That’s right, Moms, I’m talking about you. About us.
Recently I argued that Radical Feminism can be compatible with being a mother, and I will be building on that again later. Childfree ladies out there, I love you and your life is yours to live as you like. For those of us who have taken on the challenge of bringing up the next generation, I want to talk a little about what that really means.
We are going to be leaving them a mess to clean up, that’s for sure. Global pollution obviously, but that’s just a symptom of what I want to focus on.
The journal European Psychiatry recently published the results of a long study of all the published material they could get their hands on. That’s 2,650 separate studies, with only 25 meeting their strict criteria. Looking at these diverse data, it turns out 85% of people with major depression reported being abused as children.
Same with bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia.
This abuse seems related to the part of mental illness that medication can’t reach – “Deficits in social cognitive function” – meaning not understanding social subtleties. Large parts of interpersonal life are out of reach for them. The children whose parents mistreat them often remain isolated into adulthood, unable to feel the connection they so desperately need.
As mothers we have a great responsibility that generations before us have failed at. The state of the world should make it obvious that too many kids are being treated like shit and growing up to become assholes. Abusing a kid sends their brain on a negative developmental track that’s hard to recover from. If they can even see it.
If we want to be able to effect change in the world, first we have to learn to change ourselves.
I believe I embody the change I have worked for within myself. I believe that our approach to life has a great bearing on where we end up. I’ve worked hard to detect, embrace and work through my hangups. I’m still working on it and I accept that I will never be finished. I will never be perfect. The art is in the refining. Be the best you can be right now and build on that.
A big part of this is finding and facing your demons. Often they aren’t even as bad as they seem. If you stop being afraid long enough to really look at it, the shadow is robbed of its power.
Too many people I know don’t do this. Whether they can’t or choose not to I usually can’t tell. And I’m not sure what the difference is. Do the ignorant get credit for not knowing better than to abuse those close to them? Maybe, but not a lot.
How do you tell someone the world isn’t necessarily what they think it is? They can see what’s right in front of them, thank you very much! I have seen older people as their mind closed in on them like a hungry wolf and I am desperate to avoid that fate.
The root of Feminism lies in the experience of living a woman’s life. In our perception of our place in the world. Our main example of this is our mothers. Whether we become one ourselves or not, maternal relationships have an elemental influence on our life’s context. If she teaches you that the world is a scary place full of people you can’t trust, that’s going to shade your perception.
As mothers, we make the impression in the wet cement that is a small child’s mind. We leave our footprints all over it and we ought to tread lightly.
Moderation in all things (including moderation!) Listen to what they have to say and respond in kind. Ask questions. Make them think! Show them it matters that they can. Don’t take the easy way out (too often….) Let them be bored, even when it’s annoying.
Squeeze the budget and buy them an instrument. Go to the concert. It’s not the London Philharmonic but to them, it’s Rosebud-level epic.
Imagine a world where people believe what they do matters.
Be kind to your children. That shouldn’t be a radical idea, but a worldview forged in fear stifles communication. Radical change is impossible without strong communication. A worldview forged in fear is the type to embrace rigid social roles as a cozy box to keep that world in.
Be gentle with your children. Face your demons and don’t impose your shit on them. The world will kick them in the gut soon enough, we need to give them a firm foundation to stand on while they fight the good fight into the future.