Things parents should NEVER say to their partners because it can damage the kids – including criticising their outfit
KIDS pick up more than we might think. They can hear things that we think are said quietly.
They can pick up anger and disagreements between partners, even if we are trying to hide them.
They will also feel safer and more secure if their parents are happy and are getting on well with each other.
The impact of our parent’s behaviour can be carried with us forevermore.
To help them grow into happy and secure adults, our kids need to understand and feel:
- Loved – unconditionally, no matter what.
- Secure – that we are there for them, to protect them when needed.
- Supported – to be the best version of themselves.
- Boundaries – to know what acceptable behaviour is and what is not.
- Growth – to continually develop to be even better.
- Trust – to be able to predict what we will do and feel safe.
- Communication – to be listened to and able to express their feelings.
- Connection – to feel an important part of a family.
- Commitment – parents are there for them.
- Fun – to be able to have fun together.
Think back on your childhood; did you feel loved and secure and if not, what were your parents saying or doing to make you feel like that?
What did you hear that made you feel good and what did they say that made you feel bad?
So many kids are badly affected for the rest of their lives by things that parents say to them and to each other.
How we are brought up in the first few years also creates our attachment style
They may be said in moments of anger or misunderstanding but the
emotionally developing brain of a child may attach too much importance to what they hear and carry that shadow with them for the rest of their lives.
How we are brought up in the first few years also creates our attachment style which is either; Secure, Anxious, Avoidant or Fearful.
This will impact future relationships we have.
Here are seven things we should never say to our partner, because it will damage our relationship and could damage our kids.
They will either hear what is said, pick up the feelings that this being said creates, or they will become piggy in the middle between two
parents at war.
“You’re a bad parent”
Or “He/she is a better father/mother than you”.
If a child hears this they will take sides – supporting one parent and lowering their opinion of the other one.
This can therefore have a lasting negative impact on the child’s
relationship with one of their parents – either the one who said it or the one it was said to.
This will also make your partner feel judged and inadequate.
How would you feel if they said that to you?
If you partner has scope for improvement, help them in a gentle, loving way.
“You won’t like that”
Overhearing this may make a child think the parent saying this can mind read and the other doesn’t know their own tastes.
This might make them doubt their own likes and need to seek permission from the parent.
“I hate you in those clothes”
The child might only hear the hate when one parent says this to the other.
They may also feel that one parent is putting the other one down.
This, again, might make them want to take sides, either to support the parent in the clothes or to become critical of them – as if they see one parent being critical of the other, they may think it’s OK for them to be critical of them too.
“It’s your fault”
Was it their fault or was it just life?
Parents need to be seen by their kids as a team that works together and appears to agree on parenting.
If they don’t, then the kids will see the cracks and take advantage of them.
If you get into the blame game with your partner, then you and the kids will all suffer –causing arguments and creating resentment that can build over time.
Instead, show the kids that when something bad happens, you can all work together to deal with it and that you all come out stronger and better as a result.
This will model positive behaviour to them in overcoming challenges.
“You will never be able to do that”
Overhearing this might make a child lower their horizons and give up trying.
It might also make them think the parent who said this is being controlling and then want to side with the other one – again creating divisions between the child and the parent.
If a child overhears one parent saying this to the other, they may believe that one parent is stupid or useless – even if this is just your anger talking – and from then on, with something called confirmation bias, they will look for evidence to support that and will be proved right.
Alternatively, they may feel that this is wrong or unfair and will feel resentful of the parent who said it.
“I’m leaving you”
If you feel like you want to leave, you need to talk about this gently with your partner and not where the kids can hear you.
If kids overhear this, their immediate reaction will be that you want to leave because you don’t love them.
They will feel guilty and that it’s their fault, as well as less secure.
If you say this as a threat, then that will backfire because your partner will become protective about the kids.
Kids will be able to pick up on these emotions – again feeling less secure.
What to do instead? Most of these words will come out when you are activated and angry or upset.
This means you will be on what is called Fight, flight or freeze mode.
Adrenaline will be getting our bodies ready for action which means the brain and hearing will be shutting down to let the blood flow to our muscles.
This was really helpful in Caveman days when we were trying to
cope with Sabre-Tooth Tigers.
Nowadays we need to be aware of when we are getting activated, noticing our heart and breathing speeding up, sweating or feeling anxious.
Then you need to pause for about 20 minutes; go somewhere else to calm down and then come back and have the discussion.
If you are unhappy with your partner or in your relationship you should deal with this by talking to your partner and get counselling if this is needed.
Protect your Kids from your relationship problems.
If you do decide to split up, do this as gently as you can to ensure
that you can be great joint parents and for your kids to feel secure and loved by both of you, even if you are living apart.
Neil Wilkie is a Relationship Expert, Psychotherapist, author of Reset and creator of the online therapy platform, The Relationship Paradigm. Find out more at www.relationshipparadigm.com.
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