[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.
Gaining this capacity requires that parents enter realms within themselves that are terribly painful: the realms of their own unresolved childhood needs which lie dormant and split-off in their own unconsciouses. This depth of the unconscious is so off-limits to most parents that it is even hard for them to conceive that it might exist. But it does exist, and their raging child is a externalized manifestation of it. Thus, the sooner the parents squelch their child’s rage the quicker they can return to their state of blissful denial of just how disturbed they themselves are beneath the surface.
Healthier parents try to appease their children’s rage through whatever compensatory means they have at their disposal – primarily through spoiling. Less healthy parents simply try to kill their child’s rage – by burying it.
If it were easier for parents to have accessed their own ancient, unresolved wounds they wouldn’t have had children in the first place. They would have instead gone within and reflected on their own painful truth, blamed and even confronted their own perpetrators, grieved, and ultimately healed through integration. But instead they had children to try to bypass these wounds and this healing process. They had children to rescue them from their history of pain.
This is a recipe for failure. And the souls of their children know this.