The Darker Side of Parenting
Beginning with the infamous 2008 indictment of Casey Anthony for the homicide of her beautiful toddler to the recent South Florida tragedies including the parents that brutally beat their three year-old child to death for wetting his pants and the senseless murder of a little girl named Nubia at the hands of her foster parents, I am left with a few lingering, troubling thoughts. Thoughts that once I’m done shaking my head in utter disgust, compel me to do some hardcore soul-searching.
How could they?
On occasion, I have found myself enraged, and on the verge of crossing a very fine line—one that would imply a blatant abuse of my parental authority. Perhaps for those folk more good-natured and even-keeled than myself, it never happens or has only happened once in a lifetime. Hooray for them. For me, thankfully, I possess the necessary tools to recognize my unsettled state of mind and at that point, choose to disengage.
I know this topic is uncomfortably intrusive for most parents but, let’s strap on our objective scientific lenses for a moment, shall we? And just for arguments sake, let’s analyze this a little deeper.
Are these parents really monsters all the time?
At any point in their lives, or during an ordinary day, do they act like normal, loving caretakers?
Sociopaths and legally psychotic individuals aside, for that one-time offender that snaps, could it be they simply lacked that last shred of discipline, judgment and moral compass to ultimately avert such atrocious conduct?
And in the end, they went over the edge and couldn’t control their instincts.
Freud knew it. Machiavelli wrote volumes about it, as well as many other psychological giants. There exists a side, a very dark one no less, of the human spirit that could potentially reflect such behavior in any one of us— if pushed to our limit or while suffering under perpetual extreme pressure.
Shame on me for entertaining such ideas, but let’s be realistic. If we refuse to properly identify the source of such immoral behavior, we won’t gain a deeper understanding for what actions must be taken to avoid it.
And avoid falling into the pit of the darker side of the human experience. Because once there, there’s no way out.
Let’s face it. Many parents are overwhelmed, chronically sleep-deprived, depressed and suffering silently. Society judges harshly. Belligerent strangers push our buttons and make us question our values, our temperaments, and cast doubt on how we see ourselves. Kids go through infuriating stages of rebellion that really try at our patience. And such adversarial interactions can hypothetically evoke parts of our character, buried deep within our core, that we unconsciously strive to shield from the world. Parts, we wholeheartedly disown.
I am not a puritan and by no means consider myself a “perfect mother.” However, I am honest enough to take a step back and evaluate my parenting methods to thereby, keep my actions and parental power in check.
Yes, I love my kids enough to painstakingly analyze my own intentions.
Day after day. Again and again.
That’s how I keep my perspective. And ultimately choose to act with goodness.
Blame it all on that damn psychology degree and years of working in the mental health field.