Kimmel: Trust & Punishment
do not believe that genuine trust can develop in a relationship unless
both parties have trust in each other. In the parent-child relationship,
the child learns to trust his parents when his need for nurturing is
regularly met. But this development of trust can only occur if the
parent's response to the child is based on the belief that the child's
expression of his need for nurturing is genuine,
that the child is not just trying to "get his own way"; and is not out
to make the parent's life difficult. Misery, unhappiness, and a struggle
for power often do become a part of the parent-child interaction,
especially in a society such as our own which does not trust and does
not validate the nurturing requirements of children. If the relationship
of parent and child does become a continual struggle, it is not because
the child's motivation is to punish the parent, but because his need
for nurturing is not being met. It is also true that a child, as he
matures, may begin to behave in ways to punish his parents, but this can
only occur if his parents have regularly punished him.
of punishment by parents is a clear indication that there has been an
insufficient development of trust between parent and child in the early
formative years of the child's development. Most American parents punish
their children. Most also begin punishing them, and using the threat of
punishment, at a very early age (usually in infancy). Children grow up
believing that the punishment they received was deserved, and that they
were harmful, bad, and not trustworthy. Many, as adults, who lack a
foundation of parental trust, do not trust, or even like, themselves.
They perceive their needs, especially their need for nurturing, caring,
kindness, love, and intimacy, as "bad", selfish, indulgent, harmful, and
a burden put on others. Some spend their entire lifetime feeling guilty
towards their parents. Often, they begin in adolescence to
self-destruct, punishing themselves for burdening their parents, for
having been born, for being alive."
- James Kimmel, Ph.D.
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