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Parental Pathogens

Parental Pathogens

By J. Bailey Molineux, Ph.D.

How did your parents treat you as you were growing up? What techniques did they use to raise you?

Do you feel, perhaps, they were too permissive with you? Or by contrast, too authoritarian? Doyou sense they might have expected too much of you, or spanked you too much?

And how do you treat yourself today? Are you too permissive with yourself? Or too strict? Do you demand too much of yourself. Are you too self-critical? Dr. W. Hugh Missildine, co-author of the book, Your Inner Conflicts - How to Solve Them (Simon & Schuster), believes we tend to treat ourselves today the way we were treated or raised by our parents back then. In our present lives, we may recreate the family atmosphere of the past.

Dr. Missildine also believes there are certain ways of raising children what he calls parental pathogens - which if used consistently or excessively can result in later problems.

Over coercion. Over coerced children are given constant instructions, directions and supervision but are allowed little leeway to pursue their own interests. As adults, they tend either to rely too much on others for direction, be too coercive with themselves or resist all efforts to control their behavior.

Over submission. Children whose parents submitted to their every wish tend to become impulsive and undisciplined adults. Since their parents rarely said "No" to them, they rarely say "No" to themselves.

Perfectionism. Perfectionism may be found in outwardly successful people whose parents accepted them only if they lived up to certain high standards or achieved certain high goals. Since they tend to demean their adult accomplish­ments - no matter how worthy to others - they are often depressed or dissatisfied with themselves.

Overindulgence. Overindulged children are constantly given presents, privileges and services, even though they don't always ask for them. As adults, they are frequently bored or tired but unwilling to do anything except criticize others for not catering to their needs as their parents did.

Punitiveness. Excessive punishment of children is often combined with Over coercion and perfectionism and may lead to frequent self-criticism and an excess of angry, vengeful feelings which may or may not be acted out directly.

Neglect. Neglect can occur in the homes of the prominent and successful, in which little attention is paid to the children, as well as in homes over­whelmed by the problems of poverty, alcoholism, divorce or death. People from such homes often have trouble forming close, lasting relationships because they learned early to rely upon themselves for the satisfaction of their needs.

These parental pathogens may result. in two flaws in the adult personality: a tendency to self-belittle and a failure to control behavior. Adults exposed to these pathogens may grow up lacking sufficient self-esteem or self-control, or both.

No matter what your upbringing, you are responsible for what you are today.

Next, don't blame your parents or yourself for what they did or failed to do. You have more important tasks to occupy your energies.

Third, become a more knowledgeable parent to yourself than your parents were with you. This means you will have to treat yourself with more respect and awareness than you have before, but with greater behavioral restraint.' By disciplining yourself more, you will come to respect yourself more.


About the Author: J. Bailey Molineux, a psychologist with Adult and Child Counseling, has incorporated many of his articles in a book, Loving Isn't Easy, Isbn 1587410419, sold through bookstores everywhere or available directly from Selfhelpbooks.com. Copyright 2002, J. Bailey Molineux and Selfhelpbooks.com, all rights reserved. This article may be reprinted but must include authors copyright and website hyperlinks.

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