‘You are so dear to me’, says a mother to her child.
‘You are the light and glory of our family.’
‘You will grow up to be my savior!’
‘I love you with all my heart.’ In fact one poet has glorified a son like this: ‘my moon, my sun, the star of my eyes… I feel alive when I look at you.’
There is no doubt all mothers have those sublime thoughts and attachment with their children sons.
All mothers feel elated when they look at the face of their child, the emotions which are associated with the birth of a son or the only child are slightly different from having a house full of children.
Only till they grow up! The words of endearment, which they had heard in their childhood inflate their ego. They feel all important, they want all their wishes fulfilled, their expectations are extremely high and their tantrums uncontrollable.
More so if the mother happens to be a single parent:
Here is one such son. He thinks the world revolves around him. He thinks he can control everything…the desires, the dreams and aspirations of even his siblings. He wants all the members of the family to dance to his tunes. He should be esteemed; he should be appreciated, he should have all the money to spend wherever he wants. He has no concern about the worries and meager financial resources at the disposal of his mother. The loneliness of his mother doesn’t even occur to him.
He knows the weaknesses of his mother. He exploits her emotions to his benefit all the time. He manipulates, he plays with her emotions and throws a tantrum of ending his life if he is denied money.
The mother is too naïve to see through his tricks. She tries to find happiness in her son, who seems to be her only hope. Probably it is the influence of her culture. She dutifully obliges what he says. She suffers alone but knows her son loves her! She hopes that he will understand her feelings one day.
She doesn’t know it is ‘Emotional Blackmail.’ She can never associate this word with her own children.
While all relationships are mired in some kind of manipulation, playing with the emotions is the most common form of control.
Much has been written about the why and how of emotional blackmail and the above story illustrates it quite well.
I would like to focus on the ways to deal with this human frailty, which is often accepted as a part of life.
People get so much carried away by emotions that they let them prevail above their self-respect. They feel absolutely feeble.
Yes! Get up and face it!
Only you can control it.
You possess the power to shake it off.
- Much depends on the upbringing of your children. It is important to shower all your love and provide them with the best of opportunities but there is always a limit. When you don’t set that limit, when you let them misbehave, when you give in to their wishes out of love, they get the message that such a behavior is acceptable. Instead of learning life skills to solve their problems, they develop a defense mechanism to pass on the blame.
- Never cross those boundaries, which you must lay down. If they were not laid down at the right time, it is never too late to do so. Talk to your child about them when both of you are calm and emphasize on the need to respect them.
- Never base your relationship, even with your children above your own dignity. This has to begin at the early stages of their development. If you have not paid any attention at the right time and have pampered them too much, now is the only time to be candid.
- Never give in to their unreasonable demands. Just refuse politely, lovingly and be firm. That new dress for each party, that hanging out with friends every single day, that new smart phone or flashy car can wait for the right time. Let them sulk; let them think why they have been ignored, let them learn to handle their emotions.
- Avoid arguing with teenagers, it does not serve any purpose. It may send a wrong message and make them rebellious. I know this is the time when we feel like pulling our hair, when none of our strategies seem to work, when we wait for self awakening, which is controlled more by the peer group.
- Learn to control your emotions and reactions. Emotional resilience can be cultivated by being ‘Mindful.’
- Learn to ignore their threats. You can never prevent what they decide to do. However serious issues may require professional help. A counselor or a psychologist might help to sort out the turbulent relationships.
- Learn to detach yourself from them. Give them some space but never give in to their arbitrary demands.
Can you can change them – NO!
Can you change yourself and your attitude towards the capricious pleas and favors they seek – YES! That is the only way to handle such sons and daughters who become too self-centered and obsessed with their own aspirations.
It may seem incredible but their own objectives are more important than your love, attachment or emotions. Once they cross 14, they can go to any extent to get their own desires fulfilled.
Don’t blame yourself for failing to raise them according to your wishes. Peer group exerts the biggest influence at this stage. Once they find a partner, they change further and stop paying any attention to parents and their emotions. Prepare yourself for that stage and LET GO!
Have you been a victim of emotional blackmail by your own children? How did you handle it? I would love to hear your views.
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