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How Parents Can Feel Trapped in Their Own Homes

discouraged parent

Confrontation plays a vital role in nurturing healthy relationships and environments by taking proactive steps to address issues. Without it, problems linger, potentially escalating into pervasive issues like ongoing disrespect, uncertainty about responsibilities, and fostering passive-aggressive behavior. When parents shy away from confronting their child when necessary, they often find themselves walking on eggshells, feeling like hostages in their own homes. Drawing from my experience working with families for over eight years, here are three primary reasons why parents tend to avoid confrontation.


1. Fear of Wrath


Tantrums and protests are common during child development, particularly when establishing new boundaries. Parents must effectively maintain boundaries, contain tantrums, and enforce consequences early on, ideally before preschool. Failure to do so can lead to increasingly intense and prolonged tantrums, making correction seem impossible. This fear of their child's wrath is the primary reason parents avoid confrontation. Whether it's during calm moments or heightened situations, parents may feel compelled to placate their child by altering boundaries, avoiding consequences, or inadvertently rewarding them to appease them immediately, such as allowing screen time. Beneath this fear lies a deeper fear of feeling incompetent.


Solution:

- Accept tantrums as a natural aspect of behavior shaping.

- Consistently apply a specific framework for managing tantrums and allow time for results to manifest.


2. Fear of Disapproval


Another common reason parents avoid confrontation is the fear of being disliked by their child. This fear may stem from projecting their own past issues with their parents onto their relationship with their child, misinformation from current trends, or reluctance to acknowledge their child's valid emotions, such as resentment, disappointment, or frustration. Parentification, treating the child as an adult to fulfill the parent's needs, can also contribute to this fear. In seeking companionship, parents may inadvertently seek pseudo-friendship with their child, maintaining a power imbalance. Ultimately, the underlying fear of being disliked often traces back to the fear of abandonment.


Solution:

- Acknowledge that your child may not always like you.

- Seek peer relationships within your age group to fulfill social needs.


3. Fear of Harming the Child


A growing trend is the belief that discomfort harms children. This idealistic notion, perpetuated by prominent parenting experts online, has become overwhelmingly influential. Some of these experts profit from the misleading idea that children can grow solely through empathy, avoiding discomfort entirely, which has led many parents to believe they can raise resilient children without confrontation or tantrums. Fortunately, this narrative is gradually losing traction as parents recognize the inevitability of child development, including the necessity of confrontation and the inescapable nature of tantrums at times. Fear of judgment or ostracism by followers of these influential figures (especially online) often underlies this reluctance to confront.


Solution:

- Acknowledge that discomfort is essential for growth and resilience in children.

- Focus on fundamental behavioral principles rather than trendy approaches.


By addressing these fears and implementing appropriate solutions, parents can navigate confrontation more effectively, fostering healthier relationships and environments within their homes.


Zack Kasabo is a certified school counselor who has been working with extremely challenging behaviors for over eight years outside of Philadelphia, PA.  He is the owner of Kasabo Behavior Management which is a coaching service that specializes in helping parents confidently manage their child’s challenging behavior.



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