A License To Procreate: Putting A Stop To Inappropriate Parents

[Written January, 2007.]

To get a driver’s license you must be able to see well, pay money, pass a written road test, and perform skilled driving under pressure – and the world agrees that this is appropriate. To get a therapist’s license you have to go through years of dedicated, stressful, and often annoying education, training, and supervised work – and the world agrees that this too is appropriate. Yet to become a parent, the most intense and holy of duties known to humankind, you only have to know how to do one thing: have sex. And you don’t even have to know how do it well.

Something is clearly wrong with our world. Continue reading

The Baby’s Manifesto

[Written around 2007.]

Translated into adult English from the look in the baby’s eyes…

I need parents who love me fully. I need parents who understand me fully. I need parents who can adequately translate the needs behind my cries…and my coughs…and my silences.

I need parents who are open to learn all they can learn from me. Continue reading

Imagine a World of Perfect Parents

[Written, December, 2009]

Imagine a family where both parents had fully healed all their traumas—and as a consequence became fully loving and supportive of one another, and fully devoted to being perfect parents for their child.

Imagine the role models they would be for their child.  And imagine the type of adult their child would grow up to become. Continue reading

Jesus Rejected His Mother

[Written around 2005.  Commentary in 2013:  Just to be clear, I have no clue whether or not Jesus actually lived as they said he did.  I take him to be a very unusual and mythological person, and that’s how I’m writing about him…]

Jesus was a warrior, and his prime enemy was the family.  He advocates open rebellion of children against their parents.  Take Matthew 10:34:

“Think not that I have come to bring peace to the earth; it is not peace I bring but a sword.  I have come to set son against father, daughter against mother, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law; a person’s enemies will be the members of his own household.”

Jesus says reject your parents, reject the lies they raised you on, and find the honest truth within yourself.  Continue reading

Everyone is His Own Hated Minority

[Written in 2004.]

Everyone is a hated minority in his family of origin. Parents who are not deeply healthy cannot tolerate a child being his own full, true self, which is how every child is born, and thus they must crush his most honest and radical parts. Parents were themselves crushed by their own parents, and in accordance with their own lack of healing must similarly crush each child they produce. For this reason each successive child rightly feels like a hated alien minority, despised by all until he gives up his truth and joins the ranks of the numb. Then he feels loved – though this is not a nurturing love at all. Continue reading

Father’s Day: Another Sick Holiday

[Written in 2004.]

Our culture celebrates fatherhood because our culture celebrates denial. Our culture does not celebrate the individual knowing himself, nor in any way knowing the truth of his father. Our culture celebrates honoring his false self. People who study their parents’ full selves are on shaky ground in this culture. If they step too far out of line the culture treats them as enemies. And with good reason: they are enemies. Continue reading

The Gravity of the Family System

[Written in 2004.]

The family system has the intense gravitational pull of a planet. It sucks everything into its orbit and shears off all rough and radical edges. If it has its way it never spits anything back into the universe. All it does is take and remold in its own image.

Those who escape the family orbit begin to form a gravitational pull all their own. Their force of character increases and their convictions grow firm. They no longer have to view the universe through the refracted lens of family distortion – and unresolved childhood trauma. Continue reading

Adoption Is Not the Enlightened Way to Have Children

[Written around 2006.]

People who are not fully enlightened have children to be rescued by them. This goes for parents who adopt as well as for those who procreate. Those who adopt at least are not responsible for the creation of a new perfect existence to be twisted, which is good, but this does not change the illness in the motive. And often it makes the illness more virulent, because many adoptive parents feel more justified acting out their unconscious needs in exchange for the service they’ve done. Continue reading

Spoiling A Child Is Not Love

[Written around 2006.]

A spoiled child is an enraged child. Children become enraged when their deepest emotional needs get neglected. Most parent advocates argue that firm limit-setting – and even punishment – is the antidote to spoiling. This is untrue, and only ignores the depth of the problem. The real antidote to spoiling is that parents find ways to meet their children’s needs. Children who get their deepest needs met never become enraged – and would never put up with being spoiled. Such children have nothing to be enraged about. And yet, most parents lack the capacity to meet their children’s deepest needs. And figuring out how to gain this capacity is simply too hard for most parents. Continue reading

Children Own Their Parents

[Written around 2005.]

Unconsciously most parents believe they own their children. Parents believe that because they have created their child this child is parental property. In reality, however, parents have it backwards: It is children who own their parents.

To grow strong, healthy, and fully emotionally mature, a child needs parents who are completely devoted to him. This is a parent’s primary responsibility in life. A child needs parents who care for him to the radical degree that they become essentially selfless – and yet, at the same time, have such strong and unwavering senses of who they are as individual adults that their connection with their emotional center is unwavering. Continue reading

The Spiritual Rights Of The Child

[Written around 2006.]

1) The child has the right to expect his parents to meet all of his needs – and it is their responsibility to live up to his expectations.

2) The child has the right to feel that he is the center of the universe – and most importantly, his parents’ universe. This is what allows him to grow optimally. Continue reading

Why Do People Really Have Children?

[Written in 2004.]

People procreate in an attempt to have their children rescue them from their own unresolved pain. They may couch their desire to procreate in concepts like biological drive, societal and familial expectation, and love for mothering, and these may all be partially true, but underneath these surface motives people who have not resolved all of their childhood traumas have children because they really just want to be loved. And this is not fair to the child, because no child asks to be born, and no child has the capacity to rescue his parents. Only deep healing – through the resolution of one’s own childhood traumas – can rescue people from their own buried horrors. Continue reading

The Good-Enough Mother: NOT GOOD ENOUGH!

[Written around 2006.]

“The good-enough mother…starts off with an almost complete adaptation to her infant’s needs, and as time proceeds she adapts less and less completely, gradually, according to the infant’s growing ability to deal with her failure…” [D. W. Winnicott, from “Transitional Objects and Transitional Phenomena,” 1951]

There are few psychology concepts that repulse me more than Winnicott’s ever-popular “good-enough mother.” This concept bothers me so much because it looks so good, sounds so sweet and gentle and humane, and yet is so false – and only rationalizes abuse. Mothers do not have to reject their child to help him break away. On the contrary, children naturally and progressively break away when they get all their needs met, just as the umbilical cord dries up and falls off on its own in the days or weeks after birth. Independence is a consequence of nurturing. Continue reading

Family: The Prototypical Cult

[Written around 2005.]

Cults are manifestations of the worst of the family system. They adhere to the same underlying dynamics of families but replace familial depression with an alluring, grandiose face, which is why so many underdeveloped souls seeking love swim in and get ensnared in their tentacles. And uncomfortable as it is to get swallowed by the beast, it’s an old and familiar tale – an adult recreation of the child’s dilemma of needing to fit into his family at all costs in order to survive. Continue reading

Three Differences Between Therapists & Parents

[Written around 2008.]

There are endless similarities between therapists and parents – including the nurturing and guiding role, the depth and intimacy in the relationship, and the existence of a power differential between the therapist and patient and the parent and child – but three key differences stand out most strikingly.

1) The initiation of the relationship

Child/Parent:  A child enters the lives of his parents after the parents have sex.  He enters the parental world as a completely perfect being – and as close to being a blank slate as he will ever be again.

Patient/Therapist:  Patients enter the lives of therapists through a referral (or self-referral) – and already damaged. Continue reading

Racism: A Safety Valve Against Hating Your Parents

[Written around 2004.]

From the perspective of the family system, the greatest crime for a child is to feel and express his legitimate hatred for his parents. He can feel all the love he wants, but when he flips the coin he is in big trouble. The punishment is rejection by the family, even ejection from it, and no child can face that. It would kill him. This forces him to put his anger somewhere else – somewhere safer. Continue reading

What Lurks Behind Guilt

[Written around 2005.]

There are two types of guilt: healthy guilt, in which you feel remorse for having done something that hurts the honest growth or healing process of another, and unhealthy guilt, in which you feel guilty for telling the truth. Most children grow up feeling incredible degrees of unhealthy guilt about their existences. They feel they’ve done something wrong simply by being, and from their family’s perspective they did: they were born honest. Continue reading

Critique of Judith Herman’s classic book, “Trauma and Recovery”

[Written around 2004.]

“A Strong Book with a Limited Perspective”

This book is brilliant – but short-sighted. From the introduction Judith Herman provides a clear paradigm for understanding trauma and recovery: “The conflict between the will to deny horrible events and the will to proclaim them aloud is the central dialectic of psychological trauma.” What she fails to understand is how this applies to her – and those like her…that is, everyone. Continue reading

Genetics Behind Psychopathology: A Convenient Excuse for Parents

[Written around 2007.]

By and large I do not believe genetics to be behind such psychological “disorders” known as schizophrenia, depression, autism, and bipolar. I believe that psychological trauma and other environment horrors lie at their root far more than most are willing to concede – or even imagine. And yet the psychological field so often promotes – however scientifically flimsily – genetic origins. Genetic arguments serve to protect the parents – and basically let them off the hook for their pathological, traumatizing behavior. This is convenient. Or is it? Continue reading

Eleven (Now Twelve) Situations In Which It Is Not Appropriate For You To Have Children

[Written in 2004. This essay, perhaps the most controversial on this site, appeared on the original version of iraresoul.com in 2004. I’ve gotten more emails, some of them quite angry or even hateful and threatening, regarding this essay than any other thing I’ve written. Many times I’ve considered changing this essay or taking it down, mostly because it was almost too stressful for me to stand behind, but then I’d reread it, and decide…that I still agreed with it. And so it’s stayed. Meanwhile, I’ve added a 12th situation…at the end.]

1) You are not fully enlightened.

If you are not fully enlightened it means you still repress some degree of unresolved trauma. We all have a compulsion to act out our repressed traumas on our intimates, and all the more so on our vulnerable, needy children – because they cannot refuse it or escape. Therefore, where you are not enlightened you will abuse your children to at least some degree. This is inappropriate. Continue reading