It is easy to be a silent advocate of a child who is threatened by her mom, especially when we witness it in public. Desire to blame comes naturally because the scene is nasty and we don’t want our peace to be disturbed by another parent’s experience. We become indignant and accuse in our minds the mother for having vile behavior. We wonder if there is anything we can do about it.
We could tell this mother to stop encroaching upon her child, and if other people say the same with firm conviction, the effect might be positive for the child. At least the child would know that other people attempt to defend her against her mother’s aggression. (The more society shows its indifference to children’s feelings the worse it will be for the future of society.) And what about the mother? Who ever stopped to wonder what is going on in the head of such a mother?
Let’s try on this mother’s shoes and reveal her thoughts and feelings. Here is what she might say, “Yes, you are right. I am a part of the problem, not the solution. I know you all think of me as being a bad mother. I see blame in your eyes and, instead of increasing kindness, hatred increases inside of me. I hate this moment. I hate you when you notice my failure. I hate my child when she misbehaves, because I feel that she is disrespectful to me. And I hate myself for being helpless. I know that people around are watching and take my child’s side. This makes me even more evil. I know that I can’t cope with my child. I read parenting books and listen to success stories; they talk about love.”
“I know I love my daughter, but I can’t do anything about myself, when it comes to the struggle between us. She makes me crazy when she suddenly becomes offended and stops talking to me. Evil awakens in me when she demands things, which I can’t afford, and when she doesn’t stop annoying me. I realize that I am wrong when I threaten her, but I can’t help my feelings. They remain evil. I feel no love at this moment because I need love myself. I want my child to love me. I want to be a good mother. I dream of having a loving relationship with my child, like in the movies, but in real life, my daughter and I are unhappy together.”
“I face the truth: there is not enough love in my heart for my child. I strive to love more, but when it comes to exact words, warm eye contact, tender touches, I don’t know what to say and do. How do I know how love must be expressed if I never had that experience in my childhood? Theoretically I know what one should say and do with a child, but words work if only they are said with warmth and sincerity. What can I do if I don’t find those feelings in my heart? How can anyone help me? Blaming me doesn’t help.”
If we stop blaming and begin looking for real solutions we might try, at least, to begin an open conversation. Less public indifference to this topic may change people’s minds and advocacy for children’s dignities will transfer to real solutions to the problem in the future, when the children themselves become parents.