Today, I’m writing about a parenting and relationships related topic that’s been on my mind, especially after the recent incident involving reporter Isa Balado.

Watch how this dude blatantly disrespects Isa Balado’s boundaries on live TV. It makes me wonder about the role of parenting and relationships in shaping our behavior.

Isa was touched inappropriately while on air, and when confronted, the perpetrator denied it—even though it was caught on camera. So exasperating! But this isn’t just about Isa; I want to use this as a mirror reflecting some deep-seated issues in our society related to styles of parenting and relationships. So, let’s get into it.

The Childish Art of Denial

Remember those days when you were a kid, and you’d deny eating the cookie even when caught with crumbs all over your face? It’s a natural childhood tactic—deny wrongdoing to avoid getting into trouble. But what happens when this behavior isn’t corrected and carries into adulthood?

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When Childish Behavior Becomes Adult Gaslighting

We’ve all heard of gaslighting—the act of manipulating someone into questioning their own reality. We usually associate it with adult relationships, but let’s connect the dots back to those childhood denials. When we don’t address these behaviors in children, they can evolve into harmful forms of manipulation, like gaslighting, in adulthood. This isn’t just a ‘bad habit’; it’s a serious issue that needs addressing.

Parenting Styles and Accountability

As parents, caregivers, or influential adults, we have a role to play here. Some parenting styles can inadvertently encourage a culture of denial and lack of accountability. It’s crucial to teach our kids the value of owning up to their actions. Let’s not just tell them what’s right or wrong; let’s show them the importance of being accountable for their actions.

To give you a better idea, let’s look at some parenting styles that might unintentionally contribute to this culture:

The ‘Because I Said So’ Parents

These parents often use authority to keep things in line, which might make kids less likely to own up to mistakes for fear of punishment.

The ‘Cool’ Parents

These parents are often lax on rules and consequences, which might teach kids that they can sidestep accountability.

The ‘Free-Range’ Parents

These parents may not provide enough guidance, making it hard for kids to learn the ropes of accountability.

The ‘Love Comes with Fine Print’ Parents

In these households, love and acceptance might feel like they come with a set of unspoken conditions, making children more likely to hide their mistakes to maintain that love.

Practical Examples

For instance, if your child spills milk and denies it, instead of scolding them, you could say, “I see the milk has spilled. Accidents happen. How can we clean this up together?” This approach acknowledges the mistake and focuses on problem-solving and taking responsibility.

Or let’s say your teenager comes home past curfew. Instead of immediately grounding them, try having an open dialogue. Ask them what happened and discuss the importance of rules and the reasons behind them. Then, work together to come up with a consequence that feels fair to both parties. This teaches them that actions have consequences, but it also gives them a say, making them more likely to follow the rules in the future.

By incorporating these real-life lessons, we’re not just telling our kids to be accountable; we’re showing them how. And trust me, these lessons will stick with them far longer than any lecture will.

The Role of Relationship Styles

But hey, it’s not just about parenting. Our adult relationships also play a huge role in perpetuating or challenging these behaviors. How we interact with our partners, friends, and even colleagues can enable a culture of accountability or contribute to the problem. It’s high time we take a hard look at the relationship dynamics we’re part of.

The “Small Lies” We Tell in Relationships

Consider the “small lies” that often crop up in relationships, especially when one partner treats the other as if they were a parent figure, even if that role hasn’t been consciously assumed. For instance, a husband might tell his wife that he’s going to the gym after work but instead goes to a bar with friends. He lies not because she’s told him he can’t go, but because he fears her disapproval or judgment, much like a child might lie to a parent to avoid getting in trouble.

Similarly, a wife might tell her husband she’s spending the evening with a friend when she’s actually taking a personal day for self-care. She lies because she fears he might not understand or approve of her need for alone time, not because he’s explicitly forbidden it.

These “small lies” set a precedent for avoiding uncomfortable truths and dodging accountability. Over time, they can erode trust and create a culture where it’s acceptable to sidestep difficult conversations. But it doesn’t stop there; if these lies are consistently denied when confronted, it can even escalate into a form of gaslighting.

Practical Examples

For example*, if the husband continues to lie about his whereabouts and then denies it when his wife presents evidence, he’s not just lying; he’s manipulating her into questioning her own reality. Similarly, if the wife consistently lies about her activities and then makes her husband feel like he’s being “too controlling” or “paranoid” for questioning her, that’s also a form of gaslighting.

So, these seemingly minor lies can lead to more significant issues down the line, including manipulative behaviors that can be emotionally damaging.

*Disclaimer: The practical examples provided in this blog post are intended to illustrate situations where the person is lying NOT to avoid abuse, harm, or other forms of destructive behavior. If you find yourself in a situation involving abuse, please seek professional help and support.

Catching Ourselves in the Act

It’s easy to point fingers, but what about when we catch ourselves gearing up to tell a “small lie” or even gaslight someone? The first step is awareness. Mindfulness techniques can help us become more aware of our thoughts and actions in the moment. Remember, you’re an adult, not a child trying to escape punishment from a parent.

Ask yourself: “Why do I feel the need to lie? What am I trying to avoid?” Often, it’s a fear of judgment or conflict. But as adults, it’s our responsibility to face these uncomfortable situations head-on, rather than avoiding them through deceit.

If you find yourself in such a situation, take a deep breath and choose honesty and accountability over the easy way out. It might be difficult in that moment, but it’s the only way to build a culture of trust and accountability, both in our personal relationships and in society at large.

So, there you have it.

This isn’t just about one incident or one person; it’s about a culture that we’re all a part of. It’s about breaking the cycle of denial and fostering a culture of accountability, from childhood to adulthood. And let’s be clear, this culture is shaped significantly by our approaches to Parenting and Relationships

Let’s not just stand by and let this happen. Let’s be the change-makers, the educators, and the role models that our society so desperately needs. Because, my friends, accountability starts at home, but it sure as hell shouldn’t end there.

xxoo
Lanae

P.S., If this resonates with you, don’t keep it to yourself—share it far and wide! Whether it’s with your partner, co-parent, a friend, or a sibling, let’s get the conversation started. The more people we reach, the more impact we can make.

About the Author

The MamaSutra

Dr. Lanae St.John is a Diplomate of the American Board of Sexology and certified sex coach with a background in sexology and a passion for helping people improve their sexual health and relationships. She is the author of "Read Me: A Parental Primer for "The Talk"" and the upcoming "You Are the One: How stopping the search and looking inside will lead you to your romantic destiny," and is committed to staying up-to-date on the latest research and trends in the field. Dr. St.John aims to share her knowledge and expertise in a relatable and approachable way through her blog on themamasutra.com.

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