Mother Mistreats Her Child (Hands in Supermarket Example)

Recently, I was shopping at a local supermarket when suddenly I heard an annoying voice of an annoyed woman. It was a mother scolding her 5-6 year old child for picking up items and inspecting them.

“How many times did I tell you that your hands should only be in two places,” she muttered in that condescending, pretentious, pseudo-reasonable tone. Which means, “Look, I’m clearly feeling extremely upset and neurotic but I can’t just blatantly lash out on you or physically assault you because it’s a public place, so I will use an authoritative and relatively calm tone filled with manipulation, impatience, intimidation, and humiliation to make you obey, which will both in the short term alleviate my emotional instability and ostensibly mask my poor parenting skills.”

“What are those [two places you should keep your hands in]? In your pockets or…”
“…behind your back!” finished the boy and put his hands behind his back.

“Very good!” she said in a condescending and approving manner. Which means, “Here’s a mental treat for compliance to my insane rules and my authority.” It sounded like somebody who praises a dog after he follows the owners command: “Good Boy! Very good! Here’s a treat!” Conditioning in action.

The boy started “to behave,” i.e., started following orders, so the mother felt calmer. She pushed the shopping cart forward while the boy followed her like a mutt she perceives him as.

So what did the boy learn? He learned that his mother is bigger, stronger, and at the same time vital for his survival and well-being, so he has to obey her regardless of what she says or wants.

What did we learn? We learned that in this parent-child relationship the child’s curiosity, exploration, and self-interest is punished—while obedience and meeting the parent’s needs is rewarded and necessary.

Those who follow my work know that I’ve talked quite a few times about the results of such methods of child-rearing. So if this continues—and it may very well be too late for this child already—I can predict that when he grows older, he will have no respect for his mother. And rightfully so because, one, she is doesn’t treat him with respect, and two, objectively she is not respectable. The lack of respect will either manifest itself directly by what will be perceived as “rebellious behavior,” or he will be an obedient, totally self-less, dependent pet whose reason for existence is to manage the Mother’s neurosis and take care of her.

Some may think, “Well, what a parent is supposed to do? The child is annoying, he picks up stuff he shouldn’t, I’m in a hurry, I’m stressed, etc.” Okay. But this is not about you. If you have a child, it’s your responsibility to meet the child’s needs. It’s not the child’s responsibility to meet your needs or be what you want them to be or not to be an inconvenience to you.

If you are actually interested in how to improve such situations, here’s a few suggestions. How about taking time to explain to the child why you think it is objectively bad to pick up stuff at a supermarket. Is it bad? Or is it that you don’t want that because it’s an inconvenience to you? If it is bad, for example, your child is stealing or making a mess, then instead of giving him orders and punishing him you could dedicate some time to talk about what is going on for him emotionally (maybe he’s stressed or deprived or depressed or lonely), to talk about morality (what is objectively bad, what is objectively good, what is morally neutral), talking about property rights (e.g., it’s not good to make a mess at somebody’s property), giving sound and understandable examples, and so on. If picking up stuff at a supermarket is not morally bad (spoiler: generally, it isn’t) and the child is simply curious or bored, then you can go shopping without them. “But it's not as convenient and requires more time, effort, and other resources.” Okay, it’s true. Does it mean you are going to traumatize your child further to maintain your convenience? If so, then don’t pretend to be interested in real solutions.

What is always useful to do regardless of the situation is to examine your own feelings, and perhaps you will recognize that your emotional state has little to do with your child and more with your past, your insecurities, and your false beliefs. It is also useful to explain to your child the principles you expect the child to follow and follow yourself. “I don’t like it” or “You should do this” or “It’s not nice” are neither explanations nor principles.

The best way to be a better parent is to be a better human being. The best way to be a better human being is to work on yourself. But this is not very convenient nor appealing, hence the crippling of children in order to stay comfortable. It doesn’t have to be this way, but it probably will be for a long time yet.

So cheers to those who are brave enough to change and grow into healthier and happier human beings!

Exposing child abuse one article at a time,

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  1. Thank you for this. Your blog is priceless. I assume the woman in the supermarket who treated her child that way will never look at her own actions and change.for them children are inconveniences. Very narcissistic đŸ˜§


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