Crybaby Parenting

Children need practice for resilience.

Posted Feb 26, 2018

Our children are not made ready for the rejection, disapproval and humiliation that they will occasionally or often and inevitably experience in everyday life. 

Being emotionally unprepared, they turn to passivity, avoidance and underachievement to minimise their exposure and pain. 

Crybaby parenting is raising successive generations of kids who take the easy way out to avoid the pain of criticism and failure. The easy way out is by not trying, by readily giving up, by blaming lack of success on parents, teachers, authority, and by taking drugs.

Crybaby parenting occurs when adults selfishly focus on their upsetness whenever their children are upset. The solution for the adult's distress in these moments is to remove or protect the child from the child's suffering. When the child feels better, so does the adult. 

Crybaby parenting puts the distress of the adult before the opportunity for their children to develop coping strategies. The rationalisation that adults use to facilitate this tragically selfish behaviour is that children require shielding and protection from anything that upsets them.

Unsplash Joel Overbeck
Source: Unsplash Joel Overbeck

Children do need protection, but not from their feelings.

History repeats itself. We don't learn well from our own mistakes or the mistakes of others. I am not saying we can't or don't learn from the past. Just saying that we don't seem to learn that well. 

The ability to change requires an understanding of why people don't change. If you understand what stops you learning and evolving, your chances of learning from the past and growing as a result significantly improve. As a species, a community and a parent, if we don't start behaving differently, we are going to get the repeated outcomes of violence and underachievement that fill our history books.

To be specific, if we don't start parenting differently, our kids will be unprepared for real life. What is real life? That's a world where competition, unfairness, manipulation and bullying occur. We all wish that were different, but it is what it is. It has always been this way.

In spite of being told that unlimited wealth and opportunity are equally available for all, they are not. Telling yourself (and your kids) that everything will work out all right in the end and if it isn't all right now, then it isn't the end; is not helpful. This idea does prepare you to (temporarily) tolerate unfairness, abuse and manipulation. But it does not equip you with the strength to be able to stand your awful sensations when manipulated, abused and mistreated.

Nowadays, what are the most common things parents and kids do when they can't stand feeling bad? They take drugs, and they spread their bad feelings around - social media - looking for a distraction and a way to ventilate their noxious feelings. 

Avoidance behaviour is historically the typical way humans deal with the bad feelings experienced in daily life. Distraction works, but with unequal outcomes. Some avoidance behaviour creates underachievement, while another avoidance behaviour creates achievement and excellence.

A distraction that focuses on the avoidance of emotional distress (and the associated circumstances) provides only brief relief because emotions are instinctive and like breathing and sweating will not be sidelined for very long. Such effort works fast but stops working just as quickly. The distraction that focuses on feelings creates a narrowing of attention to the exclusion of awareness of other aspects of life and opportunity.

Unsplash Emily Reider
Source: Unsplash Emily Reider

A distraction that focuses on achieving outcomes in spite of emotional distress is slower in diverting attention sufficiently to lessen the emotional pain. However a focus on achievement in spite of suffering lasts longer and, although never guaranteeing results, increases the chances of achieving satisfying outcomes.

Trying to avoid feeling bad leads to underachievement and self-downing. 

Focusing on achievement, even while feeling bad, increases chances for satisfaction and self-esteem.

Both avoidance and achievement strategies work in coping with feeling terrible. The first strategy works fast and stops working quicker. The second works slowly but keeps working long after the first has fizzled out.

Neither of them stops terrible feelings. Terrible feelings are healthy, natural and necessary in dangerous circumstances and ensure our survival. 

We don't need protection from our feelings.

We do need strategies to persist and achieve in spite of them.