In The Shadows

Recently an article was posted on our favourite site, AVfM, taken from the blog “A Shrink For Men”   authored by Dr. Tara Palmatier, PsyD.. Paul had chosen to retitle it “Dr Phil Can Suck It”. It was originally posted as “Dr Phil and Domestic Violence: Only Women Can Be Abuse Victims,” by the good Dr. T. The material referred to was originally televised for entertainment with the caption “Afraid of My Husband.” Dr. Palmatier provided an excellent article overall; it challenged the notions we have all come to roll our eyes over regarding men as the de facto  “perpetrator.” The attached video however really made me stop and think. So much so that I really had to get it down in this responding piece.
If ever there was a post hypnotic victim gulag, this would be the frontier.
I think it bears mentioning once again that the grand and prestigious “Dr Phil” is an entertainer and nothing more. I see no accreditation attached to his institution of entertainment suggesting any higher learning than juggling, fire breathing or “songs to salve the soul,” of which the latter, no doubt, he and his acomp, acompnee, accompanist Oprah, specialize in. I have a long time disdain for shake and bake psychology and popularized problem solving. Just because the “mob” in the Coliseum gave thumbs up, does not put a problem to rest.
In the case of the above mentioned video, what struck a chord with me was a statement made by the 12 year old son: “My mom talks to me about why they fight.” It was this statement I found once again haunting me. I have heard and seen this all too many times in my life. I’m not a councillor or psychologist, just an experienced parent. I have seen the damage this kind of behaviour promotes in a family as it morphs into an unqualified and unchallenged perception. Narrating the context of an intimate relationship to a child of that relationship can only result in emotional and psychological damage.
The damage it does may never stand to be corrected.
To consider the language and insight that a 12 year old possesses should almost make it self-explanatory. They cannot navigate the depth or complexity of relational bonds or the implications of choices that may result from the perspective that they are being given. In simple terms they don’t speak the language, they don’t understand the adult experience of disappointment, betrayal, sorrow, worry, fear, love, sadness, infatuation, joy.
Often a child can be set right emotionally with a hug and loving words of reassurance. They cannot understand the circumstances that support the expression of complex adult feelings. Children can’t understand the frustration a parent can express after a particularly hard work day. It’s not in their experience. Because of this lack of experience they also cannot understand when or why they are being manipulated. It can only be understood as manipulation as there can be no balance of power in understanding or accepting the message. The child is immediately overwhelmed by information that may be contrary to their own understanding and perception.
It is, to my understanding, a covert attempt at emotional manipulation and coercion of a child to take sides or accept conclusions regarding family turmoil. The very thing a child would in most cases choose not to do is being implemented by the mother. I judge it as malicious because it is covert and cannot be a healing remedy of openness and honesty. If it were a remedy the talks with the child would include the other siblings, the father and possibly a councillor.
This is the very moment a child becomes orphaned and parentless. The parent has removed the boundaries of the child by assigning them the status of confidant. The breach of their emotional boundaries occurs with a narration of new understandings that cannot be filtered by their own experience and the child begins to feel by proxy, feelings that are not they’re own.
They are coerced into being an emotional equal, to accept the emotional status and burden of their confidant; to lose the safety, security, innocence and happiness of their world. The absurdity of what has been described as “parental alienation” is a myopic look at a circumstance from the adult perspective. That one parent would alienate another parent is part of the adult rhetoric common with a battle for custody and hence a battle for ally’s. It is not difficult to understand that the moment the boundaries of a child have been breached both parents are alienated and the child has lost two care givers, two protectors and two advocates of their security and happiness. As an added injury they have had the context of their childhood removed.
In the grimace of today’s single parent homes and more often single mother homes is it any wonder that children are floundering socially? They look like children, they act like children, but all too often they talk like a parent. These are children that have been stripped of their own perceptions and are now living a life by proxy. When they reach an age that may allow them to intuit that something is wrong or begin to mourn the loss of themselves in depression they are immediate candidates for psycho-active drugs.
Ask yourself if you have ever heard a child say they have no feelings? What is left of their feelings if they believe those very feelings may betray a parental confidant? The only way they could experience this is when their feelings have been replaced by someone else’s and they are awaiting instructions on what is important and what to feel next.
These children have had their childhoods stolen from them, they have active minds like all of us and they are now active with worry over adult issues they have no power or control over. How does a child in this state apply themselves to school work? How can they focus? How can they care?  How can they communicate their experience? How do they cope? This is nothing new it’s a common familial process that many subscribe to. I have no doubt that some reading this piece may now be considering how they themselves were affected and how such influence formed their maturity and adulthood. You may be thinking back to days when parental hostilities or influences overtook your childhood and your innocence.
I have noticed this in intimate relationships I have had with women who were to close with their mothers. They characterized their fathers and men in a way that was consistent with their mothers and were unable to communicate their own feelings in a personal way. One partner would lose control at an intimate moment and blubber and bellow in a panic when confronted with her feelings. Her mother was married to an alcoholic and found it much easier to hate her partner than leave him. But she did not miss an opportunity to solicit pity and support from her children or those around her for any effort she was forwarding. I was invited many times myself to think less of the man for his crimes against her and offered a beer or a drink for my troubles. That same partner once told me her life and our relationship would be so much easier for her if I was an alcoholic. I guess she already had the manual; no self-discovery required.
In another relationship my partner spoke openly about her father having an affair and the impact of it on her mother. It was apparent to me that both mother and daughter expressed themselves in a similar passive-aggressive style. I find these types have a favourite phrase they like to use, “I was waiting for the right moment to tell you”. This is such a cute thing to say it really only deserves one response. “Next time let me know and we can wait together.”
I recall a conversation with the father in which he said he felt like he had been waiting for too many years for a relationship with his wife to begin. I may not believe in adultery, but that doesn’t stop me from understanding why or how it can happen. It is typical of the passive-aggressive group to crave attention while remaining aloof. This comes second only to their desire to see themselves as perpetual victims. I am convinced that this is the heart of feminism itself. Their rhetoric is embodied by their victimization and the attention they crave that accompanies it. Though they may claim not to hate all men, they simple fail to love them.
I believe in relationships like this that individuality doesn’t really exist. These women were eventually unknowable and likely also to themselves. What appears as individuals is really group think beliefs and strangely a group feel emotion. I would suspect the dominant thoughts, beliefs and emotions are more often those that function covertly and in the shadows. There is a difference between life experience and a fabricated set of emotions. Once you find yourself in new emotional territory particularly as an adult, panic may be your only skill.  I am beginning to believe the simple act of communication may be the very first sign of emotional maturity and health.
It is for relationships like this, the dysfunctional exchange of pathologies that are so common in families that we are all challenged to acknowledge the individual in our children that is trying to survive, thrive and mature. It would be a gesture of love and a strong message from men and their movement towards change that they acknowledge, embrace and respect this childhood evolution. To find the personal depth and integrity to nurture it, after all childhood is for children.
Support the campaign to recognize that “CHILDHOOD IS FOR CHILDREN”
The three most valuable things to offer this campaign to support “CHILDHOOD FOR CHILDREN”  is
1)  Your time to listen
2)  Your understanding
3)  Your love

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