As most parents of teenagers and young adults will recognise, a frustrating aspect of parenting is “discussions” with them. The sometimes long drawn out, mindbogglingly convoluted drag out sessions, that leave you exhausted and drained- and then waking up the next morning and realising that it achieved no purpose!
Generation gaps are alive and well. As parents, you usually want your children to achieve their full potential, avoid the pitfalls that you or others may have encountered and learn from experience.
Simple? Understandable? Logical even??
In the most recent iteration of our usual heated discussions with my 21 year old, a throwaway line from me, elicited this response “You’re always guilting us”
The argument came to a screeching halt….I could not fathom what on earth she meant.
I had been telling her about the challenges our generation faced while growing up and how those challenges influenced our present actions and views.
And I found her statement “that was then, this is now” very hurtful…
But later that evening and much into the next few days, my thoughts kept returning to what she had said “You’re always guilting us” and she clarified that she did not just me us, her parents- she meant all parents attitudes towards their children.
I looked back and found a disconcerting picture, as parents, we often do things “for our children”. Sometimes career choices, where we live, the kinds of things we may forgo are because we believe they will benefit our kids.
The newspapers recently carried a story of a young girl, who was miserable in a private school, that her parents struggled to keep her in, because of the pressure she was under. Her parents wanted her to benefit from every possible opportunity they were getting for her. Some years on, she is extremely disappointed with how her school experience panned out. Her mother now feels she went through all the struggle and pain for no gain & feels cheated as well!
Thinking a bit more about this and you will see that much of what we do, to get a desired response from others in our lives is trying to raise a feeling of guilt in them…
Our movies and TV shows continuously drum the guilt factor in the other person.
In a movie recently, teachers are treated badly and then come on national tv and speak emotionally about how students learn from them, go on to become successful in lives and then forget their teachers. The students then soul search and come to the realisation that they have neglected their teachers and shower them with flowers and messages of support.
Other movies have shown suffering parents, who slog their lives away to get a better life, the children become extremely ungrateful and then in a tear jerking climax the parent makes the ultimate sacrifice and the grown son or daughter realises just a bit too late how they behaved.
A story of a son who was horrendous to his mother because she had lost an eye and looked ugly, he leaves her and does not look back, when she dies he discovers that she had given up her eye, after he loses an eye in an accident as a child. His sense of guilt for all his actions toward her, tear him up!
We seem to find it easier to make others feel beholden to us because of what we do for them rather than let them cultivate their own feelings for us.
I don’t believe we want our children or others to repay a debt but maybe we want them to remember it? Not sure….
But at the end, truth be told- we do guilt our children……and maybe we shouldn’t…one can but try!