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"
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
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
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.