How Good Parents Turn Bad (ENGLISH 1:33, Turnu Severin Intl. Conference on Psychology)

Uploaded 5/19/2022, approx. 53 minute read

I didn't understand a word he said, but it's true that my name is Sam Vaknin. That part I understood.

I think you understood something.

Let us keep it between us.

My name is Sam Vaknin. I'm a professor of psychology in various universities around the world.

Not make a big introduction out of it.

Yes, I'm an Israeli. But it's not my fault.

If you want to drive a car, you need to take driving lessons. And then you need to be tested. And then you drive a car. And then you make an accident, and then you cannot drive a car. If you want to ride a motorcycle, you need a license. If you want to shoot me with a gun, which most of you would want at the end of the lecture, you would need a license.

There is only one thing, actually, for which you do not need a license. To have children.

It's as if having children is the least important thing. No need to study anything, no need for a license, nothing.

All you have to do in order to have children is to not use contraceptives and get your timing right.

And there is one group in the population who are very happy because of bad parents. Therapists. Therapists are very happy, because they are bad parents. In our practice, I'm also a professor of psychology, but also a therapist. In our practice, we see the outcomes of bad parenting, time and again.

I'm going to take you on a tour today of current thinking about parenting.

But I will start by making two points.

Point number one, the main role of the mother is to push the child away.

The main role of the mother is to cause the child frustration and disillusionment. This is what a good mother does.

We'll come to it a bit later.

The second point I want to make, families are not needed anymore.

In the past, the family had many functions.

Families provided education in-house. Families provided health care. Families provided elder care.

I hope she left because of the air condition. We can't survive here without air condition.

Today the state emptied the family, made it hollow. Education is provided by the state, well, in some countries. Education is provided by the state. Health care. Elder care is provided either by the state or by the private sector.

Actually, the family is left with one function only.

Mental health, the family is in charge of producing mentally healthy children. No one can do that except mother and father. No state, no municipality, no private enterprise. No one can create mentally healthy children. All the rest? The family is not needed anymore.

Now I'm going to acquaint you with two scholars.

Winnicott and Green.

Donald Winnicott was a pediatrician. And Andrei Green was a psychoanalyst.

Donald Winnicott came with up the concept of good enough mother. And Andrei Green came up with the concept of dead mother.

Now before we proceed, as every woman can tell you, men are not really needed. Although women pretend that they are needed.

But women are very kind to pretend that they are needed.

The fact is that during the formative years, zero to six years, these are called formative years.

The mother has the crucial role. The mother determines the mental health or mental illness of the child. The father contributes to the raising of the child.

But if the father were absent, we actually find out in studies that the outcomes are more or less the same.

When the father is absent, there are sometimes problems in social functioning. And depending on the economic circumstances of the family, sometimes there are outcomes in terms of depression and anxiety.

But when the single mother is financially independent, the taboo secret is that the children are more mentally healthy than when there is a father present.

So most of this presentation will deal with mothering, mothers.

I am going to mention the roles of the father because I don't want any violence to happen after the lecture. But it's the mother that counts.

I'm going to start by describing the bad mother. The mother who gets it wrong. The mother who sends her children to me as a therapist.

And you won't believe the number of bad mothers. It's pretty shocking. It's one of the best kept secrets in the industry.

Now we distinguish between two types of bad parenting or bad motherhood.

The dead mother, which I'm going to start with, and good enough mothers that become dead mothers.

They start as good mothers and then something happens and they become bed mothers.

These kind of mothers are actually worse than dead mothers. Because the child is getting mixed signals and cannot form a presentation of mother in his mind.

Okay, let's start with the classic Cruella.

Cruella, it's from a movie. Andrei Green called her the dead mother.

It's not physically dead. The child is not that lucky. She is just dysfunctional.

So she is dead. As far as the child is concerned, it's like not having a mother.

And I'm going to describe the features, the elements of a dead mother. A mother who is not functioning.

The first element is she is overprotective. She protects the child, isolates the child from any risk, real or imaginary. She prevents the child from getting acquainted with reality. Reality hurts. Reality confronts and challenges.

The twin engines of growth are loss and pain. We never grow because of good things. Let's admit it. We mature and grow up because of bad things, losses.

The good mother allows her child to be hurt. She allows her child to assume risks. She allows the child to experience pain and rejection. She allows the child to go through this because this is life.

The child grows up, this will be 80-90% of her life.

I mentioned once to Radu that when I say one word in English, he talks for 20 minutes. When I talk for half an hour, he says, Oh, that's it. I tried it. It's a fact. I'm not imagining this. I'm not delusional.

The dead mother regards the child as her property. Her extension, and so she is protective of the child. She doesn't allow the child to experience the world.

Have you heard of the hygiene hypothesis? Anyone heard of it? It is now the dominant hypothesis in child medicine.

I'm a medical doctor, so now I'm talking. I said two words. I think it's doing this on purpose. It's called passive aggression.

The hygiene hypothesis is very simple. If you isolate the child and you don't allow the child to get in contact with dirt, with dirty things, contaminated things, this child will be more sick than a child that had been exposed to dirt and contamination.

That is established. For example, these kind of children have higher levels of asthma and allergic reactions later in life.

A protective mother would not allow the child to touch the earth, to eat the earth, to play with dirty toys. She would be overprotective, so she would create a sick child.

The dead mother is absent. She is emotionally neglectful. She goes through the function like a robot. The house is clean, the food is on the table, the husband is away. But she is not there emotionally. She is like in a dream state.

Clinically, we call it dissociation. She is dissociative. She cuts herself off reality. She just functions automatically.

One of the reasons she is not there is because in her mind the child is not separate from her. So she doesn't have to be there for anyone because there is nobody there. She doesn't see the child as separate.

In other words, she is always alone.

The dead mother emotionally blackmails the child.

There are four ways to blackmail the child emotionally.

One, to bribe the child. If you do this, then I will give you this. Exceedingly wrong parenting strategy, but very common.

When the child grows up, he becomes a politician.

That is one form of emotional blackmail.

The second form of emotional blackmail is when the mother pretends that she is disabled. That she cannot perform some functions.

Disabled. Invalid, invalid. If you have problems with Romanian, just tell me. Don't hesitate.

It is a mother that claims all the time, I can't do this, you have to do it for me.

Because I am sick, or I am weak, or I am tired. It is a form of emotional blackmail.

The third is threatening to threaten. If you don't do this, then I will punish you.

And the fourth way of emotional blackmailing is I sacrifice my life for you. I gave you everything. I could have been a famous actress, and I gave you all my life, you owe me. I gave you all my life, you owe me.

The dead mother is aggressive. All dead mothers are aggressive.

Remember, not dead physically, yes? Dysfunctional. All dead mothers are aggressive.

So an aggression has many forms, has many ways. It's like a hydra.

So the mother can give the child the silent treatment. She will not talk to the child for two or three days. It's a form of punishment.

The mother could communicate to the child that the child is ugly or stupid or failure, constant failure, induced in the child all pervasive shame so that the child becomes socially anxious.

We will discuss this a bit later. It has a name, it's called Bad Object Interjection. We'll come to it a bit later.

Bad Object Interjection, or Interjection of Bad Object, internalization.

As all of you know, English is corrupted Romanian. When I say, for example, simulation, how is it in Romania? What did I say? English is corrupted Romanian.

So when we come to it, we'll translate it properly.

Spoiling the child, pampering the child. Putting the child on a pedestal, idolizing the child, worshiping the child.

These are forms of abuse. Actually severe abuse.

And the reason is that when the mother does this to the child, she completely cuts him off reality. She does not allow him to develop himself inside reality as a separate human being.

His actions have no consequences. He can behave badly and still, there would be no consequences.

His actions, his bad behavior, will have no consequences because he spoiled it. So he will never pay the price with bad behavior. And he will grow up to be Donald Trump with orange hair.

But seriously, this is a form of abuse.

Isolating the child from reality in any way is a form of abuse.

Abuse is many forms, of course. There is classical abuse. Physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, psychological abuse. These are all moduli of the dead mother. The dead mother abuses in these ways as well.

The dead mother instrumentalizes the child, uses the child as an instrument.

Most dead mothers have frustrated wishes and dreams.

It sounds very bad in Romanian.

The dead mother sounds very bad.

I'm sorry, this is the term.

Most of these mothers have frustrated wishes and dreams. And they use the child to realize these dreams and unfulfilled expectations.

They sacrifice the child, push the child to become what they think they should and would have become.

This is known as instrumentalizing.

Next, parentifying.

Transforming the child into a parent figure. Actually, I coined a new word Adultifying, transforming the child into an adult.

It's when the parent refuses to assume parental roles and chores. It's when the parent refuses to assume responsibilities and forces the child to act as the mother, to act as the father.

This kind of child never has a childhood. From a very early age, he assumes the role of the adult at home.

He always feels that he's not good enough, because he's a child and usually he fails, he doesn't succeed to be a full-fledged parent.

In extreme cases, but not uncommon, there is a form of parentifying known as emotional incest. It's when the parent uses the child as substitute for an intimate partner. Or when the parent uses the child against the intimate partner, or makes a coalition.

So a mother would team up with the son against the father. And gradually she will begin to behave inappropriately. Emotionally, and it's very easy to cross into sexual misbehaving.

Parentifying, therefore, is extremely dangerous. Especially if the child is gifted and assumes the role of the intimate partner and is very convincing in this role because he's highly intelligent.

This is definitely a very worrying and dangerous situation. And much more common than you know.

If your son sleeps with you and he's 15 years old, shares the bed with you, that's emotional incest. Whether you know it or not.

If you confide in your daughter the secrets of your relationship with your wife, her mother, that's emotional incest.

If you confide in your daughter, if you share the secrets with your wife.

This creates dynamics which are essentially dynamics of intimate relationships. Not dynamics of parent-child.

We can therefore summarize and say that dead mothers or in Romanian dysfunctional mothers are narcissistic. They are narcissists. Not all of them, but majority are narcissists.

And many of them suffer from depression and have anxiety disorders.

Dead mothers, dysfunctional mothers have mental health problems. No exception.

So, to be a dead mother is the outcome of mental health issues.

Where do you get these mental health issues? From your mother.

And where did she get it? From her mother or from listening to one of my lectures?

So, we call this intergenerational trauma.

If you as a mother don't have mental health issues, and when I say mental health issues, I mean serious mental health issues.

You're likely to be a good enough mother.

Dead mothers, mentally ill in effect.

Good enough mothers are all the rest.

But luckily for humanity, majority are actually good enough mothers.

But the problem is that in good enough mothering, there are three risks.

And if the mother falls in these traps, she actually becomes a dead mother.

If the mother falls in these traps, she becomes a dead mother.

A mother can be mentally healthy, and consequently, she will be a good enough mother.

But then she will fall in these three traps, or one of them, or all of them, and she will become dysfunctional.

And I'm going to describe to you these three risks, these three traps.

By the way, was this what you were expecting from the lecture?

Is this what you came here for?

No, maybe you came for some other thing.

Because I can do another thing, no problem.

We can discuss Bitcoin. I know everything, right?

Okay, that was a grandiose statement. And grandiosity is the main component of narcissism.

Okay, so there are three risks or three traps.

You remember how I started this lecture when we were all much younger?

I started by saying that the main role of the mother is to push the child away.

A good mother frustrates the child. A good enough mother disappoints the child.

It's counterintuitive.

But if you stop to think about it for a second, you will see how wise it is.

Do you want your child to be under your apron for the rest of his life, or do you want him to be an independent person away from you?

Here's the first risk.

Some mothers don't allow the child to go away. Don't want to disappoint the child. Don't want to frustrate the child. Don't want to separate from the child.

Early in life, between about 18 months to three years, there is a phase called separation individuation.

Those of you who would like to read more about it, this is a critical phase in the mental health of a child. You can read the work of Margaret Mahler.

Since then, this work had been revised and so on, but it's good to read her.

Like Winnicott, she was a pediatrician.

By the way, of the ten most important figures in psychology, seven were not psychologists.

Frued was not a psychologist, he was a neurologist. Winnicott was a pediatrician. Mahler was a pediatrician. It's an interesting fact.

I don't know any other field like this. Maybe physics actually, but it's pretty amazing.

Anyhow, separation individuation, it means that the child separates from the mother, explores the world, and becomes an individual, divided from mother.

Until age 18 months, mother and child are one unit in the child's mind.

This is known as the symbiotic phase.

So in the child's mind, mother and me, we are one.

At 18 months, something interesting happens.

The child becomes a narcissist. He develops enormous grandiosity. He feels that he's godlike. He can dump mommy and explore the world all alone.

Can you imagine the courage when you're a two-year-old to leave mommy's leg and to explore the next three meters? Can you imagine the courage?

It's enormous courage and grandiosity. You feel omnipotent.

So the child separates from mommy, explores the world, and becomes an individual.

By separating from mommy, the child creates boundaries.

It's a little like the Czechoslovakia. It was a symbiotic state and it broke and created boundaries.

Now all the nice people are in Slovakia and the rest are in Czech Republic.

So this is an example of separation in the situation on the collective level.

Separating from mommy is super, super crucial.

The baby develops boundaries.

What are boundaries?

I stop here, the world starts here. And the world stops here, cannot enter. I start here.

The child begins to appreciate reality. He begins to develop something called reality testing.

Not through mommy, independently.

The child loses what we call magical thinking.

Think about it. The child is this size.

I'm exaggerating. This size.

And this thing controls one adult if not two.

This gives rise to magical thinking. The child believes in magic.

The child believes that whatever is thinking will affect reality immediately.

So when there is separation, the child loses his magical thinking.

And because he loses his magical thinking and because he sees reality, he suddenly realizes there are other people out there.

He develops what we call object relations. He develops ability to relate to other people.

And perhaps most importantly, by separating from the mother, the child is able to form an opinion about himself that is not his mother's opinion.

More nuanced, more realistic.

Before this phase, the child engages in something called splitting. He splits the word.

He says, I'm all bad, mommy is all good.

When this phase starts, separation and individuation, the child is beginning to integrate, put together.

And he says, mother is partly good and partly bad. I am partly good and partly bad.

Realism, it's more realistic.

But many mothers don't allow the child to separate.

Because they are insecure. Because they are selfish. Because they are afraid to lose the child. Because there is nothing else in life.

Because they are children. They are on the same level. They are immature.

There are many reasons why mothers refuse to let the child separate.

This is a cataclysmic catastrophe in the life of the child.

You heard of narcissists? You heard of narcissists?

Yes, narcissists are formed when the mother doesn't allow the child to separate.

You heard of psychopaths? Same.

In children, depression, anxiety disorders mostly happen when they are not allowed to separate.

If you don't allow your child to separate, if you refuse to frustrate your child, if you refuse to disappoint your child, always playing the magical fairy?

You are not a good mother. You are actually a very bad mother. And you are damaging your child for life.

You are not fairies. You are not wizards. You are not there to protect the child from life.

You are there to give life to the child, or to give your child to life.

It's terrifying.

You take the thing that you love most and you have to expose the child to pain, hurt, danger and risk.

It's terrifying. And many mothers don't have the courage.

Also, it's terrifying to be left alone.

In the pre-separation-individuation phase, you are the child's world. After separation-individuation, you are just one more among many.

Narcissistic mothers would find it very difficult.

They need to be the center of attention. They need to be the focus of their child's life and mental world.

They feel rejected and abandoned when the child separates. They are terrified of remaining alone. Or that they will not be able to recreate this oceanic feeling, this wonderful feeling.

We all need unconditional love. I will come to it in a minute.

The child is a drug. It gives you unconditional love.

Some mothers become junkies. And they refuse to let go of the drug. And they destroy the child for life.

This is the first risk.

I said there were three.

Oh, no. Okay, yeah, three.

The second risk is this.

Raising children seriously sucks. I prefer to work in a coal mine.

Raising children is tiring, breaks your body and mind. It's the most horrible job imaginable after the chief of the WHO.

The first worst job in the world is head of WHO. Second is mother. It sucks.

So mothers have to lie to themselves. All mothers lie to themselves. You all lie to yourself.

And this process of lying, deceiving yourself, is called idealization.

You idealize the child. You create a representation of the child in your mind that is ideal.

You all know that your child is the most beautiful, intelligent, amazing child ever born.

This is idealization, of course, because he is not.

And yet, even if the child is not as beautiful and not as intelligent, you still have to change his diapers. And you still have to wake up at night or sleep two hours at night because this not-so-beautiful, not-so-intelligent child is crying all the time.

Idealization is very useful. If you were unable to idealize, I would not be here today.

In my case, the idealization was justified, of course. Of course.

But in the majority of cases, this is not the case.

What is idealization is, you make a photograph of the child, a snapshot. You put it inside your head and you Photoshop it. You use Photoshop.

Then you have an imaginary child in your head.

This process, for those of you who are here to study psychology for some reason, this process is known as internalization introjection.

I think I insulted him. It's too much. He was not idealized.

So what's the risk?

The risk is if the mother remains stuck in the idealization phase. She cannot exit the idealization. She remains stuck.

She doesn't see the child as he really is, but she sees the idealized image of the child.

And she interacts with the idealized image, the introject, she interacts with the child.

So what's wrong with it?

The child grows, develops, and gradually, if this is the idealized image, at the beginning, the child is almost like the image.

But then the child grows, develops, separates, has friends, has new interests.

When there is a gap opening, when there is a divergence between the real child and the idealized image, the introject, the mother becomes aggressive. She's trying to force the child back into the idealized image.

This creates enormous conflict, and the mother begins to regard the child as an enemy. This is called persecutory object dynamic. Right.

She regards the child as a persecutor, as someone who is destroying her life.

Such mothers will say he's a very difficult child. He's disobedient. I can't control him. I give up on him. I wish I would give him up for adoption.

She just wants to get rid of the child.

This is the second risk.

Remember, the first risk, you don't allow the child to separate from you. You coset the child. You prevent the child from pain, hurt, disappointment, etc.

The second risk is you idealize the child, and then you get stuck on the idealization and refuse to see the real child.

These are the risks for good enough mothers.

Not for dysfunctional mothers. Dysfunctional mothers are dysfunctional, to start with.

This is risk for good enough mothers.

There's a third risk, luckily there are only three.

There's a third risk, and it happens in adolescence.

Not the mother's adolescence. The child's adolescence.

When the child becomes an adolescent, all children develop something called reactance.

Reactance has three components.

Let's see you translating this. I got you.

Radle and I are doing this.

In adolescence, the adolescence develops reactance. All adolescents develop reactance. Reactance has three components.

The adolescence becomes defiant. Whatever you say he's against, whatever you suggest, he is always against. And he's against openly, in your face. It's confrontational.

If this survives to adulthood, it becomes a main feature of psychopathy.

The second is negative identity formation. The adolescent defines her identity in opposition to you.

I am not going to be like my mother. I am never going to repeat my father's mistakes.

There is negative identity formation. Negative identity depends on who you are and not on who you are.

The third is contumaciousness.

Don't get along. Take your pill.

Contumaciousness means rejection of authority. It's also called control aversion. Rejection of authority.

Because you are an authority, the adolescent rejects you.

This is very painful. Adolescence is a very painful period for the parents.

Because the parents are good friends, could be good friends with the child, until adolescence.

Now you can say, this is not true. My son is an adolescent and he is my best friend. And he sees me as a role model. And he never defines me. And when I suggest something, he usually says yes.

I recommend the nearest therapist.

These are not good signs. These are signs of disturbance in separation individuation.

Parents, good enough mothers and now also fathers.

These are known as good enough parents. If they regard this as a personal attack or personal insult, narcissistically, they will take it as a narcissistic injury.

They react with a power play. They create a power play. And everything becomes about control.

Who controls? Who makes the decisions? Who is on top?

Of course, if you stop to think about it for a minute, the parent becomes an adolescent. The parent is doing exactly what the adolescent is doing.

So this is the third trap and it happens in adolescence.

If a power play develops, there is a serious risk of psychopathy. Or at the very least, self-destructiveness. Self-destructiveness.

And this is because the adolescent is caught in a conflict, in a dilemma.

On the one hand, the adolescent is dependent on his parents. But on the other hand, he needs to separate.

The good enough parent allows the adolescent to behave in this place. The good enough parent creates something called sublimatory channel.

Sublimatory channel means the good enough parent creates for the adolescent ways to express defiance, rejection of authority and so on, in a way that is acceptable to society, socially acceptable.

In the first phase of separation and individuation, the good enough parent frustrates the child, rejects the child, pushes the child, disillusions the child.

In the second phase of separation, in adolescence, the parent encourages the child to behave in these ways, but in socially acceptable ways.

I'll give you an example, defiance and rejection of authority.

If there is a power play with the parent, the child can become delinquent, can become a criminal.

So a bad parent, a parent who is playing macho with the child, this kind of parent is pushing the child away and the child can become antisocial.

But there is a sublimatory alternative, social activism, protesting against corruption, protesting against racism, protesting against climate change, protesting against professors of psychology who speak only English, protesting and social activism are sublimatory channels for defiance and rejection of authority.

These are the three risks, the three tracks that can convert you from good enough mother to bad mother.

What is the job description of good enough mother? How does she look like? What does she do? What is her behavior?

First of all, and most importantly, she sees the child. We all need to be noticed and seen.

You don't believe me? Go on Facebook.

We all need to be noticed and seen.

I feel abused, molested. Thank you.

I hope you don't take my jokes to bed, because they're not jokes, they're real.

We all need to be seen and to be noticed.

And I think that the rise in narcissism globally is because there are too many people.

Now we need to work hard to be noticed and to be seen, because there are too many of us. So we need to radicalize, we need to escalate to be noticed.

Go TikTok, if you don't believe me. See what's going on there? I mean millions of teenage girls undressing simply. They need to be seen, they need to be noticed.

Why? Why this need? Even in adults. Why do we have this?

Because as a baby, if you're not seen, you're dead.

As bebelush if you're not seen, if you're not noticed, you're dead bebelush.

Because mother needs to notice you to give you food. The need to be seen is primordial, atavistic, is foundational, is a survival strategy.

When we are not noticed and not seen, we feel dead. And we develop anxiety. And then we divorce.

There's a lot of problem in being seen in relationships.

The good enough mother sees her child.

She allows the child to see himself through her eyes, through her gaze.

When the child sees himself through the mother's eyes, the child realizes there is someone there who is not money.

If mommy sees me, then I am not money, because mommy sees me.

And this is the beginning of the self. Part of individuation, beginning of the self.

Also, this helps to develop empathy.

If mother sees the child, and because she loves the child, it's a great definition of empathy, is to see someone lovingly, compassionately.

Radu has severe difficulties with empathy. He cannot translate this word.

The good enough mother sees the child, actively, proactively. She tells the child, I'm seeing you, I'm noticing you. You're here. Oh, you're here. I love you.

These are all indications that you are seen. Your seeing is separate from me.

So you can begin to have a self safely, and you can begin to empathize the way I am empathizing with you as your mother.

These are crucial steps.

By the way, I'm serious now. I'm almost never serious, but now I'm serious.

If any of you feel the need to leave because you're bored, or I don't know what, I'm not, you know, Ceausescu.

You can live. I also think I look better than Ceausescu, but you know, this is my philosophy.

But you're fee to leave. I will cry after that, but it's okay.

When the child is seen, behold, when the child is beheld.

By the way, it's interesting in English. To see is to behold. To see is not just to see, it's to hold, to contain.

So when the child is seen, he feels safe.

It's the sense of safety, because you remember with the bebelush, to be seen is to be fed. To be seen is to be safe.

When the mother sees the child, he feels safe, and the mother becomes something called safe or secure base.

Why does the child need a safe base?

Because he needs to say goodbye to mommy, and separate. If mother is not safe, the child will be afraid to separate.

Those of you who have children, I assume majority. You know that a child, when they begin to separate, they walk a few steps and they look back. They look back.

This is safe base dynamic. And they run back to you. This is safe base.

The safe base mother, by the way, never the father. Normally.

So the safe base mother is empathic, attuned, resonant with the child, can read the child almost without words, or usually without words, can read the child. She's caring. She's accepting. Caring. Sharing is caring.

Did you say scary? No, caring. All mothers are scary, but this mother is caring. Caring.

You destroyed my lecture. For Radu, he had to translate three of my lectures, and much more complex than this. He did a great job. He did a great job. That's why I did not fire him. It's a question of time.

Okay, these are all jokes. Don't take any of it seriously. Radu will beat me up after them. Caring.

But above all, accepting. She doesn't reject the child, or any aspect of the child. She provides safety, structure, order, predictability. This is the second element of a good enough mother.

The next element involves the father. Surprisingly.

The next element is preparing the child for reality.

There are three types of preparation for reality.

Physical reality. Don't cross the road, because the car will run over you, and nothing will happen to the car. Don't put your hand on a hot oven, unless you want barbecue.

So, this kind of, this is physical.

Social. Don't spit on grandmother. For example, unless she deserves it.

So, this is social preparation for reality.

And preparation for hegemonic culture, for the dominant culture.

So, there are names for this.

Preparation for social reality is called socialization. And preparation for hegemonic culture, for dominant culture, is called acculturation.

So, here, the father is involved. Actually, the father is a socialization agent, like the mother.

When the father is absent, there might be problems in preparation for reality. It's another important function of a good enough mother and a good enough father.

If they don't prepare the child for reality, they are delinquent. They are not good.

The father has three roles, which are unique to the father.

The mother has little to do with it.

The first role is skills acquisition, acquiring skills. So, anything from banging with a hammer to studying in the university. It's the father who provides this skill acquisition.

In today's modern world, about 43% of children are raised by single mothers. These mothers have to provide skills acquisition. Because there are no men present. It's a huge experiment, and we're still not sure of the outcomes.

The second role of the father is to provide gender role differentiation. The father teaches the boy how to be a man, and teaches the girl how to be a woman.

It's a common mistake to think that the mother teaches the daughter how to be a woman. The girls acquire gender role in interaction with the first male they seek, which is the father.

Gender roles are socially, culturally determined. They have very little to do with biology.

We have, for example, societies, even primitive societies, like northern Albania, where women can decide that they are men.

From the moment they decide they are men, they have all the rights of men, for example, to sit in a cafe and smoke.

In Africa, where I worked for four years, genders are totally free. You can transition between male roles, female roles in almost all the cultures that I've seen.

But don't confuse gender with sex. Don't confuse anything with sex, that's a good idea. Sex is biological.

We have more than two sexes, but all of them are biological. Gender is social-cultural. That's why the father determines gender.

The last role of the father is sexual scripts.

Sexual script is to tell the boy how to behave with girls and to tell the girl how to behave with boys.

In my generation, for example, which was the last few years of the dinosaurs, I didn't go out with dinosaurs. But in my generation, for example, the sexual script was that I pay, if I go out with a girl, I pay, I initiate. I open doors, I take off coats, and if the coat is expensive, I live in the back door of the restaurant.

That's called sexual script, so fathers convey sexual scripts.

We are in a period of an enormous transition for two reasons. Fathers are missing. And they are no longer agreed upon, socially agreed upon, gender roles and such.

And the second problem is that gender roles and sexual scripts are no longer agreed society-wide.

This creates a state, a condition called anomie. Anomie means that there are no norms.

What is the profile of the good enough mother? And with this, I will finish, and if you have questions, you can ask them, and then all the other people will be very angry.

Okay, I have a question for you. What is the profile of the good enough mother?

Because they want to go home. They are hostages. They are hostages for you.

Okay, how does the good enough mother look like? What is it that she provides?

I think in one phrase, unconditional love.

But be very careful, because people confuse. They think unconditional love is for giving everything, accepting everything. Believing in everything. That's not unconditional love. That's stupidity. It's gullibility.

I don't know gullibility in Romania. Don't look at me. I don't know how to say it in Romania.

Gullibility is when you believe everything people tell you.

Unconditional love is not about being credulous, not even in Romania.

Unconditional love is something completely different.

It's about being aware of the child, having intimate knowledge of the child. As I said, accepting the child, trusting the child, many parents don't trust the child.

To separate effectively, you need to trust the child to walk these three steps, not to run after the child.

Allow the child to become what we call self-efficacious.

In other words, allow the child to experiment. Get burned, get wounded, have pain, hurt. It's called learning.

Or in some countries, elections.

So I would say that being a good mother, a good enough mother, is allowing the child to become through the mother's gaze, through the way the mother sees the child.

Allow the child to grow up, to mature, to become an adult without fear, without anxiety, without blackmail, without control, without power play.

Just look at the child, let the child see your love in your gaze, and be as passive as you can.

Active parenting is, in most cases, bad parenting. Nature knows. Don't teach nature. The child will grow, separate from you, even if you don't do anything all the time.

Just let it be. Let the child be.

You are too involved. It's not about the child, it's about you, it's about your anxiety.

You're trying to reduce your anxiety by deceiving yourself that you have control. You hardly have control over yourselves. How can you have control over another?

Be humble. Be humble. You're not gods. And you should not assume god-like roles. You are custodians, you're guardians. And you are collaborators with nature.

But don't make a mistake. Nature is the majority partner. You're a little more than employees. And most of you are not always doing a good job.

The child cannot fire you, although in some countries he can, actually. In California the child can fire his parents. But in California everything is possible.

But the child cannot fire you, he's stuck with you. Make it a pleasant experience, make it a growing experience. Don't establish a prison. A camp. A boot camp, you know, in the army.

Don't always be there. Don't always be there. Don't think that your presence is always a good thing.

Learn the art of absence, the art of letting go. Let the child discover things in sometimes a painful way. It's the only way the child will remember.

So this is the lesson of a good enough mother. She's there, she's safe, she's stable. She always sees the child. But she does not interfere.

There's a difference between having an alliance with someone and having that someone invade you. Don't invade your child, be the child's ally.

Okay, those of you who survived this lecture... Totally, unexpectedly. I'm open to questions. Of course, there will be no answers, just ask the question.

So I'm open to questions. I would like to thank Radu for his work. I think he deserves recognition. You should thank me. You should thank you. We thank you for the lecture. Oh, why? I enjoyed it. What should you say?

Okay, guys. And girls. By the way, in the West, guys means also women. How about guys in Western Spanish? In the modern world, the difference is disappearing. So if you have any questions, I may have.

Do you have any questions?

The majority of the parents here are adolescent.

There was worry for me.

How could they correct some of the mistakes that they did until now as dysfunctional mothers?

If the mistakes happened in a very early stage of life, like second year, first year of life. Damage is very serious and requires professional help.

Damage in adolescence is more limited, much more limited, and usually transient.

The critical years are between zero and six, and in these years, for example, if you refuse to let the child separate, the damage is serious and lifelong.

And that's only therapy. We don't have any other technique.

It's about years, or it's about a short period of time.

Separation takes about a year and a half.

How many years of therapy do you need?

Oh, as many as possible. So you can buy a new car. Yes, it's very easy for a car.

It depends on the way the child is reacting.

The majority of the children react to problems in separation and individuation with very mild attachment-style disorders. They have an insecure attachment style.

About 15% of childrenexposed to dysfunctional motheringdevelop personality disorders, most notably narcissistic personality disorderand borderline personality disorder.

If there is already a genetic problem with brains, this requires a lot of work in adulthood.

In the case of narcissistic personality disorder, it's a waste of time. There's very little we can do. We can modify behavior. We can help the narcissists modify some behaviors.

The picture is much better with borderline. The prognosis is much better with borderline. About 81% of people with borderline personality disorder lose the diagnosis spontaneously by age 45.

The dialectical behavior therapy, which is the therapy we use for borderline, is 50% effective within one year.

Anxiety disorders, mood disorders, mainly depression, they tend to be lifelong. They tend to be lifelong, managed, medication and so on.

There is damage. There is no sense to pretend that there is no damage or that the damage can be undone. There is damage.

Separation and individuation is only one. I mentioned a total of seven or eight.

Being a mother is an impossible job. She needs to be loving and push the child away. She needs to protect the child, because the child can kill himself, but also let the child experiment.

It's a totally self-contradictory job.

The main problem is this. If you have a mental health issue, the child will trigger it. The child is like a trigger. He will make it worse.

There are reasons for that. If the child regresses you, the child pushes you back to childhood. In some ways you become infantile when you have a child.

So if the mother is not mature, depressed, anxious, narcissistic, has a problem with attachment, then the child will make it worse. Never better.

One of the big mistakes people make, they think the child will cure them. The child will make it better.

Even couples think if they bring a child, it will bring the couple back together.

Children make things worse, not better.

If there is already a bad dynamic in the couple, the child will make it worse.

For example, if the husband is narcissistic and he wants attention from his wife, the minute the child is born, the husband begins to compete with the child. And he becomes aggressive with the wife because she is giving attention to the child.

It's an example of a dynamic that the child makes worse, not better.

If you are anxious, the child will increase your anxiety, not reduce it. And if you are depressed, your chance to have postnatal depression is eight times higher.

Children are hard work. They put enormous stress on them. They make demands that require self-denial and self-sacrifice.

You need to be very strong and centered and grounded to survive a child.

Here I will tell you secretly, just you and me.

There is much difference between a newborn child and an abusive relationship. Not much difference. And there is a reason for that.

If you have an abusive partner, he is likely a child.

An abusive partner is someone who did not have a good enough mother. An abusive partner is someone who is stuck in childhood, is infantile.

So if you are an abusive partner, you are a mother by definition.

A newborn child is a replica of a relationship with an abuser.

No one will say this, of course. They will lose their jobs. But it's the truth.

And if you talk to mothers, their reactions are very much like reactions of abused women.

Some mothers perceive the child as an abuser, a persecutor.

You remember how we started this lecture when there was a previous regime in the government?

I started the lecture by saying that you need a license to drive, but you don't need a license to be a mother or a father.

In an ideal world, everyone will undergo psychological evaluation.

And if you have narcissistic personality disorder, you will not be allowed to have children. It will be a criminal offense.

If you have schizophrenia, psychotic disorder, bipolar disorder, several personality disorders, I could make a list. And these people should not have children.

It's not a God-given right to have children. It's not written anyway. Not even in the constitution of Romania.

So we take it for granted.

It is?

No, in your constitution.

Because in Romania, there are no dysfunctional mothers.

Because in Romania, there are no dysfunctional mothers.

But that's why I started with licensing.

Because I'm a firm believer that if you need a license to ride a motorcycle, you need a license to have a child.

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