All parents want to raise disciplined and well mannered children. But sometimes parents may take a route of emotional blackmail unknowingly for disciplining them. Find out how parents blackmail children emotionally and its effects on them.
Emotional blackmail, of any kind, is a kind of manipulation (usually psychological). It uses an assortment of threats, demands and punishing behaviour to try and control someone. It may occur in any relationship, even between children and parents, and it turns a relationship into something toxic.
Parents sometimes say that if their kids do not succumb to their will they will be upset or will be sick or that it would harm themselves through self-punishment, thus forcing their kids to do it.
Blaming Children for Every Thing
This is the kind of emotional blackmail where parents blame their children for everything that they go through, even if it is the smallest of things. They consider their kids to be guilty and treat them accordingly
This kind of blackmail is the most subtle kind of blackmail. They instil hope in their kids by promising something if they agree to their terms, often ending in inevitable disappointment.
While emotionally blackmailing kids parents usually capture children into a trap of fear, guilt and obligation which psychologists have called the FOG (fear, obligation, guilt). They lead you to believe that they are acting in your best interests while actually they are simply looking out for themselves. They make you in the form of guilt or embarrassment and it can be direct or indirect. Thus children become afraid of crossing them or angering them. Since, this kind of behaviour is not something you would expect from a parent, it goes unnoticed.
Why do Parents use Emotional Blackmail?
Parents, often unknowingly, blackmail their children into getting what they want. Kids are bound to be disobedient, and they believe that blackmail is the only way to get them to listen. They use manipulation to get what they want. It might be something small, like forcing them to go to bed, or an important issue. You often hear parents telling children that if they do not score well on their exams, they will take away his or her toys etc. This might seem extremely insignificant, but this is nothing less than petty manipulation.
Sometimes you hear them asking for money and if children refuse to give it, they use guilt to coax their children. By making such threats, they instil a fear into the hearts of their kids; because no child wants to lose her toys or see his or her parents suffer even if they are grown up.
How does Emotional Blackmail Affect Children?
Emotional blackmail in the simplest forms like the ones mentioned above might seem meagre and unimportant. But what parents often fail to realize is that their manipulations can have severe consequences. That is because the basic bottom line behind any type of blackmail is that “if you do not do what I want or give me what I want, you’ll suffer.” This can affect the mind of any person in a negative way, whether it is a kid or an adult.
How to Avoid Blackmailing Kids Emotionally?
Parents need to be careful while dealing with their children. Just because children are under their control does not mean that they get to “control” them. They need to think twice about how their behaviour affects children. Even a simple threat can have effects in the long run.
The worst part about emotional blackmail is that it is difficult to identify. Not only parents, but children also need to understand the difference between love and manipulation. If they identify blackmail, they should not step back in fear but stand up for themselves. Toxic parenting helps no one. When the sacred relationship between a parent and a child becomes one of blackmail, it can be emotionally exhausting for both children as well for parents.
How to know if kids are being emotionally blackmailed? What are the ill effects of blackmailing kids emotionally? How to avoid blackmailing kids emotionally? Discuss here.
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- The Indiaparenting Team