Monday, 26 November 2018

All Wrong: False accusations & criticizing 'getting away with it'

Getting Away With It

In that other post, 3 More Mistakes Critics Make about Attachment-Parenting, in the section about Misbehaviour, I commented briefly on that dire, threatening suggestion that there is something inherently evil in a child ‘getting away with it’ … with a note to follow up with something else to say about that.

Hi! I’m back!

This ‘getting away with’ language really bothers me. This is part of the war on children that isn’t even covert.
First, what exactly is wrong with a child getting what they want? 

   Or accomplishing what they’re attempting?

   Or having a need satisfied? 

Second, if they child does get what they want (which is presumed to be terrible) what have they learned?

The Grundies seem to believe that if a child gets what they want, they will have learned that expressing their emotions or making an attempt to accomplish something ‘works.’

Okay. Sure. The child will learn that trying to accomplish something works. 

Oh no. 

Not that., but I don’t understand, they say: the child will learn that doing something badly works.

So, like trying to speak a sentence in a foreign language and not being completely perfect, but still getting the hot dog you ordered teaches you that doing something imperfectly is … somewhat effective. Cool.

No, no, no, it’s bad! It must be bad. Everyone everywhere is certain that it is bad. So…

Yeah, I’m not playing.

Do you have any idea how many terrified-to-make-mistakes, anxious perfectionists, afraid to learn anything new or try anything new, who get angry at the ordinary pace of changes they’re not in control of are walking around in unhappy adult bodies?

Falsely Accused

One of the primal fears of social animals surrounds all the feelings of being falsely accused. It is powerful stuff, our need to be accepted and fit in. In fact, it is one of William Glasser’s Five Needs, right after #1 Physical Security (food, shelter, sleep) --#2 Love and a Sense of Belonging.

A need. Love and a sense of belonging is a need. When that need is frustrated . . . it feels terrible.
Being accused of having done something, or meant something, or gotten away with something wicked is a horrible feeling, connected with that very social emotion: shame.
There is a deep and dark feeling associated with being accused of ‘getting away’ with something. Of course, no one ever accuses anyone of trying to ‘get away with’ being helpful or generous or fun to be around. 

Nope, this is one of the dark triad of experiences people desire to never feel again: ganged up on, falsely accused, totally ghosted. They are in that order for a reason. Those go from being terrible to traumatic to being life-altering-level terrible.

Notice how being ganged up on is actually not so bad?


So, when people suggest that parents are ‘letting their kids get away with’ something, parents feel immediately hunted, haunted, and genuinely fearful for their social safety: will they (or their children) be ghosted, if this accusation gets to stand?

The deep and immediate shame, and desire to never have that accusation come around again, has a very negative impact on people.
Funny, how the majority of people who say it, if confronted with what it really means, think they don’t really mean that at all.

People are like that: completely onside with whatever kind of horrible treatment someone else deserves, until someone suggests that maybe their dark fantasies say something about their character that they don’t really want noticed.

Children are CHILDREN

When kids want what they want, how are they different from when adults want what they want?

Why is it bad, children wanting things?

Why would it be bad for them to get what they want, and what they need? 

Where does this stuff come from? This 'it's bad to want things' and 'it's bad to attempt to get things' and 'it's monstrous to express feelings' stuff?

Is it because these unhappy (perfectionist, afraid to make a mistake, that whole list from up there...) adults were shamed for wanting? Because they were punished for expressing feelings? Because they were tormented for making mistakes? 

Okay, probably . . . but what has that got to do with any child alive today?

Children are innocent of all of trespasses against their parents’ generation by anyone older than their parents, because they are the children -–not the parents of their parents. They aren’t even the overlords of their parents.

They're children, fer cryin’ out loud!

When kids want what they want, how are they different from when adults want what they want? practical terms the difference between an adult’s desires being thwarted and a child’s is indistinguishable. 

What is it about those bleak feelings, of knowing that you can’t afford something, and how uncomfortable it is to have that reality made blatant by a child’s simple wishing, that makes the kids wrong for wishing?

When kids actually get what they want … ooh, surely that is bad, isn’t it?


When people win a draw for an all-inclusive vacation at work, that’s bad, right? People shame them for ‘getting away with’ working inattentively from time to time, and not being super nice to that creep in the mail room…? No? Really?
Because people get right shirty about little kids getting the candy they asked for (except at Halloween, Christmas and Easter, for some reason no one can explain) … as if they are ‘getting away with’ something nefarious.

Kids are really not capable of nefarious. Really. They can’t even recognize that other people have a completely different experience of the world from themselves until they’re at least 10…

Capable of strategizing to overthrow the adults?


We Gotta Talk About These Vengeful Fantasies

There is something really disturbing running under the surface of ‘children are our future’ and ‘children are so precious’ that makes otherwise seemingly rational adults get really weird about kids getting what they want, what they ask for, or {{horrors}} what they need.

This all is, I think, evidence of a long-ago contract, signed unilaterally with the universe (see the Insanity Box for more on this idea) that had a clause in it that reads something like:

Fine. FINE! I will swallow this crap without bitching endlessly about it now, but boy, when it’s my turn, I get to do exactly the same thing to every kid this age! {shake fist at sky}

This child-abuse-provokes-abuse-of-new-children thing is really old.

Sure, it’s not fair. Fine. You had to suck it up to survive. Congratulations, your life sucked, your parents sucked, everything in the universe sucked.

The children alive today did not do that to you.

They did not even wish it on you.

It has nothing to do with them.

Free them from it.

Let go.

Let's All Get Some Therapy

An adult who can look into the face of a completely innocent child and seek revenge for what was done by the adults of their world when they were children… that needs help. Professional help. Lots of it.

That is not mentally healthy, balanced, sensible or, frankly, fair. children get what they need, that is good. 

It is good in exactly the same way it was bad that the adults of today did not get what they needed when they were children. That was bad and wrong.

Children today getting what they need is good, and right.

Please stop polluting the future with the past.


  1. That whole Christian morality is incredibly pervasive, isn't it? That's how feeling guilty is installed, under the guise of 'having a conscience'. There is, I believe, a huge difference between following rules and having personal ethics and values; unfortunately, that difference is unacknowledged for most people.