Sunday, December 2, 2018

Parent-child relationships, repeated

As I interact with my new grandson I find my mind going to the natural process of bonding of a helpless little being, completely dependent on the goodwill of those around him. The dear babe must develop a sense of trust in his caregivers that allows him to be vulnerable, to demand that his needs be met so that he can survive and have new bold experiences.

I like to send him on a space ship, made of my protective folded arms, hurling through the air. He loves the sensation and although technically he can't smile at a month, he certainly seems to be smiling. In the same way, I play slightly roughly with him at nappy changes. I blow kisses on his tummy and I roll him to one side and say something like, 'Well T what happens now?' On cue, he rolls back onto his back and I tell him what a clever little boy he is to have moved. I offer him new experiences and he goes with the flow because he has developed trust in me.

Imagine now a small child who very quickly comes to see that his protector is actually a source of danger, physically or emotionally, or in both ways. What option is there but to navigate himself or herself to a sense a safety? It's far too dangerous to blame the protector and so who else is there to blame but himself or herself? In anxious obedience, he or she must attach once again to the frightening adult as a survival mechanism.

As an adult, people who behave in rather frightening ways are sort of the norm to that poor wee child, now grown. Frightening people are not foreign to people who have gone through such a situation repeatedly in their childhood. In fact, it feels kinda 'right' to their minds, kinda comfortable, normal, at least for a time.

Of course, there is the reasoning rational mind that tells someone that relationships are not meant to be about fright, about a sense of discomfort. But, versed in the habit of blaming oneself or someone else, certainly not the loved one behaving badly, the 'victim' instinctively blames himself or herself for the lack of the control of the partner. It worked to keep them safe as an infant and throughout childhood, why not now?

I think this may be why some people remain in romantic relationships when those friends and family members who care about them beg them to go.

Of course, other factors are at play: their financial situation, their lifestyle, their self esteem issues, their place in their society without the relationship, keeping the family going. They can't see their way out. They can't imagine a better future. They make a decision about whether to stay or go based on the position of least resistance emotionally.

For these reasons, they bargain with their fate and organize their lives around pleasing that person who behaves badly to them, as only they know how to do.

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