“I turned out alright”…How to deal with the Defense-Mode

When people hear of non-coercive parenting, they often remark “well I received punishments and I turned out just fine” or even claiming a smack on the bum or spanking didn’t harm them.

Hitting children diminishes feelings of self-worth and self-love, and instills in them a bone-shaking fear of authority, of life and of people (even their loved ones). Physical abuse stunts emotional development and brings about a state of obedience. Psychological abuse causes the same fear as physical abuse and on the whole has much the same outcome.

When people say such things they are obviously feeling defensive about the way we choose to live with our children. They feel the need to defend their parents, their upbringing and the norms of society.

By claiming they turned out to be fine they are setting a mark for psychological health and behavior that is truly questionable. A childhood spent in oppression, distrust, spite and under control leaves scars, that’s certain, and shapes a culture that is undeniably distrustful, lacking in self-worth and self-love, overly competitive and challenged in self-regulatory skills.

Being at the mercy of an adult brings forth obedience in children. Obedience goes deeper than simply doing what you’re told; the will is replaced by the will of another, which leads to a loss of identity and turning their back on their true self. Check this out for more on obedience.

Every person reacts differently to the same situation; this may mean the person claiming he turned out just fine was

a) Simply extraordinarily well-balanced

b) Enjoyed authentic parents who allowed for a lot of autonomy next to their behavior modification

c) Perhaps was just lucky enough to enter adulthood in not-too-bad a shape.

Or (most probably) d)that person forgot a lot of how he felt as a child; denial and memory suppression aren’t too farfetched, being two of the favorite coping mechanisms in our society.


And from this “I turned out to be just fine” thus “it can’t all be so bad” or “I survived” attitude derives a nonsensical philosophy that should be kept as far from our beloved children as possible instead of directly affecting them! If something was “alright”, “not that bad”, “possible to survive”, it can’t be good, that’s for sure.

People are influenced greatly by their conditioning and socialization and anything that clashes with them will seem initially crazy and feel wrong. This means we stand up for our conditioning, defend it and advocate it, even if we wouldn’t choose to act that way or think such things, given a second thought or deep reflection.  It gives the air of someone walking around covering his ears, proclaiming some short-sighted nonsense that is unauthentic, fear-motivated and not based on any actual facts.

Some people make fun of sentences like “some children need a good spanking” “show him who’s boss” “it’s for their own good” “got to be cruel to be kind” and say them with a smile, not thinking about what they really mean and cause. Such sentences are a culturally acceptable – such ‘jokes’ are made in family shows, kid’s shows, late night shows or in any show where children are mentioned. The child’s assigned place as the object goes unquestioned in our society and the outrage we feel isn’t yet felt by the majority of others. (Cue the mention of how absurd Women’s Rights seemed just a few decades ago.)

When dealing with such claims we must meet them with understanding, taking how we live with our children and translating it for all people that surround us. We must find the need underlying behavior, acknowledge and accept the feelings this person is relaying to us and find a constructive, cooperative solution in our relationship (however fleeting it may be). We must use non-violent communication so that the person isn’t forced further into that defensive stance, and is more open to connecting with us to find common ground.

Yes it’s hard. Yes it can make our skin crawl to hear people talking of children as if they were objects for them to mold and manipulate, justifying their behavior with short-sighted claims of “I turned out to be just fine!” BUT by consciously choosing NOT to go into opposition, but rather to befriend them and hear them out, seeking understanding and reflecting upon emotions and motivations, people usually accept this accommodating gesture and automatically become open for what it is we have to say or the attitude we model.

I believe it is everyone’s wish to reduce and eradicate the unjust and spiteful circumstances many children grow up in and to do this we must make Un-raising (Un-raising- what? Click here for more) a thing everyone can strive for and not shut ourselves in our own defensive bubble, seeing the behavior-modifiers as the foe.

Many people can’t bear to hear they were psychologically damaged as a child or are harming and impeding  their children by mainstream methods of child-raising. Of course people act defensively. We must remember these parents acted to the best of their abilities to the best of their knowledge; it is extremely rare for someone to actually want to harm a child.


“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

– Martin Luther King.

I invite you to take your liberty and join the revolution!


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