How to help children free themselves from their parents

How to help children free themselves from their parents? The psychologist explains the stages of the separation process and how to help our children complete it

How to help children free themselves from their parents?

Every human growth process tends towards the acquisition of the ability to be in the world in a conscious and independent way. It is no coincidence that they are becoming more and more autonomous in self-care and in the performance of daily activities is the most important developmental task for a child, as well as for a teenager is the subsequent identification and liberation of parent figures. How can reference adults facilitate these processes? He’s talking to us about it Luca Massironidevelopmental psychologist.

Emancipation: meaning

Although not a scientifically correct term to describe the development of a young person, the etymology of the word helps us to frame the subject: the expert – in short, went from being the father’s property to a free man. The word is composed of “script” (hand) and “capere” (to take), and in this sense it can, on the one hand, recall the idea of take your own life in hand, on the other hand, in the moment from which one no longer needs to be accompanied by the hand of the world ». The process of liberation therefore follows a child throughout its development and is essential for training an adult who is able to move around the world.

Emancipation and autonomy: synonyms?

The concept of emancipation, in more specific language, can be divided into two aspects, of whichautonomy it represents only the first dimension. The path of autonomy, of which each phase of life has a piece to play, is a cross-cutting process of development. «From the womb, to it being held in the arms, up to the first autonomous movements and the first steps of the hand: For a newborn, each of these phases presupposes a slow and gradual distance from the adult. As well as the development of Languagewhich means that the child is no longer dependent on the parents’ interpretation of his needs ”. However, the conquest of new autonomies continues throughout the school cycle and is favored by a so-called “Scaffolding“:” The initial adult scaffolding that totally encloses a newborn, just like a building that does not yet stand on its own, should be dismantled as the child grows and manages to control more and more aspects of his life “.

The process of separation and individuation

The second aspect, more related to the importance of emancipation, is separation processto it begins in the pre-teens age when boys and girls begin to move away from the adult reference figures also from a symbolic point of view: “Compared to the acquisition of new autonomies, which, however, continues, this is a different evolutionary task: we leave the family space and approach outside the family, distancing oneself from physical but also internal parents.The great work of identification, both physically and mentally, which will continue through adolescence ». However, the process of separation also presupposes a cultural and material aspect: “Once upon a time, society did not require the long training times of today, and therefore a person of 18 had some financial security and could be said to be fully liberated. Today, this is no longer the case: staying at home with the parents is an element that certainly does not complete the separation process, which today continues until you are a young adult.

Stages of the separation process

The path to separation from parents follows fairly defined phases:

  1. Best friend or friend. Boys and girls begin to identify new objects of love with which they can have closeness and intimacy, and with which a relationship of trust is created. “Confiding with them and no longer with the parents – who are beginning to be perceived as distant from some of the young person’s experiences – as well as having secrets (which does not mean hiding things or lying to the parents) is a positive symptom of change. “.

  2. Group of friends. “The openness to the world then extends to the choice of a group of friends, something that used to be more the parents’ privilege based on their friendships or the environments they decided to let their children participate in.” To begin with, the group is monogenic, then it becomes a mixed group.

  3. Fall in love first. An important step that pours even greater personal affection outside the family of origin.

  4. First couple. The creation of a stable core of belonging marks an almost complete emotional separation: “It is not a question of the young person’s illusion of no longer needing care and being able to manage on his own, but in the awareness that care now shows themselves in a relationship. which in relation to the parents has a different kind of reciprocity ».

How to help a child be liberated

From an educational point of view, there are two actors in the process of liberation, the children and the parents: both must be safe enough to go this way, and often the greatest effort is on the part of the parents.

  1. Your child is a different person than you. It seems trivial, but in reality, many parents perceive their children in an extremely projective way, seeking an overly complicated and too close relationship: “This inhibits separation. As long as parents see their children’s behavior as an effect of their own behavior and not as independent choices on their part, they will always feel entitled to intervene and replace them. And they will also be anxious about any risky behavior as a sign of personal failure and not the basic moment when they have to be next to them. “

  2. Dialogue and not control. The difficulty of distinguishing that one’s child is an individual “other than himself” means that the parent does not understand that he must know him and that he needs time, attention and listening to do so: “To know him does not mean to know everything about him., control him, worry if “it does not tell you everything”, use your smartphone as a remote monitoring tool; it means approaching him with traits of curiosity and ready to discover even aspects, one does not want to see who one can have affection and acceptance towards. In “Luca”, a Disney film from 2021, the protagonist’s discovery that he is different is greatly hampered by worried parents and sources of anxiety ».

  3. Give them space. Giving up the role of director of the child’s life means letting them go, always allowing for a safe return. “The evolutionary experience is favored by not always being next to them, but ready for it support them in all moments of fatigue: children know how to ask when they need it. Even the electronic register deprives children of the opportunity to take the initiative: Parents are already informed about grades and school notes, and children are therefore no longer required to find the words to say it at home. Also allow them spaces of solitudedo not always protect them from this, because then in adulthood you will not be able to help them and they will not be able to resist loneliness ».

  4. Do not be a fire extinguisher parent. Being a good parent does not mean “turning off” any kind of suffering my child is experiencing. “Without suffering, one cannot grow up, and parents who want to put out their children’s suffering right away will not help them.. The correct way to support the growth of boys and girls is to provide understanding and support in relation to developmental struggles. It can sometimes happen that regressive behaviors can be observed (ie behaviors that were typical of earlier and now obsolete evolutionary phases that reappear at a later stage): these indicate that the boy or girl is struggling a bit on his way , and he has to stop for a moment and maybe go back a little. On the other hand, it is not easy to escape, but we must support the path of young people in the resumption of growth and remind them that if you run into difficulties, it is because you have gone towards it and you do not dodge it “.

The interviewee

Luca Massironi is an evolutionary psychologist at Psychologists’ anagram, Multi-specialist center with more than 30 professionals. Among the psychological offerings, in addition to the clinical activity under investigation, the center has various projects in the field that propose efforts for prevention, promotion of mental well-being and listening through counters in schools and municipalities. Milano.

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