The second education: mothers who stop working to re-educate their teenage children

If there is something in which all adults agree today, it is that children have to transmit values ​​through the example, and through an education that establishes minimum standards of coexistence and respect for others.

We all agree, but in many cases this is not happening as it should and many children reach adolescence with a cystic problem that arises at that moment. When they acquire some independence and the parents cease to be their referents, many young people begin to show themselves rebellious, in some cases aggressive, and many mothers choose to offer a second education: they stop working to try to re-educate their children.

An upward trend in Europe

As we read in The Information, more and more women decide to stop working when their children reach the adolescent stage. In Spain there are no data yet of this phenomenon, but it is considered that it is likely to happen, especially considering that bullying is a problem far from being resolved, that school failure follows the order of the day, that many young people are aggressive with their friends and even with their own parents and that they often do not have no motivation to study (although sometimes I understand them: many realize that they will hardly have a job no matter how trained they are and they know that, in case they have it, that will mean leading a life similar to that of their parents, from which they run away because they are always occupied and loaded with problems and responsibilities).

How is it possible that they reach adolescence that way?

The million dollar question. A question he gives for an entire book, for a thesis, for hours of talk and debate. I will try to summarize it as I see it, at the risk of falling short and at the risk of missing the diagnosis, basically because I speak from my father's position.

To start, I want to make it clear that troubled teenagers there have been a lifetime. Or perhaps in our time we didn't have classmates or friends with problems at school, at the institute and with their parents?

This does not mean that adolescence is itself a problematic period as such (age does not justify bad behavior), but it does mean that it is a complicated stage for many boys and girls, who see that life begins to change , that they are increasing their responsibilities, that they begin to form a greater or lesser self-esteem, and that they begin to compare themselves with their peers both physically and psychologically and socially.

This is how it appears the desire to be accepted, of belonging to the group, of being able to be one more and of, in a way, aspiring to have a certain popularity; or, in a totally contrary situation, in the face of fear of not achieving it, the solution of seeking refuge and protection in the isolation of dress and behave very different from most (It is another way to cope with adolescence: create an aggressive or striking image that serves as a shield).

But before this, before measuring yourself with your peers and trying to fit in or prefer not to do so, there are the years you've spent with your parents. Much of the person you will be is determined by those years, by the education they have given you, and if a child leaves that era with certain shortcomings it is easier for adolescence to be stormy.

The authoritarianism that was left behind years ago

Many of us are children of authoritarianism, from a time when what parents said at risk of punishment or cheek if we ignored them. They considered that they earned our respect when what they were reaping was fear. The children had very little capacity for decision because our life was controlled by them so that if we did it right nothing happened, but if we did it badly (according to their scale), we were doing some kind of physical or psychological damage so that We intended to repeat.

Although in the eyes of others we were very obedient and well-educated children, in adolescence the search for freedom that had been lacking often emerged and important acts of rebellion appeared, that "Give it to my parents, now I will live to stop, top, maximum as a noun, top as an adverb".

However, sometimes, the boys had reached such a level of submission that not even that happened: many were relegated to continue to follow orders with very little personality and very little analytical ability, jumping from childhood to adolescence, and from there to adulthood always looking for a reference to be guided; a reference such as a teacher, a more dominant friend, the boss, a couple who kept telling him how to proceed, or the same father: an adult with his own family still consulting what is the best way to his father, and if not, thinking inside which would be the decision that the father would make (there are people who even after their father has died continue to function in this way). How to make decisions about something, if their parents had always made them for them?

The permissiveness or lack of paternity that came later

After that time when parents acted as a guide by establishing very clear standards (although parents often spent little time with their children, their influence on children was very strong), there came a time when parents wanted to break with it and make it different .

Without the guidance of the transmission from parents to children (without repeating what the parents did with them), these new parents were a bit adrift, without a clear reference to how to act, and some styles of paternity appeared today. in days (they are not exclusive, there are parents who can behave based on one or more models of paternity):

  • Permissive parents: after that time, the children of authoritarianism have said that punishing, hitting and subjecting children is not correct, so they opt for a very different kind of education in which the child is ahead of everything. Since their parents did not let them decide anything, the child can make their own decisions on any matter. As parents scolded them every time they did something wrong, they avoid scolding the child. As they felt fear, and even fear of the figure of their parents, their children should have affection for them, but never fear, and they will be almost like friends.
  • Hypervigilant parents or helicopter: hurt in their self-esteem, feeling distant from their parents on an emotional level, they consider that the best thing for a child is to give all his love, all his love, all his time, in the form of care and attention. Their children "will not spend half of the bad time they had," they say, so they become their guardians and, unwittingly, also their stewards. Thus, these parents almost live the lives of their children trying to avoid any problem even before it appears, always flying over them so that they do not eat what they should not eat, are not with whom they should not be, do not harm themselves, do not argue with No child, don't get tired, don't get dirty, etc.
  • The flattering parents: aware that they lived their childhood and adolescence with a very improved level of self-esteem, with many complexes, and aware that even as adults they drag a large part of these problems of self-concept, many parents choose to try to prevent this with their children making them believe They are almost perfect, exaggerating their qualities so that they have high self-esteem from an early age.
  • The little involved parents: probably dragging shortages of times past, often emotional, continue trying to make sense of their lives while on the way they form a family and have children. They are usually very busy always and barely have time for their children, both for work reasons and because they usually always have more important things to do (even if it is going to have a drink with friends, or similar). They are those of "Not now, son, that I am doing something important", "Now I have to go, but then we play for a while" and the "Another day will be, that I can't today".

Both permissive parents and hypervigilant parents are given body and soul to their children. This is very positive, if they feel so, in the first months of life; I would dare to say that even until two years or so, because babies are totally dependent beings who need love, contact, love and respect.

However, from that age, the father must stop being at the expense of all the wishes of the children because at that time Not all of your demands are basic needs. Of course I do not talk about changing overnight: it is something very progressive, it is the response to the appearance of wishes, requests, whims or even orders from children, who expect a reaction from us.

That's when the father (or mother) starts exercising as a supporting figure, as a guide, with its example and its dialogue, to explain when necessary why something cannot be done, or why it cannot be done at that time. Often the father may give in to the child's request, and it is not bad because this is how children are taught to give in too, but on other occasions you will not be able to do it, or you will not want to do it, and that will cause an anger in your child. That's when the father starts to educate, when He explains that he understands his anger and argues why it cannot be what the child wants at that time (and then, after telling him what cannot be, he tells him what it can be so that the tantrum is not eternal).

If this does not happen, if the parents continue for months and years in the service of the child, if they continue asking him to tell them how he wants to live, it is common for the child to begin to demand more and more things, with less patience, with more determination, to the point of completely annulling their parents (it usually happens after three years and the thing is about five or six, when the parents feel they are already totally dominated by their child).

It is said that they are small dictators because they behave as such. And it’s not that they want, it’s that they’re being charged the responsibility of a whole family. When parents are relegated to the child's wishes, it is he who has to mark the times, who has to decide what to play, when, what to eat, at what time, how to dress, how to act, what to do next, and everything that it's too much for such a small child.

In such a situation, children have no choice but to maximize their functions, even harming parents, to try to let them know that they cannot and should not have control of family dynamics. In other words, many children end up submitting their parents to say so, because they do not know otherwise, that they need to take the reins of the family and they are responsible for the welfare of all, and not him: "Become parents at once, because look at how badly I do it, that with how small I am I have to be 'my father' and also 'yours'. "

On the other hand, over that age, the two years, children begin to be increasingly skilled and autonomous, and will try to do things they learn from us. If we control them, if we prevent them from doing them because they can go wrong, because they take a long time or because we want to remain at your service, we will be restricting the progression of their autonomy and falling into the helicopter parent model ("I've seen you, we ended up before," "I already feed you so you don't get stained", "I already lather you even if you're able to do it", etc.).

Finally, in the case of flattering parents, what is created in the child is a false self-image. Full of compliments and accustomed to hearing his parents speak wonders of him, he begins to believe that he is really above other children, that he is really capable of doing anything, and as such he may come to consider that he has more rights that they deserve more attention and should always win (his parents have always let him know that he is the "most", the "best", that there is no one like him).

This, obviously, is a time bomb, because the moment he begins to interact with other children and demands his throne, he will clash frontally with the wishes and concerns of those little ones of his age who will not have no need or desire to treat him as he thinks should be treated. For them it will be one more, and they will have no qualms about beating them at the games (because parents often let them win to avoid their frustration and further increase their self-esteem) and let them know that it is not as special as they think.

The problem is that this is not as easy as putting a child with others to see that it is one more. The excessively flattered child does not change his mind so easily because at home his ego continues to feed, so that still growing believing capable of doing anything, often effortlessly, and often with the reinforcement of some parents who are still not sincere when, after the first problems appear, they defend their position: "If these children have won you, they will surely have cheated", "If the teacher has not given you more marks , I'm sure you have a mania, "" I'll go talk to whoever it takes to value how your work should be, "" Quiet, honey, they'll soon realize everything you're worth. "

This, until an age comes when the child finally realizes the trap, which usually coincides at a time close to adolescence, or at that same stage. When he arrives at the institute, nobody knows him and must make new friends. Then they start to work in a team, observe others, their abilities, their way of being, and from there they self-assess their abilities and skills; at that moment he measures himself with them ... and there he realizes that the exaggeration was evident, that he is not special (or is not more special than the others), that he has lived a lie all his life and his self-esteem, built on a balloon too swollen, is going to sting when he realizes that is one more.

A pique, as a pique goes his confidence in some parents who have not managed to raise him in the real world, but have always built him an alternative reality, a sort of Matrix, an imaginary wonderland, in which he has lived deceived and manipulated. Imagine what the consequences may be at such a delicate stage.

The lack of time

He had always thought that the problem of many adolescents was the lack of time of their parents ... that these were not enough with them and that is why they had deficiencies that emerged in that complicated age, when everything is complicated with the arrival of new referents and from the peer group.

However, I have realized (at least now I see it that way), that it is not so much the lack of time of the parents, but lack of guidance, accompaniment, trust, relationship, communication ...

It is what I just explained. If some parents are not (the little involved parents), because they barely spend time with their child, the lack of guidance and example makes the children have to look for their references outside and always feel the lack of love and warmth of a family . It is normal that in adolescence problems can arise because there is no communication or hardly any relationship.

But if some parents are, and their paternity model moves between permissiveness and hypervigilance, and perhaps they also fall into excessive flattery, the result will not always be much better. Permittance does not offer a clear guide to the child either, and many children are not sure what is right or what is wrong (with situations as absurd as seeing that the child is bothering other children or adults and parents do not tell him anything to not contradict him); hypervigilance also offers no guidance because he does not allow the child autonomy to learn and develop, so that when he goes out into the world he expects others to continue doing things, as if it were his obligation; and the excessive flattery, I have already explained: it makes him believe that he is above good and evil.

It's not just the lack of time with the children, it is the lack of paternal and maternal reference. I have navigated at times in those models as a father. Also lacking reference, because my father was authoritarian, I was understanding at birth my son what my childhood had been, what the education received, and what I did not want to convey.

I was not going to repeat the model of threats, punishments and cheeks, and I was going to be much more present in their lives than my father was (it was not very difficult, because he was hardly). So, without that reference, I was building our educational model based in love, respect and love.

It is the model of care and attention to the child that makes us most fall in love with him and that more helps to learn from them. It is the second opportunity to live a less stressful life, to savor again the purest love, to recover the essence of giving in exchange for affection, to get off the crazy world in which we move to join the rhythms of the child.

But it is a model that, misunderstood, can cause parents to fall into the permissive one of which I have spoken, because the baby and child are given a lot of freedom, but it must be limited. As it is usually said, the freedom of one ends where the freedom of the other begins, and this means that children must know the basic rules of coexistence, and must learn to respect others, children and adults, just as he must learn to demand respect.

Likewise, must receive values ​​from parents, those that by example and dialogue are transmitted day by day so that children learn what is right and what is wrong. Because today's children do not live in a community where everything is goodness and happiness, good words and good intentions (if so, it would hardly be necessary to educate them); Today's children live in a world full of competitiveness, lack of empathy, full of manipulations, interests and people who can hurt you just for the pleasure of doing so, who can take advantage of you (and hurt you equally) and step on if With that they achieve something.

Of course not everyone is like that, but that exists, it is on the street, they will live there, and it is our duty to teach them to separate the grain from the wheat.

Returning to educate in adolescence?

So we get to the point where there are many European mothers, and perhaps Spanish, who stop working to try to be the guide of their children because, for some reason, they have been lacking in childhood.

I think it's a good decision, but it will not always be effective (I imagine the adolescent's rejection to this extent and I get the tremor). Jesper Juul says in his book "His son, a competent person", that a child's education is given until he is 12 years old. From that age the children open their wings and begin to try to fly, and then they don't look so much at their parents, but instead look at their new flight partners. So what must remain is the confidence of having done the job well.

By this I mean yes, you can still help him if he has problems, but then it will be much more difficult, and even more so if mother and son do not have a relationship of trust and good communication. They will probably need Professional Help to learn to speak, to communicate, to gain confidence and begin to reestablish the bonds that at some point were broken.

And maybe, rather than re-educate teenagers, we would have to talk about recover relationships.

Photos | iStock
In Babies and more | 27 things children should know at age 12 (and better know them for you), why we should not return to the authoritarian education that our parents gave us, The case of the 13-year-old murderer of Barcelona reopens the debate of the education of children and adolescents

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