The downside of too much control

September 27, 2021

I grew up with depression-era parents where our opinion was neither asked for nor tolerated. We were ruled with an iron hand and expected to obey without question. I was scared to death of my father and although not as much of my mother, she had her ways of making me pay for not listening to her. She would get upset with me at the slightest provocation and wouldn’t speak to me like she did before my wedding. Forget that it’s supposed to be the happiest time in a young woman’s life, that’s just how my Mom was, and still is, frankly. You just didn’t want to get on the wrong side of her. So I really get that the next generation, raised by similar types of parents would allow the pendulum, so to speak, to swing the other way.

Misbehaving

So what are the up and the down side of this type of child raising? Certainly it’s a great idea to promote well-being in a child. Regardless of the child’s IQ or physical ability, he or she should be encouraged to do their best to succeed in life. Success should be judged individually and not against a yard stick of others. There will always be someone faster, smarter or slimmer out there, so what is this child good at? Perhaps they are kind, willing to share or a born leader. They may not be the best reader or understand calculus. We should promote and encourage each child for what they bring into this world. I saw an amazing story the other day about a beautiful woman born without legs. She was actually adopted by truly loving parents who supported her being the best she could be and she didn’t let them down. Her friends accepted that she was just a smaller version of what they knew as a person but she is really beautiful. This girl grew up not knowing limitations and went on to excel in acrobatics. Seeing her perform on the internet not only made me smile, it gave me a great sense of awe in the world we live in. She had beauty inside and out. So here is an example of supporting a child and having it work out.

There are many similar examples of parents teaching their kids to be self-sufficient and growing into productive, highly functioning adults that accept responsibility in the world. But what can go wrong when parents treat their kids as if the child is the center of the universe? We’ve all experienced the screaming kid in the restaurant where the parent is hardly noticing while the rest of the diners try to look away or somehow quickly finish their own meals to leave. It’s so annoying to listen to loud voices in a restaurant of any kind, let alone a screaming kid. One goes out to dinner to enjoy a meal otherwise, well, just stay home. Then there’s the similar situation on a plane. I’ve had very long flights where young children are either crying or fighting with each other while the parents don’t do any kind of productive parenting. When we were kids, we were given Dramamine and simply slept during the trip. It was better for everyone involved. If anyone disagrees with me, feel free to express your opinion since I’m certainly expressing mine.

So what else can happen when kids are given too much free rein? Well, in the case of my brother’s kids, they grew up with wonderful athletic skills as well as doing quite well in the academic department also. They were surrounded by friends and as they came from good looking parents they had no trouble finding boy/girl-friends. Thus by most standards they were good kids, doing well in school, getting good grades and being quite popular. So what happened when they hit the real world? Well, here’s where things get a bit dicey. Since just about everything had been done for them for way beyond the beginning of adulthood (normally, when kids graduate from college they go off to start their own careers and also pay for their own apartments/homes, food, clothing, cars, etc.) As their parents could afford it, the kids continued to get their way paid for and to have their way with most things well into the next decade. When they hit a snag, like the girl had an argument with her long-time boyfriend, she just left him. If I said anything to her that she didn’t like, even casually, she’d act really snippy with me. And the boy began to exhibit extreme anger tendencies when things didn’t go his way, even to the point of personal attacks reminiscent of a much younger person. In other words, they were both rather emotionally immature because they didn’t learn much from the school of hard knocks. Their parents had so protected them from the world, when the world finally came in around them, they kind of failed the test from my vantage point. That’s not to say that they will never learn, but they haven’t learned yet.

If it seems that I have an axe to grind, you are correct, but I won’t air my dirty laundry. The general idea is enough for you to get my point. Too much control isn’t good just as too little control isn’t either. Like most things in life, we need to find balance.


Slow Down for 2020

January 22, 2020

Thinking about New Year’s resolutions? How about slowing down and enjoying the many blessings that we already have in our lives? If we are going so fast, running around doing errands, attending to the insurance and phone problems as well as the doctor appointments, visits with friends that we cram in rather than space out, we just can’t enjoy our time. So for this New Year, I vowed to really slow down. Then the universe began to give me opportunities to do so as well as other people who felt the same to help me attain my new goal.

Sometimes there are pushes to get to new soul developments in our lives. In my case, it was ill health throughout the month of December. First, I had stomach issues that seemed to be related to overdosing on vitamin supplements. I had been told that I needed to take more and more specialized supplements to handle leaky gut and adrenal problems. The underlying symptoms were extreme fatigue, poor digestion, and the feeling that my very expensive organic diet wasn’t being converted to energy. In the end, I had to stop taking all this stuff and just rest, relax and slowdown in order to get better.  Towards the end of the month I came down with a really bad cold and cough which I believe was part of a healing crisis.

During this time, I began to do some journaling and realized that it was a turning point in my life. Perhaps my soul was writing the story of my life and detoxing from the prior extremes that I had gone through for what may well be the first 2/3 of the years that I would have on this plane of existence. Although one never knows the exact time that we get here, I just have this feeling that my time as a life coach had come to an end, even though I will continue to help others in a more probono manner.  Just as I had left the corporate world over 10 years ago, I was now letting my semi-retirement profession go as well. I had done this partially a couple years ago, but felt that I had totally left it now and was detoxing from the residue of helping others get rid of their junk.  The final phase was to literally slow down.

And then I went off to a tango festival on the west coast in concert with a family visit. During this time, I met some awesome people who were light bearers. When I refer to people in this way, I mean that I could feel how spiritually then led their lives and interacting with them was a joy. Truly I was feeling the joy return to my life after being around these people for several days.

This was the fourth year that I’d done this particular dance program but the first one where I’d met so many light bearers. I might meet someone in a workshop and then somehow connect for a meal during which we’d chat; I’d then find out how really interesting they were and that it was their birthday the following week. So, in my good feelings of abundance, I paid for their meal as well as mine. They were happy and I felt great. By being with people of the light, I was more of the light also. Another example was of a guy I met at one of the dance evenings that interacted with me on an outing to a park the next day. We totally had a great time and enjoyed the day together. During this time, we shared stories of our lives and found out how very spiritual we both were.  I thought I was spiritual, but he’d studied for many more years and shared with me about his beliefs of compassion, meditation and allowing the universe to guide him. Although I had my own version of these disciplines, it was wonderful to be with a kindred soul. His energy felt so good to me that I was in a very nice calm place all day. The hours flew by. Once again, the universe delivered me to just the right people in just the right place for me to evolve even more.

So as I celebrated the New Year on the West Coast, I brought in a new spirit of abundance, calmer and with a renewed desire to appreciate all the many blessings I already have… in other words, to slow down and find my joy.


Blog: Why Act Like a Neanderthal?

August 22, 2011

Where does hostile behavior come from?

In ancient times, man (as in human beings which includes both men and women), had to defend him or herself from predators and so when he/she felt threatened would growl, show teeth, bite, hit or otherwise lash out. This aggressive behavior was a defensive mechanism meant to protect the individual from harm. Not having an aggressive personality would have put the individual in a very bad or weak position in this type of hostile environment. Thus aggressive behavior was a learned and appropriate trait for hostile environments. However, these learned traits have come down through the ages as part of our DNA. That said, even big black bears don’t attack unless provoked and can be calmed with a little honey. Wow! So something sweet can tame the savage beast? What a concept! And, it works on humans too. Try offering a treat rather than a stick and you might find more pleasant behavior waiting for you.

Are we all basically a more modern Neanderthal?

Sometimes I think so; but as a species, we have learned to moderate our behavior – that’s what being civilized is all about. Being a member of a society means we’re not feral anymore, not most of us anyway. Ever try to tame a feral dog or cat? I was told that after about 8 weeks, a kitten would be too far into being feral that they couldn’t be tamed. Well, I proved the status quo wrong. I adopted two kittens that were most probably at least 10 weeks old and with a great deal of patience, love and understanding, guided them into being household pets. (One just died after 17 years of being the most loving creature and taught me much about unconditional love. The other one, his sister is still with me. ) The same can be said of children. If we mistreat our children, even to the extent of not paying enough attention to them, overly criticizing them or in the extreme, actual abuse, it is entirely likely that they will grow up to be dysfunctional adults, totally over reacting at every potentially threatening situation.

How can we correct the unacceptable behavior?

If wild animals can be taught to behave, use the cat post for scratching rather than the curtains, and know which furniture is for them to use, then certainly with love and understanding we can teach our children to be productive members of society. This is certainly true for adults as well since children grow into adults. Thus I feel that the issue with out of control adults really starts in childhood. No, I’m not totally blaming parents for all the ills of adults – we all have to take responsibility for our own behavior at some point – but there are many situations where looking to childhood and the messages we received there have a huge impact on our current lives.

If this is you, what are your options?

First, look at your life now. Is it all it can be? Could your aggressive behavior be causing you issue? If so, take a look at what you can do to correct it. Anger management classes may be appropriate in some cases, more formal therapy may be required in others. If you’re the type of person that can be reflective, spend a weekend with a book that helps you to walk through your childhood, answer questions and meditate on the specific memories that are of real issue for you. What pushes your buttons? Often, this type of inner awareness work will reveal certain patterns that will help you to moderate your behavior into a more balanced stream and move from aggression to assertiveness. In the end, you will be a much happier person and no longer a Neanderthal.


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