Inner Child Mortality

Child mortality has been dropping around the word for decades, but what about the mortality rate of the inner child?  From what I have observed, the inner child of most people, even in developed countries, gets stuck in a state of suspended animation forever, such that most people die inwardly before they even become adults.  Their emotional traumas overcome them and snuff out their spirit.  Their family systems convert their minds into deadness.  They lose their creativity and wildness, they block out the emotional reality of their childhoods, and they become automatons.  They survive in order to live for comfort, happiness, and emotional camouflage.  They become the norm.

The inner child mortality rate the whole world over is profoundly high.  Yet the people who take the statistics and rule the governments and make the children and devote their careers to “educating” them are by and large dead themselves, and part of their deadness involves ignoring this.  They lack connection to their own inner psychic nutrients and instead get them from feeding, like vultures, on the energy of the vulnerable ones who are still alive.  And because this is so normal no one bats an eye.  It is indefensible, yet families and society are structured to defend it.  And the easiest way to defend it is to say that it’s not even happening.

It is a painful thing to wake up — and to fight for your inner child.  It breaks rules.  It angers the norm.  It enrages parents.  It puts a target on your back.  And it hurts.  It hurts like hell.  It hurts to rip down the psychic prison wall and feel the old traumas, the old longings, the old memories.  It hurts to grieve, to feel the rage, to confront the perpetrators, to break the denial.  It hurts to shed the mask of comfort and walk into the despair.  It hurts to reject the fantasy of one day being loved by those who never really loved you and instead drank your psychic blood.  It hurts to leave the family system behind.  It hurts to stand on your own.

Yet this process of waking up, and this alone, is the pathway back to life — to a long, healthy inner life.  This is the cure for inner child mortality.

39 thoughts on “Inner Child Mortality

  1. How do I snap out of automaton please! I want to heal this fear. I listened to a garbled message of a child yelling and it said “I don’t wanna die!!!” to me. Others heard differently but that’s what I heard. I admit I’m on autopilot A LOT. How do I let her live and flourish??

  2. Frankly, my inner child WON’T die and I wish it would. It is unbearably painful to be constantly inspired by wild ideas of buying land or moving someplace remote and being free while knowing it will never happen. Having to smack yourself upside the head for trying to break out of the mold, reminding yourself things will never get better and you just need to accept it. Our inner children are killed for a reason, the world we live in today isn’t made for them. We ARE automatons and heaven help anyone who tries to be otherwise. I can’t even count the number of times life has smacked me down for daring to try and improve myself or my position in the world. We just aren’t meant for it. Maybe there’s a few lucky ones out there with the resources to follow our dreams but the rest of us…it’s not going to happen.

    All too often you see “Follow your dreams!” but no one points out that those dreams often cost thousands of dollars. For someone like me, who agonizes over a $10 book? I will never have that. Hell, I’ll never even own a home. I’ll never retire. I’ll be an automaton my whole life and dear god I wish I could just accept it and my inner child would shut up because I’m really getting sick of having mental breakdowns over it.

    • Dear Alyssa. We are all a work in progress living in a system that grows increasingly cruel and cold where money is considered the only transaction to life. Many of us have had to endure unspeakable trauma[s] and disappointments with life in this system. Freedom, I believe comes with acquiring inner peace with the God of the Bible who promises to bring peace and abundance to the earth, and remove this current system. That time is very close. He wants you to know him and trust him, that he see’s you and loves you. I hope you can find this and experience the freedom it brings. True healing will take place for all of us in the paradise to come. I wish you the Peace of God.

    • Alyssa, the words you write ARE your inner child. The dreams you have are your own . It’s your inner child causing all the defeatist ruckus and what you need to consider is to agree to put your dreams away in a safe place for a bit so you can sit down with no time restrictions to talk to your inner child and ask her why she’s so dead set against you not taking on your real, adult dreams. She’s scared and won’t let you do anything you want…but exactly why? She’ll tell you. Once you know….oy can find was to nurture her to where she feels safe in your world..
      THEN she’ll also help you find the one place or way you need to make your dreams a reality. If you don’t work with her…she will forever block you. For such a strong inner child as you exhibit, your dreams will be a cinch once you get her on your side.

  3. Daniel, you write beautifully and your words definitely spoke to my experience too! Doing inner child work has brought so many feelings and degrees of feelings that have at times been scary to experience in the moment. My brain is not sure I will survive those emotions! This has mostly been grief, some anger, and a lot of compassion. I started this work in 12-step rooms, but then got introduced to Richard Schwartz Internal Family Systems Model and have used that with a lot of success. I got the InnerActive Cards for Parts Work that have been really helpful for me and then the adopted children I work with to do the early childhood trauma therapy. Your writing has helped validate the hard work and encourage me!

  4. Hi Daniel,

    As someone who walked this path in social isolation, I have to commend you on your bravery. Yes, I (may still have) many arrows sticking out of my back as a result of my inquiries and attempts at self liberation, most of them coming from my immediate family. So kudos to you. During this acknowledgement phase. I drew much strength and encouragement from such writers as Alice Miller, (Thou Shalt Not Be Aware: Society’s Betrayal of the Child). And Paul Brunton (The Sensitives). And the example of my dearly departed sister who forced issues into the light while she was with us. Working my way through personal shadow land eventually led to a spiritual/shamanistic path which the trauma was blocking. Painful memory still arises, but the only way I have found across that threshold is a complete dropping of judgement against self (for allowing the betrayal) and others (who eventually face their own shadow self). Of course, this last line of action may take the rest of my life. For me now, meditation and yoga are two avenues that help to release blocked emotional energy. Along with awakening comes the awareness that humanity must face not only its own misuse of one another, but of our habitat and the habitat of al living things. As we are slow to turn this ship around, events set in motion (cause and effect) may call higher purpose out of us, like child-shamans being dragged into initiation by the universe.

  5. Daniel,

    Thanks for tackling a tough topic and giving good advice. I know this horrifies some people, the idea that they need to break with their families — especially their parents. Maybe what really needs to be broken is the financial and emotional dependency on the parents, so that they are no longer looked to as the ultimate authorities and rescuers in problematic situations. And maybe this is not as “dangerous” with parents as it is with others in our adult lives on whom we project the authoritative/rescuing parental images, because these others rarely live up to our super-trusting expectations. (Conversely, if we had “bad” parents, the later others in our lives may not live up to our super-distrusting expectations.) I myself was lucky enough to have had good parents, even from a rebellious teenager’s point of view, but it was the lessons of rebellion that gave me the insight and courage to resist the blandishments of psychiatry during my difficult passage from adolescence to adulthood. I didn’t project the “good parent” image on the psychiatrist who tried to medicate me and instead did everything necessary to stay away from him and his “treatments,” which I saw would keep me in the immature dependency mode indefinitely. My heart goes out these days to the trusting parents and their kids who literally turn their lives over to these glorified drug dealers. They do their worst damage through “good parents” and obedient patients.

    • My parents convinced me and mental health professionals that my rebellion, rage and depression were bipolar. My mom, being intrusively controlling, convinced me I would never make it without my family to fallback on and that she “was the adult” so had a clearer idea of what my childhood was like than me. I am a product of the mental health system since 1989 from a result of emotional neglect, verbal abuse and periods of long term abandonment by both parents at different times. As a result, I’m addicted to high powered psychotics. I have been through so many therapists that let me pay them to run my mouth with no insight on their part or treatment plan. At 42, I’m thirteen months out of a physically, emotionally and sexually abusive marriage. The first 10 months separated with my two teenagers from my second marriage I spent pretty much bedridden from a relapse of Chronic Lyme Disease. I’m still dissociating some with medication, but eventually they quit working, you start feeling emotions for the first time ever AND realize that’s a healthy thing to do, that my emotions and behaviors are a normal reaction to being told I was stupid all the time and to conform and be like my parents or face rejection, which is exactly what happened. Being told I was stupid and was mentally ill by them and a whole mental health system all my life made it easy to believe my abusive husband when he said the same. My anger can be misdirected, but I recognized I am grieving around the beginning of the year. I’m trying to get in touch with the human palette of emotions that doctors suppressed with medications that I am working on weaning off of. I’m learning to identify feelings of discomfort, where they stem from and allow myself to feel them and pass through me. I let a whole, sick society tell me that I am pathological, when in fact, society is. Scared to move through the grief, but even more scared of stagnating where I am. Your comment brought this stream of consciousness up as did a video Daniel made on YouTube I just watched but can’t remember the title. Good to see others in touch with their intuition on the matter of “mental illness” as my childhood programming from my family and professionals no longer works with my new “operating system”.

  6. Hi Daniel, thanks for your post. As always you are thought provoking and profound. This post contains a brilliant, beautiful and painful idea but it is wrapped in an untenable argument: the abolition of the family. People want and need families – even those without families construct post modern versions of them through collections of “friendly familiars”. It is a human need to be cared for by intimate others; we can’t simply go it alone. And most of us want to be embedded in families that are inevitably – arguably necessarily – imperfect. The line *must* be drawn around abuse, certainly. And we must name abuse even where it has been normalised (as you do so well Daniel), but few would benefit from rejecting their families entirely. I have workedwith a client doing this because her family were profoundly toxic but it is painful and risky because there aren’t a whole lot of viable alternatives (certainly therapy ain’t it). Perhaps you are suggesting we break down the lies and invite our families back on the bandwagon of our lives if they can hear that? Or we try to do better with our own families? We try to love our children in their wildness and their truth? Or is that impossible for you? I know this is what I want with and for my family both my family of origin and my family of creation.

    • hi petra — good questions. i think i addressed most of them in my book “breaking from your parents.” ( )

      i think in general it’s best for people’s growth if they do find a way to break from their parents, but it’s so hard! and for some people it takes a long time. but at the same time i don’t go around recommending that anyone break from their parents, as in, i don’t suggest it. it’s a personal choice, totally. i have gone back and forth with my parents myself. ultimately i chose to be away — and have found it quite liberating in the end. though hard as hell to get here…..

      all the best!

      • I think the context of all of this is modern culture which is toxic for families. Families are very stressed and I see that undermining the wonderful potential that family with one’s birth parents and extended family and friends has to offer. There are many dynamics which impinge on families. The need for Grace, love, boundaries, negotiating, etc will always bring opportunity for greatness or failure , because we struggle with our lusts and self-interest , and our physical limits and mortality. I also think it odd for change agents to refer to the patterns of nature to advocate for some things , but to ignore the patterns of nature at other times when it is inconvenient. It just makes sense that the birth parents and child would have a special bond and that freedom would not mandate the destruction of that bond. I do see the need to affirm my children’s need for independence, just as I needed it. At the same time, I know that it would be great to have my parents alive again to share phases of their grandchildren’s lives with me. However, I do not think that we should make couples feel as though they have to birth children. The world has become a very difficult place for raising children BECAUSE of the political exploitation of them.

      • Thanks Daniel. Perhaps you cover this in your book, but I am wondering why in general it is best for people to break away from their parents? Surely there are distinctions between loving and successful families (parents), ordinary, average “good enough” parents, poor parents and abominable abusive ones. Doesn’t this make some difference? Surely it needs to. The a priori assumption that parents are toxic is problematic and loses the insight embedded here that all adults have grieving to do about their childhoods and that many people are dead inside. Isn’t it possible, indeed preferable, to become alive *with* those we love?

        • hi petra,
          sorry, i wish i had more time to reply properly!!! yes, i do see differences in the quality of parents. but i think most are a lot less good than they think they are…..and hurt their kids a lot more than they realize. i would not say i’m assuming parents are toxic, i would say i observe it. and when i see what happens to their children — the depression, the drugs, the lostness, the anger, the other problems — it’s not so hard to put some of the pieces together and trace it back to the family. of course, it’s not just parents that cause problems for kids, but my observation is that they are the primary cause. all the best — daniel

  7. I’m not sure if my last comment was posted, although my info was retained.

    I am just saying that the child is forgotten beyond time. We are all here to rediscover children and to rediscover childhood. Children… habitually they are not looked at as humans, while they are the real humans. They are some weird creed, people don’t know them. The forgotting of the child is the forgetting of the human. I write in the past tense there, so to speak, because the forgotting of the child is in our past, while the forgetting of the human goes on every day. And we have to relive children. We have to reinstate children. Give them their proper positions as harvesters of truth. Children are wonderful and they are often seen as anything but. And all the same people think that their perspectives on children are so wonderful. But they are being belittled every day, turned into lesser humans. That is my gripe, and my misery. My profanity and my profoundness. My hate and my love. I have yet to discover my own youth… fully. It is hard to tell it. People are so mired in their illusions. A woman expresses to me “Having a child is a very selfish deed.” in response to my “Children are not looked at as children, but as unhumans.” What to make of it, what to do.

  8. Maybe you should look at the positive aspects for a bit:

    Because children are so habitually turned down it creates the opportunity for people in their elder years (or even those who are slightly older) to relive their youth and make do what was wrong. It creates the opportunity to rediscover childhood… but now from the perspective of an ‘adult’ if such a thing would exist.

    Eyedea (from Eyedea and Abilities, rapper) sings: “The concept of adulthood is dead; my dad left scars on my back when my notebook was read.”. Children are habitually turned down and forgotten. The child is forgotten. People do not really know what children are. They have no concept of what it pertains. Childhood is at being rediscovered, it is up for being rediscovered. Jesus said “Become as children”. But people hardly know what children are, because they look at them from parenthood. Taking away rights. Introducing nightmares.

  9. You seem very broken in your assessment of the family system. I don’t hear your acknowledge the good of the family system. Do you really believe that it doesn’t exist?

    • I think its interesting that you would mention this. As far as I understand, the current family system is extremely dysfunctional. On average, parents are not connecting with their children, they do not provide the love and comfort children deserve, they do not spend enough time with them, etc. So by its very nature, in our current dysfunctional society in which behaviours such as spanking, “time-outs”, circumcision, yelling, etc. are not ostracized, it makes sense that the family system would be corrupt. For it not to be, would require or create a social revolution.
      Daniel stated “It hurts to leave the family system behind.”; which I believe is the truth. Regardless of how well you were raised anyways, children must eventually leave there families (whether it be emotionally or physically to grow up). It is almost inevitable that there are lingering feelings of abandonment and need that were not met as a child which would come up at this time causing pain. Leaving one’s family, whether it be positively or negatively, as far as I understand, the person will be drawn towards their previous patterns or feel extremely hurt while breaking these patterns.
      Does this make any sense? This is simply my interpretation.

      • Hi Carol,
        I pretty much agree with Jake — that the family system in our modern world is highly problematic. yes, some are clearly better than others, but in general i think they’re more harmful than good for the world. i think it’s better for people not to have kids and to try to clean up their acts. most people are so incredibly unconscious they don’t know what they’ve passed on to their children from their own traumatic childhoods, because they don’t really even connect well with their own histories….
        all the best,

        • Hi Daniel,
          I am somewhat curious; are you suggesting no one should ever have kids?
          It seems to me like the people reading your blog (and you!) would be the people ‘the world’ would want to have children. Certainly dysfunctional people will breed anyways so should we not want those who have limited their dysfunctions and lack of abilities, who have the capacity to love, to have children.
          Basically, given that the more dysfunctional people will breed anyways, wouldn’t we want people like you to have loved, not-hit, etc. children.
          Perhaps this is too much information but you actively pop up in my head and I think “Wow, imagine if Daniel was my father”. You are someone who truly cares about other people — surely you would be a great / better parent than the people who won’t think twice to breed?
          Does that make any sense?
          Have you written a response to this anywhere else I can look?

          • This post indicates a surprising lack of awareness about parenting and a fantasy regarding “perfect parents”. There is no such thing and, if there were, this would only breed entitled unpleasant adults. Dealing with ordinary human limits is an important lesson and learning that the spectrum of emotions, including the so-called negative emotions of anger, sorrow, grief and despair are *normal* and our that parents experience these too is also important. Parents are fallible just as we are. The assumption that there are people – including idealised people such as Jake experiences Daniel – who are beyond negative emotions, failure or mistakes is dangerously myopic. Certainly,there need to be distinctions in place regarding toxic and nourishing families; however, the fantasy that there is a utopia outside human failings and limits , Even if these categories are re-evaluated to include actions that are currently “normal” but actually abusive, we are still working with ordinary, fallible people.

            There is a eugenicist dimension growing out of this perfection fantasy suggesting who can and cannot have children based on an arbitrary (and fairly ignorant) notion of what constitutes a good enough parent or person. We are *all* capable of “good” and “bad” and we all harbour both dimensions in our character -whether we call it our shadow (as Jung did) or the unconscious (Freud) or evil (religion). We move into dangerous territory when we start assuming that only some people have a shadow and we “enlightened ones” lack that. I don’t think this is what Daniel is saying but this is what Jake is saying and he is underscored by Daniel’s reading of the family as intrinsically abusive. I think more careful distinctions are in order and less projective idealisation.

            • There are not and will never be “perfect parents”.

              The most important part of any relationship is not how perfect and unflawed it is. It is in the resolution, the coming back together where we develop empathy and resilience.

              At this point in history, there is no coming back together with most parents. I got a measly “Yeah, sorry about that childhood of yours!” for the first time from my mother on her death bed after years of abandonment, neglect and abuse that I am still attempting to recover from.

              There is no attempt to repair the abuse. In most cases, there is barely any acknowledgment of wrong doing in the first place.

              I have never anywhere seen Daniel claim that anyone, including himself, is lacking a shadow side.

              Those of us who are actively doing painful and healing inner child work are not practicing eugenics by choosing not to have children.

              We just find that the fervent desire to reproduce (such as the compulsion experienced by people who are not doing this work) is just not there.

              The implications of this tend to piss people off (namely, parents).

              I have personally found that the things that trigger me emotionally or make me angry tend to carry truths about myself that I am unwilling to face.

              Something to think about.

              • A few replies here:

                Thanks Carol. I have enjoyed reading your replies too.

                Adelle – I hear that you are doing painful inner work around inadequate parental or maternal care. I know this is hard and it is not fair. Where I come unstuck is with this assertion:

                “At this point in history, there is no coming back together with most parents.”

                It is just too great a generalisation to make based on your own experience. I did not suggest that Daniel said we do not have shadows. I believe Daniel is an enormously humane and insightful thinker. However, I think Jake’s reply carried the seeds of idealisation and eugenics (e.g. “Wow, imagine if Daniel was my father”). While we can agree in the abstract that abusive parents shouldn’t have children, deciding what constitutes abuse on the ground is difficult – e.g. sexual abuse and “time out” are vastly, vastly different). I certainly wouldn’t want to empower any politician with this choice. Moreover, the decision not to have children – itself an historical achievement made possible by the confluence of modern technology and the feminist movement – is not tantamount to eugenics. I would certainly *never* make this argument. Not having children is a valid and authentic choice. However, this doesn’t mean that having them is by definition invalid and unhealthy.

                My point is that the abolition of the family system on grounds of its imperfection is untenable because most people want and need their families. When we don’t have families or we break away from them, we re-create new ones with friends and significant others who share our world view. While it may be necessary for some people to cut off from toxic families/parents we cannot make the slippage that this is the new norm (or else people are in “denial”). My suggestion is that separation must be assessed on a case-by-case basis, not, as Daniel in fact said, recommended to all.

                Similarly, having children or loving them imperfectly is a multifaceted phenomenon that cannot be reduced simply to the wish to perpetrate abuse. This is far too blunt a reading of a complex bio-social process.

                We cannot we assume that if someone holds an alternative view it must be because they are defensive or in denial.

                Lastly, I think there are quite culturally specific biases here around going it alone, breaking from our families, expecting specific kinds of individualised nurture etc. These are the products of a western, individualist culture. In the spoof Stuff White People Like, #17 is “hating your parents”
                While this is a silly send up and doesn’t do justice to the real abuse that many experience – it does make the observation that “hating your parents” is an elite cultural phenomenon. That too is worth thinking about.

                • “Wow, imagine if (someone different from the real one) was my father!” doesn’t seem so terrible for me. Time ago some kid said it to me, and, knowing his parental situation, it sounded pretty wise. Me too, not so many years ago (i’m 44) felt something similar firstly for my real father (when i broke my mother’s scepter of householder), then for Carl Rogers, then Alice Miller.. I find that if we can see it as a temporarily step for free us from toxic bonds, we can pass through.
                  I think Jake is in the “process”, also because his question is similar to one i asked myself. See you in the appropriate section, Jake!


            • hi petra,
              i think you’re off-base on several things. i don’t think jake is idealizing me, and i find it bordering on rude to say that, or perhaps just plain rude. i never got the sense that jake said i was perfect, and i certainly never claimed to be. i still have my issues. but i’ve been told by a lot of people over the last fifteen or twenty years that it’s a pity that i don’t have children because i’ve worked with them a lot, children tend to really be drawn to me, and i like kids a lot — because they can feel that i love and respect them. and it’s their parents — usually average people, the kind who wouldn’t like this website! — who tell me i should be a parent, and that they’re confident that i’d be a good one — way better than average. are they idealizing me? i don’t think so. i think what they’re saying is accurate. thus, is jake practicing “projective idealization”? no, i think not. i think he’s actually quite sensitive and insightful, especially given that he’s never met me, never seen me interact with children, and figured out what a lot of others before him figured out with a lot less data. i also thought it was brave of him to say. few people would say such a thing publicly. so the reason i think what you said was borderline rude was that you missed all this — and instead analyzed him incorrectly using professional jargon. it’s hard to defend against that. i have been a victim of that jargonizing myself, and i know how much it hurts. i liked how the therapist herbert strean put it: “diagnostic name-calling.”

              as for what i (or jake?) said having a eugenticist flavor, quite the contrary. i never suggested forcing certain “unfavorable” people not to breed. instead i suggest that healthier people wake up, look around at what’s happening in our world, and not have kids. i believe we have a mission that is much more important — and i for one am trying to live that mission.

              as for the idea that a person can become fully healed of trauma — why not? i think people can someday have no “shadow.” i think it’s a great goal. after all, we are all created perfect, and life (parents taking the lead) started crumbling our perfection. i think the best of us is what makes us human, not the worst of us. and as for the good-enough mother concept, i really don’t like that. perhaps you’d be interested to see what i wrote about that some years back:

              i’d probably write it a bit differently now, but my basic ideas remain the same.

              all the best,

              • Hi Daniel,

                Thanks for your reply. I enjoy your ideas and thinking a lot – especially your anti-psychiatry stuff, critiques of medication and science. However, I think we disagree on the idea of innate “perfection”. It is an idea derived from Rousseau and the Romatics that presupposes humans are inherently good and simply get damaged by “society”. I think humans are born with both “good” and “bad” (to simplify the matter) and that it depends on both their individual dispositions and their social context (resources, support or lack thereof) how this plays out. I think it is a fantasy to imagine we can work towards a space where there is no shadow, although it’s a laudable one and one I strive for too, albeit knowing it’s kind of impossible. I mean I try to be a better, more caring, more responsive, more socially aware, more egalitarian, kinder etc person but I don’t imagine this work ever stops, nor that we can ever eradicate negative emotions such as envy, anger, hate etc. The best we can do is make them conscious and subject them to scrutiny. This way we don’t act them out, which is I think your point about parents; many have failed to do this work.

                Re: idealisation and the eugenic undertones inherent in saying who is and is not suitable to “breed”, I stand by my earlier interpretation.

                Re: fantasy and perfection. It is difficult to be objective about others’ opinions when they are saying wonderful things about us (exclusively). The thing about charisma and innovation is it always generates followers (ironically, this is a kind of parent/child relation). Therapy is the same, which is why, as you say, it can be disempowering for clients. An equal exchange involves give and take, differences of opinion, power sharing etc. In my view – and I recognise it is a partial one – wishing someone was your parent on the assumption that they would do a better job than your own parents – is a form of idealization. Perhaps not always but that was my sense in the way Jake expressed it. There is a projection going on regarding your capacity which, as you say, has no basis in actually interacting with you in real life. Nor is it tested by experience; that is, your own experience of being a parent. I remember reading a quote from Fay Weldon once that the childfree have a luxury that they can still imagine they are good people. God, so dark but there is a truth in there! Not because being a parent is *by definition* to be an abusive arsehole, but because we see and touch our shadows, because our own wounds return, because it is tiring and demanding. Being a parent is hard, and we do make mistakes, but we continue to love and self-correct. It is also so wonderful!
                Having said that, I share your view that much of what passes for “normal” fails to meet the needs of infants and children. I think babies and young children need intensive nurture – being carried, breastfed on demand, co-slept with and to be part of an active life of wild play, food cultivation and foraging, domestic work, family life, civic participation etc etc. Very few kids get that. Very few people have that! Most are stuck in bullshit jobs –
                Most live uncreatively and lack the means or the insight to change it, which is why change agents like you Daniel are enormously inspiring.

                So, to wrap up, my belief – and I accept this may not be shared – is that there are a multitude of reasons why we die inside. Shoddy, ignorant, unconscious and abusive parenting is definitely part of the picture but so is the broader context of late capitalism, patriarchy, racism, the food we eat etc. the same world those damaged parents (myself included) are in. This to me is a more rounded view. There is also the Buddhist insight that life is hard. Always has been. Always will be.

          • hi jake,
            i’ve written about it a ton on this website (if you want to peruse more) but for various reasons i think it’s incumbent on the healthiest people not to have kids. lead the way, work to heal their own traumas, set an example…. heal their own inner child. and the world has so many kids already — certainly it’s respectful of the earth for the wisest to lead the way in not making more.

            if you want to read more about this you can try these two sections of this website:


            lots of essays, but most are pretty short and to the point — all the best! daniel

  10. Your comments about the inner child and exploitation are right on, but are you proclaiming that the family system should be generally abandoned? If so, I totally disagree with you.

    • hi carol, in general i think it’s a good idea for people to break with the unhealthy sides of their family systems — but more importantly to break with those unhealthy sides that they have internalized within themselves. and since in general what i’ve observed is that this is very difficult for people to do, and that families generally resist it, it often comes down to people needing to break from their family systems in order to really grow much emotionally.

      • ok , I hope that you are saying that adult children need some time away from parents to give themselves a chance to think and feel independently and to observe other families, other relationships, to get deeper perspective, by comparison, of their own family experience. I agree with that. I do expect my kids to see and remember my shortcomings and struggles which do exist. I have a lot of perspective on that . I think I could write a book. We moms , and dads, have intimate talks about all of that. I still see the family as the crux of what it means to be human. My own hope in high school when I was enduring my own dysfunctional family life was, “The Lord puts the desolate in families.” I have learned a lot about that in terms of providential reality , potential, accomplishment and failure. And you are right, I did pass trauma on because I had been conditioned to repress my own needs. Therefore I did not sufficiently recognize how sensitive I needed to be at particular times. And yet, good was accomplished also. I attribute much of the good that I did learn to my father’s gentleness and many passages in the Bible such as 1st Corinthians 13, “the love chapter”, Galatians 5 – “the fruits of the spirit”, the Proverbs, and many other passages that spoke to me of loving and dynamic possibilities and realities. These passages gave me hope and that hope enabled me to receive love from others who demonstrated wonderful qualities to me. “Speak to one another with psalms, and hymns and spiritual songs” is another verse that Christians practice and that I believe has created wonderful voices in my psyche that always do me good and have sustained me through some very difficult times. Just as the slaves found strength in their spirituals, singing words of faith, hope, love are important tools for repairing the mind and spirit and moving forward. I know what it is to be trapped by the past and what it is to take steps of faith to break from the past. Faith and hope and love are so critical to overcoming the past. But, I don’t blame you if you look at my situation and think I am the perfect example of what you want people to avoid. I can understand, but I think that you oversimplify things just a bit and that has potential for a harmful trajectory as well.

        • For what it is worth, I am very happy your are being honest and reviewing the material on this site but I wonder why you seem so invested in having your children continue to communicate regardless of your actions. This is not to say what you did was wrong; but should we not teach children to communicate and have relationships with other based on their values, etc. rather than anything else?

          • Jake, I think you just read something into my paragraph which I did not say. That’s quite a loaded statement, “but I wonder why you seem so invested in having your children continue to communicate regardless of your actions.” That statement sounds like a baseless and suspicious insinuation. If this is what I can expect to take place on this site, then, I’m sorry Daniel, I will not give your audience any further fuel to twist my words. If a parent said something that twisted to a child, i imagine the child would be offended and not want to communicate. So let’s have an apology or at least an admission of hostile intent. I will not play games here.

            • Much apologies. That was far from my intent.
              My understanding from “I do expect my kids to see and remember my shortcomings and struggles which do exist.” was that you wish that they still see you regardless. Of course you could have been talking about anything you did; that was simply my interpretation. I apologize if you found it at all offensive.
              In any case, I hope I didn’t turn you off of Daniel’s material. I think he shares some of the most valuable and important stuff the world currently has to offer.
              Take care Carol, I wish you the best with everything. I am confident that given you are on this site, you are interested in supporting your children and other as best you can.

              • Jake, I will retract my reference to hostile intent. I can see now how your particular point of view could make that interpretation of my words which were only expressed from my point of view. Since we are not mind readers, we sometimes don’t anticipate just how specific we need to be in our communication, And when we read the words of another , we filter them with our own biases. But, by now, I think we understand each other better. I hope that your personal journey will be enhanced by the exchanges of ideas that are possible on these types of venues. Thank you for your kind words Jake.

            • I also agree that the way Jake wrote what he wrote was loaded and could have been gentler, but i think his sentiments are good and i am also curious about what he meant exactly. i like the idea of good dialogue here, though i recognize that this is a TOUGH topic and that you’re probably coming from opposite directions. i am probably more on jake’s side here in terms of point of view, but i am glad you are posting Carol and want to respect your point of view and learn more about it, even if my own is quite different. (for instance, i am not at all religious, though i admit i have found some comfort in the words of the bible, especially the words of jesus.) all the best, daniel

              • Thank you, Jake and Daniel.
                To Jake, I was referring in a general sense to my view that we never reach perfection in this life and that we all have memories of the past, good and bad. Hopefully the relationship is so healthy as to make it preferable to leave the past in the past so that we can enjoy the present . To Jake and Daniel, thank you for your patience. Daniel , I do value your insights on the emotional needs of children. It is a terrible thing to wound a child and shut him down. Very sad. Thank you for insisting that we face it and change….whatever needs changing.

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