Post 11 — Whose Fault? What to Blame for a Raging Child?

Earthquakes happen all the time without warning. Why don’t expert seismologists know in advance that the Earth’s crust is going to rend and tear itself apart? What the hell is seismology for if it can’t predict the tsunami on its way to kill millions? We hear a lot about fault lines after each earthquake.

A furious drive to control everything lies at the heart of the human experience. It may be primal instinct deep in our DNA, or it may be evolved behaviour. I don’t know, and nobody else does, either. We have no control group of humans on another Earth-like planet to compare ourselves against. Maybe others would have evolved differently, say, with an interest in living in a more cooperative model.

We need to blame something or someone for everything that is bad or wrong in our experience. We’re uncomfortable with the idea that life is chaotic, accidental and uncontrollable. Collectively and individually, we like to place fault on things without much examination. The certainty that something is at fault feels safe. The terrible complexity of the world makes us feel utterly helpless. Easier to place blame.

My Very Own Personal Exploding Device

Before I had children, and after I had my first child and he was well-behaved everywhere, I cast a judgmental eye at the adults accompanying children who raged in public. The media reports stories on arguments gone awry between a judgmental stranger and the parent of a tantrumming child in a store or on a plane. Every parent has a story of a negative encounter in a playground with parents and uncontrollable children. My raging second son didn’t explode in school, but many people have seen kids who do.

It wasn’t until I had my very own automatically exploding child (no batteries required) that I appreciated the complexity of what I’d previously been judging. Of course there are situations where clear fault lies somewhere. Parents and caregivers abuse their children. Children are sexually abused and parents are in denial or don’t know. Some of those assaulted children shrink inside themselves and die spiritually, or physically, or both. Some of them act out their abuse with counter-violence.

Some children may have suffered accidents at birth. Some may have experienced accidental concussions as infants. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome causes a raft of problems that begin with a birth mother’s alcoholism. Obvious neurological issues can be at the root of some children’s behaviours.

But, sometimes, there’s nothing to blame at all. Sometimes, as in my case, nothing points to anything. I’m the seismologist with nothing to report despite holding reams of graph paper that trail on the laboratory floor.

Cursing Darkness

Some people would likely insist that something be the cause. Something hidden, something denied, something forgotten, something somewhere. A child doesn’t just decide to rage for no reason at all! There must be something behind it! Well, sorry to disappoint, but sometimes this does happen for no reason at all (and these kids don’t decide to rage). I, myself, have nothing to pin it on, so at some point I got it in my head that it was my fault since I failed to supplement my pregnancy diet with the same flax seed oil that I took during the pregnancy with my first child.

In my own pointless effort to blame it on something, I figure that without flax seed oil, my son’s brain lacked essential nutrients it needed to develop in the areas that control flexibility, problem solving and tolerance. Forget the hundreds of millions of humans who were perfectly calm children no matter their mother’s diet in utero…we’re compelled to blame everything on something.

Lighting Candles

Things are complex, vexing, painful and unclear. Our frustration leads us to place blame. It’s what we do. Whether it’s geopolitics or parenting, the blame doesn’t reflect any simple truth at all; it’s just a soothing fantasy that allows us to fall asleep at night. We’re a part of the natural and wild planet. Our attempts to control it result in a world more complicated and many-dimensional than we can then bear to examine truthfully. Thus, we’re a species of firmly held illusions.

I can only know what’s in front of my eyes, and to set a course of action to improve what I see. I have had limited control over my life; I use my limited control to improve my child’s issues and send him into the world as an adult with limited control over his life. On a planet where the ground is ever-shifting and changing it’s the best we can do. No point in looking for blame in places where there is none.






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