The most precarious and important Balance
I’m close to a conclusion for a thesis I've been pondering for over six months and living through for far far longer.
That thesis plays into a nuance of the greater question: nature vs. nurture.
It’s the nuance that asks: are we what we make of ourselves from the start or are we what we make of ourselves after our parents/rearers have reached the peak of their influence over us?
I’ve always believed they play a role, a vital role in our education, both formal and of self. How we learn to be comfortable presenting ourselves to others, to the world and most of all, to ourselves when we are alone, with not even partners or newly formed families around us. But that’s where it ends. They have a say and the rest is up to us.
I still believe that, but now that belief is fed more out of necessity than simply an impartial observation.
Having beared witness personally and indirectly to the lasting and deep effects child-rearing, all child-rearing, good and bad have upon us all, I feel a shift in my beliefs. Specifically the one that always vehemently stated that we are truly free to choose our reactions to the external stimuli we are given, confronted, and even assaulted with each day. I’m beginning to see just how deeply ingrained childhood responses are in every adult decision and instinct we all possess. Reactionary tactics and the like.
I’m beginning to understand that so much of my high-functioning anxiety, my perfectionism, my overcompensating nature and need to see both the big picture and as many details as possible at all times are all part of not only my evolution into an independent damaged but self-sufficient adult, but a direct result of this rearing, which has continued long after I considered myself fully grown in many ways.
My seemingly unyielding subconscious need to consistently ask for approval of all my choices, be it manifested in a compliment, an agreement or simply attention because an effort or choice has been made, all equally stems from this. From this ingrained neediness that was never natural but forced and bred by an equally if not more so, damaged child that grew up alone, disappointed, hurt and manipulated, helpless and scarred until they too one day found themselves a parent in their own biological right.
Now however, they are not the only adult present, I am here, of-age, of consent, of presence in body, spirit and thankfully mind. But a conflict has arisen, one that persists even as it ebbs and flows from benevolent care-taking to manipulative abuse, guilt-tripping and back. It’s a vicious cycle that I have yet to discover how to break, and more so, how to cure.
How do you cure someone who has been broken so much and so often they are almost entirely different from the person they used to be and hoped to be now?
How do you help them understand that what they are currently doing and saying in order to help themselves survive and thrive in accordance to their own inner credo, is not only stifling and damaging you, but actually ruining your own instincts and judgment, your own inner peace with unending doubt and questions to your own morality, integrity and independence?
The answer to this seems to be a never-ending work in progress. But I’ve come to realize that if the parent has an existential wound in their soul, branded into them by their own upbringing, relationships, and more, then they cannot possibly, even if they wish it, teach their children to not have the same traumas they have, even if it’s in a passive context. They instill a need for reassurance, for approval, for affection and more in their children. They do this by either giving too much and thus setting the standard too high, and then being hovering controlling parents, or giving too little, and make it be normal to have emotionally distant or absent relations regardless of whom they are with.
I’m beginning to accept more and more, the precariousness of the delicate balance there is in raising a child properly. To not only love you and care for you but to not essentially need you or be crippled by your absence or presence in turn. It’s a constantly shifting myriad of choices keeping this balance and being not only right but healthy in your choices as a parent. The responsibility is so enormous and constant after they come into the world that it’s mindboggling to me that psychologically healthy child-rearing is not mandatorily taught in all higher education institutions regardless of nation, in some form or other.
Children are the future of our society, whether we make them, adopt them or are simply around them as mentors in any capacity. They hence should be treated as one of the most important pillars of society, on which we all depend, to not only carry on our so-called legacy but to help us in return because we have earned their respect, their trust as people of integrity and strength.
We must help them in all the ways we can, to give wisdom, comfort, strength, knowledge, survival skills and not in the least, help them conquer their traumas, which are inevitable no matter our wishes.
We must all help them to never have the burden of needing others in a visceral manner but only through their choice of being social. We must help them all reach that blissful moment of not having to submit to the pain of knowing they are destined to suffer the whims of their fore-bearers.
Most of all, we must help them reach that pinnacle of psychological evolution where the roots of their character are deep, unmovable against the ravages of emotional and verbal assault, without fearing the descent into depression, madness or mania, but instead, having the personal inner reassurance of their own opinions to validate their own existence and the humility at the same time, to value the input of those whom they know are worthy of their respect.
Only then can we say we are good influences in their lives, and only then should we feel as such. Until that moment, we need to keep trying, both for them, and for ourselves. Change must happen, and it’s our job to make it result in something better, in something more.