Being proximal in conflict

Some families are limited in their capacity for empathy and understanding for the needs of the other, although they are not limited by lack of intelligence or by lack of wanting to be attached to other people. They are limited by their experience of that attachment.

When people have never been able to get their needs met, it isn’t that they are unreasonable when trying to interact with others. They want what everyone else wants underneath, but they don’t know how to do the sharing part. They are so overwhelmed by their own needs that they can’t get outside their own needs to see that other people have needs too.

Each person has a growing brain. Optimally the brain is given emotional material early in its development that supports it to grow in empathy and reciprocal behaviour through practice and repetition.

When we don’t get to kids who haven’t developed reciprocal behaviour by the time they are fourteen and fifteen years old, we’re behind the 8-ball if we try to get them to use something that isn’t there.

All we can do is to let them do what they need to do in order to meet their needs, and give them the experience of being with them while they’re doing it, without demanding that they meet our needs.