TOPIC 66 DISTORTION For at least the past 30 years, I have ranted against Parent Blaming.
Jerome Kagan, a leading theorist about human nature thinks what makes us us is a mix of hundreds and hundreds of things. Pressed he offered a list of eight things. Parents were on the list as influences but so were genes–mainly temperament, birth order, city or small town raised, one of a hundred or more things, competence, the historical era one grew up in and my very favorite: CHANCE.
Attachment has been a catch word used by too many therapists and theorists in the myth that how good enough you are as a parent determines how happy or emotionally strong your child will be. Voices raised against “Attachment Theory” are few and often disparaged. That does not mean those voices are wrong. No matter what your stance on this issue, here is some important research.
What is my stance? Yes/And. Clearly some parents can help children feel secure AND clearly, some children seem to survive abusive parents, AND, clearly, some children no matter how good or sensitive their parents end up with major emotional problems.
I remember the myths of the Smothering Mother taught me in graduate school and taught as an unquestioned truth. “Over-protective mothers smother children and cause asthma.” This was gospel and I would like to say I was among the heretics. In time, I became one, but for a while it was clear to me that the mother’s I met who had asthmatic children were definitely over-protective. I don’t know when I became a heretic, but I know now that Asthma in children creates over protective mothers.
I do know my foster children made me question all I had been taught in graduate school and in supervision during my first years of practice. Now, I try to remember that every child is unique and that most parents want a child to be strong and healthy. When things are not going well, an open mind, faith in parents, faith in children and faith in the experts dispensing advice helps. It is not enough to rely on instinct alone or is it enough to rely on research based knowledge alone. The trick for parents is to become their child’s personal research scientist and to seek solutions until one is found.
STAYING STRONG TIP: Unless your parents were abusive–beat you, physically assaulted you, never showed love–most likely they were good enough. Even abusive parents did the best they could, sadly it wasn’t enough. Sadly, they didn’t get enough. Better than blame is understanding. Best is getting on with your life. The time spent blaming eats time spent living.
FUEL MY HOPES: Practice kindness and strengthen both of us. Like, comment, or share. Kindness is an Emotional Fitness Exercise. Click here for all 12 Daily Emotional Fitness Training Exercises.
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