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 Good and Bad Parenting

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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Good and Bad Parenting   Sat 01 Nov 2014, 23:35

A somewhat generalising documentary - French - abour Churchill, concludes with the thought that he had spent his life trying to rise to his father's expectations and  to match  his strengths  throughout because of growing up in the shadow of parential neglect. An interesting paradox came to mind that had he not been neglected and given more  encouragement would Winston have not been the man he became when he was most needed?  What other famed people in history have been nurtured by good or poor parenting?
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: Good and Bad Parenting   Sun 02 Nov 2014, 20:48

Priscilla,

My first approach...

I am always hesitating with such studies...in my humble opinion is the human mind that complex, that for one is bad parenting a good thing in the first stage while it points to rebellion and selfconsciousness, but nevertheless later it can end in disaster and a bad thing to timide children in the first stage, but later can have a good end. The same problems with good parenting I guess...
Remember our debate here on this site about "what is art?" For one the piece of art is "sublime" and for the other it is utterly "balderdash"...
And yes you have still the "nature versus nurture" debate...
I am a bit wary of certain "psychologists" who see in the simplest events some deeper grounds...attention, I don't say that psychologists haven't a role in society as to help disturbed people to understand what are the reasons of their disturbed behaviour...

Kind regards and with esteem from your old acquaintance, Paul.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Good and Bad Parenting   Mon 03 Nov 2014, 08:12

The more one thinks about this question the more intractible it becomes. What constitutes "good" and "bad" parenting in any age, let alone when compared across centuries (or even decades)? Even if one takes brutality, neglect and other abuses as a benchmark it is difficult to find an era or society in which such wasn't tolerated and even encouraged when compared to the standards by which these are defined today.

There is no doubt that many prominent historical figures' actions in adulthood can be traced back to experiences in their formative years, but trying to find consistency in these matters is difficult indeed. A harsh Catholic-run education was the making of Cardinal Newman as much as Pol Pot. Roots in abject poverty and all that this entailed, along with a requirement to work from a very early age despite ill health produced both Keir Hardie and Joseph Stalin. "Monstrous mothers" have been credited or blamed for producing many prominent offspring, though when one sees that the term has been used in relation to the female parents of both Nigella Lawson and Jeffrey Dahmer then one has to wonder just what the common thread might be. Abandonment by parents at an early age has been claimed to have shaped the outlooks throughout their lives of both John Lennon and Barack Obama. Cloying, smothering mothers who created over-dependent children are apparently responsible for Napoleon Bonaparte and Liberace. The list goes on, and the common threads become fewer the bigger it gets.

Even if one tries to narrow the scope of the question down to those who might, like Churchill, be shown to have spent a life reacting to or compensating for an early upbringing that created an insatiable need deep within their psyche and which governed their subsequent lives and careers, the search begins promisingly, so easy is it to apply this condition to people who actively seek attention, success, accolade or other such impetus that might place them into positions of public and historical prominence. But even this proves a little too simplistic when one lowers the criteria for prominence and realises that almost a majority of the human species can be included in these ranks.

A tough one to answer, in other words.
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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Re: Good and Bad Parenting   Mon 03 Nov 2014, 16:26

I agree. To my mind, awful trauma aside, growing to maturity means getting a balance on all things. Education, circumstances, luck and opportunity all play their part in development along with the influences of both nature and nurture.
A well rounded person can look and understand  without being influenced by parenting. I recall a friend thrilling noisily about 'where did we go right' noises when her son joined a prestigious college. Well it turned out that they hadn't. All went pear shaped and their son went missing tho he did turn up suddenly at my place abroad in a bit of a state. He confided that he could not fulfil what he suspected was his mother's dream of his gaining a brilliant future in chemistry. He was living  with trappist monks and also studying 11th Cent Thai languages with a tutor and access to an ancient library. He became a scholar of quite a different kind  by a painful, penniless route but without complaint. I later became the trowel used to re-cement broken family relationships and the story had a very happy ending. The parents, however, claimed that they had  never dreamed a dream but only tried to encourage his interests - as far as they knew of them. I would be hard put to it to define good parenting.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Good and Bad Parenting   Wed 05 Nov 2014, 12:33

Jolly interesting topic, P. Will be able to witter endlessly about this, but no time now.

Back later.

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ferval
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PostSubject: Re: Good and Bad Parenting   Wed 05 Nov 2014, 12:52

One big problem, as I see it, is trying to isolate parenting from all the other influences on the growing child, genetics being a major one. We all know cases where siblings are apparently brought up in what appears to be identical ways but turn out quite differently. But then, birth order can have profound consequences and the more so with historical figures.

As well as recognising that what constitutes *good* is largely situational, being objective in our judgements of the resulting adult is really hard and brings in so much cultural baggage. If good parenting is that which results in an autonomous adult who functions effectively in that time and place then some of the most monstrous characters of the past were well parented. Were they *happy* though?  I suspect that might be our contemporary idea of the outcome of good parenting.
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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: Good and Bad Parenting   Thu 06 Nov 2014, 02:49

You hear a lot of stories of people who succeed or achieve, and put it down to what seems quite harsh parenting with the need for the child to prove themselves to their parent (usually the father).  I am just listening to an interview with Jane Goodall and she was saying that as a very little girl she was interested in animals and how they lived.  She related one day when she wondered how eggs were made and disappeared for four hours.  When she arrived back with shining eyes and an eager tale she said her mother, instead of scolding her for going away for so long without telling anyone, listened to her daughter explaining the exciting story of how an egg was made.  And she said later when everyone laughed at her dreams, only her mother supported her.

Whether that support made any real difference - this girl seemed to be one of those people who have a real passion for some aspect of science or understanding right from the very earliest age - I don't know, but obviously she has kept in mind her mother's attitude.  (As an aside, I do often wonder about these people who know what they love from a very young age and follow it through -why does this happen? It doesn't usually seem to be parent-driven.  I know Gerald Durrell had that obsession with religion.  And others too, with geological bents, or fossil collections etc.)
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Good and Bad Parenting   Thu 06 Nov 2014, 08:43

@ferval wrote:
One big problem, as I see it, is trying to isolate parenting from all the other influences on the growing child, genetics being a major one. We all know cases where siblings are apparently brought up in what appears to be identical ways but turn out quite differently. But then, birth order can have profound consequences and the more so with historical figures.

As well as recognising that what constitutes *good* is largely situational, being objective in our judgements of the resulting adult is really hard and brings in so much cultural baggage. If good parenting is that which results in an autonomous adult who functions effectively in that time and place then some of the most monstrous characters of the past were well parented. Were they *happy* though?  I suspect that might be our contemporary idea of the outcome of good parenting.



According to modern psychiatrists there are very few "good" parents. I read somewhere that 94% of families are "dysfunctional", the polite term for what Larkin (see his poem below) simply calls f*cked up". I have no idea how that figure was arrived at, but, if it is accurate, perhaps it was true also of families in the past, the rare happy families being, as Tolstoy observed, "all alike" (i.e. happy?), but every unhappy one - famous or infamous - being "unhappy in its own way". Larkin managed to sum up in a few lines everything that the psychiatrists, counsellors and therapists tell us we must struggle to face, understand and deal with (forgive?) if we are to become autonomous adults who also have some chance of being "happy", whatever that little word means.

The Greeks, as ever, understood a thing or two about this - all those stories about patricide, matricide and fratricide, not to mention Medea who killed her own children to have a swipe at the unfaithful Jason. But then being the granddaughter of the sun god Helios can't have been easy. But Orestes is my favourite. He faced up to things - a psychiatrist's dream patient: "It was I and not Apollo who killed my mother," he told Athena. She was well impressed at the boy's honesty - his willingness to be responsible for himself and his own messes: the Furies left him alone after that. Reminds me of Sylvia Plath, a psychiatrist's nightmare, who couldn't - or wouldn't - face the truth about herself, except when writing. "I give you permission to hate your mother," her psychiatrist told her. She (Plath, not the therapist) later wrote a poem to/about the unfortunate Mrs. Plath called simply "Medusa". But it didn't do much good.

I really want to talk about Mary and Elizabeth Tudor - there was a difficult family situation if ever there was one. Living with a murderously inclined father who had beheaded two wives and repudiated two others, bastardizing you and your sister en route must have been tricky for all concerned. But one sister coped and did very well as queen; the other - ironically probably the kinder and more sincere of the two -  was a disaster for England and ended up loathed and despised.

But probably everyone here is sick to death of the Tudors and their tribulations.

Here's the Philip Larkin poem, "This Be the Verse". I'm not sure if it is one of the "Nation's Favourites": I suspect not. I think old Euripedes and Aeschylus and Sophocles would have liked it though:


This Be The Verse


They f**k you up, your mum and dad.  

   They may not mean to, but they do.  

They fill you with the faults they had

   And add some extra, just for you.


But they were f**ked up in their turn

   By fools in old-style hats and coats,  

Who half the time were soppy-stern

   And half at one another’s throats.


Man hands on misery to man.

   It deepens like a coastal shelf.

Get out as early as you can,

   And don’t have any kids yourself.



PS The second "f*ck" (line 5) should be the past participle of the verb, but the computer is so shocked at the word that it won't add the "ed".


Last edited by Temperance on Thu 06 Nov 2014, 14:01; edited 2 times in total
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Good and Bad Parenting   Thu 06 Nov 2014, 09:12

Duly f*xed
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Good and Bad Parenting   Thu 06 Nov 2014, 14:38

PS What is confusing is that Mary Tudor - at least for the first ten or so years of her life - was adored by both her parents. Her father regularly showed his daughter off to foreign ambassadors, proudly declaring, "This girl never cries!" She certainly made up for that in later life. Her mother too was loved by all: she had the sympathy and respect of all Christendom and was widely considered to be a saint and a martyr.

On the other hand, Mary's sister was, as we all know, a huge disappointment from the day she was born. She never had much real love or security from her parents, or from anyone else for that matter. Her mother was the "Great Whore" (Elizabeth's great uncle Norfolk's informal title for his sister's child), brutally done to death by her husband, Elizabeth's father, and Elizabeth herself was regularly referred to thereafter as "The Little Bastard".

And as a teenager she was subjected to a systematic campaign of seduction by her step-father, Thomas Seymour, an episode in her young life as sordid - and damaging - as anything we read about in today's press.

Yet - one way or another - Elizabeth Tudor survived and grew up to find herself, in Lytton Strachey's memorable words, "a sane woman in a universe of dangerous maniacs".

Mary, on the other hand, devout, sincere and so anxious to do right, pursued a crazy policy of religious violence that appalled even the vicious and fanatical Stephen Gardiner.

I want to start quoting Alice Miller here (child psychologist who did a brilliant study of Hitler's childhood in her book "For Your own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence"), but that's enough psychobabble from me for one day.
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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Re: Good and Bad Parenting   Thu 06 Nov 2014, 16:40

The concept of childhood came quite late in terms of history...... as I often remind people who when they say how much they want babies how that actually  it is no easy thing to raise an adult. For most children in times of yore and as for many today, there was/ is no time allowance  just to be a child beyond the toddler stage. Perhaps parenting is also a modern concept; the wider family/clan system being given shared responsibility. I have to think on that one.


Last edited by Priscilla on Thu 06 Nov 2014, 23:37; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : errors again)
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Good and Bad Parenting   Thu 06 Nov 2014, 22:55

"It takes a village to raise a child" - although the "African proverb" seems to be of doubtful authenticity in that precise form.
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