In recent years the family has changed profoundly, as have the educational models proposed by television and social media, now abandoned and branded as inappropriate if not harmful the authoritarian model that was very much in vogue in previous years, the democratic model. permissive and the overprotective model have taken over among parents as the most desirable and functional.
For clarity I will use the descriptions of these two models using the one narrated in "Family models" (Nardone, Rocchi & Giannotti, 2001)
Permissive Democratic Model
The most popular idea in recent years is that the child should not be in any way forced or persuaded to make choices, that everything must be explained in detail from an early age, that he must always have the possibility to choose, otherwise he may be traumatized and lack adult self-esteem.
The type of education and family model that the parent who shares these ideas will follow, will be the democratic-permissive model where the absolute absence of hierarchy dominates, the assumptions that have been noticed most frequently are the following:
- Things are done by conviction by consent and not by imposition;
- Consent is obtained through dialogue based on valid and reasonable arguments;
- The rules must be agreed;
- Bargaining is the only enemy of prevarication;
- The main goal to be pursued is harmony and the absence of conflict;
- All family members have the same rights.
This type of model, despite having principles that if properly dosed and adapted to different ages, could also have valid foundations, if it is applied slavishly from an early age it can be harmful, loading children with responsibilities that are not able to face and automatically take responsibility for the parent who thus loses the parental and educational role.
In this way, children unable to make choices will sink into insecurity, without rules they will have to create their own, they will not be able to recognize authority and hierarchy in school and work, they will think that everything can be negotiated and that everything can to be the result of a choice, to then collide in adolescence with a world that does not match the one known up to that moment.
In second place in the models in vogue there is the overprotective model, the result of a generation in which the only child is the rule, normally had in old age and the object of the attention of the whole family. The parent who adopts this model tends to protect the child excessively, preserving him from any contact with the world that could damage him or that could make him suffer, in this case the parent replaces the child, anticipates him, satisfies him in everything, the rules are arbitrary and replaceable, the punishments and consequences of one's actions non-existent.
The result is that "it is not important to commit too much" because:
- There are no dire consequences;
- Parents or grandparents can intervene and resolve everything;
- The prizes and gifts no longer depend on what I do or the results I get because I exist and I am extraordinary, things await me by right and I don't have to work hard to get them.
Even this model in itself contains good things if applied with the right measure and on an occasional basis, but if adopted as the prevailing educational model we will find ourselves in front of a child who will not have the opportunity to learn from the small challenges in which one goes up against as a child, a child who will not fortify himself with the small battles he will fight every day, a child who will not know what boredom is, what it means to lose and remain standing anyway and then discover it as a teenager when the external world will present a much more savory.
Sometimes these educational models are fully adopted, other times there are also families that oscillate between one and the other, in both cases, however, the center of the family is "the baby king”Which has the power and where parents struggle to have an educational function, or rather they abstain from education thinking that it is an educational form.
The failure of the "child king"
“The child-centric family”, already hypothesized for about a decade, then became increasingly consolidated towards a “child-centric society” where over-protection has become the norm.
Today's children are no longer part of the family, but embody the family itself, it revolves around the needs of the child who will gradually raise the stakes as he becomes a teenager.
Over-protection leads parents to blame the failure of their children on the outside, on the school, on the teachers, on other classmates, but never on the family itself and even less on their own child.
The " baby RE " everything can and everything decides, he must be constantly pleased, supported, understood, indulged, with the road smoothed, but unfortunately his destiny will be to clash with an external world where this cannot exist.
And here is that the "Baby RE" he is sent to fight the battle of life without weapons, where there are failures, where there are people better than him, where it is not enough to desire something or ask for it to obtain it, here the impact with reality becomes unmanageable, tremendous.
In the last decade there has been a substantial increase in pathologies in adolescence, especially pathologies such as depression, panic attacks, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders or escapes from reality in a virtual life where one can be perfect and you can't fail.
Here is the "baby king "He needs to be a bully to bully or a victim to blame others for his failure, here comes adolescent suicide when reality is too far from the ideal of our ego, here we postpone work, family, a independence, too many responsibilities to accept better to continue living and being looked after by our parents.
Lost families and social media
This is the real innovation that has entered the family, indiscriminate access to information where there is no longer any distinction between scientific and personal opinion, where the article of a blog has the same impact as that of a professional, parents who they have to untangle themselves among a thousand theories and opinions, lost in search of models that merge that contradict each other and that leave them alone and hostage to their children, terrified by their whims, a society where discipline and education have become subjective and no longer objective, where the parent dies of guilt if he tries to impose himself, if he tries to manage the child.
There is no longer a family of extended origin as it once was to take care of the new family that is born, there are no grandmothers, aunts, neighbors as once who helped and supported the new parents, and if there are now they are considered dispensers of obsolete theories because in recent decades the world has changed, and therefore you no longer know who to listen to, the other new mother? but get out of it more confused than before.
Families asking for help
Families need help, they need to be supported to have guidance, answers and techniques within their reach to be able to manage those situations that have gotten out of hand, endless tantrums, children's insomnia, children who do not eat or overeat, fears and phobias, relationship difficulties and much more.
The psychologist through the strategic dialogue is able to analyze the family model adopted, the strategies usually used in the family, this combined with an accurate analysis of the try solutions introduced by the parents to manage the situation and the management of moments of crisis, understand which intervention can fit the problem, creating an ad hoc intervention for the specific family.
Very often they are the try solution of the problem put in place within the family to generate and maintain the problem itself, creating a vicious circle without end. With children under 12 in the Brief strategic therapy it is preferable to adopt a "indirect" therapy that is to elect the parents as co-therapists without directly involving the child in the session, and to ensure that their behavior changes constantly in the days following the therapy according to precise indications given by the therapist, in order to be able to act directly on the child and on family dynamics dysfunctional.
Through collaboration with parents, helping them to resume their parental role and to carry out their parental function again, their containing and guiding function of their children respecting the natural inclinations of the family, it is possible to obtain a new family balance and construction of children capable of enduring the frustrations of life, capable of reacting strategically to adversity, of enjoying conquests and the independence of assuming their responsibilities, in short, children who are truly free to live.
Psychotherapist, official researcher and lecturer at the Strategic Therapy Center
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Bartoletti, A. (2013). The strategic student. Milan: Ponte alle Grazie.
Nardone, G., Giannotti, E. & Rocchi, R. (2001). Family models. Milan: TEA.
Nardone, G. (2012). Helping parents help their children. Milan: Ponte alle Grazie.
Watzlawick, P. & Nardone, G. (1997). Brief Strategic Therapy. Milan: Raffaello Cortina.