Parents wonder why the streams are bitter, when they themselves have poisoned the fountain.
~ John Locke
In Part 1 of this post, I discussed how guilt parenting is a form of the permissive or indulgent parenting style. In this post, we’ll look at what makes guilt parenting harmful and what you can do to break the cycle of guilt parenting.
What Makes Guilt Parenting Harmful?
- Rewards bad behavior
- Teaches the child they can get what they want through manipulation
- The parent who guilt parents is setting their child up for a very difficult adulthood.
- One parental responsibility is to teach children how the world works and navigate it.
- A child who was guilt parented is at a poor disadvantage because the world will not give the child everything they want when they want it.
- The child will end up going from job to job and relationship to relationship unsatisfied with life.
- They may even end up in jail if they think they can get what they want by bullying or even stealing from others.
- Guilty parent is putting the imagined needs of the child ahead of the real needs of the marriage and family
- Makes the other members of your family (spouse, your spouse’s children, children you have had with your spouse) feel like you care more about the child you are guilt parenting.
- Leads to resentment and a loss of respect for you.
- Other family members also feel like your child has more control over the house than anyone else because you let the child’s mood and behaviors run the household.
- Breaks down communication, trust and love all of which are necessary for a healthy family.
- Dads and Moms get caught up in trying to make up for lost time and connection with their children by packing every minute they have the kids with fun-filled adventures.
- Basic discipline may fall by the wayside.
- The cost of trying to force every moment to be “all positive” is children start to equate being loved with the presence of special gifts, unique experiences, and fewer rules.
How Can We Break the Cycle?
- Acknowledging your practice of guilt parenting
- Recognizing the need to change your behavior for sake of your child, family and marriage
- Identify what triggers you to guilt parent and the ways you guilt parent
- Learn about about appropriate boundaries
If you are serious about changing, ask your spouse what they think you need to change. They are the one who has been living with you and will have first hand knowledge of your guilt parenting.
Advice for the Spouse of the Guilty Parent
- Even if your spouse acknowledges they need to change you will have your work cut out for you
- You can still help your spouse change even if they don’t see the problem
- It will take patience and work on your part
- Gently point out the long-term effects of guilt parenting to their child
- Be sure to communicate as well as show your spouse you care about their child and you really want what is best for the child
- Forgive and let it go if you’re serious about helping your spouse