My Intended Audience for

[I wrote this essay in June of 2011.]

Many parents have asked me, “Who is your intended audience for this website?”

This is often followed by their admission that they feel alienated or attacked by my writing.  Not infrequently, this is followed by a suggestion that I rewrite my website.  Although they acknowledge that some parents can be terrible, other parents, they say, are looking for help, and can’t get it from a website that labels them as abusers.

Although I recognize that parents need help, helping parents is not the primary purpose of this website, because parents as a group are not my intended audience. My intended audience is the child:  the child within everyone, the wounded self within each of us who was never fully heard, never fully recognized, and never fully nurtured by parents who themselves were never fully heard, recognized, or nurtured.  In order to speak directly and honestly to this audience, I take the side of the child.  If I did anything less I would fail at my mission.

But there is no reason why this website would inevitably alienate parents.  To me, it would only alienate those parents who are not strongly on the side of their own children, and their own child within.  I reflect on this whenever I have considered softening my website.  Those who want me to soften it are in denial and want me to accommodate their denial, just as they, with all of society’s backing, force their children, and their own inner child, to do.

At basic they deny the socially acceptable damages they have committed on their children, because acknowledging this reality would pressure them to engage in a most painful revamping of their identity.  How much easier to avoid this, avoid the reality of how alienated their children are, and instead ask me to play nice in the sandbox and revamp my website!

But I also reflect on how deeply alienated these parents were when they were children — and how alienated they remain from the best of themselves.  Who speaks for all of them?  Certainly not a softer website that absolves them and their parents of appropriate guilt.

But still, should I soften my website just a little?  It would be nice to have more allies in the world.  It would be nice if my psychology colleagues who loved my films about psychosis linked to this website.  And softening it could be so easy.  I could use gentler language, beat around the bush a bit, cut an essay here and there, not be so directly critical, occasionally turn a blind eye to my own conclusions…

But then I look within.  And my inner voice yells out the reply:  I cannot.  I cannot betray the child.  Not the child within me, nor the one within you, nor within anyone — not even the child within the mother or the father who abused me.  And if my refusal to be yet another betrayer alienates parents, then so be it.  Let them go find their comforting messages elsewhere.  I see no lack of websites and books that quite effectively do that already.  I prefer to stick to truth.  I’ve only got one life and I don’t want to waste it.

8 thoughts on “My Intended Audience for

  1. I discovered I was pregnant at 39. I was in the ER after overdosing on prescription medication. Just one more self destructive act of a miserable, disconnected person. I feel my son saved my life. I couldn’t find a reason to fight for myself. I hated myself too much. But I fought for him. I’m still fighting. I have a long way to go, but I’m glad I’m here. As a parent, I am asking you to NOT soften your writing, videos. I want my eyes opened to anything I may be doing that could cause my son trauma. I want to be able to apologize to him, make changes in me, and continue on my healing journey. It is hard sometimes for me to see how I hurt him, and I feel a lot of guilt. I was not going to have kids and kids make me uncomfortable. But I see the problem is within me. Your message is important and I am so grateful I found you.

  2. Wow. How wonderful to have someone so unabashedly stand up for the child. My inner child feels stronger just hearing someone say that out loud. Thank you.

  3. Though I wrote to you about the hope for parents. Yes..this website has helped the child who lives inside of me. A very wounded child. She is getting better and your work helps me to help her. Thank you~

  4. “I prefer to stick to truth”… Daniel.
    It’s your perception of the truth,
    Not truth per se. Be careful, that arrogance/ ego/ don’t interfere
    With your perceptions. That, as I see it, is far more alienating than having my parenting ways confronted.

    • yes, true i suppose, Dolma. i can’t remember where i wrote it on my website (somewhere) but my ability or anyone’s ability to know truth is based on the degree to which we have resolved our traumas. so i never claimed to know truth fully!! but i sure prefer to stick to the truth, just as i prefer to stick to healing my traumas as a major mission in my life. but to say that i know truth fully: yes, that would be arrogant (and untrue).
      all the best,

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