You certainly know some romantic comedies. The most emblematic: When Harry meets Sally, Just Married, You got a message, For better and for better… In all of these films, female and male protagonists always hate each other at first. Very often (in fact, all the time) for the simple reason that the guy in the story is obnoxious, insufferable, even vile. But in the end, they fall into each other’s arms – without the guy having moved on.
A curious Hollywood mechanic that trivializes toxic relationships. And reduces love to a postulate: “whoever loves well chastises well”. Nothing better to avoid any form of male introspection. But hold on tight, this adage is not just about adults or rom’coms American. No, it is this philosophy that children, and especially girls, undergo when, “annoyed” by a friend, they call for help from their parents, who retort: ”If he bothers you, it’s because that he loves you “.
A “who likes well chastises well” version kids. And that it would be more than recommended to flee. Because the consequences of such a logic are as numerous as they are harmful. Here are some of them, reviewed by experts in education and child psychology.
Excuse the abuser’s toxic attitude
This is the most obvious of the reasons, in fact. “He who loves well chastises well”, “He is mean to you because he loves you” … To approve these stupid sayings is to validate an attitude: that of the aggressor. When we talk about childhood, we tend to summarize belligerent behavior as simple “bickering”, as we say. But that is not the opinion of the American youth author Barbara Dee. In his aptly named book Maybe He Just Likes You, she puts real terms on that: bullying, intimidation, toxicity.
“These are familiar and dangerous words,” she says on the A Mighty Girl educational blog. To read it, it is this type of assertion which would be at the very origin of the #MeToo revolution. Namely, a global reaction to relations of authority between the genders where the abuse is systemic, sometimes unconscious, willingly unpunished.
A trivialized abuse addressed to the child victim, who deduces that he must accept this oppressive attitude and associate it with this curious feeling that is love. But also for the child who violent, comforted in his actions, sure to embody an expected masculinity. This worries the psychosociologist Judy Y. Chu, who is alarmed in the pages of the New York Times : “When we give boys a pass regarding these kinds of stereotypes, we keep them at a very low level of human behavior.”
So it does neither good for girls, nor good for guys.
Blame the child for nothing
Mirror effect: to lecture your daughter with bogus proverbs is not only to excuse the culprit, but to blame her directly. And this at an age when guilt and complexes are far from scarce. There is in this assertion a kind of injunction to be silent and to be effaced, imperative which too often undergoes the little girls, especially the most angry. And that they will suffer for a long time afterwards. Avoid if you care a little about your development and mental health.
Many specialists point the finger at this parental fault. And to remember that children need a comfort zone to flourish in the least biased way possible. But it is not obvious because sentences of this kind abound. Just listen to family therapist Laura Froyen to be sure.
From the side from Fatherly education site, this one castigates in particular the use of the adage “Boys will be boys” (“The boys will remain boys”). An expression which tends to excuse the most critical attitudes because “they are little guys”. Once again, it is clear that the feelings of the girls come to the fore.
“This message tells girls that boys don’t need to listen to their limits, when boys chase them in the playground for example. While boys should have the same expectations when it comes to responsibilities than girls, ”protests the expert. CQFD.
Ah, by the way, the therapist considers that “He who loves chastises well” is “one of the most damaging messages that parents can inflict on their daughters.” Bim.
Reducing boy / girl relationships to love
“When we tell children, and girls in particular, that this type of behavior is okay, we reinforce the idea [que] bullying is an integral part of romantic relationships – and it is simply not true “, tackle again clinical counselor Rachel O’Neill. Okay, but do we play devil’s advocate for two minutes and suggest that the one who “chastises” really feels love, why not?
But here again, it is problematic: our reaction tends to reduce boys / girls relationships to the simple premise of a sentimental relationship. Understand, the boy acts to be noticed, by “love”, and the one who complains should be flattered by this awkwardness as if this “he likes you” was an end in itself. A shortcut that amounts to missing out on one of the great treasures of childhood: friendship, pardi.
Author and family counselor, Lynne Griffin reminds us on the PyschologyToday website that girl / boy friendships “are especially important for children’s development.” The expert goes even further and shoots the sky: “Encouraging these healthy friendships is the best way to teach your child what his healthy adult relationships can be.” A good hearer.
Encourage a vicious circle
Another downside: we do not wonder enough about the impact of empty phrases that we shoot at children. If we trivialize violence by summing it up to an anecdote, how will they look at it? As we can imagine, the answers do not sell dreams. For gender and parenting specialist Joanna Schroeder, making the connection between injury and love “normalizes not only mistreatment, but also the mistreatment of others,” writes the expert and mother on the blog Good Men Project.
What to encourage attitudes just as toxic, the antipodes of dialogue, listening, empathy. Online therapeutic space, the Talkspace site likes to remind you that today’s bullies are often the bullies of yesterday. Violence is a cycle that must be stopped as quickly as possible. However, by teaching children to identify harmful behavior, “we can prevent injured children from becoming bullies themselves”, the platform assures us in this regard. A heavy responsibility.
Ignore your adult life
When author Lynne Griffin talks about “healthy adult relationships,” her words are not trivial. Thinking about a better use of words and educational precepts from childhood is already preparing the foundations for a good adult life. Richer and more positive, less imbued with gender stereotypes and old world attitudes.
Moreover, “who likes well punishes well” withdraws from the child “the right to oppose being treated in a bad way,” laments the New York Times. From the start, it is therefore an “adult” principle that is turned upside down, namely autonomy. An essential ingredient in the recipe for the development of girls and boys.
Avoiding the real right answers
In short, limiting yourself to this poor rhetoric does not help your children. Especially when the alternatives are far from lacking. For example ? Simply, give support to his daughter when she is harassed. On the Good Men Project blog, psychologist Lisa Kaplin advocates the virtues of a real discussion between children and parents. A review of the situation, and the why of its problematic dimension.
“We must explain to children that what they and they undergo is a matter of control, and not of love or of taking care of someone”, assures the expert. Putting violence into words, and not disguising it as what it is not. Unlike this violence, more enlightened parental prescriptions would emphasize the importance of benevolence and empathy. There is also vulnerability, which should not be minimized, judged as a simple “weakness” or adorned with inappropriate adages.
“Girls should also know that they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” family therapist Laura Froyen tells Fatherly. Quite simply.