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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Emotional Needs 

Children should not fulfill the parents’ emotional needs. Other adults or objects or pursuits should fulfill the parents’ emotional needs. Which is easier said than done, eh? Because it’s so darn easy to get emotional fulfillment out of children. It’s like having a huge, beautiful cake in front of you and not eating it and instead baking your own cake from scratch. 

So what can one do to avoid plugging their emotional hole with a child?

It just occurred to me that the first step should be to figure out what one’s emotional needs are. Because until you know for sure, you can’t guarantee you are keeping them well-fed and not straining at the leash to devour a child?

So what are my emotional needs? Let me tell you, folks, it’s very unpleasant to have to think about it. I dithered and doddered until I finally managed to recognize that my greatest emotional need is to have my intellectual potency recognized. I need to be recognized as an intellectual authority almost as much as I need to eat. I’m guessing this is common to many teachers, which is why teachers’ kids often tend to be academically underachieving. And doctors’ kids tend to be sick a lot more than others. 

I need to keep thinking about what my emotional needs are even though it’s very unpleasant. 

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9 thoughts on “Emotional Needs 

  1. If an emotional need is to have a family, somebody to love and to be loved in return, is it an unhealthy desire? After all, a healthy relationship with a child should include those two components.

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  2. Anon on said:

    This sounds just like my mother. She was also an academic. I realize it now, but her need was to be seen as as intellectual authority in every situation. Unfortunately, unlike you, she was not as self-aware.

    Her kids did okay academically, but to this day, my sister and I still have trouble asserting our intellectual authority and talking about our achievements. This has hurt my academic career tremendously, and I am sure my sister has suffered similarly.

    Klara is fortunate to have a self-aware mother like you!

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    • Thank you, I’m trying, although it’s a struggle.

      There are also cases like: the mother is a fantastic homemaker, keeps everything spotless and the kids are super messy. Or the father makes a ton of money and the kid can’t get a job and is always in debt.

      As for teachers, I remember going to a school psychologist when I was 15. She listened to me talk about my problems for 10 minutes and exclaimed, “Your mother must be a teacher! God, I’m so sorry.” So, yeah. . .

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  3. Fie upon this quiet life on said:

    You’re a fabulous writer and researcher! I hope you get recognition that you deserve in your field. I thought your book was fascinating and inspired me to work on mine!

    I do think that people who put their children in the center of their emotional fulfillment end up truly regretting it. That’s what my MIL did, and now that her children are off living their own lives, she is ghost-like. She has no motivation, no enthusiasm. She has no central purpose anymore. I wouldn’t want that for anything. My god, she’s only 65! She could live a long time feeling this wretched!

    Anyway – I would really like some recognition from my school for all I do, but I know I’ll never get it. I’m just going to keep plugging away at my writing and hope that I can continue to publish things now and then. That way, I’ll get some feeling of professional recognition that I’m missing at my school.

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    • “Anyway – I would really like some recognition from my school for all I do, but I know I’ll never get it. I’m just going to keep plugging away at my writing and hope that I can continue to publish things now and then”

      • Absolutely, that’s the way to go. But what a crying shame that academics like you and me have to fashion intellectual lives for ourselves outside of our universities because there are none inside. Works of intellect and art are something we create in our spare time, on the sly, as if we were doing something completely divorced from our jobs.

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      • Fie upon this quiet life on said:

        “Works of intellect and art are something we create in our spare time, on the sly, as if we were doing something completely divorced from our jobs.”

        — Or as if we were doing something dirty, like cheating on our jobs.

        My one saving grace is that I have figured out the job isn’t going to love me back. I know people who can’t get past the fact that HU doesn’t love them and will never love them. They mine for scraps of appreciation and despair at the results. I can’t go there any more. It takes too much time that I could use doing something more meaningful and fulfilling — namely writing.

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  4. Actually, I tended to be on the bright side, as my father regarded me as a little humanoid to experiment on. One of my earliest memories is being in one of those stand-up thingies and watching the TV which I think was tuned to the Mr. Wizard program. And, after raising me quite differently than his own parents had done with him, he expected me to be just like him and be a teacher, even though I never wanted to do it as a profession.

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