Motherhood is Not a Popularity Contest

Maternity or paternity, both interchangeably, is not a popularity contest. Sometimes, the obsession to maintain the best relationship with the children and the desire for them to be happy makes parents forget their main task: to educate.

Therefore, one must bear in mind whenever the task of a father is to educate. This implies, on many occasions, making decisions that our children will not like. But that is education: learning to deal with what you want and the frustration that can lead to the inability to do what you want to do. In addition, sometimes it also involves tripping on the road.

The limits in motherhood and fatherhood

The limits in motherhood and fatherhood have to be clear. As parents, we must raise our children in a climate of trust, but at the same time, remain identified as an authority figure. This aspect is very important, because as they grow, as they experiment with their toys by throwing them to the ground and twisting them to see their limits, they also experiment with us to get to know ours.

Therefore, children play to challenge us when they are around 2 or 3 years old when they do not accept no for an answer when they try to continuously contradict us even if it makes no sense. But this challenge is nothing compared to what a teenager can pose.

In adolescence, as the basis of their independence is being built, the limits of all authority, including those of maternity or paternity, are continually being discounted and questioned. At this time it is when we are more firm and clear we have to be negotiating and setting limits, although this leads us to have a more difficult relationship with our children.

Not all the decisions we make are going to like our children, nor does it have to be that way. They will even have to come to understand that you can screw up with them, just as they do with you or in other areas of life. That is why you will not stop doing your job or you will be less firm in the negotiations. On the other hand, we maintain this authority figure is not at odds with the relationship with our children being good.

As we have said, no matter how parents we are and years of experience we have, we also make mistakes. Many times, when trying to get along with our children we treat them as an adult when they are not ready for it yet. This can lead to involving children in the life and problems of adults. An example of this would be to tell children about our marital problems as we would talk about them with a friend.

Of course, a common cause is also the opposite. There are few parents who see their fifteen-year-old children as small infants of four and exercise overprotective work that delays or stalls the gradual process of dependence. As parents it is important to grow with the children, to know that at four years they will have some needs, at ten others and at twenty others.

What are family subsystems?

From the Systemic Psychology, more specifically from the Structural School with Minuchin at the head, the different types of limits are treated. These limits are given in the relationships of different family members with each other. There are other limits that refer to how the family relates to its environment, but we will not discuss them in this article.

Each individual in the family unit belongs to different subsystems in which they have different power roles and in which they learn different skills. Therefore, in a family of 4 members, we can find the following subsystems:

  • Spousal subsystem: it is built when two adults, of whatever sex, join together to form a family.
  • Parental subsystem: is formed when the first child is born.
  • Fraternal subsystem: it is formed when you have two or more children. This subsystem is very important since it is the first experience of socialization that they will have in the world.
  • These subsystems have limits between them to protect the different roles and ways of functioning. Something that is very important, since the responsibilities of a woman as a couple are not the same as with motherhood, as are the responsibilities of the man as a couple than in the role of father.

Let’s establish healthy family boundaries and relationships

There are problems when the boundaries between the subsystems become too diffuse. This implies that any member of another subsystem can acquire or impair its operation by performing functions that do not correspond to it. This is what happens when the children or other subsystems of the political family, such as the in-laws, dispose and command in the conjugal subsystem. This type of family is an agglutinated family.

Members of subsystems or agglutinated families are affected by the development of their own autonomy. This makes us believe dependent on children, not healthy children. In a family, we all need our own personal development space.

Nor is it good that the boundaries between the subsystems are too rigid. When the limits are rigid, the subsystem is isolated from the rest of the family systems, being inaccessible. Thus the communication becomes more complicated, as well as the development of a healthy relationship between its members. This type of family is known as a detached family.

Members of detached families are too independent and lack feelings of belonging or attachment to family unity. Thus the search for balance, that is, a family with clear limits allows the development of responsible motherhood or fatherhood. This, in turn, allows our children to grow independently, but with an adequate sense of family belonging.

Remember, motherhood or fatherhood is not a popularity contest. Our children cannot be our friends, even if we have a good relationship with them in which there is trust. You have to respect their independence and their development just like ours. They do not have to solve our marital problems nor do we partner with them to solve fraternal problems.