Parenting Reaction 101

I once read somewhere(I don’t remember where) that when a child feels the need to hide something significant from a parent then there is probably something very wrong with the communication or the parent-child relationship.  Of course this isn’t always the case. Some teenagers/young adults/children are simply rebellious and sneaky and it has nothing to do with the parent. Though typically when a child does not feel as if he/she can come to their parent and talk about the issues he/she are facing then it does make a valid case for a not so good parent-child relationship.

My parents raised me in a way that made it difficult to feel comfortable enough to tell them what was going on in my life. The reason I felt that I couldn’t come to them is really because of the way they reacted to situations when I DID come to them. I didn’t feel comfortable talking with either parent and therefore it just seemed easier to hide important happenings within my life.

My parents were very strict–my dad mainly and at points I felt as if a lot of his rules and parenting style was one of pure dictatorship and based on fear(us fearing his wrath). I admit I was a rebellious teen. But I didn’t start out that way. At 16 when I first wanted to talk to a guy friend I had over the phone–my dad’s reaction was to break my phone and ground me. When at 17 I wanted to be in a relationship(I was a senior by the way) with a boy who was 2 years older than me–my dad’s reaction was to ban me from seeing the guy. My mom’s reaction was to send me articles about how dating a man who is older than me will result in all these negative consequences. She sent me articles like every week(it was weird).

When at 18 I told my parents I was dating a guy–my dad’s reaction was fine at first. My mom’s reaction: “Just so you know, no guy will ever take care of you the way your dad is. This guy is nothing and you are everything.  It’s your life”–with a tone that suggested I was making the worse mistake in my life. Later on at 20(when I was still dating this guy) my dad told me I could never see him again(dude I’m 20 years old, I don’t live with you, I can date who I want).

When I was 18 and in college and my parents found out I stayed at hotel with a serious boyfriend, my dad’s reaction: swear words, threatening to come hurt me, and pulling me out of school.

^ Clearly these responses are extreme. Right? Unfortunately there are many parents who react in similar tones as mine, and then later on wonder why their relationships are strained with their children. Whereas parents who react differently will find their child is much more comfortable coming to them in times of need.  Of course your child will make bad decisions, and do things you don’t agree with. And you can let your child know that, but you also want to do it in a manner that still leaves room for the child to grow and ultimately live their life without feeling tightly squeezed or hindered from personal growth. You can also do it in a way that makes it so that a child has an open relationship with you.

What are the ways you’ve been able to maintain an open relationship with your child?

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