“Get Over It”? A Response to Empower Parents to Repair Instead of Victim Blame

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Family estrangement is on the rise, headlines read, followed by many articles about setting healthy boundaries, communication, self-care and emotional maturity. However, a recent article titled “Growing All The Way Up” (the online version is titled “The Words Every Adult Child Needs to Hear,” January 2024) in Psychology Today suggests adult children estranged with their parents take control of creating the life they want by “getting past old hurts” that they may have with their parents. It states, “In therapy offices and casual conversations, it’s common to hear people complain about how their parents ‘messed them up.'” The essence of the first half of the article is nobody is perfect, get over it. My concern is that this tone blames the victim and I would like to offer a few thoughts from my experience and from the rich literature on childhood adverse events.

Over the past 20 years of my career as a psychologist, I’ve seen thousands of patients from dozens of countries, and I’ve never met a single person who came into therapy blaming their parents for their problems. I’ve also led peer supervision groups and not a single psychologist has ever said the patient was stuck in blaming their parents. Not once.

Unhappy Woman In Converstion With Friend Or Counsellor

What I have witnessed are clients fearful of blaming their parents and “being like that”—fearful of being accused of blaming others for their problems. It takes a lot of painful work for them to recognize the harm caused and how it relates to what they are struggling with, for us to then move toward healing, growth, and change. I collaborate with clients to create goals and have never once noted “blame my parents” as one of these goals. Goals are more often about self-expression, self-care, forgiveness, and repairing relationships.

I have, however, had clients who came to therapy blaming their children for their problems. If only their child was this or that, all would be well. Statements such as, “I gave them everything, why can’t they just be…” or, “I had it so much worse, why are they complaining?” Working through the idea of having a “broken child” or their own sense of failure helps these clients get unstuck and move toward repair.

Parental Perfection Is Never Expected

The article states that people get stuck in parental blame such as, “I am irrevocably damaged because they weren’t perfect.” Deep work with my clients reveals that this is precisely a core message often instilled originally by parents (not the child) that the child internalized. Collaborative work in therapy often consists of unlearning this message and relearning how to care for themselves with acceptance, compassion, and love. No client has ever expressed the expectation that their parents should be perfect, but they have sought basic respectful, healthy interaction. The parents who want their children to “just move past it” are the ones struggling to take personal responsibility for the harm they have caused.

Repairing ruptures in relationships is frequently a goal of therapy, especially between adult children and their parents. The intent is not to blame anyone, but to appropriately place responsibility on people whose behavior caused harm. Failure to recognize this perpetuates self-blame for adult children, regardless of age.

Inherent Parent-Child Power Differential

The article fails to acknowledge that no matter what age, the parent-child relationship contains an inherent power differential between parents and children that usually, not always, means the parent holds more responsibility for the repair work. This is the tremendous power that parents have to lead the way in restoring the connection. This does not mean giving in to the demands of their child, but listening and yes, validating as is suggested toward the end of the article. I suggest this be done not in a “coaching” way, but in a deeply meaningful and therapeutic way.

Healthy Attachment Remains Central

The article also states, “There is a long, ugly history of parental blame—especially mother blame—from professionals.” It cites the “alleged” refrigerator mother of the 1940s as well as the rejecting and overprotective mother “allegedly” causing mental illness from the 1950s-1970s. The overwhelming research and well-documented evidence about attachment can remove the insincere tone of “allegedly” from these statements.

There is a preponderance of evidence that broken attachment between infant and mother, childhood abuse, and neglect, along with other adverse childhood events, do strongly predict depression and other health status and struggles in adulthood. Not blame; it is simply how nature works. Purely organic mental illness is a very small percentage of mental health problems despite the hunt for a gene or neurotransmitter cause. Too much is known now about epigenetic trauma and how our physiology changes in an attempt to adapt to stress, especially during childhood development, to perpetuate the “just get over it” mentality.

What is missing from this article are clear and wide pathways to relationship repair. This may be sorely missing from society in general and some basic repairing skills are necessary to facilitate familial reconnection. Repairing relationships can at times be a very simple process, yet can be challenging for people to take deep reflective looks at themselves, take responsibility, sincerely apologize, and take corrective action.

Will Admitting Fault Open the Blame Floodgate?

One barrier I have found working with parents who want to reconnect with their children is that parents can feel that taking ownership of something more than a minor transgression may open up the floodgates of criticism. In reality, when the recognition of harm is genuine and heartfelt, it leads to more peace and growth for everyone. Some adult children don’t even need an apology, they just need the abuse or harm to stop now. Some did not have other adult resources to draw on and struggle making meaningful adult relationships now. Many of them are ready to re-engage with their parents when their parents can be present in loving ways. In my experience, every child wants this.

Three Steps to Empower Parents Seeking Repair with Their Adult Children
  1. Reflect: Reflect deeply about mistakes you have made with your children. Seek help to face your fear of opening the floodgates of criticism. Work to manage your own perfectionism in order to admit your mistakes and work to identify what the core issues are. Take time to understand the impact you may have had, despite good intentions. Trust that doing this makes you a better parent, not worse, and it can lead to the connection you really want with your adult child.
  2. Apologize: “I am deeply sorry for causing you pain.” (Not: I am sorry if I caused you pain,or I am sorry you feel that way—these will lead to more damage, not repair). Only after you understand how you have hurt your child, offer your sincerest apology and actionable amends when appropriate.
  3. Follow-up: “Is there anything else?” This third step of follow-up is key. Rather than hoping it’s all done with now and can be forgotten about, check in with your child at another time and ask them if there is anything else you can do to heal this. Don’t fear reopening it. If you do fear it, let them know your concerns and that you are willing to face the discomfort for as long as it takes.

At each step, keep an open heart, one with good boundaries. Support and admire your adult child for stepping away from the relationship in order to seek healing. They had the courage to stop an unhealthy cycle from continuing and it is never too late for parents to do better.

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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.

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27 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Jessica,
    yeah, I wish my in-laws had been healthy enough to even contemplate what you have suggested. But they are both trauma victims themselves and so when I asked them to join me and their daughter on the healing journey, they just gave me platitudes (they are unable to face their own trauma and dysfunction, let alone what they have caused my wife/their daughter, sigh)…and so I’m left as her current, primary attachment figure trying to undo all that was done before I was ever even part of the picture, sigh…Yes, we are getting there 16 years later, but I wonder how much faster it might have been if her parents could have done what you suggest, sigh…
    Sam

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    • Dear Sam, I feel that sigh of disappointment and admire you and anyone attempting repair. Thank you for recognizing your parents trauma too – an intergenerational truth. Sending you the best for breaking the cycle on pain – even if not completely, it is progress toward a healthier world.

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      • I am curious if you are a parent? Your article made me recall my former therapist who I dearly loved beyond measure. She sort of reciprocated but never cross a line. She had cut off all contact with her mother. In her wish to envisage a better vision of good parenting she became parental with me. But I never once asked her to. My own mother had weaknesses and issues and struggles in her life. I read Alice Miller’s book long before it grew famous. I learned that parenting could be better, really for most people. But my therapist wanted me to be like her and stop contacting my mother. I kept refusing. One session had my therapist fuming about my love for my mother. I could suddenly see that my therapist was leading and not following my initiative or inspiration. She got angry at me for keeping my beautiful yet flawed and human and humane eccentric lovely mother. I mean angry. I felt upset that my therapist had fallen under some weird spell where suddenly I was to be my therapist’s therapist and meet her need for me to be exactly like she was. I got the impression I was to favour her idea of love and not my idea of love. She deserted her mother. I clung on more securely to my own mother. At some stage the therapy was NOT about what I felt I needed. In my mind that rendered the sessions not therapy at all but propaganda. My therapist wanted me to disown someone she had never met. Isnt that what narcissists do? I felt sorry for her that I could not fullfill her needs. In that regard she became a poster person for bad parenting. Ironically, one session, long after I had left therapy but just wanted a brief check in, she coldly told me the she couldnt be my mother. It was so very peculiar because I NEVER asked her to. Not once. I was quite fine about having my own mother. Years later I heard the therapist patched things up with her own mom, who by then was so elderly as to be lost to dementia. I have always been very happy that I never chucked my very kind and loving mother on some flimsy advice from a professional who had never met the woman. I now have decades of wonderful warm funny joyful enriching memories of times spent with my mother. She is one of a kind. She is beloved by strangers and has a long extended social crowd who all find her caring and endearing. Any therapist could, on the strength of my being schizophrenic, wrongly assume I was not well parented. But this “blame the parents” tirades coming out of therapy sounds to me like recruitment. It wont have escaped anyones notice that wars are exploding left right and center. A regime is brewing. A Hitler figure is arising. Hitler would have got nowhere were it not for inciting the amassed youth to scorn their parents and romanticise a perfect orderly uniform future. Cambodia had such a regime only decades ago. A drive to revile what is and replace that with utopia was a gleam I once saw in my therapist’s eye.

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    • Sam, how sorry I felt upon hearing of your cancer diagnosis. What a profound actual real time challenge or trauma you have had to bear through it. It would be nice to see an article from you about how you cope with it. I imagine it must feel odd to the newly diagnosed to suddenly have their “body” affect their “mind” in such a whole bodied way. We are our bodies. Anyway, only do what feels good to you.

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  2. “Get over it”, sounds like a double whammy.

    Blaming one’s descendants for one’s suffering, even misery does not sound narcicistic, sounds psychopathic to me, without diagnosing.

    A descendant claiming it really didn’t changed me sounds savant to me. That’s what Hemingway said of his torture and ECT outcomes.

    Trying to put into descendants the idea that it did, not only lacks causality and explanatory power, it sounds diabling to them. Surely one is more than the sum of one’s troubles. One can be in a way that trescends them even… not saying it is always the case though…

    Ingraining the idea that one’s parents irrevocably damaged someone, even if it is to expunge it, requires reasons to bring it up in the first place!.

    It is not only the parents idea, it’s the therapists one’s too. Per the review that’s something “achieved” by therapy…

    Putting in it there when it didn’t came to therapy and then removing it, it is not that way really!?, “you are not broken”?!, because it needed to be “wroked with it”, because one would not feel better otherwise, is just so God giveth and God taketh away, among others… an empty looking piece of work…

    And parents not taking responsability for harming their descendants does not start addressing the fact that one’s parents put themselves irresponsably in that situation without any prodding from their descendants.

    Responsability goes all that way up!. They won’t take responsability, probably, for having descendendants in the first place…

    There is also the opinion and preference that repairing one’s relationship with a “narcicist” or “psychopath” is not doable, it can only add to one’s harm. One can perhaps use time and effort in a different endeavour more succesfully, or more satisfyingly.

    Apology without explanation, except in the most simple, formulaic situations, is no apology at all. No parent will be able to EXPLAIN themselves. That would mean looking at one ugly picture in the mirror without anyone else to blame for MY actions. No one else…

    And I do get this article is intended for “parents” who can, or think can do better. But I don’t think it will help the majority of descendants. Granted, no one should suffer for things one cannot change.

    And the OTHER parents, I think, are way TOO aware of that. Among others, that’s why they blame their children and don’t go to therapy except to “whine” about their descendants, if only transiently, as per my guesses of this review and the linked article…

    Taking responsability does not mean owning anything. Responsability implies to each it’s own…

    “no relationship” is perfect, it is also not linear, not spheric, and not cubic.

    Focusing on one’s problems, imperfections, yuuuck!, will not make me grow flippers nor wings. But it might give me incentives to imagine I did with a therapists contribution for a fee…

    Humans are not perfect. Parents are human, Kids can be messy, there is no perfect childhood, everyone faces challenges, people respond in imperfect ways, the context involves anything ex-you, we all bring strengths and weaknesses, intentions matter, love means trying again, one thing is not the only thing affecting you, we have other relationships, etc., is circularity or several fallacies of relevance at least.

    The writer was on a Roll!, in the original.

    One cannot use those vacuous statements to build any cause, reason nor argument!, that’s ALL fallacious to begin with. And one has to pay money, time, suffering, etc., to perhaps come out conviced it was worth paying. When a priori there is no reason it should work: those are appeals to emotion fallacies…

    Which in itself might turn to be a sunk costs fallacy, to say the least.

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  3. Anticipating my comment won’t fly:

    https://pastebin.com/cA1tLKHz

    On a positive note, elaborating, I did not know most survivors of child abuse in the authors experience, as stated didn’t blame their victimizers.

    Makes me question if doing otherwise is reasonable given that victims don’t see it that way and went through the thing, as in lived experience.

    I can see not everything is like that, some violence does cause harm and probably is a reason, or the reason to look for someone else’s help, but… still, perplexing to express the following paragraph:

    “Over the past 20 years of my career as a psychologist, I’ve seen thousands of patients from dozens of countries, and I’ve never met a single person who came into therapy blaming their parents for their problems.”

    Reconciling, might be not that there is no blaming, but that there was no initial recognition that there was blaming going on: the trivial answer, that only humility, perhaps, can bring to light, not “understanding” nor “recollection”, and apparently neither expertise. Further pathologization just adds gravy, I think..

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  4. “There is a preponderance of evidence that broken attachment between infant and mother, childhood abuse, and neglect, along with other adverse childhood events, do strongly predict depression and other health status and struggles in adulthood.”

    Don’t you think that it’s highly unethical that the psychologists, who claim to be the “profession” who helps child abuse survivors, can NOT even bill to help child abuse survivors?

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/your-child-does-not-have-bipolar-disorder/201402/dsm-5-and-child-neglect-and-abuse-1

    Since this inability to bill to help child abuse survivors, results in psychologists denying and covering up child abuse, with their “invalid” DSM disorders, and neurotoxic poisonings.

    And this “victim blaming” by psychologists and their psychiatric partners is NOT a small problem, it’s a systemic problem with all DSM “bible” billers … and the paternalistic, systemic child abuse covering up religions, who have “partnered” with them.

    https://www.madinamerica.com/2016/04/heal-for-life/
    https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2019/01/23/18820633.php?fbclid=IwAR2-cgZPcEvbz7yFqMuUwneIuaqGleGiOzackY4N2sPeVXolwmEga5iKxdo
    https://books.google.com/books?id=xI01AlxH1uAC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

    I hope this systemic, paternalistic problem with the DSM will be rectified soon, and the “dirty little secret of the two original educated professions’,” systemic, multibillion dollar, medical / religious child abuse covering up “partnership” will be ended.

    “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” We have absolute corruption, of many powerful industries.

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  5. I like this article. I think there’s a big difference between blaming parents and wanting them to understand and care about the harm they’ve done. And parents who genuinely regret the harm they’ve done deserve a second chance like anyone else. We are all human, and I don’t think holding grudges helps anyone.

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  6. I remain quite baffled how strong a grip one’s childhood can have on one’s reflexes, and responses in life: the whole set of responses that are automatic. Added to that, not only society puts forth that children are there to be “disciplined” as if nature or God made them incomplete, but I am quite baffled how often one hears, from religious texts or other institutions, that one is to honor one’s parents. I never heard anywhere that I can think of, when such holy rules are put forth, that one should honor the uniqueness of one’s children, or listen to their story. I would even add that children have a harmony with the world that mostly, in our society, is taken away from them. I’ve never really met a child, at a young age, that doesn’t have an ability to relate to one’s thoughts beyond the limitations that are considered “sane,” or even possible. It’s really as if children are made out to be some raw material that needs to be exploited for the purposes of “society,” and added to that that’s more that they take on the ideology of said society, rather than if they have an innate talent it’s allowed to grow for itself, or even beyond the limitations said society believes in. Children are taught to hate the same enemies their parents were brainwashed into believing, creating extreme riffs and cleavages in society between people that, were they allowed to simply be human from the beginning, they’d be interested in the uniqueness of each person, rather than becoming sorted and forced into different groups that develop myriad ways of killing each other in wars, or anyone who dissents from the group. Each different group “defended” by people trained to not see those in other groups as human, but as enemies to possibly kill or mind control through violent intimidation through fear. The society’s with the harshest penal system have the most crime also, and yet everyone thinks that’s necessary for “harmony” within the society itself. And now that different groups could kill all human life on the planet 20 times over, this makes sure we are defended, something called over kill, if you kill everyone then the enemy is dead. It’s only in our society that such “strategies” are rewarded, you only have to look at what goes on with who is given riches, what that does to the mother earth, how there’s easily enough food to feed the whole planet but this is disrupted by the money market, and who would “loose” their debauched lifestyle or their idea of power would that happen, although the mother earth has made it possible? 30 billion would stop most of the hunger on the planet, and yet that hasn’t happened, in comparison to HOW MUCH is spent on being able to blow up, destroy, maim, kill, destabilize, dehumanize whole populations!? We do that to ourselves also when we invest in this “discipline” that it’s all necessary for “harmony” to be able to traumatize, coerce, or intimidate with violence and control with fear others; as if we weren’t all given the same spark of consciousness, don’t all have a unique part to play, and the ones that win are the one’s that are most able to play this game theory of “winning,” while they loose their soul, when people invest in believing people need to be trained to traumatize others…
    It has taken me more than half my lifetime being considered “schizo-effective” in order to become conscious enough of the “training” or “parenting” or “reflexes” that my parents put into the machinery of my responses before I became aware of it enough not to end up in this undefinable state called “psychosis,” when in reality I might be more psychotic then I ever was when so labeled in episodes when I stopped being “psychotic.” Because the very stuff I was supposed to push to the side as being non reality based I can understand now. The very stuff that would be considered undisciplined, and not worth anyone’s time. Fortunately, that stuff didn’t go away, despite my father’s severe attempts at pushing that to the side, and being confronted with the fact that he only felt relieved or comfortable when such was the case. What’s most scary is to what extent I wasn’t aware, even when I didn’t believe “psychosis” was what they make it out to be. Wasn’t aware and when aware didn’t know how to let go of such “reflexes.” Even when I knew it had to do with my father. It’s like the very strained thinking one is supposed to take on to find a solution for a problem failed, because the problem was in what had brainwashed me to find such a solution, propped up with the same strained thinking that wouldn’t allow me to see the solution. Anything not supported by such strain wasn’t valid thinking. My father finally moved out of the city, being so old a sibling would be taking care of him there, after my mother died, and I finally had the space to let go of these reflexes. The strain. It’s like just having the condominium where I could go to visit mostly, and have the stuff one saw as rewards through one’s whole childhood, why you can’t question your father’s limitations, and all the reflexes to go there and do whatever one does remained what kept the stuff underneath from actually emerging and being let go of. And then there’s the way the world makes out the space for letting go of such is doing nothing, because things happen by themselves, or very quietly without anything one can hold on to thinking one has “done” anything. It gets rather bizarre when we think our idea of being functional has created reality (“consensual reality deportment from statistical based norms”) or this kind of nonsense, these ego states would ever have created the miracle of what a child is that is only worthy when it “honors” its parents… Says who?

    It seems that no children can honor their parents, so why do they keep showing up huh?

    If you think of everything that goes into how a child is born, how it grows, and to WHAT DEGREE that’s stuff that happens by itself. And yet when that happens its like: “you’ve done nothing, all you did is watch the grass grow….”

    And the children, and the flowers, and the trees, and I listened to the quiet it all comes from…..

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    • Dear Nijinsky, Thank you for your heartfelt sharing. I agree that the message about each child’s uniqueness and following their own creatives paths is so key to us all working toward wellness together. Perhaps honoring ourselves helps us honor every sentient being. Warmly, Jess

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  7. Thank you for this article—it is a much needed response to victim blaming.

    Estrangement is sometimes necessary for the adult child- necessary for protection from ongoing abuse, necessary for healing, and necessary for learning what it feels like to live without the stress and anxiety of abuse, so one can learn to trust one’s instincts again.

    In my life, it was one of the hardest things that I ever did, and one of the best things I now realize I could have done. I doubted myself for a long time and my extended family and others were very judgmental without asking why.

    I was one of the fortunate ones who ultimately had a dad who could reflect the past in his later years after my mother’s passing, and who was willing to explore what had happened and ask for forgiveness- it was no small task on his part. We were able to heal our relationship and I am so grateful for I know that most people never have such an opportunity.

    Adult children who choose the path of estrangement should not be judged collectively. These cases are individual, and painfully, private matters.

    Abuse is endured by children, but doesn’t have to be endured as adults. Most of us are not talking about understanding human imperfections and foibles, we are talking about abuse.

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  8. Just had someone suggest to me yesterday that they hope I can move on and spend time with my parents again. I’m really confused and enraged by such things. I intentionally avoided looking at my relationship with my parents for 30 years because of what you are saying: my parents blamed me and my brother and so did I, I deserved everything I got and if I had been different they would’ve been too. I was well into adulthood and still saying stuff to myself like ‘she just cares about you, if you looked different she wouldn’t do this,’ when my mother would grab my stomach out of nowhere and shake it and start saying ‘when’s the baby due fatty?’ Or when my dad would dig his fist into the small of
    My back and wrench back my shoulders and say ‘stand up straight!’ Or when my mother would financially and emotionally blackmail me into altering a behavior she wanted changed without any care for the emotional underpinnings of it. My life was hell by the end of trying to appease society and my parents in this way. It was only through trauma therapy that I learned about listening to the emotions I was estranged from and setting boundaries: please don’t talk to me like that, please don’t touch me that way, if you say things like ‘you’re a selfish arrogant asshole and we should’ve given up on you years ago,’ because I don’t want to talk to you 3x a day every day, I’m going to treat it as you trying to hurt me and not as a statement of fact I need to hear. And it blew up! They both became increasingly dug in, punished me for setting boundaries, and castigated me for ‘parent blaming,’ even when I wasn’t saying ‘you caused all the trouble in my life,’ but was only saying ‘please don’t say or do this now.’ They refused to change and blamed me as always. So I left. If I hadn’t I’d have ended up in a conservatorship I’m sure, my mother is very powerful and connected. My brother IS in a conservatorship and they control what drugs he takes and treatments he gets. But now, I’m being told now that my anger is the problem again? That I ought to be in close connection with my parents while they’re abusing me and refuse to change, and it’s on me not to be affected by it??? How awful! Hardly anyone would say that about a marriage any more, but for some reason I now have to endure 30 more years of abuse and keep my mouth shut because society is pissed I don’t like it? It’s terrible. I’m not saying I’m perfect or that I always responded to them in the best way, but it’s not my fault they treated me like shit and messed with my mind and that when they do the same stuff now I feel crazy. Still the messaging is so strong in me that I ought to forgive and forget, meaning also I ought to be unperturbed by present day abuse and seek connection with people who chronically hurt me, that I live in perpetual guilt. I left out of self preservation and now i live in guilt. So the solution is I go back and get psychologically and physically tortured and be fine? Sorry, humans don’t work that way, I will deteriorate again. Obviously this is not what I WANTED. I gain nothing from this situation, only pain. But telling me to pretend the abuse never happened or go back and get abused now and be fine with it is morally repugnant.

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  9. I am fortunate in that as a young adult I had a deep conversation, with my mother, about my childhood.
    This started me on a journey of self exploration which finally took me to the realization that the old adage ” it is not what happens to you that defines us but it is our reaction to this that defines us. This is what makes therapy possible. You cannot change the past but you can change your mind and the 4 year old’s reaction to trauma is not necessarily the best as an adult. So while blame may be justified let’s instead focus on growth and understanding.

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    • “This is what makes therapy possible. You cannot change the past but you can change your mind and the 4 year old’s reaction to trauma is not necessarily the best as an adult.” That’s exactly what shuts therapy down. There never was anything wrong with a child’s reaction to trauma. What is this supposed to mean? A child wasn’t supposed to feel traumatized when it couldn’t express it? It’s exactly the adult’s responsibility to give the child the space to express what it needs to or what it needed to so that it can follow its own thoughts, make its own decisions isn’t controlled by “I can’t express this because that wouldn’t be adult enough.” Exactly what kind of idea of being adult is that supposed to entail?

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  10. People who live in the same house grow quarrelsome and bicker and go in a huff. Both sides claim to feel insulted or aggreived. Things get worked out organically. And soon there is laughter at how serious both sides got. Enduring relationships need tolerance. Tolerance is a superpower. Ive just been at the movies seeing the film The Zone of Interest. Intolerance sent 300,000 men, women and children to extermination camps in just three months. Given such numbers you might think the gestapo would take a bit of a rest. Intolerance seems to take on almost a fetishistic triumphalism that does not bode well for the human psyche.
    Tolerance is a superpower but Authenticity is also a superpower. There can be a tension between these in any quarrel. They are both valuable. Honesty, directness, soul baring genuineness, matter. Yet so does understanding, forgiveness, willingness to start again.

    My mother could come out with childish spiteful comments, as all flawed humans can. I used to feel angry but as I have aged I am so glad I learned to tolerate her impulse to pop the balloon of my mood. Now when she comes out with a biting remark I inwardly laugh uproariously at her cheeky impudence. Button pushers are no longer in my opinon to be taken seriously enough by me to allow their words to wreck an otherwise amiable lighthearted relationship. I now look upon such absurd remarks as being an invite to make my boundaries so strong that I can give tolerance without that allowance ever having power to reduce me to a quivering upset sulker. When I hear catty remarks from an old woman, or old man, I listen as if they come from an infantile impulse, as if its merely bickering, for a whole plethora of reasons…maybe boredom, dependency, loneliness, envy, smuggness, fear, sadness, loss, indifference, even callousness. These are all very human foibles. I do not want to be the person who is all fuss fuss fuss about glib phrases that come out of the mouths of weary people who were schooled to be outspoken. But I also feel that any relationship needs a bit of friction to help it be a place of release of tension that comes from stress elsewhere. The movie tonight was interesting in that it showed a cottage in a death camp. In the lovely cottage were a family trying to follow an idealized sense of love. The parents doted on their children. The outings were beatifically lovely, the garden was Edenesquely lovely. Love pursued so fervently by the family it somehow led to such blinkering against the hell of mass murder in the millions. I am a bit suspiscious of “things done in the name of love”. Every school bully thinks they are a great person who loves alot.
    Psychotherapy seems swept up into promoting idealized love, to which Intolerance becomes a complicit and necessary commandant.

    There has to be a better way of stopping real actual cases of negligance and abuse without extinquishing everywhere the superpower of Tolerance. Leeway, giving the other the Benefit of the doubt.

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    • Dear Diaphanous Weeping, I appreciate your points about tolerance. Perhaps it is like a muscle to be exercised. We might ask who and what are we hoping to be more tolerant? Hopefully each parent can tolerate feedback, even criticism, or at least hearing how their children may have been hurt. Then, move forward together on a path of repair. Best to you, Jess

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      • I do not have any need for anyone in my life to be more tolerant of me. That may be because I need nothing from others since I give tolerance to myself by myself. I was not always this mellow. In my youth I went around with a list of demands that other people should “change” in order for me to be happy. Yeah that did not go so well. I am glad I learned to bestow understanding and tolerance and give me what I needed without involving others. It used to be called inner strength. I think alot of people are aggreived because they have not learned to love themselves. If you give loads of love to yourself you won’t need to berate others for not being loving enough. I am thinking of indigenous tribal individuals going on Walkabout or similar rites of passage. Becoming your own person is a blessing. Becoming an adult should be attractive. These days it seems everyone wants to stay a kid. I dont blame them. Modernity has made adulthood into relentless human misery.

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