Parent-child relationships under love and control: is understanding useful? Is it feasible to escape? Editorial chat room

Host of the 79th issue | Yin Qinglu

A few days ago, a 10-minute video labeled "Beat magic with magic" caused controversy. The photographer is a young mother, because her daughter does not want to sleep, the mother simply took her daughter to the street in the middle of the night, and said that "we are not allowed to go home before dawn", "You have to remember how happy you are now", and eventually caused her daughter to cry and collapse. Some netizens praised the mother for being emotionally stable and good at parenting; There are also views that she seems gentle and calm, but in fact has a lot of resentment in her heart, she is abusing children in the name of love and exerting power control in the name of education. Then another incident happened: a mother found someone to pick the lock on her door and kidnapped her daughter to go to a school to quit the Internet. The two unrelated events, but with some similarities – parents have their own problems, but it is always the child who receives punishment.

Image source: Weibo

Psychotherapist Susan Foward has proposed the concept of "toxic parents", pointing out that such parents often lack empathy, selfishness, and individual parents have mental illness. But it's not easy to tell who is a poison mother. In the Korean drama "Dark Glory", Moon Dong-eun's mother tries to ruin her daughter's life, and her madness is more obvious, but there are also many parents who cause trouble for their children and show themselves as enlightened and educated.

It's hard to imagine how the little girl in that video will grow up thinking about this early morning walk, and she will think, "Actually, my mother is very good to me"? How can the uneasiness and sadness in her heart be placed? Japanese female writer Ryomi Suzuki once said that she "envied Cinderella's simple and direct misfortune", and her mother's love for her was "muddy", muddy like a swamp, and it was even more difficult to escape.

In order to reduce the influence from parents, some people began to learn the "separation of topics" in psychology, separating the original family from themselves. However, it is not easy. Korean female writer Kim Hye-jin mentioned in the novel "About Daughter" that although her daughter wants to rebel against her mother, her various characteristics also come from her mother. In addition to blaming the family of origin, we also seem to find another discourse to express trauma, and can only project reflection and resentment onto parents.

01 Where is the boundary between control and education?

Lin Ziren: Controlling children and deciding what is good and what is bad for children is probably not only happening in East Asia. On March 23, the US state of Utah passed a new social media bill, which is currently the toughest law in the United States and even the world to restrict the use of social media by teenagers.

The bill stipulates that social media companies can only allow minors under the age of 18 to open accounts with explicit parental permission; Even if minors are allowed to have social media accounts, parents have the right to monitor their child's every move — meaning that all the pictures, videos, messages, search histories, and messages and watchlists you send to you on social media can be mastered by parents.

It's a little chilling to think about, isn't this equivalent to the law stipulating that parents have the right to read their children's diaries? We are all comers-by, who didn't hide a diary when they were kids? The bill was passed as more and more research shows that social media has a negative impact on adolescent mental health, such as exacerbating the risk of anxiety, depression, insomnia, online violence, etc., and the addictive mechanism of social networks is also very harmful. The arguments of the bill's supporters are not incomprehensible, but the near-ban on minors from using social networks by means of legislation is also a bit excessive, which can be described as an abuse of parental power.

Image source: Figureworm

In the past two days, I have been watching the Japanese cartoon "Spy Over the Family", which is very interesting, this spy formed a fake family in order to complete the task, and gradually learned how to be a good family member in daily life. There is such a scene in the film: an important step for the spy male protagonist to complete the task is to train his six-year-old adopted daughter to be an excellent student, but the daughter is still at a playful age, and she is very unattentive to studying, in a tutoring homework, the male protagonist "threatened" his daughter that if she didn't finish her homework, she couldn't watch the cartoon at 7 p.m., her daughter was collapsed by the exercises she couldn't answer, crying and running back to the bedroom to lock herself up, and the male protagonist knocked on the door in every possible way and did not answer.

In the dense barrage, people are recalling similar situations when they were children, and their parents had already pried or kicked the door. The male protagonist did not be anxious or thunderous, but began to reflect on his shortcomings as a father, thinking about whether he was not a good example and whether he did not know his daughter well enough. When the bell rang at 7 o'clock, he knocked on his daughter's door again, apologized to her and said that he should not be in a hurry to get on the fire, and if he wanted to watch cartoons, he would come out and watch it. This scene really poked me, respecting my daughter's mood and privacy, willing to introspect and apologize, and more importantly, to be patient with the child's growth, rather than blindly imposing his own will on the child. This is what I think an "enlightened parent" should look like.

"The Spy Passes" poster. Image source: Douban

Xu Luqing: I think the difference between education and control is the reservation of children's right to self-determination - how much weight can children's own opinions account for? Are parents and children equal in deliberative positions? Everyone praises "obedient" children, but if you think about it, will praising "obedient" rationalize parental control? Even let the child's resistance be taken for granted as bad. Some choices seem enlightened, but in fact parents rely on orders, coercion, and emotional kidnapping to make their children obey. Mahara did not respect Mag's desire to go to school, nor did he heed his future pleas to stay in the village to pick tea, and it may seem to him that it is enlightened not to let his children go to school for "that kind of test-oriented education", but this is clearly control rather than education.

02 Traditional parent-child relationships are not a single "firm control"

Dong Ziqi: Is there a saying that "children are the natural subordinates of their parents"? Breaking through the family's confinement of the individual and joining the torrent of the times is Gao Juehui's choice in Ba Jin's novel "Home", and Juehui's image has also inspired countless children to devote themselves to the cause of "revolution and love". However, I would like to add that in traditional Chinese society, the parent-child relationship is not always the form of parents ruthlessly and firmly controlling their children, and the actual situation may be more complicated.

Through her examination of the epitaph of the deceased children of the Tang Dynasty, the American sinologist Yi Peixia found that the epitaph written for those minor children will have some details that ordinary epitaphs do not have—adult epitaphs usually have more obvious formulas for praising virtue - such as which child cannot walk until the age of five, and which girl is torn between grandmother and mother. Are these details of growth known only to the family? It probably has nothing to do with the child's character, temperance or pitiful interruption of the future, but only the expression of reluctant emotions.

What impressed me the most was the poem written by Wang Fanzhi, which said, "Parents have mercy on men and women, and protect the pearl in the palm of their hands." "In the eyes of parents, both boys and girls are pearls in the palm of their hands, this is the most real and natural relationship! Earlier, Tao Yuanming wrote the poem "Responsibility Son", which was written to his five sons, but in general, none of them were ready, "Although there are five boys, it is not good for paper and pen." The specific criticism is also a bit funny: "Ashu is twenty-eight, lazy and unmatched." Ah Xuan practiced zhixue, but did not love literary arts. In the thirteenth year of Yongduan, I don't know six and seven. Tongzi is nine years old, but forages for pears and chestnuts. "It seems that if the responsibility is not motivated, he will eat and drink and play scoundrels, but in fact, is it not pampering more than discipline?

Therefore, the image of the so-called strict father may not be so simple, and Chinese parents have not always been parents, nor do they always believe in controlling their children to death. People who believe that parents have the right to suppress their children like to invoke the "twenty-four filial piety" allusions of burying their children to save their mothers and lying carps for ice-Lu Xun is very disgusted with "twenty-four filial piety" and feels that it is simply poisonous. When did it become popular? This is a question I am more curious about.

"Burying children to save mothers" in the 24 filial pieties (profile picture)

Yin Qinglu: Ziqi's mention of pampering and reluctance reminds me of Li Ya, a Miao girl living in the United States in the non-fiction book "Death or Soul". Li Ya has been seriously ill since childhood, and her parents have shown her compassion and love, developing her innocent and cute but willful personality. The parents could not trust Western medicine, and seeing Li Ya undergoing invasive treatment would be very painful, and they basically did not follow the doctor's advice. When I read it, I wonder, if they love their daughters less, can they let the doctor heal them? But for Li Ya, the love around her is indeed a precious treasure in her life full of illness.

Returning to the question of "love or control", this seems to be a difficult thing to distinguish. Enlightened love is the best, but we are only ordinary people after all, so I still don't know how to judge the love that directly or indirectly leads to control. Perhaps the best case scenario is what the child says, where parents can always introspect themselves and realize that they can restrain themselves from the precipice when control occurs. I really liked the end of the movie "Journey to Suzuya" - Suzuya felt that her aunt's love was too heavy, and she would be bombarded with text messages when she was away, and her aunt complained that raising her niece delayed her youth, but in the end my aunt chose to support Suzuya, telling her, "Although the idea of complaining is real, it is definitely not the only idea."

03 The child's way, is it understanding, resisting or fleeing?

Pan Wenjie: The British drama "Melrose" reflects the sad shadow left by the original family on the child. When the protagonist says, "I think my mother's death is the best thing that has happened to me recently...", I was deeply shocked. I hope no child in the world will say such a thing again! Melrose's father caused what Qinglu called "simple and direct misfortune", he sexually assaulted his biological son, and also brutally prevented the child from dreaming. The mother's love is somewhat "muddy", because although the mother seems selfish, she is actually a victim of her father. In fact, in the face of this "muddy" love, there may be the possibility of reconciliation. Unfortunately, Melrose and her mother are deeply trapped in their own misfortunes, and it is difficult to spare the mind to try to understand each other's situation.

"Melrose" poster. Image source: Douban

How to escape the control of the power of the previous generation and live less depressed, I think the thing that can be done for children is to try to understand why their parents have become like that. Is it because they have no place in society, so they act as a bully against weak children at home? Is it because their lives are already hard, and they just want to raise an obedient child? Is it because they are deeply anxious and worry that they and their children will slip in class? Most parents are not heinous bastards, and they may have their own grievances. Understanding the source of the power control of parents and elders, even if they cannot forgive each other, will make themselves feel better - parents are not born bastards, but also created by the environment, such an analysis can also avoid the recurrence of tragedy in themselves and the next generation.

Xu Luqing: Although I am clearly aware of the limitations of the environment, I also wonder whether this increases the possibility of reconciliation or just makes me more uncomfortable. The most tricky thing is that only one party is understanding, and the other party continues to insist, such as the parents of friends around them firmly believe that foreign countries are in hot water all year round, and she is not allowed to go abroad for exchange, at this time understanding is actually useless, this is her life, not her parents' life. Most of the controls can be traced up to the shadow of victimization, but when the shadow is recognized, not only does the grievance and anger not decrease, but also adds another layer of self-doubt - am I not tolerant enough, am I not doing well enough? Similar situations occur more often when parents are older, which is why Chizuko Ueno says it is difficult to fight the weak, and many mothers often use weakness to manipulate their children, the so-called "power of the weak". So I agree with what she said, choose "no reconciliation" and "head-on" when my mother is still a strong person.

Dong Ziqi: Sometimes I think sadly about the influence of family on individuals, and it seems that there are many such novels, that is, individuals who want to escape the influence of the family are fatalistic. Especially in terms of temperament, you want to be a genteel person and get rid of the influence of past irritability; You want to be delicate because rough family has hurt you, but those irritable, explosive factors are still in your blood, waiting for the moment to explode. Blood is also a metaphor, and I think that in addition to attributing to the past, we should also maintain awareness of ourselves.

Xu Luqing: I would also like to add a little understanding of "understanding". In the early years, I would be disappointed and even annoyed that my mother could not understand me, and for me losing "understanding" meant losing the possibility of communication. But then I found that what was more precious than understanding was that she still loved me unconditionally even if she didn't understand, which was something I couldn't do, and it was this kind of love that sustained me.

Pan Wenjie: I insist that understanding is useful. Understanding the reasons for parental stubbornness also means "I see through you, and you are just that", which means that the child matures in thought and personality. When they are young, the controlling parents in the eyes of children are majestic and invincible, but once we realize that their perspective is so limited, the reason for controlling the family and controlling the child is so pale and untenable, is this not the beginning of the child's independence?

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