Parents must be the umbrella for a child’s black clouds. The parent’s problems must never be the black cloud.
I spoke recently about attachment theory in parenting, which, in its simplest form is the fact that parents must be attuned, responsive, and engaged with a child’s emotional state to help her learn to manage her emotions well.
To be attuned, a parent cannot be overwhelmed with her own fears or insecurities.
Sadly, too many parents “over-share” with children and do not mask their own problems. This over-sharing might be about financial concerns or it might be a parent’s phobias or anxieties or depression. I have so many children in therapy who can speak at length about a parent’s fear of spiders, depression episodes, panic attacks or other emotional problems.
This leads the child to belief that a parent’s emotional needs are more important than the child’s. It leads a child to wonder if a parent is going to be emotionally present for the child’s concerns. Deferring to a parent leads directly to a child with low self-worth, lack of sense of self and, possibly, emotional problems such as anxiety or depression.
A parent must get her own emotional house in order first, before she can be a good parent. A parent must be able to regulate his own emotions and remain calm, so that he is able to help the child learn to regulate his emotions.
Parents: Be the umbrella, not the black cloud.