It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Good, Bad… and nothing in between?

tearsYou’re not nearly as rational as you think you are.

That’s okay. Neither am I. None of us are. Even those who are sure we go through our lives guided by only the most rigorous of analytical thought have merely suppressed their emotions. Just because they don’t acknowledge them doesn’t mean they’re not influenced by them. In fact, given the suppression, I’d say it’s more likely they’re affected. They just don’t know it.

But really, that can be said of any of us. Research proves over and over that “feeling actually happens prior to any conscious thought and because it comes first, it shapes and colours the thoughts that follow.” It’s what we all learned in Psych 101: we have the emotional reaction first, and then we plug our reasons into it. This happens at an unconscious level, mind you, which is why some of you out there are even now denying this with firm assurance that YOU are a rational person. We’d like to believe this — I know I do — but we’re just not so reasoned as we’d prefer to think. Our conscious mind is blissfully unaware it’s being emotionally manoeuvred.

Moreover, if our Gut response is “Yeah! Good thing!”, we minimize all risks associated with it. If it’s “Boo! Bad thing!”, we exaggerate them. The idea that something can be unpleasant but beneficial is as foreign to our Gut response as it is to the toddler you’re trying to siphon those antibiotics into. In our Heads we know better, but Gut steers the psychological ship far more than we’re aware.

Here’s an example. Crying. Crying, particularly the tears of our children, is a Bad Thing. Therefore it is Bad for the child, and there is no benefit to be had from it. Therefore, tears are to be avoided at all costs.

And where does this “reasoning” lead us?

To the idea that children are psychologically damaged if they are allowed to cry now and then. To the idea that the parent-child bond can be torn asunder if a parent doesn’t always leap to close the floodgates. To the idea that anyone whose child cries is a Bad Parent.

But what this reasoning completely and utterly misses is this ironic fact:

If you avoid your child’s tears at all costs… You create children who cry more.

I have a lot to say on this topic. I’ll be back!

February 20, 2009 Posted by | controversy, parenting, power struggle, tantrums | , , | 9 Comments