Leading psychologist explains why you SHOULDN’T put your kids on a pedestal


by Emma Dodds |
Published on

Leading psychologist Alison Raphael speaks EXCLUSIVELY to Closer Online to explain why your kids shouldn't be put on a pedestal

As parents, we absolutely adore our kids.

When they miraculously are in bed with their teeth cleaned and their pjs on the right way round by 7pm, we love 'em.

When they have the biggest tantrums of their lives on the floor of your local Sainsbury's, we STILL love 'em.

But a leading psychologist has now said that maybe we love them too much.

We all want our children to grow up into happy, well-rounded people (Credit: Getty Images) ©Getty Images

Alison Raphael has announced that she thinks children should not be the most important people in your household.

Over the course of her 10-year career, she has come to the conclusion that parents are too easy on their children, and that in fact they are driving a wedge between them and their partner.

Alison, whose full title is Alison Rapahel, Dip.Clin.Hyp.NLP.Coach.CMP.NLP, said: "Through working with couples - women or men - who have felt powerless within their relationship, it seems as though they have had an overwhelming need to put their baby/toddler first to hide their pain of being disconnected from their partner.

"Some couple clients actually know that they are putting their children first by indulging and over-protecting. A question that comes up quite often is: 'Where is the line between the responsibility I have to myself, the responsibility I have to my partner and the responsibility I have to my children?' It can be very overwhelming."

Alison has been a therapist for 10 years (Credit: Alison Raphael) ©Alison Raphael

But why is making your children feel important such a bad thing? Alison explains: "If one parent concentrates on making the children a 'higher priority', then that is the message that can be given to the children. It tells them that marriage isn't a very fun place to be most of the time.

"Alternatively, the parents' disconnection is often focussed through the children - this could make the child feel that they are the source of their parents' problems. Therefore, no-one gains, as the children miss the opportunity of being supported by a loving partnership and the couple miss the lack of intimacy and lack of trust."

Although we all want to be liked by our children, we know the importance of setting boundaries. Alison explained: "I have worked with many individuals and couples with children. 20% of those in a disconnected relationship then turned to their children to feel wanted and loved - for example, 'Tell Mummy or Daddy you love them', as this helped the overwhelming feeling of being unloved in their relationship.

"So in this example, there is a lack of connection from child to parent because the child is being told to say that, and so boundary issues will be a problem later in their life.

"Of course, some degree of sacrifice is required for any relationship to be successful, but giving up your needs and desires in order to fulfil your role in responsible child-rearing will promote the idea that marriage is about one big continual sacrifice."

Prioritising your children over your relationship could have negative effects on everyone (Credit: Getty Images) ©Getty Images

The London-based therapist delved a little deeper into why it is never a good idea to try and be "friends" with your children: "Unfulfilled parents tend to befriend their children, usually because they are not getting their needs met from adults - or more specifically, their partner.

"They might feel lonely and feel the need to get out of their own suffering. When you earn your children's respect, they learn to respect themselves - but without it, children can't value themselves or others.

"Being the parent is a precious role, it isn't your job to befriend your children. Friends don't tell friends when to go to bed - parents and children should not share power. Friends have equal power with their peers. Children need you to be their parents. They need someone in their life who is more powerful than them and who can protect them."

Do you think your child is put on a pedestal in your home? (Credit: Getty Images) ©Getty Images

Alison backed up her theory by citing famous child psychologist John Bowlby, who was renowned for his research into children's relationships. She said: "According to John Bowlby, a child is securely-attached if he or she is confident of the caregiver's support. The attachment figure serves as a 'secure base' from which the child can confidently explore the world.

"A secure base is necessary of course, but when sacrifices are being made all too often, the children will feel that something is wrong and either blame themselves or feel chaos."

Hmm... Food for thought?

To get in touch with Alison, simply email raphael.alison1@gmail.com.

Do you feel that you put your children on a pedestal? Do you think this has been detrimental to your relationship? We'd love to hear from you - email us or get in touch on Facebook and Twitter.

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