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They do their homework on time. Their writing is neat. They keep their bedroom tidy. They
are often a little shy. They want to help their parents. They use their brakes when
cycling down a hill. Because they don't pose many immediate problems, we tend to assume
all is well with good children. They aren't the target for particular concern. That goes
to the kids who are graffiting the underpass. People imagine the good children are fine,
because they do everything that's expected of them. And that, of course, is precisely
the problem. The secret sorrows – and future difficulties – of the good boy or girl begin
with their inner need for excessive compliance. The good child isn't good because by a quirk
of nature they simply have no inclination to be anything else. They are good because
they have no other option. Their goodness is a necessity rather than a choice. Many
good children are good out of love of a depressed harassed parent who makes it clear they just
couldn't cope with any more complications or difficulties. Or maybe they are very good
to soothe a violently angry parent who could become catastrophically frightening at any
sign of less than perfect conduct.
But this sort of repression of more challenging emotions, though it produces short-term pleasant obedience,
stores up a huge amount of difficulty in later life. Practiced educators and parents should
spot signs of exaggerated politeness – and treat it as the grave danger it really is. The good
child becomes a keeper of too many secrets and an appalling communicator of unpopular
but important things. They say lovely words, they are experts in satisfying the expectations
of their audiences, but their real thoughts and feelings stay buried and then generate
psychosomatic symptoms, twitches, sudden outbursts and sulphurous bitterness. The sickness of
the good child is that they have no experience of other people being able to tolerate their
badness. They have missed out a vital privilege accorded to the healthy child; that of being
able to display envious, greedy, ego-maniacal sides and yet be tolerated and loved nevertheless.
The good person typically has particular problems around sex. As a child, they may have been
praised for being pure and innocent. As they become an adult however, like all of us, they
discover the ecstasies of sex, which can be beautifully perverse and excitingly disgusting.
But this may be radically at odds with the picture of what they believe they are allowed
to be like. They may in response disavow their desires, go cold and detached from their bodies
or perhaps give in to their longings only in a disproportionate way that is destructive
to other bits of their lives and leaves them disgusted and frightened. At work, the good
adult has problems too. As a child, they follow the rules. Never make trouble and take care
not to annoy anyone. But following the rules won't get you very far in adult life. Almost
everything that's interesting, worth doing or important will meet with a degree of opposition.
A brilliant idea will always disappoint certain people – and yet very much be worth holding
on to. The good child is condemned to career mediocrity and sterile people-pleasing. Being
properly mature involves a frank, unfrightened relationship with one's own darksides, complexity
and ambition. It involves accepting that not everything that makes us happy will please
others or be honored as especially "nice" by society – but that it can be important
to explore and hold on to it nevertheless. The desire to be good is one of the loveliest
things in the world, but in order to have a genuinely good life, we may sometimes need
to be, by the standards of the good child, fruitfully and bravely bad.
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人生好難!當好孩子也有的包袱?! (The Dangers of the Good Child)

17103 分類 收藏
Anita Lin 發佈於 2017 年 10 月 3 日    Julie Tu 翻譯    Jerry 審核
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