Saturday, September 26, 2009

B&W, W&O: Temper Tantrums

"However, normal people also exhibit indications that fragmentation exists; it is not merely a problem for the mentally ill. Although generally fairly subtle, this phenomenon is most obvious when someone loses his or her temper, a condition that happens to almost all of us from time to time. On becoming very angry, people often feel a change occurring within themselves, and it is not uncommon for such a person to fell quite different, quite 'other' than his or her normal self. Questioning such a person at that moment is often fruitless, since he or she is not 'present' to be questioned; however, if the situation is discussed later, many will admit to having felt much younger, even like a child during the time they were angry. The person who loses his or her temper actually experiences the world and events within it from a point of view quite different from the one he or she normally experiences. This may be because, at some time in the past, such people have learned that by entering a 'child state' they are more likely to get what they want. Successful behaviors are the ones most likely to be employed again. At the very least, one may suppose that anger must have worked form them when they were children. Having learned a behavior that got them what they wanted, it is almost impossible to alter that behavior at a later stage, even when it has become entirely inappropriate and the grown-up is behaving like a child." - Archimandrite Meletios Webber, Bread & Water, Wine & Oil p. 15-16

The author is discussing the idea that one of the consequences of the Fall is that humans have have become fragmented against themselves - body and 'person', heart and mind - we are internally fragmented and externally isolated. And I don't want to comment too much on that, though I think it's a great concept, because I haven't finished the chapter yet, so I'm not sure entirely where he's going. I do like, however, one quote, referring to why people need to follow spiritual principles in order to heal from this fragmentation: "Willpower alone is useless. I suppose it is axiomatic to say that we cannot use something that is broken to fix itself."

But I focus, for the moment, on the first paragraph. Because it's true, I know this from my own life, and it's just sort of interesting to see it in print. Now, I say the following not for gossipy purposes, but just to illustrate.

My Baby Sis grew up never being allowed to cry. She got sick almost immediately after she was brought home from the hospital and had to go back. She was in one of those little incubator things for...I think it was a month, but I was six, so, y'know, take that as you will. Consequently, when she did get to come home again, my mother and stepfather felt guilty and would never let her cry. The minute she started making noise, they were there, fussing until she quieted. And when she got older, same thing. Say 'no', she throws a fit, and *boom* she got her way. This went on for *years*. Now, of course, you wanna get into mitigating circumstances, sure: her father (my step father) was bipolar, a drug addict and an alcoholic who hit me if I made a fuss but indulged her because she was the *real* kid, and no, no, I'm not bitter, why're you looking at me like that? But I believe that this same scenario would hold true *without* those extra special issues. She's 21 now and she's had a hard, hard road learning that, as an adult, throwing a tantrum doesn't work.

So, to all you parents who just indulge, indulge, indulge - stop it. You're not doing your kids any favors. Seriously.


  1. Great post! I really liked that quote from the book. The part about willpower is GREAT! Please keep sharing as more good stuff pops up.

    I totally agree with your last statement about indulging children although I may indulge my nephew a bit too much. Thankfully he doesn't throw temper tantrums and he is really loving and good-natured. Hmmm.

  2. Amen, again! People spend too much time babying their kids and catering to their every wish, so they think they're entitled to everything they want. Like the world owes them something. Makes for a nice little reality check later in life. *grin*

  3. No kidding! The spoiled kid grows up and walks out into the real world and gets a massive and repeated slap across the face at every turn! And those parents that indulged their little darling look at them as adults with disgust and say, "Oh brother. Quite whining and grow up!" without ever saying, "This is our fault. We didn't prepare you for reality."

    I think it's child abuse to spoil a kid because you're setting them up for a life of self-centered misery.

  4. Susanne,

    It's a good book, so far. :)

    Heh. We all indulge kids more than we should, that's for sure. But I think the really importnat part here is to not indulge them *too* much. Don't give them *everything* they want, just because they want it, and certainly not as a bribe to stop them from throwing a tantrum.

  5. Heather,

    Too true. Unfortunately, I know too many who've yet to let that particular reality check sink in.

  6. Michelle,

    'I think it's child abuse to spoil a kid because you're setting them up for a life of self-centered misery.'

    I couldn't agree more. You're basically setting the kid up to fail. You're not doing your job and equiping them to live a good life. Parenting Fail, right there.


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