“The sign of great parenting is not the child’s behaviour. The sign of truly great parenting is the parents’ behaviour” – Andy Smithson
Aditya was a 16yr old boy with a vivacious personality. He was popular among his friends for his polite and helpful nature. Harsh was his closest buddy. They shared almost everything with each other. But from the last few days, Harsh was noticing a visible change in Aditya’s behaviour. He was quieter and sad which was alarming. Harsh could not understand what was bothering Aditya so much. He had never seen him like this before since they became friends. Finally, today Harsh decided to talk about it as he was getting anxious seeing his friend. Harsh was shocked when Aditya broke into tears. He cried inconsolably. Aditya was upset because of his parents. His parents had marital trouble and there were endless fights and arguments at home. Aditya being the single child was badly stuck in between them. He could not talk it out and it was upsetting him more, every single day now. His home appeared like a battlefield, and he did not feel like going home. As far as he could remember about his childhood, it is only the memory of abuses and quarrels between them, like cats and dogs. He has no hope in their relationship and wants to move out of that house. He feels dead in emotions for his parents, and everything seemed cluttered. A constant fear haunts him, and he feels helpless and alone.
There are many more similar stories of children like Aditya that are sufferers of conflicting relationships between their parents. Conflicts are an inevitable part of any relationship. But the way they are managed is a crucial aspect of it. According to research, if conflict conversations are handled in a constructive way, they can help to gain a new perspective in relationships. However, mismanagement of it can turn a relationship toxic and has a deep impact on the people around, especially children. Children are very innocent and sensitive but are sharp observers and can read eyes. Even a toddler who is learning to speak can perceive and differentiate the tone and feelings of said and unsaid words. They absorb everything like a sponge and their little hearts lock the feelings inside. They may lack the words to speak out their emotions, but their behaviour and gestures reflect the inner grind, helplessness, and insecurity.
When a child is born, his parents are the world, their home is like a heaven and a safe space guarded by its protectors (the parents). Any ripples (like unhealthy fights, arguments, etc.) in their world can create a hustle-bustle in their mind. They feel confused and chaotic. It is like an ordeal that is very stressful, difficult for them to process. They may experience complex emotions like anxiety, fear, or loneliness. It is difficult for them to accept the fact that their guardians are themselves not at peace and emotionally struggling. In young children it can result in grumpy moods, temper tantrums, crankiness, anger issues, or sadness; in teenagers, it may develop into low self-confidence, low self-esteem, distrust, or may drive them to a neurotic state like overthinking, compulsive acts, or binge eating, etc. Their coping mechanism is at the nascent stages and there are chances that they may be misguided by people with deceit intentions. Unlike Aditya, not everyone is fortunate to get support from the right people. The kids develop their own way of venting out the turmoil they undergo.
Parenting is the most beautiful gift and experience in human life, with its own knee jerks. Like a potter, a parent shapes the child with values, respect, character, a sense of responsibility, motivation, and skills. Unconditional love and care are the ingredients in between that bind the pot i.e., a parent and child. A delicate balance and mix of all these helps the child to grow into an emotionally healthy adult. But an imbalance can create havoc; dysfunctional parenting can create deep emotional wounds in the formative years that are difficult to heal in a lifetime. The impressions/scars are permanent and can wobble the foundation of trust, love, and respect in future relationships for that child. Their negative experiences at home can shake their roots of mental and emotional health which is an overwhelming feeling.
As a parent, we are accountable for giving the child a safe space and an environment that is carefree and comforting. Raising a confident, happy, and responsible person in adulthood is a mutual responsibility of both parents. Parenting should be above egos and a self-centric attitude, and any clashes or quarrels should be handled mindfully in front of children. The proverb “actions speak louder than words” fits best in the role of parenting. As a parent, we should try and set an example of conflict management and nurture them into an adult who is more responsible in their deeds as an individual and in society.
“Being able to solve conflict peacefully is one of the greatest strengths we can give our children”, by Fred Rogers
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