The Magical Act of a Desperate Person
Adam Phillips on tantrums
No one recovers from the sadomasochism of their childhood. We may not want to think of the relations between parents and children as power relations: indeed it may sound like a perversion of parenting to do so. And we don’t want to think of parents and children being in any way sexually gratified by their status in relation to each other. But, to put it as cutely as possible, feeling big always depends on someone else being made to feel small. When your child zooms round the house saying he’s a superhero you can either remind him that he’s actually a little boy, or you can indicate one way or another that you’re impressed. When your child falls over you can get cross with her for not looking where she’s going, or you can comfort her in an affectionate way.