Friday, February 25, 2022

Who Raises Children?

Today's article is a response to a Twitter post shared this morning in the BPD and Chill Facebook community. Here's the post...

As part of my effort examining why words matter, I'm seeing a particular narrative within this post. Whether intended or not, the Twitter comment is framed on the idea that "Mom raised me". And, like many statements framed that way, it's ambiguous. It could either mean that....

1) Mom was one factor is how I was raised.
2) Mom was the primary, or even sole, factor in how I was raised.

We'd all agree that mothers (for those who had them) are one factor in how a child develops. But when we focus on mothers, it can easily start to imply or sound like mothers are solely responsible for how children develop. And that's a problem because it's objectively not true. 

As I've shown using the Accountability Triangle model, humans are impacted by a complex array of factors. A child's development includes impact from the caregivers. From the culture they're raised in. From the school they attend. And from their own natural proclivities. 

When we turn focus toward mothers, it also turns focus away from these other factors. And I see that as problematic. Because eventually we start having conversations about who to blame and who to hold responsible. I am, to be extremely clear, not trying to disavow mothers or parents of all blame. It is to say that we must keep in mind the larger context.

Now, I will wholly admit that I'm being very nitpicky on a post that was likely meant to just be a bit of dark humor about self-exploration. You might also say that "of course" no-one is thinking that mothers are solely responsible. That the author of the post, and many readers of the post, would all agree about mothers not being solely responsible. My response is that, while that's likely true, when we talk about one factor it means we're also talking about the other factors. How we frame and conceptualize situations matters.

As a thought experiment to show this, let's try re-doing the same post in a different context...

Society didn't raise a quitter but it also didn't raise a winner to be honest idk who they raised I do not recognize myself most days

I know for me that new phrasing makes me immediately think very differently about why a person would wind up in the author's situation and who I could or should consider holding responsible. And that's the point I'm trying to make here.

Okay, that's today's thought ramble. Hope this has, once again, helped convince you why words matter.


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