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Toxic Child Rearing Practices Treated as Normal

posted 8 years 5 months ago
Being pregnant has caused me to consider not only how my partner and I were raised, but how most people are brought up. I read For Your Own Good by Alice Miller during early pregnancy, and it opened my eyes to some insidious child rearing practices that are considered normal. Contemporary child rearing is based mostly on dominating children rather than seeing them as autonomous human beings. Expressing that autonomy seems to often be discouraged, and the child's feelings are secondary to making sure they become a good citizen. Children are told what to do, and either rewarded or punished based on their compliance. Obedience is valued over independence. This type of parenting does not produce moral behavior. Instead it breeds fear, anger, and insecurity. Because it is so commonplace, we never discuss how unhealthy, and at times abusive, these practices are. The children who complain are labeled "bad kids", but most children grow up grateful for this mistreatment, probably because they were told from a young age that their parents are doing it for their own good, and that it hurts the parents more than the child, invalidating the child's pain. Young, unable to fight back or leave, the easiest way for most minds to adapt is to accept and conform to this parenting style.

Parents claim to have their children's best interest at heart while initiating these harmful practices, and I believe that they mean it. Most of them were raised the same way. The idea that most people have is that it is what everyone does, so it cannot be harmful to the child, and if it is, it must be necessary pain. Most parents would never dream of hitting their child or locking them in a closet, and recognize this as abuse, yet mental and emotional abuse enacted by parents is rarely taken seriously. Parents are seen as more or less having the right of total control over their children, and to an extent are allowed to do what is necessary to exert and maintain that control. Children who complain about this are usually told that they will understand when they have children, or that it is necessary, or called brats, and harmful parenting methods are inherited through the generations unquestioned. It is time we start questioning this.

posted 8 years 5 months ago
I was raised like this, but I have a rebellious spirit so I never internalized those messages. I think this is the way most baby boomers parented their children.

Nowadays I think Gen X is parenting their children in a much more democratic way. Also I think the older the parent, the more of a democratic view they have, and they more want to cultivate their child.

I also think parents who might be stressed, depressed, etc. and feel thrust into parenthood, might parent in this way. If you're having trouble barely functioning yourself it is pretty hard to be thinking of how what you are doing and saying is affecting your child.

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