On one hand, there are the helicopter parents, who either hover over their children to intercept at every roadblock, or the lawnmower parents who clear every little obstacle out of the path of their child so they never encounter a problem, a failure or even a little feeling of discomfort or awarkdness. On the other-hand we have those adults who have trouble (or don’t care) distinguishing at all what is appropriate for a child to be exposed to and the impact this over-exposure may have to the child in the long term.
Research shows that if children are exposed to too much ‘adult’ information they can become traumatised and display symptoms of significant trauma which can lead to immediate problems of sleep issues, eating problems, issues and disorders and self-image problems. The over-exposed child also quickly loses the ability to differentiate between what is appropriate information to share with friends and peers and may create a situation where this over-sharing of personal information may lead to social isolation which can impact the overall health and wellbeing of the child and a vicious cycle may be created.
This inappropriate behaviour from adults is often seen in separated or divorced couples who are using their children as pawns in the process of surviving the separation. Parents will often refer to their ex-partner in a negative manner, despite their children hearing or even participating in the conversation. The parents can often play off each other either in a battle for the child’s love and affection, or as a means of simple nastiness towards the other parent. Parents often place children in the middle of their separation and may accuse each other of a range of negative choices and behaviours, including lying, incompetence or even abuse. This is simply not fair on the child and they are unable to process this information in a manner that the parents presume it is interpreted.
Children are unable to process information in the same way that adults do and they should not have to carry the burden of adult information. When an adult is talking to a child in what should be an adult conversation, the child begins to worry about their future and where they belong in the bigger world – children are not your confidante, they are children and need to be treated accordingly.