Curious to know if you’re being supportive as a parent, or if you’re rather showing signs that unsuportive parents usually do? This post is very likely to answer your questions! Plus, it’ll point you in the right direction towards becoming a more supportive and responsive parent.
19 SIGNS UNSUPPORTIVE PARENTS SHOW
An unsupportive parent doesn’t need to show all 19 signs, but many of these signs go hand in hand which is why it’s important that you go through as many of them as possible to ensure that doesn’t happen to you.
I suggest that you stick with me until the end because I’ll be sharing something extraordinary with you, which you’ll find especially useful if it happens that this post helps you discover that you need to be more supportive as a parent.
If you’re ready, we can start!
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SIGNS UNSUPPORTIVE PARENTS SHOW
#1 YOU CAN’T RESTRAIN YOURSELF FROM BEING TOO CRITICAL
This doesn’t mean you must never criticize or that you should avoid constructive criticism, nor does it mean your criticism has to be constructive each time, considering you’re only human.
But it’s about the pattern. Are you always too critical and setting too high expectations?
If you are, this is too much pressure for your child to handle, and they need you to be able to restrain yourself from excessive criticism (that you can “control” yourself).
This is true because if you don’t, you’re putting your needs before theirs and going against their best interests.
What you’re trying to do with this is self-soothe, and this is not the way to do it (at their expense).
So make sure to manage your expectations, channel your emotions, and put their emotional needs before yours.
#2 YOU’RE INVALIDATING THEM WHEN THEY FAIL AT SOMETHING
Failing is a normal and rather welcome part of life, but the problem is there’s a stigma around failure that’s in fact preventing people from growing and not signaling they’re amazing and successful.
If we’re focused on chasing the approval of others (to have them say we’re successful), we’re flushing our future down the toilet because our growth has nothing to do with how many times we’ve failed.
Failing should be a positive sign, actually, because it means that we’re doing something and not sitting on the fence doing nothing.
So allow kids to fail and learn how to recover from it; this will make them stronger and can make them more determined to succeed at things that are important and just right for them instead of those done just to be socially appraised.
Often times, what’s considered socially acceptable it is so not because it’s the best possible but because it’s in line with the norms that the current society positions as most wanted. However this doesn’t mean they’re of the highest quality, as society can be conservative and exclusive.
You’ll probably find useful also:
#3 YOU SEE THEM THROUGH THE PRISM OF HOW SUCCESSFUL AND OVERACHIEVING THEY ARE
This means that you’re not letting them be themselves (or just be) if they don’t live up to your personal expectations.
And these expectations have nothing to do with them or with child well-being but have everything to do with your projection of your own unmet needs or your personal agendas and goals.
Your child is not an extension of you.
They’re sovereign and autonomous, which means that it’s ok to place expectations on them, but only if they’re in relation to their wellbeing and your personal agendas and goals.
I have to break it to you so I can help you raise awareness: the reason why you accept your child only when they’re “successful” is because you don’t see them as their own person separate from how they fit into your standards for yourself (for your own accomplishment).
This is something that you need to break because it’s harmful for your child and is deteriorating your child-parent relationship and healthy exchange.
Remember, they’re not here to fit into anyone’s standards, as their existence doesn’t seek anyone’s approval or allowance and is not attached to anyone’s standards.
#4 YOU DON’T LET THEM BE THEMSELVES (WHO THEY REALLY ARE)
Sometimes this is done indirectly (as I mentioned when I talked about only accepting children if they’re part of a success story), but sometimes this is done to them directly—for example, when you don’t accept them for who they truly are – disrespecting and denying their identity.
This can be reflected in shaming them because of who they are, ignoring them, excluding them, or even physically hurting them just because they are being themselves and are not a threat to you or anyone else.
This feels even more hurtful and is even more harmful, as it is directly jeopardizing their sense of worthiness, sense of self, positive self-image, etc.
Also, sometimes this doesn’t have to take the extreme forms that I’ve mentioned; it’s enough that they’re denied the connection and acceptance because of their traits, personal choices, or preferences.
Remember, their traits and preferences have nothing to do with you and everything to do with them, which means that if you’re declaring that you care for them and that you love them, make sure to show this.
This starts by putting aside your personal agendas, preferences, and goals and letting them take up the space they’re entitled to. And moves on to accepting them in total without tying to fit them into boxes that maybe fit you (or someone else) but aren’t suitable for them.
Keep this in mind – if you’re not accepting them, this means that you’re rejecting them.
3 Mindsets Everyone Should Shift If They Really
Want To Be A Good Example For Their Child
#5 YOU DON’T ALLOW THEM TO NEGOTIATE FOR THEMSELVES
So what you’re basically doing here is deciding about them without letting them have a say on this, and this is problematic, as for all humans, participation is what we inherently need.
Do you find it pleasing when someone wants to decide on your behalf about your life, even parts of your daily routine?
If you don’t, then start including your child in conversations because they have the right to speak up for themselves and their position.
Moreover, you need to encourage this so that you can empower them to not let others dominate them in the future or take things that belong to them easily.
Some will have the urge to offer a counterargument, saying that children don’t know what’s good for them, so they can’t be at the negotiating table, but this is untrue.
Letting them have a saying doesn’t mean letting them be in charge; it means acknowledging their point of view as a person whom the decision affects, regardless of the weight it’ll have in the final decision.
Check out these posts as well, because they explain more about the importance of letting kids negotiate:
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#6 YOU’RE ALWAYS TRYING TO DO THINGS FOR THEM (WHICH PREVENTS THE GROWTH OF THEIR INDEPENDENCE)
It’s a nice thought when you say to yourself, “Oh, I’m such a good parent, as I’m saving my child from the pain and suffering of this difficult task.”
And so wrong.
This is a story you’re telling yourself (or others) when, in fact, it’s easier for you to do it this way, as you want to obtain control and avoid or prevent the messiness of the process.
Even though you may be doing heavy lifting, this is still the easy way for you, even if you won’t admit it.
Now you may say Oh, well, I deserve some relief in life, and you do. But not at the expense of leaving your child incompetent to live their own life.
It’s ok to cut yourself some slack here and there, but if this is a rule of thumb, you need to turn things around fast and start letting your child exercise more independence.
For some parents that have too much on their plate so they have to cut down on time that many tasks take, I feel you and I hear you.
But the problem is that this way, the emotional needs of your child are being unmet, so instead of carrying all the burden yourself, consider:
- asking for help (more)
- sharing responsibility with someone (like the other parent)
- or setting boundaries a little better.
If you want to help your child grow to be more independent read my post about 9 principles you should follow. Go to this page (How To Help A Child Become More Independent – 9 Principles To Follow).
If you need to understand why this is important first, then read my post about the 10 reasons why it’s important for a child to become more independent.
#7 YOU’RE DENYING THEM THE FREEDOM TO MAKE CHOICES
They should make choices as early as possible for various reasons, but one of the most important ones is so that they can learn how to do it and develop decision-making skills.
And the other one that’s even more important is the simple fact that they’re both entitled to it and need it.
As they need to feel in control of their situation and life and be allowed to manage it.
If they aren’t allowed to do it because they’re convinced that they’re incapable of making a good choice and that they’re not allowed to make mistakes in doing so, they’ll never acquire decision-making skills.
This skill has everything to do with trusting ourselves and our competence to do so and almost nothing to do with the technicalities of doing it.
If you want to raise someone to become competent, you need to allow this to occur and not just expect it to happen out of thin air.
#8 YOU’RE DENYING THEM CONNECTION WHEN THEY CAN’T LEARN FAST ENOUGH
This is a form of passive-aggressive treatment and a passive form of punishment where, instead of being supportive while they’re experiencing a learning curve, you’re being disengaged and disconnected because you’re putting your convenience before their needs.
I say convenience because it’s inconvenient for you to wait on them to pick up the pace and master whatever they’re trying to master for whatever reason.
To move forward, it’s important for you to grasp why this is so.
Maybe you have a low tolerance for frustration; maybe you’re not sensitive enough and lack the skill to decenter so that you can understand their perspective; maybe you’re having a hard time empathizing with them; and so on and so forth.
Dig into this so that you can understand where this is coming from and make an effort to adapt because they need to be connected to you in these moments even more than when they can learn quickly and have picked up the pace.
Speaking of connection, you’ll find helpful my posts:
#9 YOU’RE DENYING THEM POWER
This means you’re not sharing power with them; you’re selfishly preserving it for yourself. (I’m not trying to offend you or anything; I’m helping raise awareness.)
We do this so that we’re in control of things, as our dominance helps us not question and challenge ourselves too much because it feels like this makes things safer for us.
But there’s a dark side to this, as very often we should and would benefit from challenging our own beliefs (even BS), practices, and habits, or we’ll be stuck in a fixed mindset.
In the case of children, it’s not just about your mindset because it’s your choice if you’re going to do anything about it, as it’s not just about you.
Kids are denied power regularly and consistently in the name of protection, but they don’t need protection from power. They need protection from harm.
And it starts with you by supporting them as they claim agency and power in life.
3 Mindsets Everyone Should Shift If They Really
Want To Be A Good Example For Their Child
#10 YOU’RE BEING VINDICTIVE INSTEAD OF OFFERING LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
If this happens, that’s because it’s hard for you to handle any disobedience.
And you lack responsiveness and sensitivity because you haven’t positioned yourself as the person responsible for creating the learning opportunities for your child in order to grow, expand, and evolve.
And you need to do so.
Being vindictive is not only harmful, but it’s counterindicative and can create a countereffect; instead of teaching them a lesson, you’re creating an even deeper disconnect and knowledge gap.
Kids need you to teach, encourage, correct, and shape them—not punish them for lacking a skill they are yet to adopt, especially when they want to do so.
And they always want this, even when they’ve made you believe they don’t. They did this because they’ve given up trying to signal to you what they really need because you’ve disappointed them too many times.
They don’t believe you’ll hear or see them, or they don’t believe any more.
So are they right to think that? If they’re not, then you’d better show it to them by starting to create a safe space where learning is supported the right way.
If you need help understanding what the best way to punish a child is, go to my post that explores this. I wrote it so that I could help prevent harm from being done with punishment that’s implemented wrongly.
Or check out the printable and digital download 10 Rights & 10 Wrongs When Implementing Punishments As A Response To The Child’s Behavior.
#11 YOU’RE BEING KIND AND CONNECTING WITH THEM ONLY WHEN THEY MATCH YOUR EXPECTATIONS (PERFECTLY)
This means you’re treating them as if they’re not really worthy of your affection, kindness, and respect unless they match your standards.
Now, naturally, you’ll try to motivate children to attune to your standards when this is in their best interest, and there is nothing wrong with that.
But the problem is if you are disconnecting from them when they aren’t there or aren’t there yet. Or if you do so because they’re not willing to adapt to your standards, which are problematic by nature.
For instance, if you’re too demanding, this means your expectations are immature.
Or if you’re being very rigid (inflexible), then it’s very difficult to handle the pressure you’re creating, as they have to always behave perfectly and don’t make any mistakes along the way.
Don’t deny them your love, and stay kind because the more connection you create, the better the outcomes of any of your efforts will be.
In case you’d benefit from learning more about how parents should treat their children, read my post about it.
Check out also:
#12 YOU’RE PUNISHING THEM BECAUSE THEY MADE A MISTAKE
If you usually punish children just because they make mistakes and not in the service of learning about what is the right/wrong thing to do, this will be shown to be ineffective soon.
That’s because it’s not about the fact they made a mistake, and going that route, you’re suggesting they have to be impeccable or perfect.
Instead, you must be flexible so that you accept their messy actions as the results of learning.
There’s no skill in the world that was adopted without a lot of mistakes, trial and error, failure, or messiness.
Otherwise, you’re signaling that it’s not allowed to not know something, which is an unreasonable demand to put on them and impossible to attain.
The intention of punishments needs to be that you teach them a lesson about socially acceptable behavior and prosocial interaction, and it needs to be pointed at the behavior, not at their personality.
For more detail concerning the proper way to jse punishment, read my post that covers this.
Or get the digital download from my shop about 10 rights and wrong with implementating punishment below.
#13 YOU’RE BEING VERY STRICT WITH THEM
You might be nurturing an authoritarian or rejecting parenting style, for instance, but it may also be that this is not the pattern and it’s more like a temporary thing because you’re under a lot of stress and have too much on your plate.
This is understandable, but it’s unsustainable to keep going like this because both you and your child are negatively influenced by this, and your relationship may corrupt soon enough.
It’s okay to be strict because “strict” doesn’t have a “bad connotation” without context.
You can be both strict and responsive, as well as strict and kind, because many parents are strict with their rules, but this may mean that they’re assertive and that they’re setting high expectations for their children and helping them reach their full potential.
But if you’re strict, as in rigid and unresponsive to their needs, this is something you’re going to have to change and adapt your style of parenting so that it can be nurturing for your child instead of unhelpful or harmful.
Reas about 5 parenting styles and how these different parents deal with rules in my post about this.
Read these posts too:
#14 YOU’RE NOT GIVING THEM THE OPPORTUNITY TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES
This is not about expressing themselves, like their personality or individuality, because we’ve touched upon this already.
It’s about expressing their views and having them taken into account when making decisions that affect the child in any way (directly or indirectly).
More precisely, it’s about their right to participate in decision-making, which needs to be respected by all social actors (parents, teachers, doctors, jurists, judges, police officers, etc).
And unfortunately, it almost always isn’t.
Children are still reduced to their role as a parent’s child and are not seen as separate individuals who are entitled to either represent themselves or be represented so that their views are taken into account in all cases affecting them.
This doesn’t mean that the burden of the decision is transferred to them. Nor will they necessarily affect the final decision because it’s not about that; it’s about respecting their position and place.
It means that they have the same right to be included just like you as a parent do and claim power and agency, but the difference is that you (or other social actors) have to ensure they’re protected at the same time so they can exercise this right safely and securely.
Here is a helpful posts that explain more about the child participation:
#15 YOU’RE IGNORING THEIR PERSPECTIVE
This sign is related to the previous one, but it’s more about trusting their views and judgment as well as believing their claims. Trusting that they can offer valuable insights, ideas, and solutions.
Not doing this is potentially endangering, considering that children are often not trusted when they point out certain individuals with whom they have unpleasant experiences, and their claims get labeled as not trustworthy enough, using language such as:
You know how kids are—they always imagine things, or you know that kids lie a lot, or you know how kids will do anything to get away from responsibility, or you know what a child can even know—they can’t understand anything.
But, naturally, it’s not just about safety and protection.
What is also critical is acknowledging them as competent individuals who are capable of forming their own views and opinions, managing their lives, and participating in their family and local and wider communities.
Even engaging in political activities and agendas in relation to environmental, educational, and other important causes and topics.
#16 YOU’RE ALWAYS IGNORING THEIR WISHES OR HARDLY EVER CONSIDERING THEM
As you can imagine, I’m not suggesting you should cater to every child’s need at any second or make all of their wishes come true.
This is just about being more cognizant of this sign of unsuportiveness and questioning whether or not this is true for you.
Some kids are more withdrawn than others because they are used to being less visible and are rarely asked what it is that they want.
So if this is the case for you, it’s not too late to turn things around, but be sure to really put in the effort for things to change because it’s easy to get tricked into giving this up if you didn’t get a response from a child the first time.
Give them some space and time to feel more comfortable advocating for themselves.
You should check out also:
#17 YOU SEE THEM AND TREAT THEM AS IRRATIONAL AND INCOMPETENT
Very often, this isn’t so obvious because this is represented in your behaviors and actions; for example, when you’re being too protective of your child, you’re sending out the message that they’re incompetent.
Or when you don’t allow them to negotiate or express their views and you don’t respect their perspective, you’re sending a message that they’re irrational because what they have to offer is not valid.
So, from now on, think from this perspective and ask yourself the following:
- Is this action or decision showing that I see my child as irrational or incompetent?
- Or am I on point because I’ve made them feel included, reasonable, confident, and competent?
#18 YOU’RE NOT GIVING THEM FEEDBACK OR PRAISING THEIR EFFORTS, OR YOU’RE IGNORING THEM
They need you to show that you notice that they’re making progress and tackling challenges in front of them so that you support and help them in moving forward when they see that this is the right path to take.
Plus, they need you to notice and acknowledge them so that they can feel important and see their accomplishments as meaningful.
What can happen is that as we become accustomed to our skills and now take them for granted, we may miss recognizing the efforts they’ve made and the results they’ve created.
We may get (or have been) a little self-absorbed and only see through the perspective of our current position, which is very distant from how it feels to be in theirs, as we’re in a very different phase and place.
So take this into account when you observe and evaluate their progress next time.
#19 YOU’RE DEMANDING PERFECTION
This is usually not done directly (by directly asking for perfection, although at times it can happen).
It’s usually hidden behind your request that they do everything exactly as you imagine, plan, or demand because you can’t handle having things go any other way but your way.
Even though it’s desirable that you set high expectations and provide structure for them, it’s important that you always remain flexible, and there is not enough flexibility when you’re too demanding as a parent.
If you’re not flexible, then the child will feel like they’re trapped and that they have to be very careful not to upset you, which will make them experience a lot of anxiety that will probably stick with them later on and will create a pattern of being too dependent.
So there’s a big difference between setting high expectations and demanding perfection: the first is welcome, and the latter can become even borderline exploitative because it can feel torturous in some moments.
Many parents often mean well when they demand that children are at the top of their game at all times, as these parents are often very protective of their children. The problem is that kids don’t really need this because we as humans need to aim for functionality, not perfection.
And not only is perfectionism not needed; it may also signal dysfunction.
You’ll find useful:
HOW TO BE A SUPPORTIVE PARENT YOU TRULY DESIRE TO BE
In case you need some guidelines for becoming a more supportive parent that I know you truly desire to be here it is:
- Be encouraging and recognize their efforts
- Avoid harsh criticism
- Be gentle, warm, and kind
- Empower them
- Value and respect individuality and diversity
- Acknowledge and include their point of view and perspective.
For more details about this 6 tips, read my post: How to be a supportive parent you truly desire to be.
WORRIED THAT YOU FIT THE DESCRIPTION OF AN UNSUPPORTIVE PARENT? (THERE ARE THINGS YOU CAN DO NOW TO MOVE FORWARD…)
If you’re worried that you match some of these indicators and you qualify as an unsupportive parent, or not supportive enough parent, there’s no need to beat yourself up, because you can experience transformation rather quickly.
Let me tell you how.
I must say this is for those who are most determined to change things around and experience more connection with their children than ever, more confidence in their parenting skills, and more joy of parenting.
That’s because they won’t have to worry if they’re doing alright anymore or if their actions will affect their kids negatively.
If you’re the determined and decisive one, know that you can begin reaping the rewards of your transformation even today!
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Her proven framework will empower you to a step into a fully refreshed parenting role with more confidence and certainty that what you’re doing is what both you and your kids need.
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- 21 Gifts To Show You Care To Those You Cherish And Deepen Your Connection
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- 100 Ways To Change Yourself And Empower Your Evolution
- 100 Ways To Improve Yourself (From Ordinary To Extraordinary)
FINAL THOUGHTS ON SIGNS OF UNSUPORTIVE PARENTS
Those were common signs that unsupportive parents show in their interactions with their children.
And I hope they helped you gain some perspective on your situation and how skilled you are at providing support to your child.
But if you yourself need support and more guidance for your particular situation and position, see how we can work together here.