It makes me cringe.
Parents, some of whom purport to be liberal unschool-y types, hovering over their child, forcing a conversation.
Maybe the kid is upset, maybe sad, maybe annoyed at their parent.
Maybe it’s not obvious what the actual problem is, right at this moment.
The parent finds this unacceptable. They cajole, insist, beg or demand to be told “What’s wrong?”
If the child doesn’t answer there is anger or hurt feelings (!) on the part of the parent.
Which always makes things so much better!
Here is an example of how an actual conversation happened between a homeschooling parent and their upset kid, where the parent sat them down to discuss what was wrong. The kid wasn’t talking so the parent said, “I can see you’re upset. Are you anxious about something? Are you anxious about your class today? Because that’s completely normal.” The kid, still looking sullen, gave the parent a glance and then nodded. To which the parent responded by going into a long speech about the nature of anxiety and why it’s normal and how to overcome it.
Know what I think?
I think that kid nodded because it was the easy way out. Their parent GAVE them the answer. Anxiety? Yeah, that’s it. In this way the parent was appeased and the kid didn’t really have to tell the parent anything.
See, when I’m upset the last thing I want is someone hovering over me and demanding to know what’s wrong. Sometimes I don’t even really know what’s wrong until I’ve had some time to sit with myself and think about it. Why do we insist – especially those of us who trust our kids to learn on their own – on hearing every detail of any perceived upset on the part of our kids, especially in the moment? Forcing someone to talk when they’re not ready isn’t a great trust-building tactic.
If you are supportive and loving your kids will talk to you about what bothers them. Sometimes right away, sometimes later and sometimes – get ready for it – they work it through in their mind, get over it on their own and nothing needs to be said.
So back off when you want to hover. The results may surprise you.