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I had parents who could not help their children


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Dear Sir,

I had parents who could not help their children and their children grew up not being able to help themselves - now as an adult (but still an emotional child inside) how can I help myself?

Malcolm Frasier

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Hello Malcolm,

You do not specify the ways in which your parents were deficient in training you but, if they were typical of the parents that I work with, you probably were not taught an important lesson that children need.   Children are often not trained to accept small but real consequences for inappropriate behaviour and then frustrated parents often tend, without realising it, to use what I call   "interpersonal"   sanctions.

"Interpersonal" sanctions lower the child's self-esteem whilst often increasing their bad behaviour and power within the home.

When children  are  trained to accept small consequences for their own inappropriate behaviour they are simultaneously   (well at least this is my theory of "Interactive Behaviour Imbalance")   being trained to accept and not dwell on natural disappointments without getting angry and needing to blame others.

The one question that I cannot answer is what will happen to the children of the parents who are never able to find the help that they need to control the bad behaviour?   What will the children be like when they grow up?   Will they be taught the lessons that their parents have not taught them by their new life outside the home or will they continue to be, as you yourself think,  "still an emotional child inside" ?

If you are right about the legacy from childhood, and I do realise there is a lot of supposition here from both of us,  then your parents may well have failed to train you to

  • to accept negative consequences for your own negative behaviour and by this failure failed to teach you

  • to accept that life's disappointments (including how you turned out) are not always somebody else's fault

So now to your question

"how can I help myself?"

If all this is true then you will still be doing two things that you were doing as a child and which you  now need to find the objectivity and strength to stop doing.

Firstly you will be

  • behaving badly towards others
and secondly you will be

  • blaming this behaviour on these others and anything else you can blame it on   (and also, as here, on your parents)

If this is the case you will have to at some point leave behind how your parents treated you as a child and take responsibility - like the adult you have become - for your own current behaviour.

Sorry,  if this sounds harsher than I intend,  but although you may still feel like a child
     you are not
and you need to look forward and accept responsibility rather than backward and apportion blame.

I hope this helps.

Warwick Dyer
Behaviour Change Consultancy

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