Up until 3-4 centuries ago children were not seen as needing special treatment after they were weaned.

The history of our children is quite sad. They have been killed, abused, used for labor in factories and for many other abhorrent adult satisfactions. Since the dawn of the 1800’s there has been vast advancements in our knowledge of child development which has given way to better schooling and increased mortality rates.

With awareness and education we can continue to choose intentional parenting, adjusting to the continual changes in society that impact our children.

Divorce is one such change in our world that is actually becoming less prevalent but at the same time talked about and more readily accepted. There has been an increase in stay at home fathers as well as legal and physical custody of children being shared equally between parents.

Divorce brings new emotional challenges for adults and children.

This is the part that reminds me of the way children were treated centuries ago. If you head over to the art museum you will see paintings of children dressed like adults, playing adult games and looking like tiny adults. History goes, however, that these children had terrible behavioral issues because their development was being ignored.

If modern adults are not careful, we too, will end up treating our children like tiny adults.

Although unconscious, it is common to see a parent in turmoil counting on their children to fulfill them emotionally. These parents often communicate some version of, “My children are my world.”

Making children a priority is very different than using them as a pacifier, entertainment or using them as a ‘mini-me.’

Using children… that is exactly what is going on when they are being emotionally life-rafted. The outcomes for these kiddos will be reflected in their intimate relationships and ability to function emotionally as adults.

What can you do to protect against emotionally life-rafting your child?

Always ask yourself:

Is (fill in the blank) truly meeting the needs of my child in a way that teaches them all the values I believe they should have OR am I pacifying myself in some small way?

Grow as an adult by going to counseling or through books.

Mantra: “My child is  not my friend.”

Find a hobby.

It is so very important for parents to care for themselves so that they can care for their children better. The better you feel, the more opportunity your children will be have to enjoy their childhood without the burden of adult problems.

By Kristen Craren Co Parent Counseling

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