Child Development

Dismissive-Avoidants as Parents

Darth Vader - Dismissive Dad

Darth Vader – Dismissive Dad

Avoidants tend to be unresponsive to partner needs and unconcerned with the negative effect their lack of supportive communication has on their partners. How much does this lack of caring extend to their care for children? If you are married with children, you may have observed moments of caring interaction with them, but not as often as perhaps might be appropriate; and studies have shown that the typical avoidant is a somewhat negligent, emotionally distant parent:

Edelstein et al. (2004) videotaped children’s and parents’ behavior when each of the children received an inoculation at an immunization clinic, and found that more avoidant parents (assessed with a self-report scale) were less responsive to their children, particularly if the children became highly distressed; that is, when the children were most upset and most in need of parental support, avoidant parents failed to provide effective care.[1]

The dynamics that make the Dismissive/Anxious-Preoccupied partnership so unsatisfying are repeated with children who try to get more attention from an avoidant parent. A child either learns not to expect emotional support (thus growing more avoidant themselves) or falls into the trap of requesting more and being brutally rebuffed by a parent who sees their needs as weaknesses to be despised:

As expected, avoidant individuals exhibited a neglectful, nonresponsive style of caregiving: They scored relatively low on proximity maintenance and sensitivity, reflecting their tendency to maintain distance from a needy partner (restricting accessibility, physical contact, and sensitivity), and tended to adopt a controlling, uncooperative stance resembling their domineering behavior in other kinds of social interactions….[2]

Over time, children with an avoidant parent will look to their other parent for support. If the other parent is a sensitive caregiver, the child will model future attachment styles on that parent; but if the other parent is, for example, anxious-preoccupied, the child will more likely end up with some variety of insecure attachment type. Between the Scylla of the coldhearted dismissive and the Charybdis of the clingy, preoccupied parent, the child will not have a healthy model to work with.

If your partner is avoidant and you have had or intend to have children, it is especially important that you provide a good model of caregiving: there when needed, and only when needed; calm, cheerful, responsive, but not hovering. Consider carefully (if it’s not too late) how you might encourage your avoidant to handle your children’s needs with more attention and care; and if you are considering bringing up children in the critical years from birth to age 2, whether it might be wise to wait until either your partner has learned to be more supportive or you have found a better partner. Because a steady parent’s love and attention is so important to the emotional health of children, if you find you can’t be the steady one to give your children a good model because you yourself are off-balance from your avoidant partner’s lack of support, do what you have to do to make the environment better. It’s not just your current suffering that you should worry about—your children may suffer a lifetime of attachment dysfunction as well.

Here’s a report from a mother who has just about had it with both her husband and her dad, who show the same dismissive pattern:

My son was crying last night as he talked about how he could not ever talk to his dad about anything. I very much relate and I have great compassion for him. I want to be stronger for HIM.

This morning I went to the gym and there was some show about weddings. The fathers were walking the daughter down the aisle, so proud. Then the other day I saw an ad about graduation…again, the fathers were so proud standing right next to their daughters.

It hurts very badly. I recall inviting my dad to my college graduation and he said he had to work. He doesn’t care that I was with an abusive man in my marriage. Instead he speaks so highly of him, how he is the father of his grandchildren (who he can’t stand and had nothing nice to say about)…

Once when we were visiting, my son (then 10) had a febrile seizure. I told my dad I was taking him to the doctor. My dad criticized me for overreacting. When my older son had a seizure at 5 years old from a high fever, my stepmom acted like I overreacted when I took him to the ER.[3]

And this adult survivor of dismissive parenting talks about how it felt:

My father is passive abusive. His emotional abuse is very covert. Mostly he just doesn’t care, doesn’t listen when I talk to him, doesn’t know anything about me, my life or my kids because he doesn’t care to know and he doesn’t listen to anyone who tries to tell him. To the general public, (and according to my siblings) my father is regarded as this ‘nice’ guy and he is never violent, never mean and never hurtful with his words, but the truth is that his relationship style is dismissive and disinterested all of which is very hurtful. I spent many years in childhood and in adulthood ‘begging’ (in all kinds of ways) my emotionally abusive father to notice me. The fact that he didn’t was and is very hurtful. There is a very loud message that is delivered to me when I am disregarded. The message is that I don’t matter, that I am not important, that I am not worth listening to and that I don’t have anything to contribute to his life. My father is emotionally unavailable, and that is very hurtful. Love is an action and love doesn’t damage self-esteem. Love doesn’t define a ‘loved one’ as insignificant.

After years of trying to tell my passive abusive father that his constant cutting me off whenever I tried to tell him about me, and that his lack of interest in my life was a problem for me ~ and due to the fact that there wasn’t any change on his part, I gave up; I finally realized that he wasn’t going to change.[4]


[Note: if you arrived here looking for insight into a dismissive spouse or lover, this post is now a chapter in the book I’ve just published on the topic: Avoidant: How to Love (or Leave) a Dismissive Partner. Right now available from Amazon Kindle for $3.99, and a trade paperback is also available.]

More on Attachment and Personality Types:

What Attachment Type Are You?
Type: Secure
Type: Anxious-Preoccupied
Type: Dismissive-Avoidant
Type: Fearful-Avoidant (aka Anxious-Avoidant)
Avoidant: Emotions Repressed Beneath Conscious Level
Serial Monogamy: the Fearful-Avoidant Do It Faster
Anxious-Preoccupied: Stuck on the Dismissive?
Anxious-Preoccupied / Dismissive-Avoidant Couples: the Silent Treatment
Anxious-Preoccupied: Clingy and Insecure Relationship Example
Domestic Violence: Ray and Janay Rice
Malignant Narcissists
Teaching Narcissists to Activate Empathy
Histrionic Personality: Seductive, Dramatic, Theatrical
Life Is Unfair! The Great Chain of Dysfunction Ends With You.
Love Songs of the Secure Attachment Type
On Addiction and the Urge to Rescue
“Bad Boyfriends” for Kindle, $2.99
Controlling Your Inner Critic
“Big Bang Theory” — Aspergers and Emotional/Social Intelligence
Porn Addiction and NoFAP
Introverts in Management

[1] Mikulincer, Mario. Attachment in Adulthood: Structure, Dynamics, and Change. Kindle edition, loc. 8408. The Guilford Press, 2007.
[2] Mikulincer, Mario. Attachment in Adulthood: Structure, Dynamics, and Change. Kindle edition, loc. 8418. The Guilford Press, 2007.
[3] http://www.mdjunction.com/forums/emotional-abuse-discussions/general-support/10708676-small-ventwhen-dad-is-uncaring-and-dismissive
[4] “Emotionally Unavailable Father; The Message of Passive Abuse :: Emerging From Broken.” Accessed September 21, 2014. http://emergingfrombroken.com/emotionally-unavailable-father-the-message-of-passive-abuse/.

Progressive Neighborhoods: Low Vaccination Rates Create Epidemics

Jenny McCarthy

Jenny McCarthy

This story is getting a lot of coverage, but no amount is enough: pseudoscientific anti-vaccine proponents like Jenny McCarthy, Vani Hari “Food Babe,” and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. are in part responsible for increasing illness and deaths from formerly vanquished childhood diseases like measles and whooping cough. The Hollywood Reporter has done an in-depth investigation of how fashionable pseudoscience is endangering children:

Vaccination rates are plummeting at top Hollywood schools, from Malibu to Beverly Hills, from John Thomas Dye to Turning Point, where affluent, educated parents are opting out in shocking numbers (leaving some schools’ immunization rates on par with South Sudan) as an outbreak of potentially fatal whooping cough threatens L.A. like “wildfire….”

Across California, thousands of children and babies are coughing so violently that their bodies convulse, uncontrollably wheezing and fighting to breathe for weeks. Nearly 8,000 pertussis cases have been reported in 2014 to the state’s Department of Public Health as of Sept. 2, and 267 of those patients have been hospitalized, including 58 requiring intensive care.

Adults can contract the disease, but 94 percent of all cases reported statewide involve children — and the youngest suffer the most. So far this year, three infants under 2 months of age have died statewide from pertussis, a disease commonly known as whooping cough (named for the high-pitched sound that kids make when they inhale after coughing)….

Whether it’s measles or pertussis, the local children statistically at the greatest risk for infection aren’t, as one might imagine, the least privileged — far from it. An examination by The Hollywood Reporter of immunization records submitted to the state by educational facilities suggests that wealthy Westside kids — particularly those attending exclusive, entertainment-industry-favored child care centers, preschools and kindergartens — are far more likely to get sick (and potentially infect their siblings and playmates) than other kids in L.A. The reason is at once painfully simple and utterly complex: More parents in this demographic are choosing not to vaccinate their children as medical experts advise.

Progressives taunt “flyover country” sorts for the anti-scientific beliefs of the minority who don’t believe in evolution and want their religious creation story taught in schools. Meanwhile, progressives are killing people and hurting their own children by adopting pseudoscientific beliefs about harmful side-effects of vaccines that have long since been debunked.

There are risks to vaccinations–idiosyncratic reactions and unusual syndromes have occurred in a miniscule portion of children receiving vaccinations. But having forgotten the much greater danger of death and permanent damage from childhood diseases, these parents believe their own child is better off without vaccines. This goes along with a pseudo-religious belief that “all natural” is a good thing.

It was “all natural” for 50% of children to die before adulthood. It was “all natural” for most people to die before the age of 40. Modern vaccinations and public health measures like improved sewers and water treatment meant you could love your young children without risk of losing them, as used to be the case; and have only two to be likely to see two to adulthood, when before you might have eight to have only three survive. The CDC comments on what a world without vaccination would look like:

Before the middle of the last century, diseases like whooping cough, polio, measles, Haemophilus influenzae, and rubella struck hundreds of thousands of infants, children and adults in the U.S.. Thousands died every year from them. As vaccines were developed and became widely used, rates of these diseases declined until today most of them are nearly gone from our country.

Nearly everyone in the U.S. got measles before there was a vaccine, and hundreds died from it each year. Today, most doctors have never seen a case of measles.

More than 15,000 Americans died from diphtheria in 1921, before there was a vaccine. Only one case of diphtheria has been reported to CDC since 2004.

An epidemic of rubella (German measles) in 1964-65 infected 12½ million Americans, killed 2,000 babies, and caused 11,000 miscarriages. In 2012, 9 cases of rubella were reported to CDC.

It’s great that people are catching on to the benefits of less processed foods and more natural diets. It’s not great that they are starting to believe quacks who promote pseudoscience that will let dangerous diseases run unchecked.

Lemmings gotta lem!


Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples OrganizationsDeath by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations

[From Death by HR: How Affirmative Action Cripples Organizations,  available now in Kindle and trade paperback.]

The first review is in: by Elmer T. Jones, author of The Employment Game. Here’s the condensed version; view the entire review here.

Corporate HR Scrambles to Halt Publication of “Death by HR”

Nobody gets a job through HR. The purpose of HR is to protect their parent organization against lawsuits for running afoul of the government’s diversity extortion bureaus. HR kills companies by blanketing industry with onerous gender and race labor compliance rules and forcing companies to hire useless HR staff to process the associated paperwork… a tour de force… carefully explains to CEOs how HR poisons their companies and what steps they may take to marginalize this threat… It is time to turn the tide against this madness, and Death by HR is an important research tool… All CEOs should read this book. If you are a mere worker drone but care about your company, you should forward an anonymous copy to him.

 


More on Pseudoscience and Quackery:

Vani Hari: “Food Babe” and Quack
Vani Hari, “Food Babe” and Quack: Where the Money Comes From
Vandana Shiva: Quack
More on Quacks: “Dr. Oz” Testifies He’s a Victim!
“Parallel Science Propaganda Machine”
Mike Adams: Quack Suggests Murdering Monsanto-supporting Scientists
Cleanses and Detox Diets: Quackery
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.: Quack

Smarter Babies when Mothers Eat More Salmon

Costco Canned Salmon Filet

Costco Canned Salmon Filet

… and less vegetable oil. Another correlation study, but it fits a pattern of such studies showing how important omega-3 fats are in building and protecting brains (see “Fish and Fish Oil for Better Brain Health.”) In this case, mothers who ate a diet rich in omega-3s (from oily coldwater fish and some nuts) had higher levels of omega-3s in the breast milk they fed their children, and their children were notably smarter.

Researchers at UCSB and U Pittsburgh have released a study (written up by Science Daily here):

In a paper published in the early online edition of the journal Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, the researchers compared the fatty acid profiles of breast milk from women in over two dozen countries with how well children from those same countries performed on academic tests.

Their findings show that the amount of omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in a mother’s milk — fats found primarily in certain fish, nuts and seeds — is the strongest predictor of test performance. It outweighs national income and the number of dollars spent per pupil in schools. DHA alone accounted for about 20 percent of the differences in test scores among countries, the researchers found.

On the other hand, the amount of omega-6 fat in mother’s milk–fats that come from vegetable oils such as corn and soybean–predict lower test scores. When the amount of DHA and linoleic acid (LA)–the most common omega-6 fat–were considered together, they explained nearly half of the differences in test scores. In countries where mother’s diets contain more omega-6, the beneficial effects of DHA seem to be reduced.

“Human intelligence has a physical basis in the huge size of our brains — some seven times larger than would be expected for a mammal with our body size,” said Steven Gaulin, UCSB professor of anthropology and co-author of the paper. “Since there is never a free lunch, those big brains need lots of extra building materials–most importantly, they need omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA. Omega-6 fats, however, undermine the effects of DHA and seem to be bad for brains.”

Both kinds of omega fat must be obtained through diet. But because diets vary from place to place, for their study Gaulin and his co-author, William D. Lassek, M.D., a professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health and a retired assistant surgeon general, estimated the DHA and LA content — the good fat and the bad fat — in diets in 50 countries by examining published studies of the fatty acid profiles of women’s breast milk.

The profiles are a useful measure for two reasons, according to Gaulin. First, because various kinds of fats interfere with one another in the body, breast milk DHA shows how much of this brain-essential fat survives competition with omega-6. Second, children receive their brain-building fats from their mothers. Breast milk profiles indicate the amount of DHA children in each region receive in the womb, through breastfeeding, and from the local diet available to their mothers and to them after they are weaned…. “Considering the benefits of omega-3 and the detriment of omega-6, we can get pretty darn close to explaining half the difference in scores between countries,” he added. When DHA and LA are considered together, he added, they are twice as effective at predicting test scores as either is alone, Gaulin said.

Gaulin and Lassek considered two economic factors as well: per capita gross domestic product (a measure of average wealth in each nation) and per student expenditures on education. “Each of these factors helps explain some of the differences between nations in test scores, but the fatty acid profile of the average mother’s milk in a given country is a better predictor of the average cognitive performance in that country than is either of the conventional socioeconomic measures people use,” said Gaulin.

From their analysis, the researchers conclude that both economic wellbeing and diet make a difference in cognitive test performance, and children are best off when they have both factors in their favor. “But if you had to choose one, you should choose the better diet rather than the better economy,” Gaulin said….

Their results are particularly interesting in 21st-century North America, Gaulin noted, because our current agribusiness-based diets provide very low levels of DHA — among the lowest in the world. Thanks to two heavily government-subsidized crops — corn and soybeans — the average U.S. diet is heavy in the bad omega-6 fatty acids and far too light on the good omega-3s, Gaulin said.

“Back in the 1960s, in the middle of the cardiovascular disease epidemic, people got the idea that saturated fats were bad and polyunsaturated fats were good,” he explained. “That’s one reason margarine became so popular. But the polyunsaturated fats that were increased were the ones with omega-6, not omega-3. So our message is that not only is it advisable to increase omega 3 intake, it’s highly advisable to decrease omega-6 — the very fats that in the 1960s and ’70s we were told we should be eating more of.”

Gaulin added that mayonnaise is, in general, the most omega-6-laden food in the average person’s refrigerator. “If you have too much of one — omega-6 — and too little of the other — omega 3 — you’re going to end up paying a price cognitively,” he said.

The issue is a huge concern for women, Gaulin noted, because “that’s where kids’ brains come from. But it’s important for men as well because they have to take care of the brains their moms gave them.

So not only did the US government’s agricultural subsidies support growing more corn and soybean oils which are negative for brain growth, they recommended diets heavy in carbs, starches, and high-omega-6 vegetable oils that made the population one of the fattest in the world.

Reference:

W.D. Lassek, S.J.C. Gaulin. Linoleic and docosahexaenoic acids in human milk have opposite relationships with cognitive test performance in a sample of 28 countries. Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids (PLEFA), 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.plefa.2014.07.017

Reading “50 Shades of Grey” Gives You Anorexia and an Abusive Partner!

Fifty Shades of Grey cover

“Fifty Shades of Grey” cover

Not really.

Echoing the previous post, we have here a “study” that tells us that young women who have certain tendencies are more likely to have read 50 Shades of Grey. The study authors (as reported in Science Daily) try very hard to make it sound like reading the book causes anorexia and abuse [my annotations in brackets]:

Young adult women who read “Fifty Shades of Grey” are more likely than nonreaders to exhibit signs of eating disorders and have a verbally abusive partner, finds a new study led by a Michigan State University researcher. Further, women who read all three books in the blockbuster “Fifty Shades” erotic romance series are at increased risk of engaging in binge drinking and having multiple sex partners. All are known risks associated with being in an abusive relationship, much like the lead character, Anastasia, is in “Fifty Shades,” said Amy Bonomi, the study’s lead investigator. And while the study did not distinguish whether women experienced the health behaviors before or after reading the books, it’s a potential problem either way, she said. [Ed. note: By “problem” she means “pay me to study bad literature and develop a censorship agenda.”]

“If women experienced adverse health behaviors such as disordered eating first, reading ‘Fifty Shades’ might reaffirm those experiences and potentially aggravate related trauma,” said Bonomi, chairperson and professor in MSU’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies.

“Likewise, if they read ‘Fifty Shades’ before experiencing the health behaviors seen in our study, it’s possible the books influenced the onset of these behaviors.” [Possible but unlikely.]

The study, which appears in the Journal of Women’s Health, [which apparently has very low standards] is one of the first to investigate the relationship between health risks and reading popular fiction depicting violence against women. [Pioneers in finding problems that don’t exist.] Past [ideology-driven] research has tied watching violent television programs to real-life violence and antisocial behaviors, as well as reading glamour magazines to being obsessed with body image.

The researchers studied more than 650 women aged 18-24, a prime period for exploring greater sexual intimacy in relationships, Bonomi said. Compared to participants who didn’t read the book, those who read the first “Fifty Shades” novel were 25 percent more likely to have a partner who yelled or swore at them; 34 percent more likely to have a partner who demonstrated stalking tendencies; and more than 75 percent more likely to have used diet aids or fasted for more than 24 hours.

Those who read all three books in the series were 65 percent more likely than nonreaders to binge drink — or drink five or more drinks on a single occasion on six or more days per month — and 63 percent more likely to have five or more intercourse partners during their lifetime. [This is some evil book! The public health consequences are so severe, we must consider censoring all popular entertainment that might hurt young women.]

Bonomi, who has a doctoral degree in health services and a master’s in public health, said she is not suggesting the book be banned or that women should not be free to read whatever books they wish or to have a love life. However, it’s important women understand that the health behaviors assessed in the study are known risk factors for being in a violent relationship. Toward that end, Bonomi said parents and educators should engage kids in constructive conversations about sexuality, body image and gender role expectations — and that these conversations start as early as grade school. [Nobody’s been talking about any of those things with kids. Uh-huh.]

A previous study led by Bonomi found that “Fifty Shades” perpetuated the problem of violence against women. [Another unsupported conclusion which will now be cited as fact by feminist “scholars” — “studies show….”]


For more on pop culture:

“Game of Thrones” and the Problem of PowerThe Lessons of Walter White
“Blue Valentine”
“Mad Men”
The Morality of Glamour
“Mockingjay” Propaganda Posters
“Big Bang Theory” — Aspergers and Emotional/Social Intelligence
Real-Life “Hunger Games”: Soft Oppression Destroys the Poor
YA Dystopias vs Heinlein et al: Social Justice Warriors Strike Again
“Raising Arizona” — Dream of a Family