THE BAD PARENT -
doesn’t want me to outgrow it
Previous: Types of Self-Control (Part 4)
ARTICLE: “8 Styles of Controlling Parents”, & while on that site, click on ‘Statistics’!
Normal / Healthy: since children are not born with boundaries it’s a parent’s job to help them learn self-control (S-C), which is about setting limits with oneself, but forming it is a long process. S-C which is linked very closely to:
• how children feels about themselves, which comes from unconditional love, stability & guidance
• being taught how to deal with everyday frustrations & practicing those skills by making their own choices and decisions, when appropriate
To DEVELOP healthy S-C people need 2 perceptual faculties :
a. the ability to estimate time, in order to make decisions based on immediate as well as future outcomes. Young children cannot do this because they live completely ‘in the present’, so it’s not rational to expect them to have the same S-C as older kids & adults
b. the ability to direct attention away from a current event. This allows people to take time to evaluate situations, in order to make better decisions & weigh the consequences of their choices. Altho young children’s attention can be easily distracted, they aren’t able to consider alternatives or potential outcomes, so it’s inappropriate to demand it of them
• Children do best when discipline given with consistent, age-appropriate expectations & realistic consequences, but without constant punishment or power-conflicts with parents. They need the security of knowing the rules and limits of behavior – without which they feel uncared for & at a loss. The healthy goal is to guide & nurture them so they feel supported and valued, rather than judged and rejected.
Alcoholic PARENTING extremes
As kids, in most cases, we had to be totally obedient to survive & later to fit in – first with parents, then in school, religious community & work.
OVER: Most of us were given too many rules, assumed to be ‘little adults’, demanded that we be competent & self-sufficient way beyond our years. We were bullied & manipulated into being compliant on pain of suffering & death. There was no fairness, or leeway for our individuality. We submitted – or else. This created great anxiety, knowing we couldn’t fulfill their spoken & implied expectations, but desperately trying to please. For some of us the rules kept changing, arbitrarily. For others they were rigid & unrealistic. For all of us, no matter what we did, it was never good enough! Eventually we either rebelled or caved.
UNDER: Others of us received little or no guidance – left too much on our own, so that we basically raised ourselves, also creating great anxiety
– without being taught to pay attention to other people
– leaving us with no respect for -or- need to obey authority
– no sense of boundaries, limits, discipline or self-trust
– not knowing what was expected of us or how to function in the world.
This may seem heavenly – to a teen – but a child without rules or expectations not only is being severely neglected at that time – but can suffer from lack of motivation & direction for years to come!
EITHER WAY – we were deprived of the opportunity to learn healthy self-control – which requires a SELF to implement!
The only thing we could do was to over-control ourselves – that is, to hide our true emotions, needs, even our intelligence, competence & talents – unless those gifts were needed to take care of our sick, abusive, depressed & crazy parents &/or siblings – but never meant for ourselves!
DEF: Over-controlling (O-C) ourselves is not so much about our actions – altho it also effects them as a consequence – but mainly means to reject our emotions, needs & observations to such an extent that we go thru life in a state of constant ‘undernourishment’ & bewilderment. Our rejected parts then become our shadow side, which we’re terrified to face.
• Instead we are run by a False Self (FS), a protective identity formed so early that we actually think it’s the real us. It’s made up of various aspects of the WIC (scared, angry, apathetic, suicidal…) & the PP disguised as a ‘guardian’ in the form of a know-it-all goad with a cattle-prod. The FS is comfort-seeking & therefore short-sighted, making unwise, unhealthy decisions – a kindergartener trying to do college level work.
• Peter K. Gerlach, MSW, writes that unhealthy will-power occurs when a person is controlled by a fierce Guardian hardened into possible sub-selves such as Addict, Zealot, Fanatic, Perfectionist, Preacher, Survivor, Martyr…. Its determination to protect the WIC at all costs can cause rigid self-discipline toxic to the host person & others. For example, the talented Magician sub-self can distort reality to justify or excuse self-destructive attitudes & behavior patterns.
– Of course some ACoAs react to the controlling inner voice by doing very little with our life – from confusion & terror OR nothing positive – from misdirected rage.
Over all – these limiting sub-personae cause intense shame, guilt, fears, reality distortions (CDs) & trust imbalances, resulting in difficulty with emotions & bonding to others.
Being Over-Controlled is NOT related to being Introvert or Extrovert, which are inborn, but rather is about ignoring qualities (being intuitive, intelligent, perceptive, outspoken…) we all share that were unacceptable to our family, & would have made our lives even more miserable if we hadn’t suppressed them – altho some of us could not hide them well enough to escape being attacked.
EXP: A perceptive & bright daughter was a threat to her incestuous father because she wouldn’t be easy to silence if he molested her. So instead he turned her into the family scapegoat, verbally & physically beating her. This succeeded in convinced her that she was stupid & unable to trust her observations & intuition. Even tho she resented him, she still gave him the benefit of the doubt & spent much of her life hopelessly trying to win his approval!
NEXT: O-C Ourselves – Part 2