In her book, “So the witch won’t eat me,” Dorothy Bloch writes about the fears of infanticide small children have due to the vulnerability of their age. In a world of giants and witches children have every reason to have such fears. The fact that such figures could represent unconsciously the parents is a defense children have. Through these projections parents can retain the good and caring picture their children have for them which is important to keep in their conscious mind for their survival. Even though such fears are considered developmentally normal, they could become intense putting their mental (and sometimes physical) life in danger.
In a family environment where violence, somatic, verbal, or psychological, dominates, the child would most probably develop symptoms as a defense against the intense pressures he receives internally and externally. His vulnerable and dependent position would make him even more vulnerable and his fears would become intensified. Whether the danger is real or imaginary, the child would go through a painful procedure where he would be afraid for his safety and his life.
One evening when my daughter was three years old she was sitting with my wife and myself watching TV. Through the tensions of the day, an intense dialogue developed with my wife. (I would take the opportunity now and mention the following: Dr. Hyman Spotnitz, founder of the psychoanalytic school Modern Psychoanalysis, said that small fights and arguments between a couple are a healthy form of tension release since feelings of hate between the couple are perfectly normal feelings to have. The serious problems start when the hate remains repressed and unconscious and consequently, and inevitably, takes other, unhealthy and destructive, forms of release. Back to our story). In the tension of the moment we ignored our daughter’s presence when she interrupted us to ask, “What are you doing?” And since through my training in psychoanalysis I have learned to turn the questions back so that I can hear the other person’s thoughts and feelings, I asked her, “What are we doing?” She goes, “Are you fighting? I’m scared.” Our children can be our best teachers in becoming better parents. It’s not always easy for children to express their feelings and when they do it is recommended that we reward them. And when I say reward I don’t mean gifts. Money and gifts wouldn’t have the range they do if society didn’t invest so much to them. Most important is the emotional communication towards the child. We thanked our daughter and congratulate her for sharing her fears with us that we caused.
When small fights between a couple in front of a child cause such fears imagine what terror is created in cases of violence, in any form. We need to protect our children and if some couples have trouble controlling themselves it is recommended to seek professional help with a therapist.