Monday May 25, 2009

Dear Dr.Miller,

Sorry to bother you again. I realized that I forgot to ask
the question that I have been having. As my son
is getting older — I find myself wanting to apologize
to him for the things I have done that hurt him.

I tried very hard, and I still do – and always will to
reject the poisonous pedagogy. I’ve come to realize
that even with the very best intentions — we can
still inflict horrific damage on our children…We can
work so hard to try and be different from our parents
and reject their framework and ideas and methods.

But healing is hard work, and takes a long time —
and even if we consciously try to erradicate the
poisonous pedagogy — we still end up hurting
our children

I want to make sure that my son has the tools
to recover from the mistakes I made while parenting him.
I have started to talk with him very openly (he is 15 now)
about my faults and my weaknesses and how I
have failed him.

I want him to feel safe to express his feelings about this.
But here’s the problem…In trying to talk about what’s gone
on — with my parenting of him, and how I made mistakes
even though I was trying to not inflict damage on him — the
way it was done to me… find myelf not wanting to talk
about what was done to me.

It feels like a trap. Because if I try to explain how I made
the mistakes I made — so that he can be free to be
angry or even rageful or sad about what’s happened —
I see him avoiding those very justified feeling towards me — and
excuse what happened to him, because of what happened to me.

I do the same thing with my parents. It took me years to be able
to break through to feeling that anger, rage, hurt, pain.. and for
so long, I tried to find reasons for why they did what they did.

I learned as much as I could about their childhoods and families
growing up — and in this way — I found myself feeling
tremendous empathy for the children they were. I have
more empathy for them,than they have for themselves.

I think that is another insidious emotional trap. To escape
feeling, sorrow, rage, abadonment… I try to feel empathy
for them. I do feel it. I know that some of it — is my mind
protecting me from fears, and sadness and anger.

I so desperately dont want my son to do the same thing.
I dont want to have him trying to explain away my faults
and my behavior — to escape his own feelings.

It feels like — there is no way out… Because I then wonder…
if that is what’s really driving this — or is this all something
I have constructed to once again… protect my parents
from my criticism of them. I feel like if I share what happened
to me with my son — that he would be so horrified that
he would again feel like he needs to not let himself
get angry at me.

Please tell me there is a way out for us….
For both me and my son.

Thank you


AM: Next June Norton NY will publish two of my books that may answer your questions in both of your letters:
Free from Lies (especially the Preface) and From Rage to Courage.