Traumatised by idea of independence?(14 Posts)
Not sure whether I've massively failed at parenting.
7yo had a complete meltdown at bedtime tonight. Convinced that daddy and mummy will send him away.
Triggered by a scene in a film which reminded him of previous conversations where we've talked about how he will grow up to be an independent adult one day, but now he thinks that will be enforced an he can't (obviously) picture himself as having the emotional and mental resources to cope independently, so is picturing himself thrown out of the house all alone. It was heartbreaking but he honestly seemed to believe that this was an inescapable fate and that no matter how much we say we love him, eventually he will be banished.
So finally after many many tears, reassured him enough to get him asleep, swearing that we will never throw him out (but will I live to regret that promise if he ends up a 30 year old refusing to get a job) and now wondering how it all went wrong. Should parents never mention concepts of eventual independence to young kids? Or am I just taking a random sleep-avoidance tactic way way too seriously which is DH's theory.
I've never mentioned it to my children. It's a gradual process so why talk about it as though it's an end point?
Talking about smaller targets in relation to independence is fine though...for eg. my 8 year old will be old enough to walk to school alone when she is 10...I talk about that with her...discuss the road she will need to cross and how to use the crossing etc.
But discussing when she's an adult and moves out seems unesassary.
I realise this is of no help to you now as you've already done it.
Funny you should say this. I had a conversation with DD (age 4) where I mentioned in passing something about "where you live when you are grown up". Since then she has repeatedly said she doesn't want to move out ever ever ever and things to that effect.
I have taken the approach of saying of course she can live with us forever if she wants to and that would be lovely ... I expect
hope she'll change her mind at some point between now and adulthood
Sounds like mine - I've had to reassure 7 and 4yos that of course they can always live with me and Dad, but most children grow up and want to try living elsewhere for a bit. Dd and ds plan to live together, possibly in the house at the end of our road!
Thanks for replies. DH is really annoyed with me for promising that DS can live with us for ever and ever - and both of us would feel we had failed as parents if that happens - but that feels like the promise that a tearful and frightened 7 year old needs.
I think your dh is being ridiculous. At the moment your 7 year old needs reassurance that he can live with you for as long as he wants. I would very much doubt that he will hold you to this promise in 30 years time!! Thinking of living apart from you is obviously scary for him now....in 15 years time I'm sure the idea of moving out will be a lot more appealing!
My 9 year old vows she will never move out, and if she does, she's going to move next door and knock through so that we can all live in one huge house! I wouldn't dream of telling her that she most certainly can't live with us forever and that there will be no knocking through from next door. That's what makes her feel safe at the minute, I very much doubt she'll feel the same when she's 25.
Ds is going to live with me forever and expects to be able to climb into our bed until he's 28
I say "yes dear" much as I did when dd1 was in tears at the prospective that she couldn't marry daddy. She's a teenager now and can't believe she even wanted to.
...and I say that as a mother of two, one of whom wanted to marry me (?) and one of whom at 8 still gets very upset at the idea of ever leaving home.
Has your DH met any teenagers? Trust me, he won't want to live with you forever.
I don't think any of it is inappropriate BTW! I find it odd that people would specifically avoid mentioning "When you're grown up and you have your own house" to DC - it's a totally normal thing to talk about! It's not like you have to sit them down and express concern that they haven't got the hang of budgeting yet at six and are behind schedule But they do notice that adults don't generally live with their parents, that is after all how things normally work.
I think it's worth talking to your kid about development, and how the "him" that eventually leaves the house won't be leaving against his will -- in fact, he'll probably love to do it!
Talk to him about how when he was very little, like a toddler, he couldn't have even played on his own outside without supervision for a little while. Tell him that if, back then, he knew that in a few years, he'd be expected to sometimes amuse himself for HOURS without parents around, he'd have been terrified and overwhelmed -- and that's why we don't leave 1 year olds on their own. There's a reason we don't send 7 year olds off to make their own way. Talk to him about how when he was three, he didn't really know what it would feel like to be five. When he was five, he didn't know what it would feel like to be seven -- use examples from his specific behavior and history to flesh this out.
If he can start to work through this at a young age, which he seems to have already gotten a head start on, he'll be in a great position to understand himself better than many of his peers. It's also a good time to start telling him that the "future him" who is 9 or 11 or 17 or 21 may well appreciate the efforts made by the "past him" that is doing things today or recently. You can tie that lesson in by actually making reference to "hey, pretty awesome that 'past you' got the homework done first thing Friday so you could have the whole weekend free to yourself, right?" and "I bet 'future you' will be really glad if you clean up this mess now so he doesn't have to."
Maybe watch Toy Story together? (Is it number 3?)
That's a really useful way to think of it womb - thank you.
In the past nearly-a-week since the night of hysterical crying about this, we haven't had any further upset on the subject.
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