Understanding that Mom and Dad Are Human Too
When children are young, mom and dad are their heroes. However, adolescents must come to understand that mom and dad are human too.
For little ones, their parents are like superheroes, incapable of making mistakes and possessing all the answers. The admiration children feel toward them leads them to adopt their same attitudes and even imitate them as they play. However, when they grow up, they inevitably face the reality that mom and dad are human too.
As adolescence approaches, this idealized view of parents disappears. The need to build one’s own identity involves, quite often, a strong opposition toward parents. Therefore, we must prepare ourselves as well as our children and young people for the moment when this revelation occurs.
Are you your children’s hero?
From birth, babies need their parents in order to survive. Without them, they’d be unable to meet their most basic physiological and emotional needs. A little later, during the first years of life, parents become their children’s maximum reference points.
From them, they learn to speak and to behave. They imitate and adopt many of their attitudes and believe their parents possess the whole truth. For children, parents are those people who always know what to do and what to say. Those to whom they can go to for wisdom and comfort. Within their small, limited world, mom and dad seem like all-powerful figures.
This admiration is evident in the tendency of infants to take their parents as role models. Children won’t do what you tell them, but they’ll always imitate what they see you doing.
Therefore, it’s very necessary to be aware of how we act towards our children. Although they may seem too small to notice, they’re really like sponges capable of absorbing everything that comes from us.
The myth collapses
However, this situation is temporary because, sooner or later, children will find out that their parents aren’t perfect. As adolescence approaches, the need to differentiate oneself from them will be greater and greater. And, the more idealized the parents are, the harder the blow will be to discover that they too are human and make mistakes.
Therefore, the best thing we can do for our children, for ourselves, and for the bond we share is to show our kids that mom and dad are human too. And this is something we need to demonstrate from a young age.
It’s tempting to rejoice in the unconditional admiration that children have for us when they’re young. Asking them to forgive us, admitting that there are things we don’t know, and showing that we’re vulnerable too, can be difficult.
However, this is much healthier, as our kids will eventually discover this reality on their own. And the feeling of deceit will be greater if we’ve always tried to present ourselves before their eyes as infallible people. As a result, they may feel a greater need to rebel against our authority and stop considering us in any matter.
Mom and Dad are human too
So how can we smooth the transition? By showing them from an early age that mom and dad are human too.
- Even though they’re younger, your child won’t always be wrong and you won’t always be right. Try to make them feel heard, respected, and taken care of.
- Don’t be afraid to show your emotions to your children. Sometimes, we avoid letting our children see us as sad or angry so that we don’t cause them to worry. But emotions are part of life and we, as humans, feel them too. If we stop trying to hide them, we’ll normalize the expression of feelings and encourage emotional management.
- Ask your children to forgive you when you’ve made a mistake. Acknowledging that you’ve lost your temper or done something wrong is a very commendable gesture on your part. This will help them understand that no one is perfect, that we can all make mistakes, recognize them, and improve.
- If you don’t know the answer to a question your child is asking, say so openly. It’s more beneficial to acknowledge it and look for the answer together than to make something up because you don’t know what to say.
You don’t have to be perfect for your child to love and admire you. It’s much more favorable for them to have strong but humane role models who can show them their weaknesses and how to manage them. Showing yourself to be human will improve their personal development and your shared bond.