Table of contents:
Video: Why Is It Harmful To Be Friends With Children? Psychologist Marina Melia's Opinion - Society
A single mother of a ten-year-old boy turned to me for advice. She and her son are real friends, she is used to reckoning with his opinion. About a year ago, she began dating a man and now constantly discusses with her son the ups and downs of her new relationship, the prospects for a new marriage. But the boy believes that his mother's chosen one "does not suit her." The poor woman is torn between her son and her beloved and does not know what to do.
Friendship of parents with children is a popular trend today: adults view their child as an equal partner, as a friend who can be trusted and with whom they can consult on a variety of issues. In my work, I often have to deal with these “friendships” and their negative consequences.
As strange as it sounds, we, as parents, get many psychological benefits from friendship with children
- Firstly, we like to feel “advanced”, we try in every possible way to get away from traditionalist views on the relationship of children and parents to freedom, partnership, “equality and brotherhood”. All these conventions: hierarchy, distance, boundaries, subordination, "the word of an adult is law" - seem to us archaic, all of this is yesterday. We want to communicate with children on an equal footing, not to hang over them, not to pressure, not to allow and prohibit, but perhaps to prompt and advise, and then "let them decide for themselves."
- Secondly, the “cult of youth” is in trend. The age limits have shifted: if earlier 50-year-olds were already considered grandparents, today they are still young men and women - both in appearance and in demeanor. Everyone strives to be young. And if an adult son on the street suddenly said to you "mom", and the grandson, God forbid, called "grandmother", it's a nightmare.
Therefore, mothers and grandmothers are now increasingly called by their first names. “He only calls me Alusik,” the grandmother says about her grandson, and this helps her feel young. Best compliment: “You can never say that this is your daughter. You are like two sisters. " And my mother feels young and carefree, like a girl.
The cult of youth also affects relations with children: “I am just as young, active, my son and I speak the same language, we go to the same club”. It turns out that we do not need to look for friends on the side, maintain relations with them, invest in real friendship: our friends are our children. Very comfortably!
And since this is friendship, then, of course, there should be common secrets. Let's say mom bought something secretly from dad and says to her son or daughter: "Just don't tell dad." Or dad met a girl that mom shouldn't know about, and warns: "Don't talk about it!" The child is forced to abide by the "gentlemen's agreement", which means, to choose between the parents.
Of course, the secret is the secret. It's one thing when a surprise is being prepared and mom asks: “Let's make dad a birthday present together. Let's hide it and not say it, "- such a secret unites, makes us closer, in this" conspiracy "there is romance, play, a manifestation of attention to a loved one. But most often secrets arise during quarrels and divorces and sometimes result in extremely ugly forms of relationships. For example, a coalition may arise - the unification of one of the parents with the child on the principle of “against whom we are friends”.
Friendship is also about sharing something that bothers you. And now the child-friend becomes a "vest" into which one can cry, a "container" into which we load our troubles and worries. But it is we, parents, especially mothers, who must support the child and teach him to cope with his emotions.
The burden of responsibility
At first, children really like this friendship - they are proud of modern parents, they feel like adults. True, we somehow lose sight of the issue of responsibility - and it is one of the most important.
An adult, by definition, has more rights and it is he who is responsible for himself and for the child. But in our infantile age, adults strive to relieve themselves of this heavy burden. We begin to “make friends” with children, make them our “confidants”, make them take sides, devote them to the details of our personal life, ask them for advice and even make decisions based on their opinion.
As a result, we either divide the responsibility in half, or shift it completely onto the children. And in addition, we are making claims: "I did as you told me, and look what happened."
But such a heavy burden cannot be placed on the shoulders of a child. Such relationships have a destructive effect on his psyche, personality, do not allow him to remain a child - "to be in happy ignorance", to develop and grow up at a calm pace.
The consequences of our "friendship" are especially pronounced and distinct when a child becomes a teenager. He strives for independence, distances himself from his parents, wants to have his own secrets, not shared with mom-dad, the ability to close in his room alone or with friends, to talk on the phone "without parental ears."
Often this “separation” becomes a real blow to the parents: “We are friends, and you don’t tell me anything, you hide everything. How so?" We want to dominate the child's life, we resist the fact that he has other significant people.
Of course, closeness and trust are an integral part of a good relationship with a child, but this does not mean at all that you need to be on an equal footing with him. We should not set before him tasks that he cannot not only solve, but even fully comprehend
So, in a situation with a mother, who rushes between her son and her beloved man, she herself must make a choice whether to marry her or not. And the responsibility for this decision is also on her - this is her life. Of course, the son can be upset, offended. It is important during this period to give him as much attention as possible and make him understand: after getting married, mom will still love him. And if something changes for him, then only for the better - in her new husband, he will find another adult person who will take care of him and whom you can come to for advice.
Each has its own role
The family is a special structure that lives by its own laws, rules, and where each has its own role. Parents are parents and children are children. The task of parents is to feed, dress, shoe, protect, educate, set a coordinate system, set boundaries, guide and suggest what to do in a particular case.
The business of children is, on the one hand, to obey, respect, obey, follow parental instructions, and on the other, to play naughty, trying to grope the boundaries of what is permitted, to defend their independence, independence.
If this system is turned upside down, children will find themselves in the position of an adult, which is absolutely unnatural. For normal development, they need a comfortable environment where they would feel like children, and above them would be a strong adult who will ensure safety, take responsibility, and in which case he will protect or rein in, because he knows what is right and how it should be.
As for friendship and support - their time to support us will come, and we will definitely be friends - only later, when they grow up
Read more: Marina Melia, “Leave the Child Away! Simple rules of wise parents ", M.: Bombora, 2019.