Do parents impose psychodramas on kids?

WEDNESDAY, JULY 24, 2013

Maureen Dowd’s overwrought mother: Do parents sometimes attempt to impose their own psychodramas on their children?

Can they sometimes display bad judgment in the process?

Well actually yes, that sometimes occurs! Remember Maureen Dowd’s column from May 1998?

Dowd was in Belfast, observing the attempted resolution of the troubles. As she started, she recalled a psychodrama her mother once dropped on her head:
DOWD (5/20/98): Here is what you need to know about the Irish soul.

We are an unforgiving people. We believe in the Evil Eye. We like to fight. We don't like to compromise. We lie in wait for the worst. We lurk about in the past.

When I first moved to New York, I called my mother to tell her I was going to stay in a residential hotel called the Oliver Cromwell. There was a long pause, then tearful anger. "He encouraged his soldiers to throw babies up in the air and impale them on their swords as they came down," she snapped. I found another hotel. In Irish time, 1651 and 1981 were only moments apart.
Poor Dowd! She had to move to a different hotel, all thanks to Cromwell's bad conduct.

We Irish “lurk about in the past.” So do many other adults. Sometimes, they can impose a brutal past on their children in the process.

For extra credit: Does overwrought parenting yield top results? Do you ever read Dowd’s troubled columns?

Word of warning: Your lizard brain is going to tell you that only “white” parents can do this.

We’ll suggest that your lizard is wrong.

35 comments:

  1. "Your lizard brain is going to tell you that only 'white' parents can do this."

    Nice tie-in to the Zim-Mart saga, Bob.

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  2. Quaker in a BasementJuly 24, 2013 at 12:41 PM

    Your lizard brain is going to tell you that only “white” parents can do this.

    If Ms. Dowd's mother had firsthand experience of baby-stabbing, perhaps she wouldn't be considered so "overwrought."

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    1. Nobody who is telling overwrought racial tales to their children as a result of the Zimmerman case has firsthand experience either, including Martin's parents.

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    2. "racial tales"

      In poker parlance, that's a "tell."

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    3. And leveraging the Zimmerman case to do it is just tipping your hand outright.

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    4. Quaker in a BasementJuly 24, 2013 at 4:49 PM

      Nobody who is telling overwrought racial tales to their children as a result of the Zimmerman case has firsthand experience either

      You could be mistaken. Ask around.

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  3. gerry, there may or may not be value for some to somerbys tie-ing in dowd's 15 year old column to the martin/zimmerman case. i havnt followed the case so i have no opinion on that. and im therefore not comfortable addressing the substance of somerbys more general point.

    but i will say that its not unusual in this space for an american of irish catholic heritage to be singled out for some asserted misdeed, real or not, even one decades old.

    however, since somerby resurfaced it, my problem is with dowd's 15 year old column where she talks about:

    Dowd, 1998: "Here is what you need to know about the Irish soul. We are an unforgiving people. We believe in . . .
    " [etc., etc.]

    her premise is wrong. there is no "irish soul" which is transmitted to americans of irish heritage. there is no "we" except in the minds of the bigots and confused americans of irish catholic heritage. whatever else she writes flowing from this very basic mis-understanding is useless.

    but her wrongheaded ideas of americans of irish catholic (or just irish) heritage jibe with somerbys interest in preserving americans of irish heritage informal second class status...to make 'us' (as though we are a coherent group in amercia) the white other.

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    1. This is one of the more interesting comments I've read lately.

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    2. "somerbys interest in preserving americans of irish heritage informal second class status"

      Demonstrated by the fact that Somerby, an "American of Irish heritage," occasionally criticises other "Americans of Irish heritage" of his generation, and that while doing so he has the temerity to suggest that he knows things typical in the upbringing of such folks in his own generation that he feels badly about.

      There's no specific animus toward "Americans of Irish heritage" at this site. And less than no evidence that the author is interested in "preserving" their (supposed) "second class status." And a total impossibility that he could do so in any event.

      Get back on your meds, lowercaseguy.

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    3. anonymous says: "Demonstrated by the fact that Somerby, an "American of Irish heritage,..."

      >>> do you know that? he says his mother was "irish catholic". does that mean he self identifies with his mothers side of the family? some of the worst anti-irish-american types ive seen have been of mixed ethnic heritage. perhaps they are trying to prove to the non-'irish' side of the family that they side with the *non*-'irish' side... and possibly also that they dont side generally with americans-of-irish-catholic-ancestry as a "group".

      my parents being born and raised in ireland made >them< irish-catholics. i was born and raised in america. im an american, period full stop.

      he is an anti-americans-with-irish-catholic-heritage bigot and he has likely done "us" a lot of harm over the years by shifting blame onto "us" for the medias failings.
      -----------

      you quote somerby: "...he knows things typical in the upbringing of such folks in his own generation that he feels badly about."

      >>> there is no typical upbringing of americans of irish catholic *heritage*. we are not a coherent ethnic group. we are so widely dispersed genetically, geographically, religiously (switching and dropping), politically, and economically that no true ethnic group remains. but bigots desperately wish to continue to use this phantom ethnicity as a scapegoat to blame americas ills on.
      ---------------

      Anonymous says: "There's no specific animus toward "Americans of Irish heritage" at this site."

      >>> refresh your memory of the pre-comments-section somerby in particular. [google: ... site:http://dailyhowler.com irish catholic]

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    4. We join in here with the story all ready in progress:

      ****************
      ****************
      ...Appropriately for a man who owned a burlesque house, Al Somerby enjoyed the company of women. He married three times, fathering two children by each spouse; all but one of his offspring survive. His final wedding took place in 1942 to Edna Hanson, a working-class Catholic of Irish descent from Haverhill, Mass. He was 59; she was 38. They settled in Winchester, a town whose residents evinced little transience but great ambition. Their daughter Gail arrived in 1945; Bob, in 1947. At nearby Mystic Elementary, Bob and Gail made good grades, obeyed the rules, were not class clowns. There were no class clowns at Mystic, which was regarded as a public feeder school for Harvard, Wellesley, and other academies of the power elite.

      Al Somerby figured in his children's lives as a benevolent but remote presence. “My memories of him begin when he was getting kind of tired,” Bob Somerby says. “I recall playing golf with him, but mostly I remember him sleeping a lot, the Red Sox on TV with him asleep on the couch. He probably was already ill.”

      However, when his final marriage was new and his children were small, Al Somerby did take an interest, and a lot of pictures: close-grained Kodacolors of Edna, whom the camera loved as much as he, and of the kids, who fared about as well beneath the lens as any of their generation. One of the last frames Al exposed was of Bob on the day his son started first grade. Soon after, illness and old age sent Al Somerby into a nursing home for a slow passing that ended five years later in 1958.

      “It was awkward and uncomfortable to visit him,” Bob says. “He had lost some of his ability to communicate. He never seemed to be shaven. There would be these very unpleasant squabbles, with my mother wanting me to go and me not wanting to go and feeling very guilty.”

      The death of the grandfatherly father did not impoverish his survivors. Al had sold the Howard at enough of a profit that the family could live on it, and Edna worked. Bob, 11, was moved mostly by how remarkably unmoved he was by his father's death. The broken connection became more distant 18 months later, when the family moved to San Mateo, Calif., where one of Edna's sisters had settled....
      ***************
      ***************

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    5. "His [bob somerbys father] final wedding took place in 1942 to Edna Hanson, a working-class Catholic of Irish descent from Haverhill, Mass.

      "But World became something entirely different after the November 1993 death of his mother, with whom he [bob somerby] had a troubled relationship."

      "Projected onto a screen, Somerby's snapshots became breathtaking documents: the mother [edna hansen] who once disowned him [bob somerby, in the bloom of young womanhood;"

      "“The snob factor in our house was an ironic given,” [bob]Somerby says. “It resulted in my sister and I coming to look down on our mother.”

      "Bob's sister commiserated with him in freshman hyperbole about the “disgusting” chore of living with their mother."

      http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/articles/5839/laugh-trick

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    6. By the way, thanks for alerting us to that fascinating article about Somerby, CMike. Loved it.

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  4. If Cromwell hadn't kicked some of my ancestors out for being on the wrong side of their civil war, the two cells that came together to form me might never have existed. So hats off to old Oliver.

    Back in the 80s during the Contra-Sandinista mess, a bunch of know-it-alls lectured me as to the oral tradition of the peoples of Latin America. They learned from their parents, who learned from their parents (and so forth), about the Yanqui Marines who invaded their land and killed their people and set up juntas and brutes like Somoza all to support the comerical interests of the American Fruit Co., et al.

    These people remembered the actions glossed over or omitted from our history books (unles one reads Gore Vidal, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, and other party poopers). They hated us and wanted protection from us and their stooges, even if it meant Daniel Ortega being pals with Castro and hosting Soviet bases on our continent.

    I guess you don't have to be Irish to lurk about in the past when you've been kicked around long enough by a hegemonous power.

    Is that a word?

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    1. It is now.

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    2. "His [bob somerbys father] final wedding took place in 1942 to Edna Hanson, a working-class Catholic of Irish descent from Haverhill, Mass.

      "But World became something entirely different after the November 1993 death of his mother, with whom he [bob somerby] had a troubled relationship."

      "Projected onto a screen, Somerby's snapshots became breathtaking documents: the mother [edna hansen] who once disowned him [bob somerby, in the bloom of young womanhood;"

      "“The snob factor in our house was an ironic given,” [bob]Somerby says. “It resulted in my sister and I coming to look down on our mother.”

      "Bob's sister commiserated with him in freshman hyperbole about the “disgusting” chore of living with their mother."

      http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/articles/5839/laugh-trick

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  5. Jeeves Stump says: "If Cromwell hadn't kicked some of my ancestors out for being on the wrong side of their civil war, the two cells that came together to form me might never have existed. So hats off to old Oliver."

    >>> that disgusting, even if you really are of irish catholic ancestry. if said in jest, its still in very poor taste.

    second, you seem to be tacitly comparing the attitudes of the >current< inhabitants of latin america to those of >usa americans< of irish catholic heritage whose only connection to the english genocides is, comparared to the current latin americans, very much more removed by time and space.

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    1. The problem with your last statement is that there are current animosities between Irish Catholics and Protestants in both Ireland and the USA that make these past atrocities relevant to the present just as the Latin American past is part of their current memory. Your feeling that Cromwell is removed by time and space suggests you do not understand first-hand what it is like to be a person of Irish heritage who cares about what is happening today in Ireland. It would be nice if past conflicts could simply be forgotten and die out with people's memories of the past, but the nature of a "heritage" is that the present is seen as an extension of the past.

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    2. antonymous said: "The problem with your last statement is that there are current animosities between Irish Catholics and Protestants in both Ireland and the USA that make these past atrocities relevant to the present..."

      >>> as to "animosities between [so-called] irish catholics and protestants (in the usa)":

      for this to help make your point, youd have to show that this animosity to americans of irish catholic ancestry is greater by protestants relative to *non*-protestants-who-are-also-not-of-irish-ancestry. my experience has been that, for example, generally catholics of non-irish descent are more bigoted (to 'us') because they feel under greater scrutiny because of their commonality of religions. to be pro-'irish catholic-american' in america is seen to be unpatriotic as 'we' are seen as the perpetual enemy of the ethnicity of the founding fathers and mothers ethnicity and their sons and daughters.

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    3. anonymous, as to your reference to the relatively recent problems *in ireland* between protestants and catholics:

      americans of irish catholic ***heritage***, including myself, do feel badly about the conflicts in ireland, but that one commonality is not anywhere enough to recreate us into a coherent ethnity.

      but somerby nevertheless treats 'us' as though 'we' are still a coherent ethnity.

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    4. himself, this depends on where you live in the US.

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  6. Bob,
    The Pharaohs and Jewish slaves.
    Cromwell and the Royalists.
    Cromwell and the Irish.
    Western Powers and African slaves.
    The Nazis and the Jews.
    Stalin and his perceived enemies.
    The English and the Irish.
    The Japanese and their perceived enemies.
    Mao and his perceived enemies.
    Idi Amin and his perceived enemies.
    The rulers of Rwanda and their perceived enemies.
    Pol Pot and his perceived enemies.
    The US government and Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic.
    The US and hundreds of years of slavery and segregation.

    As they say in Brooklyn: Fuhgetaboutit.
    Carry no memories. We start fresh yesterday.
    You are a bigger man than me.

    p.s. Dowd is a clown. But I do not fault her mother for her historical memory. History cannot be forgotten or ignored.
    Speak the truth, speak it ever. Cost it what it will.

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    1. Some cultures are classified as "honor cultures." They tend to hang on to their past and remember wrongs because avenging them is crucial to honor. The Irish are an honor culture, as are Irish Americans. That's why Hatfields & McCoys are part of our American heritage. Simply saying "get over it" isn't going to change a thing. Conflicts are easier to resolve when cultures are not of this type. Geography is important to this -- those countires that have historically been overrun by one invading people after another tend not to be honor cultures. It isn't the wrong done to a people that determines this, but how conflicts are dealt with.

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    2. @ AnonymousJuly 24, 2013 at 6:44 PM

      to the contrary, americans of irish catholic heritage are one of the most forgiving of groups america has ever seen, both as a matter of practicality due to being the first large scale non-protestant group in america, and also as true believers in the tenets of christianity. you could not be further out in left field, desperately clutching your bigotry.

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    3. "himself" goes on and on (and on) about how somerby and others are dirty rotten scoundrels and bigots and perpetuators of harmful stereotypes to speak of "americans of irish catholic heritage" as having any common culture or soul or common anything, because all such people are just so diverse in every way . . . . and then he turns right around and does exactly the same thing he decapitates them for! "to the contrary, americans of irish catholic heritage are one of the most forgiving of groups..." please...please...please. you've got a chip on your shoulder, brother...and maybe an obsessive compulsive disorder...and maybe a "victimhood" neurosis, too. just let it go. let. it. go. you'll be happier...and probably make some friends too. maybe take up meditation.

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    4. nitpicking.

      how's this doctor freud?

      when many years ago we were a proper group, we were one of the most forgiving of groups america has ever seen, imo.

      now that hat 'we' are spread out in so many ways, atomized, for whatever reasons 'we' individually still maintain a forgiving nature.

      look at the contrast between me and you for example. youre practically foaming at the mouth! have you ever heard me talk that way?

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    5. truth to tell, the anonymity of the internet tempted me to excess and rudeness . . . made me forget there's a real human being on the receiving end. if forgiveness is your forte, please exercise it now. peace.

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    6. lowercaseguys casemanagersJuly 25, 2013 at 7:20 AM

      3:12 If you really are the same person as 1:55 -- You were right the first time.

      Yes, lowercaseguy (he changes nicknames like other people change socks) is indeed human. But, untreated, he is as you've seen, an incoherent raving lunatic. Unfortunately, the nature of his delusion entails pursuing a pathetic agenda against this blog.

      His rambling ravings, which he regards as "proof" of Somerby's diabolical character, are naturally impervious to rebuttal, as they never contain the basic elements of reason to begin with.

      Being perhaps unaware of the nature of lowercaseguy's sad condition, your frustration with him is quite natural and understandable, and rather than apologising for it, we hope that you will accept our apologies for our failure to keep him properly medicated.

      We are trying.

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    7. "pursuing a pathetic agenda against this blog." ???

      up until a week or two ago i hadn't posted a single comment to this blog since the week after pres obama was reelected.

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    8. no problem AnonymousJuly 25, 2013 at 3:12 AM

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    9. "up until a week or two ago i hadn't posted a single comment to this blog since the week after pres obama was reelected"

      Without checking this "fact" -- because Why Bother? -- is that supposed to excuse your well documented insanity under a host of nicknames, but all in you inimitable ranting style, that persisted endlessly prior to that date when you apparently began taking your meds regularly at long last?

      But now you're off them again, and as valueless a contributor as ever.

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  7. I previously used expensive diapers and hated them. My daughter's pediatrician gave me Honest on one of my visits and I was hooked. They are softer, more absorbent and I've only had a few "loose-booty" clean-ups with it. Also, the Pampers don't leave the tiny "crystals" on my daughters tushy like the Huggies did. I recently ordered the honest diapers for my 11 month old and love them too. I have 2 friends who also liked them after using a few of my diapers.

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    1. ha! i get it. a dig at the infantile adoration of somerby by his syncophants.

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    2. Recognizing that you are certifiable (He's Out To Get The Irish!!!) does not constitute sycophancy.

      Just sayin'

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