Gatekeeping: When Parents Try To Control Their Children’s Relationships

7848128_f260Gatekeeping is a term to describe a parent who tries to control all of the other relationships in their child’s life.

It is extremely common between parents. Mom, generally speaking, can feel like she is the “expert” on the child, especially if she is in a breastfeeding, full time caregiver role.

It is a catch 22 between parents; the mom wants help from the dad but then often inadvertently undermines the relationship between the father and the child by criticizing and micro managing.

It is not always the mom who is the gatekeeper; it can go both ways. It is also not always only just between parents.

Sometimes one or both parents controls every relationship in the child’s life; whether it be with the grandparents, other family, friends and even teachers.

Although the parent feels they are protecting the child, it actually undermines the child’s ability to form relationships with others.

Sometimes, Jealousy drives the gatekeeping. The parent or parents feel that any relationship in their child’s life will take away from their relationship with the child.

That is so not the case. Allowing your child to develop true and real interpersonal relationships with others actually enhances the parent child relationship.

It allows the child to develop life skills in all different areas of their lives; communication, negotiation, conflict resolution and more.

Awareness of this issue is sometimes all a parent needs to keep them in check. Sometimes, awareness isn’t enough.

If you can see that you are a gatekeeping parent and you can’t seem to shake those behavioral patterns, seek help.

Gatekeeping will undermine your relationship with your child even more and more as they get older. The resentment that your child might eventually feel can sometimes permeate the foundation of parent/child relationship and have life long consequences.

Love your child, act with integrity and always allow your child to love freely. This will lead to an increased sense of intimacy and closeness with your child for life.

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