Cruel child rearing practices

Cruel child rearing practices
Tuesday November 15, 2005

Dear Alice,
I expect that you get numerous letters from people all over the world who
want to thank you for your books etc. Yes , this is one of those. I first
read The Drama of Being A Child, at the suggestion of my therapist about two
years ago, and it made me look at things in my own life differently as well
as giving me a different perspective on how to bring up my own children,
partly I think because it put into words something I think I had
instinctively known but would not/could not have verbalised. I have read
some of you other works since and am currently reading ‘the truth will set
you free’. For as long as I can remember I have been depressed, probably
even as a child and definately as an adolescent. My parents had not
allowed me to feel, have feelings and I grew up feeling I was nothing (no
thing) – here I am struck with a reference Ronnie Laing made in one his
books to a girl who referred to herself as being ‘tailor made/maid) I
thought that how I felt was trivial and not worth bothering anyone with,
that I didn’t have a right to let anybody know, let alone a right to do
anything about it – reading your books together with the help of my own
‘enlightened witness, has helped me to see my life to date in a different
light, and has helped me to recognise that what I thought of as normal
wasn’t. Now in my mid forties I only wish that I had done something
earlier and found somebody I could talk to – just writing this makes me feel

Interestingly, having had four children of my own and now working with
children, I can see that we still have a long way to go, and that it is
still only a minority of parents who treat their children with the respect
they deserve – what do you do when a parent refers to his child as ‘a little
shit’ within the child’s hearing and punishes the child’s apparent
misdemeanors by sending the child to his room for a period of isolation (the
child in question in only 4, has behavioural difficulties and is constantly
looking for adult attention for both good and bad behaviours – I use good
and bad here in terms of coforming to the norms of expected behaviour).
Some of what you write I have to say makes me feel guilty for some of the
things that I have done or said to my own children. Did Philip Larkin get
it right when he wrote
‘They fuck you up your mum and dad
they give you all the faults they had and
add some extra just for you….’ sorry don’t know the rest of the poem.

Hopefully, I am doing soemthing right – my six year son informed me the
other day the he likes being himself!

On a completely different not many years ago a remember reading a book that
detail child rearing practices that were prevalent at the time of Hitler’s
childhood – this book detailed bizare and barbaric systems of torture and
the other stated that these could easily have been used on Adolf himself –
unfortuneately I can not remember what the book was called and I read it
about 25 years ago – this seems to be additional to the information you
quote on Hitler although I must admit that I haven’t read your book
‘Breaking down the wall of silence’ so this may be an erroneous comment.
Have tried to trace this but with no luck so far.

May years ago (mid 80’s) I started to train as a counsellor but didn’t
complete the course – I have just started another course – a psychodynamic
one – and hope to finish this one.

Again thank you for your books

C. S.

The title of Alice Miller’s book about Hitler is: “For Your Own Good”.