An UNEMPATHETIC MOTHER is one who is unable to take her child’s perspective and see things from his/her point of view. For example, if her child responds in a negative way towards her, she is unable to see how her own behavior contributed to such a response, or to accept that the child’s response may be absolutely normal and understandable given the circumstances. Essentially, she is unable to appreciate how her own behavior makes her child feel and how it may negatively impact him/her.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF AN UNEMPATHETIC MOTHER?
The psychologist and writer, Apter, suggests that unempathetic mothers frequently :
1) DEMAND RECOGNITION OF THEIR ‘SUPERIOR’ STATUS.
For example, she may say things like: ‘I am your mother so you must always show me the utmost respect and never defy me!’
2) CLAIM A KIND OF ‘OMNISCIENCE’
For example, she may say things like: ‘Just accept that I always know what’s best for you, so do what I say without questioning me.’
For example, she may say things like: ‘Be quiet, you’re far too young to have an opinion on this; nobody’s remotely interested in anything you have to say.’
4) BLAME THE CHILD FOR HER INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOUR
For example, she may say things like: ‘Don’t cry – you made me slap you by provoking me so much; you’d try the patience of a saint. I hope you’re happy now, making me do that!’
5) DECRY AND DEMEAN HER CHILD’S FEELINGS BY COMPARING THEM WITH HER OWN
For example, she may say things like: ‘Stop crying, you’ve no idea what it is to suffer – you should try living my life for a day, having to cope with a little bastard like you!’
6) DEPLOY OVER-GENERAL, UNFAIR, HYPERBOLIC CRITICISM
For example, she may say things like: ‘You’re just a bad kid through and through’ or, even, ‘you’re utterly evil.’
7) CRITICIZE AND DRESS THE CRITICISM UP AS CARING
For example, she may say things like: ‘Have you managed to compose yourself now? – it must be awful for you, having such a destructive temper.’
8) DISPLAY BORED, UNINTERESTED, NON-ENGAGED COMMUNICATION WHEN CHILD TALKS ABOUT HIS/HER FEELINGS
For example, she may say things like : (delivered in bored tone): ‘Yeah…right…uh-huh…uh-huh …’(yawns) ‘sorry, I slept very badly last night…I’m utterly shattered…it’s not that you’re boring me…’ (yawns again, more ostentatiously this time)
9) MAKE USE OF VAGUE, GLIB, AND EMPTY PROMISES
For example, she may say things like: ‘I promise I’ll be the world’s best mother from now on.’
10) ISSUE FLAT DENIALS
For example, she may say things like: ‘I’ve never acted against your interests.’
11) DERIDE THE CHILD TO UNDERMINE THEIR CONFIDENCE IN THEIR OWN VIEWS/FEELINGS
For example, she may say things like: ‘Oh, you think you’re a big shot, do you? All Hail the big-shot! – Don’t make me laugh. You’ll never amount to anything. You’re a complete embarrassment to me and to everybody else who’s ever had the misfortune to know you!’
A particular kind of mother who may be especially prone to behaving in ways suggested above is the NARCISSISTIC MOTHER.
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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).