What happened to those "good" children later? - Huxiu.com#
Achievement motivation can be divided into two tendencies: the pursuit of success and the avoidance of failure. The intensity of these tendencies is determined by the individual's own needs, the possibility of success/failure, and the results that success/failure brings. ⤴️ ^a1b43556
When the motivation to avoid failure exceeds the motivation to pursue success, individuals become afraid of challenges and tend to choose tasks that are either very difficult or very simple in order to avoid the feeling of shame brought by failure. ⤴️ ^658a373f
Choosing tasks that are particularly difficult instead of particularly simple is worth pondering, as it may also involve the characteristics of special effort, which is related to the anxiety-driven effort discussed earlier.
What happened to those "good" children later?#
This article discusses the phenomenon of parentalization behind "good" children, which refers to the phenomenon of children taking on adult responsibilities prematurely. The article points out that parentalization has an impact on children's psychological well-being, achievement motivation, and interpersonal relationships. At the same time, the article suggests self-reflection, parental responsibility, and moderate and fair parentalization as advice for parents.
• Parentalization refers to the phenomenon of children taking on adult responsibilities prematurely, which has a negative impact on children's psychological well-being.
• Parentalized children may face psychological health problems, achievement motivation difficulties, and interpersonal relationship challenges in adulthood.
• Parents should maintain self-reflection, take responsibility, and implement moderate and fair parentalization to promote the healthy growth of children.
In your own family or "other people's families," do you have such a "good" child - they are obedient, always listen to the opinions of parents and teachers; they are quiet, never cry or make a fuss, and always understand the difficulties of their parents; they are sensible, whether it is doing housework or taking care of others, they are more skilled than other children, like "little adults"; they are cautious and never cause trouble, rarely have conflicts with other children, and even if there are conflicts, they know how to be humble...
These children are the most considerate "little cotton jackets" for parents, which is really reassuring! Because of this, parents of "good" children often receive the envy of other parents and are often asked about their experiences in raising children.
However, behind all this, we seem to have overlooked that social rules need to be learned, and for innocent children, crying when sad and making a fuss when they want something is their nature of "not being good." If a child shows excessive obedience and maturity at a young age, it may mean that they have shouldered the burden that they should not bear at their age - this is what we call the phenomenon of parentalization.
I. What makes a "good" child?
The phenomenon of parentalization refers to the phenomenon that children and adolescents play the role of parents and take on adult responsibilities beyond their own developmental level. It is a family interaction pattern that can be divided into instrumental parentalization and emotional parentalization.
Instrumental parentalization, as the name suggests, refers to the household chores that should have been taken care of by parents but are taken care of by children. For example, letting children do housework, take care of the elderly and younger siblings, or even earn money to support the family.
Emotional parentalization refers to children taking care of and meeting their parents' emotional needs, listening to their parents' troubles or concerns, caring for or responding to their parents' emotions, and becoming their parents' emotional dependency or emotional partner. In this phenomenon, carefree children are forced to be involved in adult conflicts, serving as listeners for complaints and accusations, and bearing the resentment and hatred of parents towards each other or other adults.
It is worth noting that, unlike cultivating children's self-care abilities through moderate and simple household chores, the parentalization phenomenon referred to in this article often has more destructive rather than constructive effects. In this phenomenon, children are forced to sacrifice their own needs to take on responsibilities that belong to adults. These responsibilities often invade the child's personal space for a long time, causing excessive physical or emotional burden on the child, and may not receive the gratitude or appreciation of parents, which is not conducive to the child's growth.
Why would these children "willingly" take on adult responsibilities that they should not bear?
Because for children, parents are the most important attachment figures in their lives, and they cannot and will not leave their parents because of the unfairness of the relationship.
On the contrary, because children have an inherent drive to connect with others and seek objects, in order to maintain their connection with their parents, they are likely to sacrifice their own needs and true selves for a long time, cater to their parents' needs and expectations, and carefully play the role of "ideal children" in their parents' minds, fearing that they will lose their parents' attention, acceptance, and support if they do not do well.
Over time, children may internalize and identify with the "false self" idealized by their parents, resulting in what we often call the "hollow heart" of good children.
Some children are considerate and understanding because they have personally explored in social interactions, experiencing the happiness of satisfying their own needs and the happiness of helping others, and ultimately learning how to balance their own needs and the needs of others. On the other hand, children who have been harmed by parentalization are more like being artificially "good" from the beginning - they know from the beginning that they should be considerate and understanding. If they don't do so, their parents will be disappointed and sad. They have always suppressed their own needs and feelings, so they cannot experience true happiness and joy.
II. The pros and cons of being "good"
- Psychological well-being
It should be noted that suppressed emotions do not disappear. They are like a silent volcano, waiting for the moment to erupt. Research has shown that excessive involvement in parentalization tasks is associated with a range of health problems, including anxiety, depression, shame, and drug abuse. In addition, because they have to constantly speculate about their parents' thoughts, children who have been parentalized may still maintain sensitive psychological patterns in adulthood, easily be influenced by others' emotions and immersed in them, and tend to have tendencies of anxiety or depression.
- Achievement motivation
In a society that values only scores, "good" children often have the characteristic of "good grades" because they strive to be the ideal children. Research has shown that individuals with high achievement motivation are more likely to succeed, which partly explains the phenomenon that good children study harder and have better grades in daily life.
However, achieving success does not always bring a sense of fulfillment, which is influenced by individual tendencies of achievement motivation. According to Atkinson's achievement motivation theory, ==achievement motivation can be divided into two tendencies: the pursuit of success and the avoidance of failure, and the intensity of these tendencies is determined by the individual's own needs, the possibility of success/failure, and the results that success/failure brings.==
The reason why parentalized children study hard is precisely because they are afraid of losing their parents' attention if they make mistakes. In their view, the consequences of failure are very terrifying, so they have a strong motivation to avoid failure. At the same time, if their abilities are limited and the possibility of success is small, or if their success is taken for granted and not encouraged, the motivation to pursue success will decrease.
==When the motivation to avoid failure exceeds the motivation to pursue success, individuals become afraid of challenges and tend to choose tasks that are either very difficult or very simple in order to avoid the feeling of shame brought by failure.== If they accidentally fail, they will be more frustrated; even if they succeed, they can only experience the feeling of avoiding failure and "taking a breath", and cannot experience much sense of achievement and joy.
Over time, they may be exhausted by the daily and precarious journey of achievement. Due to their tendency to avoid challenges, their creativity will also be affected, and they may eventually tend to be seen as "bookworms" as people often say.
- Interpersonal relationships
Zvara et al. found that parentalization can also predict children's peer relationship problems. For parentalized children, although they play the roles of caregivers and sacrificers in the family for a long time, their efforts and values are often not encouraged and affirmed by their families, resulting in low self-esteem. This also makes it difficult for them to experience the support given by peers in relationships and more likely to feel alienated and excluded.
So how are these children's interpersonal relationships in adulthood? The research results on this issue are complex. Some researchers have found that children who have experienced instrumental parentalization have stronger interpersonal skills in adulthood, specifically manifested as a strong sense of responsibility and the willingness to take responsibility. They often play the role of caregivers in teams and are therefore more likely to be trusted by others. Some studies have also found that women who have experienced parentalization in early childhood have stronger interpersonal perception and empathy support abilities, which helps them maintain interpersonal harmony.
However, these parentalized children are also more likely to develop what we often call a "people-pleasing personality" in adulthood. Due to the lack of a secure attachment pattern in early parent-child relationships, these individuals tend to lack a sense of security when entering an intimate relationship, and they tend to sacrifice themselves excessively for fear of being abandoned, resulting in an unequal relationship.
Especially for women, the more obedient and compliant they are in family relationships and the more they satisfy their parents' demands, the more difficult it is for them to explore their own needs in developing intimate relationships. They are accustomed to giving and taking care of others in relationships, and they are also more likely to neglect their own needs, which sometimes leads to compulsive helping behavior and less seeking help when they encounter difficulties.
III. Advice for parents
- Maintain self-reflection
Nurturing the healthy growth of children is a complex and challenging task. No one is born to be a parent, and no one can be a perfect parent. What we need to do is to constantly learn and reflect, and grow together with our children in the practice of parenting.
Understanding the harm that parentalization may cause to children, we can often ask ourselves in life:
- Have I tried to satisfy my own psychological needs through my child?
- Am I treating my child based on my own needs or their needs?
- Do I have unresolved personal issues that may affect how I treat my child?
- The responsibility of adults, let adults take on as much as possible
Children's bodies and minds are not yet mature, and if they bear the responsibilities faced by adults too early, it is likely to affect their own development.
If we find through introspection that we have unconsciously imposed some unmet needs on our children, we can consider whether these needs can be met by other adult relatives and friends. For example, if there is dissatisfaction in marital life, you can talk to close friends about it; if there are difficulties in housework, you can ask relatives for help. If there are still difficulties, you can also seek professional help from a counselor.
- Understand moderate and fair parentalization
The impact of parentalization on children's development is very complex, and it is influenced by factors such as cultural background, specific conditions, and children's own traits. However, based on previous research findings, it can be found that "unfairness" is the main reason for the negative consequences of parentalization.
In other words, if due to economic difficulties and other factors, children have to take on family responsibilities prematurely, the negative impact of parentalization can be mitigated by striving for "fair reciprocity" as much as possible. For example, while parents accept their children's help, they can express gratitude, care, and praise to their children in a timely manner, or give them material rewards, thereby satisfying their children's needs to some extent and reducing their experience of "unfairness".
"Good" and "not good" should never be the only definition of children.
We understand that every parent may have expectations for "good" children, but we need to understand that as adults and parents, we should not equate our children's "goodness" with the love we give them. What drives the healthy growth of children is not the pursuit of obedience and maturity, but their acceptance and affirmation of their true selves.