The controlling parent is having a good Covid | #parenting


Everybody, regardless of age, has had a lot less autonomy over their lives during the past year with pandemic restrictions.

“This year has been a very good example of safety before happiness and it can work to a point,” says psychotherapist Stella O’Malley. “But there is another point where there comes a day where there is a reckoning and you think the cost benefit analysis is not adding up and happiness is being too badly impacted.”

It has been impossible to give older children and teens the autonomy they clearly need, as evidenced by Dr Elizabeth Nixon’s Growing Up in Ireland study of social-emotional and behavioural outcomes in early adolescence, from data that was collected before we knew anything about pandemic parenting.

I am seeing a lot of kids who are not faring well. It feels like animals in the zoo; they’re self-destructing because they’re bored

We’re seeing the impact on adolescents of an absence of autonomy “under a petri dish”, says O’Malley. But “it’s knowledge to be aware of, that when they are freer, they will be happier and for parents to note that”.

She believes the lockdown has probably been satisfying in ways for over-controlling parents who “had licence” to restrict their children. “I am seeing a lot of kids who are not faring well. It feels like animals in the zoo; they’re self-destructing because they’re bored, they’re on their own.



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