Friday, 7 November 2014

Reflection 137 (Peck and Freud)

The road less traveled

Recently I started (again) the book with the title: "the road less traveled" by Scott Peck.
In the first chapters, he fully blames the parents for children's and later adult's deviant behaviour.

Of course he is a psychiatrist and sees among the most extreme behavior problems and a number of them are truly related to poor parenting practices. But to use the Freudian dogma that all problems results from childhood is going a bit overboard, no matter how strongly the psycho-analysts believe that is true. If they were right, they would be able to cure virtually everyone with their psycho-analysis. But not so.

Surely parenting is very important but it is perhaps the most difficult task thrown on the shoulders of young adults (who just underwent parenting from their own parents :) ) without any formal training. If you ask, who is more important for a child's well-being: the parents or the paediatrician. For the huge majority of children, it will be the parents. No way anyone can become a paediatrician without extensive and thorough training spanning over more than one decade. Parenting however, it comes to you, expected or unexpected but most often without any experience or training. And for educated and uneducated people alike, the tasks of parenting seem as daunting and challenging or much more daunting and challenging than our own profession or job.

I have read many books on parenting, but none seems to fully agree with the other. If you read ten books on how to give a good PowerPoint presentation, nine will tell you the same essential things. If you read ten books on parenting nine or ten will be tell you almost completely different things.

I think the most prominent common thing in good advice for parents is the factor, named love. Almost all parents will claim to love their children very much. How can we not love a baby? Still many young adults do not love babies. Among the majority who loves babies, quite a number get easily tired of caring for them. Babies demand so much, they change your life style, your life completely. Then toddlers challenging authority, how do we discipline them. Of course many say with love. How much love do parents use in disciplining? How strongly can we control our own emotions? And the example we put up as a role model. The axiom of children will follow what we do and not so much what we say. True enough.

An common problem, also is the parents projecting their own wishes on the children's future. These parents tell themselves they love their children but limiting the freedom of the child to choose their own path in life is often more a reflection of the parent's self-love and need for pride than real love  and respect for the child.

While many psychiatric problems may indeed have a firm origin in childhood and in "wrong" parenting, for most adolescents and later adults it is a complex interplay between the personality, intellect, emotional and spiritual status of the adolescent/adult and the parenting. So true, parenting styles affect us life long but it is by far not the only thing. A lot of adolescents with major problems have siblings who do not have such problems, even though they had the same parents. Sure enough parents do not treat all siblings the same way but the role models stand.

I'd love to conclude that parenting is a very important task. It deserves a lot of thought and reflection and effort to make the right choices as parents. But as adults and even adolescents, we cannot blame all of our problems on our parents. The choices we make are ours. Whether or not our children become successful is the result of an extremely complex interplay between parents, children and any outside influence. 

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