Tag Archives: mental illness

Who Can We Blame?

As a follow-up to my recent blog about the amazing personal journey of Gayle Kirschenbaum and her mother that will be available to all of us in her upcoming movie, “Look at Us Now, Mother”, I wanted to post this personal question I got from a parent a long time ago.

Q. I am currently reading your book, “When Your Kids Push Your Buttons” and have a question on something I read. The section called Parent-Blame didn’t sink in with me and I’m hoping you can clarify. It says, “Your parents did the best they could given the knowledge and circumstances they had at the time.” It sounds like we should hold blameless those parents who just don’t do right by their children. On a more personal level, what if my mother had thought to herself as she was parenting that there must be a better way to do this, but, dammit, I have 7 children and it’s just too hard, or, this is the way my mother raised me, so therefore, this is how I am going to raise my daughter. Does that mean she’s still blameless for everything she chose to do or not do? It’s like saying we have to forgive all the previous generations for how they parented, but our generation is to be more accountable – I am accountable. But shouldn’t my mother and her mother have taken responsibility for themselves? I didn’t have an opportunity to share my concerns with my mother as she passed away 8 years ago and had a debilitating mental illness since I was 16. It’s a fact that she did not do right by me and treated me differently than my siblings. But even my forgiving her doesn’t release her from the responsibility she had or hold her blameless.

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Mass Killings: When Do We Talk about Parenting?

Perhaps the only silver lining to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary is emerging conversations and, hopefully, policy changes for gun control and mental illness. Both are in dire need of a relook and a revision, even though neither is likely to eradicate mass shootings.

But what about emotional illness, which affects so many more of us? Children are not born with emotional problems, which are rooted in feeling isolated, unimportant, misunderstood, victimized, holier than thou, etc. Children with emotional problems are the victims of the influence of parents, teachers, peers—anyone who is critical in the daily life of the child. Most of these problems can be healed through parenting.

Parents, wounded themselves in their pasts, unknowingly pass on their unexamined wounds to their children—wounds that come from perceptions of a child’s mind (“I’m not good enough”, “I can’t ever be who my parents expect”, “Nobody likes me“, I’m a trouble-maker”, etc.). These thoughts grow into beliefs that influence behavior if not understood and addressed.

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