Do Kids Have Too Much Power?

These days, there is a widespread tendency for children of all ages to have too much power relative to their parents. I realize it sounds a bit old-fashioned to say this, and in fact I believe this trend has developed in part as a reaction against overly authoritarian parenting styles that dominated earlier generations. However, the pendulum has perhaps swung too far.

Difficult Feelings

When Connecting with Kids Is Hard

Last week, I shared a fairy tale which explored a parent child relationship in which the parents are ashamed or embarrassed by their child. There is a similar tale that explores this – and darker themes.  A recently published book by Orna Dornath entitled Regretting Motherhood: A Study explores the difficult subject of mothers who regret having had children. You can read more about Dornath’s study in this short article.

Dornath is exploring maternal regret...

Difficult Feelings

When We Are Ashamed of Our Kids

What an uncomfortable feeling to become aware that we are disappointed with or ashamed of our child, even momentarily. I knew a mom who had one child who was bright, attractive, and well-liked. Her other daughter, however, was awkward and overweight, and was frequently teased as a result. This mother’s disappointment in this child was at times thinly veiled, as she tried many different “treatments” to help her child lose weight or be more attractive.

If we...

Difficult Feelings

Humble Gifts: On Knowing We’re Enough

I had a conversation with a mother in my practice this week that brought up something important. As usual, I tried to find a fairy tale that captured the essence of what this mother was struggling with. The right tale did come to mind – it’s a 12th century French legend – and it just so happens to have an association with Christmas, so consider this my holiday offering!

The mother I was speaking with is going through something very difficult with one of her children. On the day that we spoke, she was feeling very badly about herself, and how she has been handling the challenges she is facing. She has seen other mothers who, she thinks, have managed similar difficulties much better. She was berating herself for not being as gentle, wise, and confident as she has seen other mothers be.

Difficult Feelings

What Happens When We Don’t Like Our Kids?

I am always a little surprised when a mother tells me with great shame and in great secrecy that she finds she doesn’t particularly like her child. Of course we don’t always like our children! It seems there is too much secrecy around this fact, and greater acceptance of the wide range of feelings that motherhood stirs up would reduce the shame and self-judgment that many mothers feel.

There are many reasons that a mother may find...

Fairy Tales

Gifts from Our Mothers

When my client Rose was around nine or ten years old, she and her family were camping. With her parents’ permission, Rose set off on a walk through to woods to join up with friends at the lake. Rose remembers being suddenly startled by a large black bear rearing up in front of her. Frozen in fear, she didn’t know what to do. Then she heard her mother from behind shouting at the bear. Her mother pelted it with stones, and rushed at it brandishing a stick. The bear soon retreated.

Difficult Feelings

When Kids Bully Parents

Most parents have had the experience at one time or another of their child having too much power in the family. This can happen in different ways, at different times, for different reasons, but it always feels terrible – for parents and kids. When we feel competent as parents, being around our children is often a source of pleasant emotional experiences. This helps us to feel attached to our kids, which in turn allows us to be more attuned to them. The more attuned we are, the more competent we are likely to feel, and thus a virtuous cycle takes effect.


Bearing A Mother’s Fears Alone

In last week’s post, I wrote about how maternal can play out in a marriage. There were several comments about the post on my Facebook page that let me know the piece had clearly struck a nerve. At least a couple of moms who commented on the post could relate to the experience of holding more anxiety about children than their husbands. I thought I would explore this topic a little more this week by looking at the myth of Cassandra.

In Greek mythology, Cassandra was a princess of Troy who caught the eye of the god Apollo. In his efforts to seduce her, Apollo offered Cassandra the gift of prophecy. When she refused his advances, he spat in her mouth and cursed her, so that no one would ever believe the things she prophesied. Cassandra was then left to live her life in an impossible double bind, wherein she knew about terrible things that were going to happen, but was dismissed or laughed at when she tried to tell others about them.


When Parental Anxiety Affects a Marriage

Maternal anxiety is a special kind of hell. Fear hijacks our nervous system and takes our thoughts hostage. When a child is sick, when he is careening off course, when we know something is wrong, even though we don’t know what it is, maternal worry can fill our days and nights with dread.

Sadly, it is also often isolating. Depending on the cause of our apprehension, we may feel ashamed of sharing it with others. Friends and relatives may meet our concerns dismissively with the intention of offering comfort, but the effect is often the opposite. Worrying about our children can have very specific effects on a marriage and the way a couple interacts about the concern. When we are fearful for our children, we often need something very specific from our spouse, who may or may not be capable of meeting that need.

C. G. Jung

Helping Our Kids Become Whole

“The right way to wholeness,” Jung wrote, “is full of fateful detours and wrong turnings.” And yet many mothers worry that there is a right way and a wrong way to parent. We spend time reading books and blogs. We listen to podcasts, and pay for expert advice, which is often contradictory.