"CHILDREN COMPETENTLY EXPRESS, BOTH VERBALLY AND NON-VERBALLY, THE NATURE OF THE EMOTIONAL AND EXTERNAL DILEMMAS THAT THEIR PARENTS ARE EXPERIENCING."
(Jesper Juul, Danish family therapist, www.family-lab.com)
Jesper Juul does not reinvent the wheel. But he made a vehicle that is truly efficient, albeit uncomfortable to drive. Juul is very different than the average family therapist in quite a few ways:
1. Brilliant Observer: he is willing to notice the adult-child interactions in bus-stops, restaurants, parties, supermarkets.
2. Honesty: he has the courage to formulate the issues as they are, without coating them in order to appeal to as many parents as possible. In other words, he is not selling a product, but he is sharing his ideas, knowledge and experience as a professional and parent. He has the courage and ability to go beyond the norms, including:
- the extreme rigidity of parenting cultures like the ones that can be found in Romania, where tight control of the child's behavior is exercised full force and upfront;
- the extreme flexibility of parenting in California (and other states of the US), where children are let to develop "freely", which often is just another way of giving up parental responsibility, making room for TV and internet to step in and educate the consumer (=individual) they would like to have.
- the insidious "togetherness" from Latin American and Latin European families, which traps children in a vicious circle where the emergence of individuality is seen and sanctioned as a threat to the unity (togetherness) of the family.
3. Systemic Thinking: Juul is able to look at the couple/family/community/nation/etc. as SOCIAL SYSTEMS, which influence one another. For this reason I have the feeling he is probably not liked in many countries. Especially those which value one of the extreme approaches to social interaction: the individualistic approach, or the family/togetherness approach (where the individual disappears within the Family Ego Mass, to use a Bowen term). For similar reasons systemic thinkers like Salvador Minuchin, Murray Bowen, Gregory Bateson are not very well regarded, since understanding and accepting their concepts requires honesty and full awareness of how one's personal reactions and actions influence the social systems he/she is part of.
So, here are my 2 cents: the way an individual deals with frustration, anger and aggression is closely related to how much his or her dignity has been chipped away throughout life. And not only by parents, but also by teachers, friends, media, pharmaceuticals and politicians.
I know, thousands of people said this.
But very few are willing to look at anger from this systemic point of view. The large majority wants to find out about The 5 Easy Steps Toward an Anger Free Life. And since it sells, it is also offered in insane quantities.
To be continued.