If you fail him, it must feel to him as if the wild beasts will
gobble him up.
What heating did you have in your house when you were growing up?
What memories does thinking about that bring back to you?
Donald Winnicott was a Child Psychologist who was troubled by the number of parents coming to him, worried that they were somehow letting their children down. They believed that they weren’t perfect enough. He developed the idea that children didn’t need perfect parents (as if that were even possible), but that children learnt and grew from realising that their parents weren’t perfect and that they themselves had to develop resilience and strength within themselves. He wasn’t suggesting simply leaving your children to their own devices, as a laissez-faire or jellyfish parent does, but one who understands, that by allowing children space to make their own decisions and mistakes, they will grow up to trust their instincts and have agency over their emotions.
Winnicott believed and taught the following about child raising:
Remember that your child is very vulnerable
Let the child be angry
Make sure your child isn’t too compliant
Let your child be
Realise the gravity of your work
A story comes to mind, I am about eight or nine, I have burst into tears for some now forgotten reason and run to my bedroom. I hide under the bed, feeling confident someone would come to comfort me soon. Slowly, I realise, I can’t keep up the crying and that no-one is coming. But I have learned a powerful lesson; I can be upset, I can calm myself and regulate my own emotions. More importantly, I am loveable, even though no one who loved me came to tell me so.
Alain de Botton; Psychology, Donald Winnicott