Table of contents:
- Omnipotence and Insignificance: Polarization
- Modernity: jumping to extremes
- Excessive demands
- What about a child in times of trouble?
- The idea of balance
Video: Motherhood: Omnipotence And Insignificance - Blogs, Society
2023 Author: Oswald Adamson | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-27 12:13
“A mother should …”, “She could have done it, but she didn't…”, “That is why she has such a child,” “Motherhood obliges…”, “A child is sick because his mother…” is familiar, isn't it? In contemporary public discourse, there are two ideas that neurotic mothers: the idea of omnipotence and the idea of insignificance. Today I would like to make them visible and suggest how to jump off this "winged swing".
Omnipotence and Insignificance: Polarization
To begin with, imagine a segment with “omnipotence” at one end and “negligence” at the other. This line segment has zero (center) and many intermediate points.
The parental omnipotence model
What is the idea of omnipotence in the topic of motherhood? It is not at all about the fact that "I can do everything." Rather, it is about the fact that "I owe everything", "I am responsible for everything that happens to the child", "I influence everything." It's about demonic influence. About the fact that the child's life is in the power of the mother (even if the baby is 17 years old).
In this model, the mother is at the pole of omnipotence, and the child is at the pole of insignificance. Actually, this is a centuries-old orthodox model, where the parent (mother and father) dominates the child so much that he controls his life. A weak or sick child could stop feeding and die. Children could be sold to work. The child in this model is something like a blank, a block, clay. He is an object, not a subject, not a person. They did not even begin to educate until 2-3 years old - many did not live up to this age. And from this blank, if you restrict, beat, frighten and teach a craft, you could raise a worthy God-fearing person.
Actually, this model has survived in many ways to this day, although in a milder form. It can be recognized by the idea of submission of a child to an adult, "respect" for an adult through non-expression of his opinion and special politeness, through decisions that an adult makes about a child until adulthood, on physical punishment, psychological pressure, and devaluation of the child's manifestations. By functional attitude: to dress, put on shoes, give access to education and treatment, as well as "drive in" the ethical principles of attitudes towards elders.
Let us remember that in this model the adult has maximum power over the child, he is at the pole of omnipotence, and the child is at the pole of insignificance. And also the fact that if we are talking about the vertical of power between generations, then here it goes from top to bottom, from parent to child, with a maximum gap.
The parent's nullity model
In the 50s of the twentieth century, a new humanistic paradigm began to develop in psychology and pedagogy (in Russia its influence has been noticeable since the 90s). Its importance can hardly be overestimated, since it was she who served what we now know about the importance of emotional intelligence, contact and affection, and non-violent communication. But then, as its extreme expression, there was an attitude towards the child as to the "original sage". This is the idea that a child is initially whole, wise, personality. He knows from a very young age what he needs. In the early years, he possesses the maximum number of abilities and talents. That is, the child was erected on a pedestal, to the shining height of omnipotence.
The parent was in the pole of insignificance. He was viewed as an aggressor who, with his limitations or inaccurate actions, “spoils” the child, interferes with the manifestation of talents, blocks development and makes him an unhappy neurotic. This is the time of great parental guilt and shame. The idea that it is possible to "spoil" or "break" the child became strong.
It is clear that in this model the power vertical is different: it goes from the bottom up (from the child to the parents). This creates many effects: parental insecurity, “all the best for the children,” ignoring one's own needs in favor of children. The child is uncomfortable in this scheme: he does not have experience and sufficient skills to forecast the future in order to be an effective leader. Namely, this was what was expected of him: that he would manifest his wise natural will.
Modernity: jumping to extremes
From mathematics, we can recall that extremes are extreme points. What happened when the two models met, collided? A period of "time of troubles" and mixing of models has come.
Mothers simultaneously found themselves in a position of omnipotence and insignificance
This formula is described as follows: "Everything depended on you, you could do everything, your influence is maximal, but you failed." The period of mother-blaming has come - accusations of mothers. The basis for this was numerous studies of the attachment of mothers and children, the influence of the mother's condition on the child's condition. These studies were very valuable, they promoted many social initiatives (for example, mothers began to be allowed to visit their children in hospitals, leave after childbirth increased, parents' psychological literacy increased, and a greater awareness of parenting appeared).
But the ugly consequence was the tendency to look for the mother's guilt in everything that happened to the child, be it aggression, shyness, antisocial behavior or illness. That is, the idea is this: everything depends on the mother, but her mistakes have a catastrophic effect on the child. Why are we talking about mothers? Because despite the expansion of opportunities for study, work and voting, the function of upbringing and caring for them remained at its maximum.
The ideas of accusing mothers influence so that the external process becomes internal: the Internal Critic picks up ideas of guilt and shame, and the accusation becomes self-accusation. Now, in order to be at the pole of insignificance, no external influence or stimulus is needed at all: we are doing an excellent job with it ourselves. The public presses not from the outside, but from the inside.
However, the inner always finds confirmation in the outer. From each microwave, messages are heard about how to raise children correctly, how to maintain hygiene in the house with a child, how to approach health improvement, from what age to teach and how to motivate him to study well and uncomplainingly attend 5 sections. And if not, then …
If you approach this critically and calculate all the time that should be spent, it turns out that there should be 3.5 mothers for one child. It should be borne in mind that there are requirements for a woman not only in motherhood: success in partnership; several entities; work with a good income, so as not to depend on a man; grooming; thrift and well-organized life; household psychological competence. And a woman who has time for all this should take care that the child has the best start in life. Yes, and for that to be a taxi mom too.
And in 100% of cases, to be honest, a woman does not succeed, because she is at home alone, and not three and a half. And then she falls into the pole of insignificance: “I had all the opportunities, I had to cope, I had to correctly prioritize, but I could not. I'm a failure as a mother. That is, it is at the pole of insignificance that a woman cognizes this polarization: she feels the tension of unattainable omnipotence, being in deep guilt and shame of the pole of insignificance.
To get out of insignificance, another leap into omnipotence is taken: "Now I will read a new book, I will behave differently so as not to injure him, and I will also find time to take him to English and bake cookies together on weekends." And again - it does not work, again guilt and shame, and a jump to the other pole.
No, there are moments, of course. Successful angles on Instagram, through which the appearance of ideality is created. Achievements of a child to be proud of. But all the same, the glance very quickly falls on what "did not have time", "should have, but did not do."
What about a child in times of trouble?
The child is also not sweet. He, too, is at the mercy of polarization. He is again in many ways a "block", only intellectual. It is necessary to squeeze out of it a “successful person” with “the best starting opportunities”. That is, in this regard, he is a subordinate person. And the better he obeys, the better the intended start. Here he is again a non-subject, since the parent knows better about the benefits of mental mathematics and prenatal listening to Mozart.
He must have time to attend a kindergarten or school, go to circles and sections (English, sports, swimming - a must), have time to play and be creative, walk 2.5-3 hours a day, chat with friends, spend time with parents and siblings in free, but developing communication. By the way, in order to be in time for everything that is “prescribed” by social stereotypes for a child, there must also be conditional “three and a half” parts.
But at the same time, the new paradigm gave the child many rights. These are the rights to be a person, to have an opinion, to be heard, to receive a warm emotional connection. That is, he must prove himself as a subject and insist on his own. So it turns out that both the parent and the child are entangled and jump from pole to pole. And this, I must say, is an extremely energy-consuming activity.
The idea of balance
I would like to invite you to reflect on what might be a support for mothers. So that there is a sense of confidence and balance in motherhood. Actually, this idea is not only for mothers, but also for partner parenting, which we will talk about another time.
Let's remember that this line has a value of "zero". But "zero" itself is of little use for us. This is some point, and parenting requires flexibility and daily decisions. And, therefore, you need to take some area from zero to the left and right. This will be a zone of movement for both parent and child.
Initially, I would say that power should be distributed from top to bottom. We will not talk about any "equality" between parent and child. The parent is legally responsible for the preservation of the child's life and health, his education and the availability of resources. It is also important that the parent is an adult, with experience, with a developed prognostic function. And if the parent has more responsibility and experience, then he has a position of power.
But what is important, parent and child are not polarized, they are close to each other. And this gives an opportunity for flexibility: the child makes individual decisions, shows independence. The older, the more. That is, sometimes the positions of power change, but under the control of the parent. If the child is exhibiting dangerous behavior, the parent "turns on" more power.
A mother who has found this "balance zone" feels differently. She no longer has the idea of omnipotence. She is aware of her capabilities and is honest about her limitations. Moreover, she understands that not only she herself has limitations: there are many parameters, including in the child herself, that affect the upbringing situation. There is an opportunity to outsource some of the functions, and not try to do everything on your own.
Now she is able to critically approach social stereotypes, how they are transmitted, for example, by teachers or doctors.
She formulates for herself as follows:
“I can do a lot, but not everything. Much depends on me, but much does not depend on me. I do what I can. I will not scold myself for not doing what I cannot."
Thus, by “cleaning up” the pole of omnipotence and all-responsibility in herself, mother ceases to find herself in the pole of insignificance. Yes, she worries if something does not have time, or the child does not behave too well. But she does not fall into the depths of guilt and shame. And due to the small amplitude, this downward movement is rather quickly replaced by upward movement, towards the search for solutions and stability.
In this system, many requirements are not imposed on the child either. He is no longer an “intellectual block”, but also not an “ideal sage”. Rather, he is a “junior partner”, influencing his life and family as a whole, having a say, but ready to be rejected if the parent deems it appropriate. There is no neuroticization with the idea of a “perfect start” and maximum learning. He gets the right to have his capabilities and limitations recognized and taken into account.
At the moment , the ideas of maternal omnipotence and at the same time insignificance are strong in society. The demands and expectations on mothers and also on children are prohibitive. Since it is impossible to fulfill them in reality - mothers feel guilt, shame, insecurity in their position, and as a result, complete confusion. A child who “did not live up to expectations” is no better.
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