Adolescence Issues – My parent is the villain in my life

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Adolescence issues is a mini-series covering important issues that crop up during this phase of a child’s life. Each of these pieces highlights a real life story and then discusses the problem and probable solution approaches. The first part deals with the ‘My parent is the villain in my life’.

Ashok is a 17-year-old teenager. Like most teenagers, he loves to have fun, hang out with his friends, is curious about life and has a rebellious attitude. He is also very smart

However, Ashok is in self-destruction mode.

He is hell-bent on wanting to throw away everything life has given him. He works hard to ensure he gets a zero in his tests and exams. He is indifferent to his close friends. He has wild mood swings that put off his friends. He is prone to seeking solace in the company of abusive substances like tobacco and cigarettes

He wants to teach his dad a lesson.

Ashok views his dad as the chief villain in his life. His dad did not accede to his request to allow him to study in a school of his choice after Grade X. He was sent away to a boarding school against his wishes.

He nurses hatred towards his dad that is intensifying every passing day. All advice from his dad goes through without making the slightest impact on Ashok’s mind. Ashok feels that his dad has ruined his life.

The only meaningful reply Ashok utters in response to his Dad’s requests and pleas are a terse, “OK Dad” – Nothing more. For Ashok, his parent is the villain in his life

The situation described plays out every year across families, communities again and again.

  • Why does this happen?
  • Can this be avoided?
  • What is the solution out?

Why does this happen?

Parent is the villain - Not receptive to advice
‘Parent is the villain’ behavioural sign – Not receptive to advice

Lack of quality time with children during their formative years

Psychologists stress a lot on the parental-child bonding during the formative years of the child. Look at the following statement

Without a good initial bond, children are less likely to grow up to become happy, independent and resilient adults.

The importance of early bonding on the long-term mental health and resilience of children
Robert Winston and Rebecca Chicot, London Journal of Primary Care

This key requirement is found lacking in a lot of families where the parents are both working or one of the parent is working far off from the family. “Parent is the villain in my life’ syndrome can also happen when the parents do not show seriousness in their roles as parents.

Love in the form of materialistic showering

Often parents try to overcome their guilt of not being able to spend time with their kids by showering them materialistic gifts. This sends the wrong signal to kids that their parents are dispensable.

Materialistic showoff takes root in the kids. They expect every shortfall of the parents to be compensated by a world gift. This turns unhealthy when the kids enters the adolescence phase. Peer pressure also forces kids to measure friendships through materialistic yardstick.

Expectation mismatch

Mismatch in expectations too creates deep-rooted misunderstandings. This problem crops up especially during the teenage years.

A child wants her parents to visit her every month in the hostel just like the parents of other students. The parents avoid it citing unnecessary financial expenses. the child will harbour resentment against parents. The doubt that creeps into the child’s mind, “Do they really love me?”

Sibling rivalry if not handled properly can also lead to issues of this nature.

Early signs

Here below are some early warning signs you can look out for in your child.

  1. Lack of interest in doing activities together
    • Having dinner out together, playing a game together are all activities shunned by the child
  2. Hanging out with a single lone friend excessively
    • A classic sign where the child adores a single other person outside the family as his saviour. He attaches a God-like aura to the other person.
  3. Craving for addictive substances like cigarettes, alcohol
    • The child is looking to give an outlet for his pent up feelings and becomes prone to take up addictive susbstance abuse.
  4. Avoiding conversations and giving terse 2-3 word replies
    • Locking up oneself at home in one’s room, avoiding parents and visitors, giving very short replies like “ok dad”, “fine mom” without an attempt to debate anything.
  5. Lack of interest in studies for no reason whatsoever
    • Scoring no marks, low scoring on purpose, making mistakes inspite of knowing the right answer.
  6. Doing a certain thing persistently to pester the parent(s)
    • One of the students I know of used to borrow anybody’s mobile phone and call up his mom to pester her about the state of the hostel. He had been forced to take up hostel life by his dad.

Can ‘parent is the villain’ syndrome be avoided?

Yes, it can definitely be avoided. Take prompt and corrective action whenever you observe early signs. Some golden rules that you can adopt as a parent are

  • Treat siblings equally. Make each of them feel they are loved.
  • Provide options to your teenage daughters and sons. Sit and discuss things with them before arriving at conclusions. Make them feel that their opinions have weightage.
  • Show genuine interest in your child’s learning. Visit the school functions without fail. Occassionally meet up with their teacher and find out aspects of his/her behaviour at school that is praiseworthy. Make it a point to highlight these to the kid and say that you are proud of them.
  • Sending children to hostel or boarding school is a big decision. Make sure they do not feel that the decision was taken because they are unimportant in your life.
Sending a child forcibly to boarding school often causes 'parent is the villain' syndrome
Sending a child forcibly to boarding school often causes ‘parent is the villain’ syndrome

What is the solution out?

In case, the syndrome ‘parent is the villain’ has already manifested itself like in the case of Ashok, then it becomes a tricky issue.

It needs to be handled gently and sorted out over a period of time. Handling it with force will only worsen the situation.

  • Identify and recognise that you may have been the cause of the problem in the first place.
  • As a parent, draw upon the help of teachers and family members whom the child still respects and adores.
  • Rebuild trust that has been broken.
  • Show genuine concern to your child.
  • Say a “sorry” if needed and promise to make up for the behaviour on your part.
  • Use the adult the child respects to send signals to the child that you are eager to make things right.
  • Use the services of a counsellor/deaddiction center to wean the child away from abusive substances.

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