in the past and have not transitioned properly, sees only disobedience and disrespect. They don’t understand that the child may not feel confident or that they might feel unsupported. In the past children may have equated the support they got with love. To the child the withdrawal of support can feel like a withdrawal of love.

And here’s where it really really goes off track: The parent starts to blame and shame the child for not doing these simple tasks. They imagine their child growing up spoiled and entitled. Not good. More urgency ensues. We judge them as lazy. If they do attempt the task, we might judge their efforts as not good enough. This hurts the parent child relationship and the parent’s ability to influence the child. It also hurts the child. Their confidence takes a hit and their willingness to help out decreases. It may even create a negative association to the task. Sadly, I have found myself parenting like this.

A manager treating employees like this would disconnect and demotivate people from the work they were doing. The same is true for kids. The results are not pretty. It leads to individuals who don’t trust the leadership, who don’t trust themselves and their own abilities. They end up being scared to try. It looks like entitlement from the outside, but I think it really is insecurity.

I understand if this was hard to read. It was hard to write. I drew upon a lot of my own experience here. The good news is that through a properly managed transition, lots of love, positivity and consistency, new skills and new habits can and will be learned. It did not happen overnight, and it was challenging to stick with it. But, ultimately it was the right thing to do for my kids.

If you see yourself in this, it’s time to address it and make some changes. I can help. Check out this article as well on how to Build Skills, Resilience and Confidence in your Children.

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