Is It Possible That You’re Gaslighting Your Children? Many parents want their children to be emotionally aware as well as have a strong sense of self-esteem and communication skills. If you’re reading this, you’re probably in the same boat. As a result, you might be surprised to learn that some of the things you do or say to your children aren’t actually helpful, but could be classified as gaslighting.
What Is Gaslighting and How Does It Work?
When it comes to gaslighting, it’s usually thought of as a subtle form of deception that makes the person on the receiving end doubt their own reality. “You’re OK,” you might say to your child after he or she falls and scrapes their knee. You’re probably trying to keep them from crying by assuring them that it’s just a minor scrape.
However, if you never recognise that your child’s knee very certainly stings and hurts, and that it’s OK for them to cry, it might be a subtle kind of gaslighting. Skinned knees, after all, are no fun.
A better answer would be to recognise how they’re feeling and then reassure them that everything will be fine—that you’ll clean it up and put a band-aid on it, and they’ll feel much better afterwards.
Lectures about how nasty, selfish, ungrateful, or theatrical your children are are also a type of gaslighting. Even if your objective is to teach them to be more courteous or kind, labelling your child with these terms just reinforces their belief that something is wrong with them. No parent wants their child to feel inadequate in the eyes of others.
Even seemingly innocuous statements like “You’ll be fine,” “This isn’t the end of the world,” and “It is what it is” send a message to your children that their feelings are inaccurate or excessive. If this happens frequently enough, your children may learn to hide their emotions or act as if everything is fine when it isn’t.
Is It Possible That You’re Gaslighting Your Children? And Why?
Gaslighting may be subtle and difficult to detect in parent-child interactions. After all, there is already an inherent power imbalance between parents and children. As a result, all parents are vulnerable to gaslighting, particularly if they are ignorant that their actions may be detrimental.
Similarly, if a parent is overburdened or has a tendency to be a helicopter or lawnmower parent, they may be more prone to gaslighting.
When a kid begins to gain some independence, gaslighting may occur in other parent-child interactions. The parent may feel as if they are losing control and find it difficult to accept the changes in the relationship. They want to be at the centre of their child’s universe, and when that begins to shift, it can be difficult for some parents to adjust.
As a result, they resort to gaslighting as a means of maintaining the status quo.
Meanwhile, other parents will resort to gaslighting to mask their own fears. After all, feeling like a horrible parent is the worst sensation in the world. As a result, rather than confronting those sentiments or attempting to make positive and healthy adjustments, a parent will use gaslighting to manipulate the situation.
To put it another way, if they can change the child’s ideas and convince them that the parent did nothing wrong, the youngster will no longer feel like a failure. Instead, the kid is now responsible for the difficulties in the parent-child connection, and the parent may continue to feel as if they have done nothing wrong.
Read Also: Gaslighting in the Workplace