Saturday, September 10, 2005

Mother's guilt; child's guilt

The topic is supposed to be a play on the title "Rich man, poor man." Problem is, I am not very good at this, so I thought I should make clear what I am trying to do. Everyone please comment on how clever I am.

The Greene Machine talked about feeling guilty about leaving her son for a week to go on vacation. I bet this isn't the only time she felt guilty about her mothering. Mothers, like Jews, feel guilty all the time. It's in the blood.

When our children grow up enough to understand emotions, mothers start guilting the children into doing as told. This probably works well for a while (not sure, Piper isn't old enough to try it), but eventually it stops working (that I know for sure, because I've been on the receiving end of guilt trips). I wonder, however, if we (1) guilt our children because it seems the easiest way to make them do what we want; or (2) resent the feelings of guilt they inflicted on us, and subconsciously try to pay them back for the turmoil we felt.

All thoughts are welcome.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well here're my thoughts: i think we guilt our children with a simple underwriting principle to get back at them. Biologists teach us that rearing young is a human instinct, but I would contend that such notion is a bunch of idealistic hogwash; in the end, every man is for himself. And when confronted with something we find objectionable, our innate response is to inflict hurt in return.. Yeap, I agree, it sounds somewhat inhuman, but who's ever said that humans are guided by the noblest of principles.. In any case to confront the child with kindness takes quite a feat of mastership that may at time be very difficult to muster and that we all wish we could eventually master:)
Zhenka

9:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guilt...it's the expected thing to feel guilty for leaving your child, returning to work. And guilty for not giving your full effort at work. The mother's dilemma. And hey, since your oozing guilt why not use it to redirect your child's behavior for your own selfish good.

Maybe guilt is not my usual fodder for trade because I just can't relate at all (sorry for the new age verbiage).

Actually, I did feel guilty the time the baby fell off my bed. Heart-stopping, full ache guilt when I heard the THUD, and moments later saw his tiny body face down on the floor in the darkened room.

Tears spring from my eyes at this writing. So yes, I felt guilt, but that emotion seems frightfully self-involved for this incident. I felt it like the worse kind of tragedy happening to a child.

And of course, it is no where near the worse kind of tragedy.

Okay, the child is definitely okay. Nothing broken. And his smile told me that his memory is thankfully short. Or maybe he is storing it in long term memory to use against me when he needs it most.

2:25 AM  

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