I’m going to talk about this because no-one does, and yet there has never been more urgency to. Travelling through poor countries can be quite a difficult experience for me. As I walk through the dirty, garbage filled streets, where children dressed in rugs are playing among traffic, my heart spasms. As someone who has been studying trauma for years, I can see the potential paths of those people all the way to their adult life, as well as their past, rather clearly. I watch a dad toss around his little girl, who is crying in desperation, like an object. Worthlessness trauma being passed from dad to daughter. I can see how he was treated the same way by his parents. And how she will attract in her future men who will treat her this way, potentially violent partners, and if she does have children, her partner will do the same to them. This is not just speculation. I have witnessed, studied and researched these dynamics in scrutiny and detail. I can tell with astounding accuracy what someone with certain types of personality disorders will do, in certain situations. For people who study social behaviours these dynamics are as predictable and sometimes as simple as mathematical formulas. Yet there is nothing more painful than the powerlessness of witnessing trauma being created, and being able to do nothing about it.
Why do emotionally underdeveloped and mentally disturbed people have children? Simply put, because they can. Literally, because there is nothing preventing them to. We need a degree to do almost anything in life: we need a degree to be a doctor, to manage someone’s finances, to operate a vehicle. In every other area of life where our actions have consequences on people, we need a degree that certifies that we know what we are doing. In every area of life except parenting that is. In this area, any idiotic fool can be a parent, and damage a child - pardon my French.
We are seeing disturbing phenomana rising in our world, as psychologist record a preoccupying increase in personality disorders such as narcissism, psychopathy and sociopathy. Mental health issues like depression are incredibly common, and disease is a reality with enormous costs for society. As we study how these psychological phenomena arise, one thing is clear and agreed among experts: it begins in family dynamics, during our childhood. In the obvious case where a child is physically neglected during their growth (i.e not enough food), the damages are obvious and unquestionable. But what happens when the equally grave problem of emotional neglect takes place in families? With emotionally unintelligent parents, or simply parents that are ever more occupied and have little support from a community, children are left emotionally starving. And this is nothing less than the root of mental disease.
Indeed the West is brulicating with this phenomenon. Emotional intelligence is a skill that not all parents have: as we compensate our needs with temporary and often material satisfactions, we don’t learn how to recognize, attend to and satisfy our emotional needs. We opt for numbing our emotions with food, shopping, entertainment, work, and a multitude of other drugs instead. And we teach our children to do the same.
This emotionally blind society gives rise to scary dynamics that we see today, where numbed people allow disastrous decisions to be taken by their leaders, emotionally detached individuals act in ways that are damaging to themselves and to their environment.
How do we change this, assuming we still can? Technological solutions are important, but not enough. We already have all the technologies and tools to live sustainably, without destroying our environment, without enslaving and abusing people, and without abusing other animals. The problem however, is that we need a change of heart. We need to heal our abusive emotional patterns that are stuck in our subconscious since our childhood, and that we carry on from generation to generation.
This is why there is such high demand for emotional coaches these days. But I wonder, if it will be enough. For as much healing as we do, the more emotionally underdeveloped people give birth to children, the more the problem increases. In my opinion we have postponed the discussion on decent parenting for too long. Should parenting really be a right for all, when it so often violates the rights of children? Shouldn’t there be some pre-requisite for people to parent? Or at least some form of education, perhaps a program in school that teaches people what is ok parenting and what isn’t? We really need to shift the parenting paradigm, if we want to create a drastic change in the way we are creating our future.