When someone says that they are sick of being treated like a child, what comes to your mind? One of the commenter’s on my blog post Mother Daughter Relationship Lies said that she was sick of being treated like a child, and caused me to think about the meaning behind that statement. Such a familiar expression. What is being treated like a child like? What do we adults mean when we say that? Is it how a parent wipes your chin when you are eating a soft ice cream cone? Is it holding your hand when you cross the street? Is it being told to brush your teeth and get ready for bed? It would be pretty weird if our parents did that stuff when we were adults. So when an adult says that he is sick of being treated like a child, I get a whole different idea about what this statement means.
I have teen agers. My youngest teen doesn’t like it when I suggest things off the menu to her. She likes to read it for herself and make her own choice. My older teen says that I am treating her like a child when she feels like I am not giving her enough choice or freedom. My oldest teenager (who is legally and adult in Canada) doesn’t use this expression.
In my experience, when adults use this expression it means that a parent is treating an adult in similar ways to the way that both my daughters express this dislike above. Using voice infliction and innuendo, parents can make adult children feel like we are not capable or too stupid to make our own decisions ~ still having the mind of a child.
Consider some of the following statements; these are meant to make you wonder about your thoughts and decisions. They are meant to make you question yourself.
~ You are not really going to do that, are you?
~ You don’t really believe that, do you?
~ You aren’t really thinking that are you?
~ You are not really going to wear that, are you?
~What were you thinking when you bought that?
~What were you thinking when you said that?
What were you thinking when you DID that?
The unspoken message is “are you nuts” or “you must be stupid”.
These questions are not designed to get you to think about what you did or said, they are meant to make you feel stupid. They are meant to make you question yourself. When we were children we depended on our parents to help us decide, to make good choices. This is what I think some of us mean when we say they are sick of being treated like a child.
My mother in law had a different way of trying to get me to do things her way. She would say “Well, you will most likely be ready to buy that next year. Well you will most likely breastfeed (my son) for six months. She seemed to have an issue with how long I was intending to nurse, and finally I told her that I would MOST LIKELY NURSE HIM until he or I was ready to stop. But I was really conflicted about it, and her words echoed in my head for years because I just didn’t understand her motive for trying to make me stop and I didn’t realize that she was constantly insinuating that I couldn’t decide, like I wasn’t capable of deciding what would be best.
Other questions are designed to control but even these still indicate a suggestion that you couldn’t possibly know what is best. Here are a few:
~ You aren’t going to eat that are you?” (I am talking about when someone thinks they are helping you with your diet, or insinuating that you need to lose weight.)
~You aren’t going to go there are you?
~ You aren’t really interested in HIM or HER are you?
~ Why would you want to do that?
~ Why would you want to go there?
If our adult / child relationships were conducted like this when we were children, we become accustomed to this kind of innuendo and control. It becomes part of how we do relationship. It is so familiar that we don’t really think about it. We don’t realize how devaluing it is. It has become part of our belief system, our false definition of relationship, respect and love.
When we fight this without really understanding what we are fighting, is it any wonder why we end up struggling with depression and other mental health issues?
Please feel free to contribute to this post with comments or share how this post impacted you.
Breaking out of familiar;