Family Addiction Recovery: A Blog
A new book argues that parents need to focus more on themselves and less on their children.
I felt for the preschooler in the park whose mother issued a steady stream of instructions: “Go down the slide, put your shoes on, be careful, stay out of the dirt.”
When he eyed me and my dog with curiosity, I responded. “Would you like to throw the ball for my dog? She’d love it!” I said.
He picked up the ball and gave it a few squeezes, but his mother had more instructions: “Don’t squeeze the ball, throw it. Throw it over there. Throw it hard.” There wasn’t much breathing room for the child to explore the ball, his throwing ability, the dog, or just a friendly interpersonal exchange. However well-intentioned, this “playtime” seemed more about the parent.
In her fourth book, The Awakened Family: A Revolution in Parenting, She argues that parenting should be focused more on developing parents’ maturity—and less on children themselves.
Children come into the world naturally “awake,” or aware of who they truly are, claims Tsabary. The problems that show up in children—anxiety, behavior problems, resistance—are not of their doing, but are really manifestations of problems with parents who are not sufficiently enlightened, awake, or conscious, according to Tsabary. She may have a point: If the mother of that preschooler continues to be so controlling, I can well imagine a future for them of conflict and resistance.
Despite the word “revolution” in the title, the message of Awakened Family is not new—but it does bear repeating.
For at least a hundred years, clinicians, scholars, and even poets have called for a shift in the focus of parenting away from the children and onto the parents. The Swiss psychologist Alice Miller wrote extensively about the ways that parents who were physically or psychologically harmed as children unconsciously pass on their wounds. Scholars validated the intergenerational transmission of trauma, linking child abuse to later adult violence. Family therapists found that many of children’s behavior problems go away when parents alone receive counseling. And last month, at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, developmental scientist Alison Gopnik urged parents to nurture but not shape their children, and to back down from the pervasive supervision, control, and directiveness of today’s intense parenting.
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Timothy Harrington is passionate about helping family members of the addicted loved one awaken to their own power and purpose.