Family Archetypes #10 – The Manipulator

The Manipulator

We assume that manipulation is a learned behavior, one that can be unlearned with good parenting and good teaching. In this context, the child has learned to manipulate the parents with satisfactory results. However, the same child will inevitably learn as an adult that manipulation doesn’t work as well at school or in the workplace. When that child is unable to cope with the adult world, he or she very frequently looks for someone to blame; that person is inevitably Mom and/or Dad.  Those who learn to manipulate will inevitably wind up despising those who taught them to manipulate.

Since I was a kid, there have been few things I dislike more than the uncertainty of what might happen at the dentist’s office. As a young boy, I would scream and cry in an effort to convince my mother to not make me go. I soon learned that my protests were futile and I went along with the requirement, each time protesting less.

However, consider a different scenario: What if I had learned that my protests could be successful? Although I intellectually would have known that I needed to go to the dentist, I probably would have used my manipulative powers to get out of doing so. Aside from the distorted reality that would have resulted in my house, I would have ended up with a very poor set of teeth. It is likely that I would have blamed my parents for my dental problems because I would have known that if my parents had held a hard line, my teeth would be in better shape.

The moral of the story of  The Manipulator? If you, as parent, value harmony over truth, you will end up regretting it. New teachers must face what I call the “like v. respect” dilemma. Inevitably, they must choose between whether they want the kids to like or respect them. If they choose the former, they will end up with neither. If they choose the latter, there is a good chance they will get both. I believe that the same is true of parenting.

Onward,  Malcolm Gauld