By Dr. Dinah Miller
When it comes to the Mother-Daughter relationship, I’ve come to realize that part of the issue is one of perspective and that parents come at their job from a completely different perspective than their children. Parents see their children as people who’ve come into the world with nothing. At some level, the child starts at zero and all good things should add brownie points. I bought you that nice bike and didn’t use the money for facials. Add two points. I took you to softball tournaments all over the state and gave up my weekend beauty rest, the cost of your team fees, equipment, and my women’s luncheons to drive you all over and cheer for you. Eight points. I moved to a neighborhood with better schools, even though I liked the old neighborhood better. Twelve points. I paid for college tuition. Many points.
Children, on the other hand, look around and see their friends, and many people live in a world where children are the priority. It’s no big deal that Mom drives to softball tournaments because everyone else has a mother on the team that does the same thing, and she’s the one who wanted a kid. If she wanted to go to those lunches with her friends, she should not have had children.
Children start with the assumption that they will have the things that other children have, so the bike and the good neighborhood school, and the two-hour drives to softball are expected. They start at 100 points and subtract points. You criticized me for getting a 92 on an exam. Minus 2 points. You made me clean up the mess you made cooking when I had homework. Minus 2 points. You lost your temper and screamed horrible things at me. Minus eight points (more or less depending on the horrible things said). You talk about how you make all these sacrifices for me when really you’re very selfish. Minus a few more points. Nothing is ever enough, I call you every day but you still complain that I’m not attentive enough. Keep subtracting.
Obviously, there is not a right or wrong here, and not everyone keeps score like this, but I’ve found the model to be useful in understanding why parents feel they do so much for seemingly unappreciative children, and why children feel so injured by parents who can’t understand why someone they have given so much to feels angry.
Now speaking as a mother, it’s good we have standards: children should be raised in environments where they are safe, where they are loved, and where someone is encouraging their growth and providing opportunities for fun, for education, and for their overall best interests. Parents should be docked points if they don’t try, but the bottom line is that we all want to be appreciated.
Dinah Miller is a psychiatrist, published in her field, a blogger at Shrink Rap and also a novelist.
Dr. Dinah Miller’s Books Available!
Over the course of the summer, three of my novels have become available on Kindle/Amazon.
Double Billing is the story of a woman whose life changes when she discovers she has an identical twin she never knew existed. It’s a short book and is intended to be a quick read.
Mitch & Wendy : Lost in Adventure Land is about two siblings who are struggling with their relationships in the aftermath of their parents’ divorce. The story takes place on Wendy’s 10th birthday when the kids get lost in an amusement park, only to learn they are being followed by a man who knows all about them from Mitch’s misguided Facebook life. Written for 3rd-5th graders, or the very young at heart.
Home Inspection is a story told through psychotherapy sessions in a format that is similar to the HBO series In Treatment. Dr. Julius Strand is a psychiatrist who plods along in his already-lived life until two of his patients inspire him through their own struggles to find love.
If you don’t own a Kindle, you can install a free Kindle app on your computer, tablet, or cell phone by going here.
All three books are also available as as paperbacks from Amazon.
Rather than giving different links to all these books and formats, there is a single link to my Amazon page with all the options here.
In non-fiction news, Shrink Rap: Three Psychiatrists Explain Their Work, written with Clink and Roy, will be released as an audio-book very soon. It remains available in hardcover/softcover/Kindle/Nook. The three of us are very pleased with the enthusiastic reviews it has gotten.
Finally, If you do read any of the books, please consider putting a review on Amazon.
Thank you so much,