I’m a fervent believer that we should be more aware and cautious about what it is that our actions teach our children. Within the perspective of having come to understand some of the influences which lead to some very severe disorders, I find this extremely important and decidedly relevant. I’m quite sure that any parent wants to teach their children coping skills, and healthy ways to deal with those around them and themselves, but Parents also aren’t perfect. One of the things that this blog is intended to make visible is those influences, those behaviors and what their impact may be. Holding a child to an impossible standard may not be an obvious thing, “do it right, or don’t do it at all” sounds at face value like a Moral and Ethical standard, but since it’s not possible to never get anything wrong this is an impossible standard. What this standard is likely to demonstrate to a child is that they aren’t good enough, since the parent expects it and they aren’t always able to achieve it. A lot of discussion in various forms has been taking place regarding corporal punishment also, if one looks objectively at a possible situation of corporal punishment it very closely resembles a physically larger person, in a position of authority, exacting violence against a smaller person in order to impose their own will on that person. I’m always surprised when the same parents say things like “I don’t know where he learned to be a bully”, and even more surprised when they then simply bully the child more to show them that bullying is wrong. We all learn by example, the example we set should be more front of mind. Dr Bessel Van Der Kolk gives a clear perspective on this in his talks about trauma, also available here.
If you saw Laura walking down the New York City street where she lives today, you’d see a well-dressed 46-year-old woman with auburn hair and green eyes, who exudes a sense of ‘I matter here.’ She looks entirely in charge of her life, but behind Laura’s confident demeanor lies a history of trauma: a bipolar mother who vacillated between braiding her daughter’s hair and peppering her with insults, and a father who moved out-of-state with his wife-to-be when Laura was 15 years old.