Undermining Children, Poisoning Them At The Root

poison skull and bonesI have been thinking about people who poison others, particularly children, at the root. I touched on this in 2009 and it was a popular topic, A Personal Story Of Poisoning. Today I want to take a broader look at this topic.

As a society, we undermine our children in various ways. In some cases we tell them they are downtrodden or set upon. We tell them that life is unfair. We train them to be victims.

Alternately we tell them they they are automatically terrific and no particular effort is required on their part because they’re just so damned cute and special.

Some tell their children they’ve got some vague malady that is actually a projection. The last thing we tell is that they can (and should) overcome whatever obstacles they encounter in life.

We don’t tell them that this is their responsibility.
We don’t tell them that if they fail to do this, there will be price to pay as they simply won’t develop as person.
We barely tell them to try and almost never tell them to try hard.

I encouraged my children to meet all challenges and to conquer their fears. I told them to set the bar high even if everyone around them sets their bar low. I told they that they didn’t have a problem. They have a life you can live with flair. Why be dull, when you can be keen? Why be boring when you can be happy, interesting and inspiring?

I feel bad for these kids who are getting these jacked up messages. We need heroes right now and we need them bad.

Does the message you send your child empower them…or undermine them?  How were you raised?

41 thoughts on “Undermining Children, Poisoning Them At The Root”

  1. huh… i try to do this, but i don’t know how effective i’m being.

    good to keep in mind, because it’s easy to back down in the face of scorp stellium/4H sensitivity and leo rising drama.

    don’t want to push him toooooo hard, though. have seen the results of that, and it doesn’t seem good.

  2. I think that we as a collective do a lot things that weaken our children. I feel they’d be much better, tried and tested so they can build real confidence and self esteem.

    You can’t give a person (real) self esteem. They have to earn it – this is just the way of the world.

  3. I was raised with a stricked hand. Yes,my parents let us fall as often as they seen we had it coming. But we learned! But on the flip side of that, emotional support to have a safe place to grow was almost non-exisitant for there to be a balance, to help fully form a healthy adult.

    As a parent, I try like hell to give my kids that balance. I let them take there lumps when they have them coming, but also try and give emotional support when the world is beating them up, and teach them to step up to the plate.

    I guess i can say that I learned from my parents mistakes.I wanted to bring balance for my kids and do it better then my parents did with me. Knowing how it felt to never be emotionally supported by your own parents, and be taught the tools you need as an adult to be healthy is something I am not willing to allow my kids to go with out.

  4. I’m opposed to the mainstream on this. However, I see exactly what you are describing everyday. I’ve been told that I’m too harsh a mother for discipling my children and expecting them to work for the things they receive in life. For example, they have never gotten an allowance for doing household chores. Any money they earned was for going above and beyond the everyday expectations of their role in helping the household. I held them accountable for their grades–didn’t blame the teachers. I expect them to try and WILL NOT praise them for non-existent or mediocre effort.

    Like I said..got a lot of opposition from my peer. Not that I really cared. These are my children. I am raising young Men. And, I’m not a bit sorry for it.

    I empower my children.

    I really don’t feel like talking about how I was raised anymore. I’m over it.

  5. I’m not sure what messages I got, I was raised by two 12th house people, LOL.

    I think I might’ve raised myself.

    I think for my kid, She needs to learn that she is going to have to make conscious decisions. (She’s all Pisces/Libra)

  6. I think various forms of undermining are common, but I think many parents/others don’t perceive it as such. I am in the process of unraveling all such garbage and rebuilding.

  7. i’m with josi. my children were taught that home is a ‘community’ and as such we had responsibilities as well as privileges. [they went hand in hand] the children also were taught to make decisions and take responsibility for them from a very early age. we started out with simple things like a treat from the supermarket – if you picked a one item treat and your sibling picked a multi item treat, who’s responsibility was it when your treat ran out? 🙂 by the time the girls reach teen years, they’re equipped to make more important decisions…. and letting them make mistakes is hard but it helps them. we used to joke ~ i’d tell them, y’all think this is a democracy. but it’s a monarchy! i am, however, an enlightened monarch 😉

  8. Reading the older post you linked to, along with this one, was perfect.

    I knew someone who I just called toxic because there was no other way to explain and understand this. Now I know it was this…what you’re talking about here. He is late 40’s.

    It seems there are a lot adults in my peer group who are like this – poisoners. Did the 70’s scar the hell out of everyone? or is it that they’re overcompensating for their parents not paying attention back then? Not sure this correlation makes sense. But if my peers kids are experiencing this, this goes a long way back.

    I wasn’t raised so much as grew up raising myself while living in a family of 7. It was as if I wasn’t relevant, seen, worthwhile, and often invisible feeling. I’m the only sane one in my family, if you can call this sanity. At least I think so.

  9. love this post! Love it! It is something I think about often and I passionately agree with you. I am raising 3 children, and I am serious as a heart attack about them being strong in themselves.

  10. I need to think on this awhile, but something that automaticallyc comes to mind for me is the following:

    a) your son is a Taurus, so these messages you are giving him mix very well with his sun sign of steadfast loyalty and steady work.

    b) I am a Libra (with more planets in Libra than should be allowed!) and my father gave me very much the same messages that you give your son, and yet I always felt constitutionally unable to fight as hard as he expected me to, and I’ve thus grown up feeling very much like I suck as a person. It is only in recent years when I finally allowed myself to accept that there are some things that no matter how hard I work at them? I just won’t ever be successful at. And that’s okay. And what’s more, it’s also okay to just refuse to do those things or to beat myself up trying at them anymore. Now, stuff that I actually have a single, solitary shot at actually achieving? Then, yeah, fight, fight, fight. But something that is someone else’s plan for me, something that the world tells me is the important thing? Fuck it. I’m done.

    Boundaries. I’m getting them.

  11. Avatar

    My oldest son had to make up an english class this summer. He is extremely intelligent and failed it the only reason that made sense to me was ge didn’t apply him self even slightly. Was the teacher difficult? Absolutely! Was my son dealing with his parents divorce? Yup! Puberty ? Right again? Cold cuz the furnace was broken? Right again. Guess what? Shizzz happens in life it was horrible but we still have to get up and give life our best. A couple of down days to hide from all of this wouldn’t have caused him to fail it took giving up to fail. I still had to get up and do my best for the kids so when he needed to retake this class this summer he had to pay for it. There’s no reason for me to pay and take away from his siblings.

    The best part was I didn’t even have to say it. He said it himself. I’m proud of him for pulling his head out and taking responsibility.

  12. A population with low self-value is easy to control and manipulate. It is a cash cow for those who sell products that can temporarily fulfill perceived lacks. That’s the game. Most parents have been taught to be careful not to give their children a ‘big head’ so they denigrate them in many ways. Look at our culture. It is not overflowing with those having confidence and competence because those qualities don’t really sell anything. Victim roles win!

    We know that self-value is not based on whether groups or authority figures approve of us. Self-value comes from integrating active and receptive processes toward an appreciation of ourselves.

    Active processes like, risking, experimenting, completing, failing, correcting, accomplishing, and doing. Receptive processes like relaxation, appreciation, evaluation, contemplation, acceptance, and being.

    As Elsa said, its about meeting the challenges and conquering fears, not ripping children down or overly praising them for a job NOT done. The popular trend of every kid gets a blue ribbon for breathing, makes them weak not strong. The ‘game’ likes them weak.

  13. My parents didn’t do this to me. I was poisoned by others, and they’ve been trying to help me to fix that – my parents are the best people in my life (along with my sister).

  14. Great post: food for thought and recipes that get at the heart of your thinking.

    Your recipe for meat sauce and Daisy’s recipes from ’09 made me hungry and made me think of the recipes that were not so much ‘handed’ to me as just part of the roots. There was just me and my brother growing up and Ma’s cooking was built into both of us: stew meats, cooked slow and long in those old deep-well cooker that electric stove used to have. Curry stew or tomato stews made from stew meat from the cows in the valley where we grew up.

    The food was Ma’s dominion until both my brother and I left to cook in our own homes. We both remain the ‘mom’ in our families and calling for recipes remains a topic on conversation through the years.

    The contradiction or maybe, the complexity of growing up and retaining strong roots comes from the messages we received, fear-based parenting flavored the hearty recipes. So, time (Saturn) has taught me to look again at the recipes for stew and taste them for myself. It’s the same with my son now, who is in his late 30’s and looking at the roots he was raised with: his values are observable, we talk about what he values, he watches me; we share recipes and pictures of our gardens. Living a good life is a life-long thing.Toxic influences? I know I can heal from them, but first I must know them to rid them and through example children learn it can be done…and must be done.

  15. This brings to mind the lyrics from this song by nanci griffith

    It’s a hard life
    It’s a hard life
    It’s a very hard life
    It’s a hard life wherever you go
    If we poison our children with hatred
    Then the hard life is all they’ll know

  16. wowwww eerie…I was actually just thinking about this and had a dream about it last night. I surpassed my “parents” in maturity by the time I was 7 years old and the entire childhood went downhill from there with them loading me down with their projections and buried shame. Later on, I thought how evil to do that to a child and not even give the child a fighting chance- but, scarily, that is the best that some parents know how to do.

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    This just popped into my head.. when one of my kids complains about something their dad has done or not done I tell them (instead of bitc###g about their dad) If this hurts you or you don’t like it what you HAVE to do is make SURE you dont do the same when you are an adult. You can’t change him you can’t change anyone they have to change them selves or deal with the consquenses. You don’t want these consquenses? Don’t follow the same path!

    I do wonder though… Im not perfect so there must be things that the will hopefully do differently than I did/do.

  18. I was taught that life can be unfair, but so what…that’s no excuse to sit on your butt; it’s the only game in town. It goes by fast, so pay attention and make it count. 🙂

  19. I am huge on saying I never want to hear the words “I can’t” in my house- me an Aries w/ sag rising just wont hear it!

    Are you kidding me- we all “can” try at least once- I make them try food too- how do you know you don’t like it if you don’t eat it.

    How do you know you like anything unless you try it- and when you get frustrated- just keep going – take a deep breath and go for a walk and come back to it.

    Yes you might fail, or not accomplish what you wanted but at least you tried!!!!

    I tell them nothing in life is free- and my husband tells them Life is what you make it- it is you and you alone who can choose to be miserable or not!! This is what we teach our kids- also that Money does not grow on tress dispite seeing it come out of a cash machine- mommy and daddy work hard for it!

  20. I didn’t have a very good childhood, and my relationship with my mother was always just awful. She was the kind of mom who you’d hear about from one of your girlfriends and go, oh my God. One thing that happened a lot was that she’d tell me there was something wrong with me. What is wrong with you? There is something wrong with you.

    She had me so terrified of this thing that was wrong with me that I became almost addicted to psychology, astrology and other methods of self-help because I had to understand and overcome these horrible afflictions of mine. I had a very bad time in school and very few friends. In a way I’m lucky I’m still walking around.

    When I got married she had no intention of allowing anyone else to interfere with our relationship and so undermined my marriages as a kind of sport. Though I have to say the ex was even worse than she was and he used to tell me the reason I was unhappy in our marriage was because my mother was abusive.

    Aaaannnyyywayyy…One thing I was very determined to make happen was that my son was *not* going to have low self-esteem. He was *not* going to walk around terrified of the other people around him and he *was* going to like himself — lol, which turned out fine since he’s a Double Leo with a Taurus son and grew up thinking he was the greatest thing that ever happened to the world –and Jupiter in his first house makes him cheerful about tomorrow, no matter what it brings. Love that kid.

    What I taught him was that there was nothing wrong with him. The only reason he didn’t get an A, or get on a team, or get what he wanted was because he didn’t try. He’s not done growing yet but I know his childhood was at least as hard as my life — but knowing that there was not a single reason he couldn’t have what he wanted in life really helped, I think. He’s always had a ton of friends and been happy wherever he landed. Good traits. He didn’t inherited them from me, but I did my best to make sure he had them.

  21. I received a lot of mixed messages. I was told to work hard, but if I wasn’t 1st, I was criticized and screamed at (literally). I didn’t have chores, but I had to do sports to the point that I didn’t have anytime to do anything BUT sports.

    I usually tended to have to learn to pick myself up from nothing, so I do subscribe to that idea.

    To me, there needs to be a balance. You must be tough with discipline and be honest about failure, but reward the good just as much as you disapprove of the bad.

    I often feel like “Why try?” because I can’t be number one. That tape continuously plays. I’m trying to stop it and move forward, but when you are 7 and just want to feel loved by your father, it tends to screw you up a little when you are proud of yourself but then get cussed at in your face and told that I’m a “disappointment” in front of hundreds of people instead.

    Still working on this.
    I definitely think that everyone has their own difficulties. I think everyone must try to overcome them and work on them. I don’t think one no is a reason to stop and there will always be another path somewhere to take. So I am somewhat optimistic. It depends on the moment. I definitely want my daughter to learn that no matter where you start from, you can always gain, you just can’t give up.

    I’ve never really gotten out of “survivor’s mode” emotionally. But I hope to not let her have those tapes to begin with.

    I have Mars (Cancer) opposition Saturn/Neptune conjunction (Capricorn), Mars trine Pluto (Scorpio), Mars sextile Rising (Taurus) Sag Moon… Thank god for the sunny optimism of my Moon. It helps a lot.

    Right now I’m going through crappy transits… and soon will have the whole tSaturn transiting Pluto at the same time tPluto transiting my Saturn. Well, I just want to live til 2016. I go through a lot of moments of doubt, but I know with the negative comes positive, so there is no reason to give up home. A person always can control themselves, even if they cannot always control circumstances around them.

  22. As in all of life, you can do everything right and still have things fall apart. I always try to do the very best I can, so if things still don’t work out, I know I did what I could.

    I am lucky in that I was able to be a stay-at-home mom. Unfortunately, I’ve always had to be both mother and father because the ex told me raising kids was my job. Jerk.

    People have come up to me the kids’ entire lives and complimented me on my childrens’ behavior.

    I have two divorced friends whose daughters take after their fathers, unfortunately, no matter how much the mothers have tried to instill honesty into them. Lying is rampant.

    The internet and TV exposed my children to a lot of crap, so I make sure they know exactly how I feel about things, and why. I make sure my behavior matches my speech because the kids are always watching me to see how I handle life, especially now with all the difficulties.

  23. We don’t need heroes. We can each save ourselves and really need to stop waiting for a knight in shining armor.

    What we need are for irresponsible adults to stop pretending they’re responsible (or “grown-up”) and actually BE responsible, so that they make wiser decisions. We can’t take back what already is. We can only make sure it doesn’t keep happening, but I doubt much will change.

  24. I was told I am downtrodden, that life is unfair and that I SHOULD be a victim of, well, ‘life.’ I was never told by my parents that I am terrific, only that I need to work really hard and even then, good luck getting recognition (by my parents) and to never expect success. I know all about the vague malady that is actually a projection, my mom literally bordered on Munchausen by proxy. I was told I am not strong enough to overcome obstacles. My parents didn’t make efforts to overcome life’s obstacles anyway, so being taught responsibility did not come from them – they in fact are all about giving responsibility to others – they expected me to take care of them despite both of them being healthy adults (wearing the burden of their emotional sicknesses), blaming me for all their fights between them, blaming me for their unhappiness.

    I have had to learn the opposites through trial and error (LOTS of error) and teachers in school realizing my intense inner strength and drive. I learned through getting into a terribly abusive relationship and leaving it and reading all the info I could about abusive relationships and found out that’s what my parents had with me. I then figured out that I needed to act as my own parent, training me the way they should have trained me. My best friend from time to time becomes flabbergasted with how mean I can still be to myself and will tell me the things above (also, he’s a Sag Sun/Taurus Moon so he’s all about optimism AND stubborn determination, and I also have a Taurus moon so I need to hear what he has to say quite often!). It’s always a work-in-progress and I have a LONG way to go. Poison is right, and if not dealt with, can turn into a cancer (no pun intended).

  25. Avatar
    Violet Hour Muse

    Recently I read that physical illness can be attributed to the delayed effects of child abuse, and that children are the one group who have their human rights consistently violated. Have you noticed there is no commandment that instructs: Honour your children.

  26. I rather like The Prophet for a good philosophy on child rearing. I also love the second chance some of us get with our grandchildren. This chapter is the biggest privilege. I don’t feel poisoned by my parents, because I understand how life was for them then,and they grew and learned too, but I did feel a lack of security and safety, and that my childhood was a dangerous, scary and confusing place, which helped me to listen a lot to my kids and grandkids even more.
    My 7yr old grandson said “Nana, they say schooldays are the happiest of your life, but they are lying”..wee double Capricorn with an old wise head on his shoulders. This Summer, days spent with him, soaking up the beach sunshine with us all, brought “Y’know, Nana, these are the happiest days of my life”..mine too darlin, mine too.. : )

  27. “What he has is a life to life and he may as well live it with flair. Why be dull, when you can be keen? Why be boring when you can be happy, interesting and inspiring?”

    Totally agree. The first thing I do for my son is to model this idea in my own life. He sees how I love my work. He sees how I am passionate, and so he develops his own passions. I also don’t sugarcoat things – I talk about my experiences, and other people’s experiences, to show him that life – our choices – are worth thinking deeply about. For example I explain that I work hard first and foremost to provide, that in life nothing is handed down to you. But I also explain that my life is a certain way because it simply makes me happy – happiness as an end in itself.

    The other thing I do is put him around other people who are not like me. I associate with all kinds of people so this will happen regardless. But it helps him understand that people come in all shapes and sizes, and true friendship is deeper than first impressions.

  28. Teh kids I knew on the Island when I was in my 20s had a huge amount of freedom in that international bohemia – and by most standards had a pretty rackety upbringing. But they were taught – or in some cases had to learn – self-reliance; and they became very adept at finding their support and guidance wherever it was offered. The teachers at the international schools were exceptional, and provided stimulation and s
    Saturn as needed esp where the parents seemed incapable

    A few fell by the wayside but most of those kids – now in their late 40s or 50s – have turned into fine people, with careers and families and standing in their communities. I lost touch with all but a few for a while, but they staying in touch with one another; and now most of them are on my Facebook page. I feel proud to know them!

    And when I hear this song, I think of them – it was the soundtrack to the place, back in 1970-ish


  29. This subject bothers me a lot. Cancer Sun, Aries Moon – supporting each child’s individual “hero’s journey” is so important and obvious to me.

    It pains me to see children being molded into passive consumers instead of captains of their ships.

    However, I don’t have kids so I usually shut up about it.

  30. It’s complicated what you say to children because it has an effect. I try to be careful with what I say to my niece. I tell her she’s great but don’t tell her specifics I tell her she did a good job when she did. I tell her to try again and to participate in chores.
    Not everyone teaches us what messages to give to kids.

    I was told I was smart but desperately wanted to be pretty and special and such. I spent much time wasting any potential.

    I see my brother doing good things with my niece and try not to interfere. Because one weird lesson from me can screw it up.

    I already told her that she doesn’t need a boyfriend and what’s important is that she’s happy and doing what she wants to do. But she can have one if she wants one. This is in line with the current zeitgeist. The right things to say to kids later will be different.

    I try to tell her that she is a great person but encourage her to work hard.

    I was told more or less a mix of praise and criticism that didn’t work to empower me. My family will disagree.
    It’s complicated to be a mom.

    I also see schools seeping out children’s passion and imagination and I can’t fix it

  31. I’m a cancer tenth house sun with Saturn in my fourth house. I’ve lived this conundrum my whole life. My mom in particular simply made me weaker in ways I’ve had to fight to become strong in. I tend to think this is deeper than just parents as well. People with authority who tend to be older and ideally mentor younger folks who impart a similar mixed messaging.

  32. I think it’s really important to make a distinction between a person and their actions. Earlier this week my coworker had her grandson with her for the morning. He’s got some attention deficit issues and has apparently has a hard time “fitting in” with kids. What stood out to me was the way she talked to him– barking orders and keeping him on a very, very short rope– and the way she talked about him while he was within earshot. I believe it’s really important to let kids help with things that need doing, things that are within their ability to do. I asked him to do a small but very helpful job and he jumped at the chance and did the job exactly as I wanted it done. I told him he was a great helper and thanked him. His grandma said, “Oh, Robby is a good boy when he wants to be.” That really broke my heart– like Robbie is a bad boy unless he *wants* to be good. I bet Robbie is always a good boy, he just doesn’t always act like one.

    “We cannot grow when we are in shame, and we can’t use shame to change ourselves or others.” ― Brené Brown

    1. Wow interesting brene brown thing.

      I agree about the helping out thing, they need to input into the family structure and know how much the sacrifice their parents do on a daily basis costs. My family is big on the whole we’ll help you out don’t even ask thing but then you help us when we need it, but people don’t. And just doing stuff for a kid and not forcing them to participate doesn’t help.

      What’s hard is the choosing your words thing. I come from a line of worried mothers who are bad disciplinarians. I need a character overhaul before having a kid, so that what I say doesn’t contradict what I do. And I don’t spoil someone just because they are omgz so difficult. Even though children are difficult and it is difficult to be a mom. Not a great attitude from my part but I just don’t know how you learn to raise kids right.
      I do not come from a line of women who are natural disciplinarians or impart lessons to children. I am also still pretty immature.

  33. Avatar

    Some parents will deliberately infantilize a child in order to control her and then berate her for not being more self-sufficient. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t systematically suck the life out of a person, crush her spirit and then complain she seems to lack initiative.

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