Delivering Solutions Part 3: Moralizing

judge judy“It’s the right thing to do” [“Am I a bad person for not wanting to do it?”]       

“You ought to care more about other people’s feelings” [“What about MY feelings?”]   

“God doesn’t like to hear you talking like that.”

Moralizing is demoralizing as it fosters anxiety, resentment, inhibits honest self-expression and invites pretense.  Moralizing is teaching children that ideas backed with abstract social, moral, or theological authority are absolute givens, regardless of anything else.

Parents who moralize often do so with condescension, which leads to more resentment.

Child:         I don’t want to invite Danny to my birthday party.

Parent:      Now you know that you ought to invite everyone in the class and

                  it’s rude to exclude anyone. 

Child:        He won’t care.  He doesn’t even like me and I don’t like him either.

Parent:      Nonsense.  Of course you like him.  And you can’t have a party and leave anyone out.

                 It’s just not right.

Child:        I don’t want him there!

Parent:      No Danny, no party.  That’s final.

One way to have good communication is to listen with empathy.  An empathetic listener invites conversation rather than shutting it down.  An empathetic parent respects privacy and is not intrusive, honoring the child’s separateness rather than violating it. In difficult relationships where there is little trust and communication has not been flowing well for some time, it may take a while to rebuild trust.  Good listening skills help nurture building trust.

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