Therapists seem to routinely blame parents, particularly mothers, for everything that goes wrong in a child’s development. Following WWII there was a rise in so-called “child experts” (like Benjamin Spock) who laid responsibility for development at mothers’ doorsteps. But if looked at objectively, it’s important to remember that a child is utterly dependent on parents for psychological survival, for a sense of reality and morality. The relationship may be two-way but it is fundamentally asymmetrical. Parents affect children much more than children affect parents. But this doesn’t mean blaming parents, however. Parents were themselves victims of families when they were children. Most importantly, parents raise children in a social context. One can see that women, following WWII, were straight-jacketed in many ways that led to their unhappiness and distress which was later passed on to their children. Thus, we should have sympathy for both parents and children, each of which has to contend with forces beyond their control.
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