Many times in our lives we are disappointed, or flat out failed, by the other adults we call our support system. We hope to get good advice or have their undivided attention when we come to them with a problem. Instead, they are preoccupied with their own problems, too busy scrolling through their phone or turning to you for advice without taking the time to listen when you start speaking. It is frustrating. We all need someone to talk to. In come the kids. They are pretty good listeners, often very empathetic (they feel bad for mommy or daddy), and let’s face it, they are often around. Hence, it becomes very easy to fall into a pattern of unburdening your problems on a child. We find ourselves complaining about other adults (often people your child knows and loves), we use them to lift our spirits when we are sad, we give them too many details about the horrible things that have happened to us. In short, our worries become their worries. Why this is NOT okay:
- Children have a child’s perspective, they often cannot see the bigger picture that the adult can, leaving them to feel hopeless and worried because they are incapable of doing anything about what you are telling them.
- You are causing damage to their relationships. The people you complain about our often people they love and care about. When you berate and disrespect these people, you damage that person's character. The child builds resentment toward the adults in their life.
- Finally, kids should have time to grow, explore and be kids. When you give them your adult problems, they miss out on just enjoying the little things that make life so much fun. They start to worry like you do, taking them out of the present moment.
The opinions expressed in this article are of the author and not intended to diagnose, treat or cure mental or physical conditions. If you are struggling, please contact your healthcare provider, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or Stepping Stone Foundation at 330-577-6656.