Sunday, April 15, 2007


Weaving Scenarios

My close friend's daughter is bi-polar and lives at home with her. The parents want their daughter to her own life. Many times they've implored the daughter to get an education or get a job. They've spoken to her about finding her passion. Nothing seems to help. Day after day she stays home watches TV or does nothing or does something harmful like cutting. The latest episode involves her grades in college-she's failing in most of her classes hence she represents a great anxiety to her parents.

This anxiety is where the parents exercised their greatest compassion. In their daughter's many failures they've been there to pick her up and dust her off and when deemed ready, will send her off again. Each episode is similar and its only difference is the context that takes its shape. With the failing classes, the daughter's professors have had difficulty dealing with her disease as she is disruptive in class. The failure feeds her depression and so my friend does her best to soothe her daughter and try to get her to see the brighter side of things. The father exasperated tries to convince her in the importance of goals and timelines. There are other influences in this young woman's life too. Like her mother's relationship with a man who is 6 years older than her daughter and the conflict this symbolizes for the young woman. We mustn’t forget the father who is insulated from his emotions and presents himself like he does his profession-a teacher. The mother tends to infantilize her daughter soothing each and every failure. The father infantilizes her daughter by patronizing every interaction much like a professor to a student. The daughter has no concept really of living with the consequences of her actions. One would like to think that if both parents can continue to be there for her or to say or do the right thing the daughter would "right herself". It hasn't happened yet and I doubt now that it would. Still, they both continue to get caught in the web of life that their daughter creates and find themselves tangled and unable to free themselves from the messiness she's in and time again.

So I ask this question, would they be monsters as parents if they cut their ties and have the world teach her how to function? My sense is this would be very effective. But in a worse sense, I think the parent’s motivation (another blog) to infantilize their daughter is responsible for her debilitation. It takes on this pseudo honorable form much like helping the homeless by giving them money. It is alive and insidious and it is not being talked about. It teaches the child dependency and worse stuffs their daughter’s choices on what her life could be-underground.

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