If the smothering is outside the normal range but not too extreme, then the child develops a mild level of character anger. The child is being frustrated in its natural desire to separate and individuate. The research says 80% of children and teenagers want to do this. This can cause some disquiet for the person. Erik Erikson says for the teenager they are going through the identity stage and if they do no master this by successfully letting go of the symbiosis they can suffers role confusion, a weak sense of self, inadequacy and a feeling of “I am only someone if I am loved”. As one can imagine this leaves the person feeling quite bad which can explain the anger response.
The child will seem to be basically a bit angry. As with character feelings it will pervade all areas of the child’s life.
“Leave me alone”.
“Let me do it how I want to do it”.
“I want to be in charge of my life”
Are common things stated by such children and teenagers.
The parent for some reason is not allowing this to happen. Some reasons for maternal over protection are as follows:
1. The child was born after a long period of trying to get pregnant or miscarriages.
2. Mother sees the child in terms of her own unhappy childhood and wishes to protect the child from similar experiences
3. She is unhappy in her own marital relationship and turns to the child for a secure, happy relationship or just as a distraction
4. For some reason the mother has, at least periodic anger towards the child. She deals with this by over compensating and becoming over protective
However as is the case with human behaviour once the script gets set the person will start to do things that promote the life script even as they protest against it. For example the child may start to wet the bed. This makes it difficult for the child to stay away from home over night and hence the symbiosis is supported even if the child is protesting against it.
At times the anger gets directed at the child’s friends. This can result in a decrease in the number of playmates as they will tend to move away from the angry child, which is a common feature of smothered children. This results in the child further gravitating towards the parents for its interpersonal contacts and social relationships. This of course further supports the smothering and symbiosis as the child has less friends outside the family.
Of course the same can happen for teenagers but usually with some more sophistication. Any of these issues mentioned below can be a result from a teenager’s fear at loosing a symbiosis with the parents even when they say that is what they want.
Depression and anxiety
Internet (gaming) addiction – new one!!
Any activity that makes the adolescent unable to earn a reasonable income
Prolonged activity in career choices such as music, drama, sport etc. can maintain dependency on parents.