Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bad Childhood Good Life

I recently told some lecturers that social services often involve the crippled helping the crippled (not least because social service workers are often overwhelmed and undercared for by the organisations where they work). They nodded in unison: perhaps I articulated an obvious point. It has crossed my mind that TV programmes  like 'The Naked Chef', and 'How to Look Good Naked' could spin off a possible reality TV show about social workers that could be titled 'The Naked People Helper'. It would show how, apart from being employed and better educated, the line that divides the social service helper and client is precarious.

There's no place that makes one feel more naked and vulnerable than the path of childhood reminiscence that involves parents who are frankly, incompetent, even abusive. Bad Childhood Good Life is filled with on-air advice given by the straight-talking Dr Laura Schlessinger to men and women who still hold onto some childish ideals about their parents and families in a way that hinder their own lives and families.

Many callers share similar struggles of trying harder to please and appease a difficult and abusive parent, hoping that one day, they will succeed in being the good child, approved by their parents. Others hang on to highly dysfunctional relationships because they transfer their early experiences with unloving parents to all other relationships and keep themselves locked in a victim's role.

This book hands out the promise 'How to Blossom and Thrive in Spite of an Unhappy Childhood' and delivers it well! The chapter 'Closure Versus Resilience' debunks the popular myth that every conflict requires a closure when some closures can be more harmful than the conflict itself. Another chapter, 'Never Seek Love from the Devil', deals with the illusions adult children have about their maladjusted parents who simply can never love them back. 'About Your Parents' tackles the uncomfortable topic of honouring parents who are simply unfit to be parents. It includes letters from two adult children who have come through bad childhood with wounds to show but without the pus of bitterness and unforgiveness - crippled but healed. Clearly, dealing with a painful truth is more liberating than holding onto fallacies to resolve the disparity between ideals and experiences.

Where you can get it: S$24.00 Kinokuniya
Level of impact: It is being circulated among family and friends.
Timing of book: Perennially relevant!