Meaningful You

Voices of contemporary psychoanalysis

Parental Authority and the Criminal Justice System

One doesn’t behave in respectful ways as an adult when fed a steady diet of disrespect as a child. Read More

How about kids like these?

Both parents neglectful, state takes them away and grandparents are now guardians. Oldest child has aspergers and is very angry. Youngest child is also on the spectrum. The grandparents get the best help that they can find for the children but the damage has been done. The oldest child gets into trouble at school, reacts very dramatically to any rejection. The grandparents efforts have no effect.

The odds of these children ending up in the criminal justice system? I would say pretty high. What do we do to help such children when the earlier environment is so poor that late efforts to correct are in vain?

Sounds as though the solution

Sounds as though the solution to the issue is that all parents have endless energy, complete empathy, advanced psychological training and no other stressors whatsoever in their world. Good luck with that.

This parenting advice

This parenting advice resonated with me. I have never spoken "down" to my young son, never told him to do something "because I said so", etc. I have always respected him as an individual, with individual thoughts, desires, and needs, albeit from a now 4 year-old's perspective. If I ask him to do something, or not do something, I always explain why, if asked; even if it ultimately not optional. He is an extremely well behaved and happy child. I doubt it is purely from coincidence or genetics.

Related, respecting my son as an individual is one of two parental techniques I raise him with. The other is to treat him like a mammal cub, with plenty of physical contact and affection, and gentle rough-housing. I try to act like a benign "leader of the pack." Those two approaches seem to work well for raising boys - or at least my one boy so far.

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Kristi Pikiewicz is managing editor of the American Psychological Association's Division of Psychotherapy DIVISION/Review.


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