I have been working with mother for a long time and I have heard many reports of her very difficult 5 year old daughter. I finally get to meet the child and working with her I am a bit perplexed to discover that the child seems to be OK. I am hunting around for some psychological problem with the child and I am not finding it.
The child is forthright, bold and one may even say a bit “cocky”. But that is it. She is everything mother is not. She represents all the disowned parts of mother. Mother has projected these onto the child and identified with the child. The child displays the disliked parts of self in mother and hence the angst mother has with the child.
A difficult situation. The child is not really doing anything wrong and is just being who she is. Mother’s Child ego state has a problem with the child and hence the negative feelings towards the daughter.
The therapeutic goals are clear. Mother needs to accept and integrate the disowned parts of self. If achieved then her angst about them in her self will subside and the angst at her daughter will subside. However this is easier said than done and may take some time.
Of course all parents project onto their offspring and at times identify with personality characteristics in their children. This is a natural process that occurs in all human relationships but especially the mother – child relationship as that is probably the strongest attachment of all human relationships.
Most often the projections onto the child and the identifications mother may have with aspects of the child’s personality do not cause any great difficulties. But in this case it did. Each child has its different personality and mother’s personality will react differently to each of the children’s personalities. It is sometimes called the ‘goodness of fit’. In this case it was not a good fit and problems arose.