A child comes to his parent to complain because he feels he isn’t being cared for. Many times he felt that his parents love his younger brother more. He also always felt bad and wrong in front of his parents.
The boy is sobbing and said, “Why is it that you are always praised and proud of my younger brother, but not me?”
Have we, as parents, experienced the same thing as the brief illustration above? Children complain because they feel that we as parents care less about them or love them less.
Of course, no parent is perfect. However, what can we do when we get complaints from children?
- Give time to children to convey their hearts. Listen without interrupting the conversation. Avoid responses that trivialize their feelings such as “It’s just your feelings, Mom and Dad love you all”, “Don’t be silly”, “Don’t be a spoiled child”, and so on.
- Understand the meaning of the children’s hearts without making them feel cornered by their statements or words. Avoid defensive attitudes such as dodging, not accepting, or defending yourself when children share their feelings with you. Why? So that children are comfortable conveying their feelings. Our defensive actions will only make children feel free to convey their feelings.
- Use questions that encourage children to share their feelings. Like, “Why do you think I love your brother more?”, “Can you try to tell me, for example, why do I love your younger brother more than you, son”, and others.
- If you want to clarify a problem the child is telling you about, maybe this can be done after the child has finished sharing his/her feelings. Also, in clarifying a problem, avoid arguments or attempts at self-defense.
- It would be nice if parents want to apologize to their children if they feel hurt or less appreciated or loved. Why? Because maybe parents often feel they love and respect their children but in fact, children don’t feel that way. Apologies can make children feel understood. Parents also need to listen to children’s expectations of their parents.
The willingness to listen to feelings and convey the children’s heart will make the parent-child relationship psychologically attached. In addition, it will make communication between parents and children grow better.
Have you listened to your child’s heart? Of course, you better do it early and you don’t have to wait for complaints from children. Know and understand your child’s heart, then you will reap a beautiful family relationship with your child!
--- Budiman Hadi Pranoto, M.Psi., Psi.
IPEKA Counseling Center