How much do we want our children to like us? How much do we want the 'mother's day' and 'father's day' cards that tell us we are the best ever? What about wanting ‘a quiet life’, not wanting to ‘rock the boat? Wanting children to like us can lead to complications and trouble with a capital T. Can we be honest and ask:
Do we change our parenting because we want to be liked?
If we consider parenting as a role or a job, a part of this job certainly includes setting boundaries. The job requires that we need to say ‘no’ reasonably regularly, explain why it’s a no, be willing to have authority in the ‘no’s’, to be unpopular and not at all the 'number-one' parent. The job needs us to be able to live through the ‘I hate you’ yelling and the attempt to get us at the jugular with ‘you’re the worst parent in the world.’ It’s a no-brainer there are times when we are not going to be ‘liked.’
The sticky bit comes in when as parents we are trying to be liked over just being sensible and doing the job we signed up for. There’s a lot to say ‘no’ to these days in parenting – life is a lot fuller, and the smorgasbord of entertainment and activities offer a far greater range than say it was for our parents and grandparents.
Bringing into the mix wanting to be ‘liked’ by children – where does it get us?
As parents, we need to be on the ball. We actually need to be ‘parenting-fit’ – that’s not necessarily physically fit – but ‘fit’ for when out of the blue an outburst arises, or a poor choice is made. We need to be able to stay steady in the face of arguments, possible aggression and upsets. A myriad of things can come up that need responding to, and we need to assess what is needed in that moment. There is a lot that goes on with parenting – it’s full-on. If, as we deal with all these things, we have an ‘I want to be liked’ programme running, then we are likely to ignore things, let behaviours slide and end up in the muddy swamps of parenting.
Being liked is a sneaky pattern of behaviour, perhaps we don’t notice how bit by bit we compromise and end up in a right pickle, trying to please all of the people all of the time. If we look at it closely, there is nothing to like about being liked. It leads us to compromise ourselves, in pleasing others we are moving away from the standards we naturally hold dear, to tolerate, to put up with disrespect and abuse.
Being parenting-fit is something we can all build on, it is a life-saver we can come back to again and again. It’s our foundation to deal with all the behaviours that come up when we are doing our job. Wanting to be liked is a road best not to go down, it’s not fun and is a long term disaster waiting to happen, whereas doing the job we signed up for can be the best fun ever on mother’s day, father’s day and every other day.
Wanting children to like us can lead to complications and trouble with a capital 'T'.
Photo credit - Why Be You Team