Mothering, therapy

On the unconscious manipulation of our children

Becoming a MOTHER opens up deeply rooted wounds. Wounds and pain we thought we had “worked through” and processed successfully.

All of sudden we wake up into our own ambivalence, confused emotions, broken fantasies about the Mother we thought we would be.

Have we mourned enough our own story? Our own parenting wounding?

Children who are intelligent, alert, attentive, sensitive, and completely attuned to their Mother’s wellbeing are entirely at her disposal.

Transparent, clear, amd reliable they are incredibly easy to manipulate, puppeteer and control.

“Will do anything that mummy needs me to. Will cater to HER needs. This will ensure mummy’s love for me. It will also give MY life a meaning”

It will also, unfortunately…keep my locked inside an unconscious glasshouse. 💔

Image by Sandra Apperlon

As long as their true self, their deeper emotional inner world remains “in the cellar of the glasshouse” in which they have to live, such children will not be able to access their own emotions, or trust their own experience, sense of self or ability to Mother.

Alice Miller suggests that those children usually live stuck inside there, sometimes until puberty or until they come to therapy, and very often until they have become parents themselves.

How do you project your own Unmothered parts onto your children?

2 thoughts on “On the unconscious manipulation of our children”

  1. Thank you Aleksandra for your considered piece. In my work I’ve emphasised the importance of relationships with our infants and children, while not letting go of the need to be responsible for their health and wellbeing. But I think it’s important for our kids to get to know us as people, mums and dads. No one is perfect, we’re human, in the best sense of the word with all our frailties, vulnerabilities and capacities. My aim is for an authentic relationship, whereby my (now grown) offspring get to know me – well as much as I can know and show myself. I read an interesting piece yesterday by Julia Lane, ‘The poetics of maternal failure’ which is a chapter in the Demeter Press book – Everyday World-Making (link below) in which Lane talks about the other side of success and the importance of failure – failure is the mother of success. I don’t think I can do justice to the argument here, suffice to say, I think it’s worth a read. The piece has reminded me that we are social beings, and sadly because our social framework and cultural practices, largely leave the work of care to mums, we can often feel overwhelmed. Maybe recognising and owning up to our vulnerabilities will be our strength, would be interesting to know what you think in this regard. Best, Joan Garvan, Australia


    1. Thank you so much for this comment, Joan! The importance (and inevitability) of maternal failure is something I am deeply intrigued by! I will surely check out this Demeter book. In terms of your insight regarding recognizing and owning up to our vulnerabilities – this must be the way we can become more self-lead, more aware, and ultimately more human, as we mother, and re-mother ourselves. My belief is that only through the deep and uncomfortable sitting with our own vulnerability we can show up to our children from our best and wiser self. Warmly,


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