Creative Connections & Client Communications
Counseling Insights, August 31, 2006Management of Responsibility
--Pecking at Saturn-retrograde--
From the day my daughter was born in Manhattan NY, when I first saw her Saturn retrograde opposed her Leo Sun –with the benefit of understanding that, I knew her mother and I could foster an extraordinarily “responsible, accountable, self-composed, consciously well-measured” lady. –We weren’t depressed; we didn’t think our daughter a loser; we didn’t throw in the towel. We resolved for her to be proud about her circumspection and resourcefulness living in this demanding world.
Then, when our family relocated to Germany when she was 4 1/2, we soon learned how much our insight and determination were reinforced. The Germans have a great word for “responsibility”: it is Selbstverantwortung”, being answerable to oneself, and this word could have easily become the child’s middle name! We enjoy that word, that concept even today, some 44 years later.
Our daughter learned our phone number and address before we taught them to her ... let alone German! When she was too old to be taken out with us in the evenings –to nap at a friend’s house while we had dinner—she was able to stay at home without a baby-sitter; she insisted on it!
And today, as an adult, her vocational scope of responsibility is great, her leadership skills and her loyalties are grand, her wisdom is still precocious.
Were we parents just lucky? Or did we do something right?
Back in the 1970’s, Psychiatrist F. Scott Peck wrote a very successful book entitled The Road Less Traveled. Even today, the book is fresh and sound, and helpfully thought provoking.
Peck offers that neurosis and character disorder are problems of responsibility, profiling opposite styles of relating to the world and its problems. The neurotic assumes too much responsibility; under pressure from the environment, they automatically assume that they are at fault. --The person with a character disorder doesn’t take on enough responsibility and assumes the world is at fault.
Of course, many of us have both a neurosis component and a character disordered component within us and expressed in our attitudes. It’s all a matter of degree. Peck thinks that the problem of distinguishing what we are and what we are not responsible for in this life is one of the greatest problems of human existence. “It is never completely solved; for the entirety of our lives we must continually assess and reassess where our responsibilities lie in the ever-changing course of events.”
Indeed, this is what growth and maturation are all about. And as a Saturn-rx father, I’m mighty pleased to have worked with our daughter to manage all of this very well.
But just think about this more deeply for a moment: all children basically start out with neuroses, taking responsibility for everything that they experience but do not yet understand, from spilling the milk to ‘causing’ mother to cry … Except if and when they are taught gradually to understand that there is a balance to be seen between personal responsibility and realistic interaction with our environment.
A child who is not loved by his parents will always assume her or himself to be unlovable rather than see the parents as deficient in their capacity to love.
Children exonerated from “Selbstverantwortung” by character disordered parents, emulate their blaming of the world and make everyone around them miserable. The poor modeling situation carries over deeply into relationship problems. There is no way for them to solve the problems of living; they have no responsibility for it. –As Peck says, “It is the parents themselves who visit their sins upon their children.”
There is so much to our proven observations of how character runs in the family, how behaviors are passed on.
We can see how whole populations bred to similarity instead of to diversified complementation can blame whole populations elsewhere in the world for something called evil.
We hear these stories so frequently in our consultations: egregious modeling situations in the early home; repetitive behavioral patterns; avalanches of self-incrimination have become routine or blaming blowtorch attacks upon others (from the nearest sibling to the grocery packer at the supermarket to the PTA to the Government). Where is the vantage point we can discover with our clients about realism: relaxing and discarding neurotic guilt; relishing the stillness and fresh perspectives of circumspect personal responsibilities? The balance is what’s strategically important. --Recall when you finally realized that you were way off the mark in an interpersonal situation, and you put together a deeply sincere apology to someone? Remember the weight that came off your shoulders? Good feeling, eh? It is the sense of a new start.
I think we may be seeing the Saturn archetype at its best here. If our own Saturn doesn’t get in the way, we should be able to help our clients find theirs … when needed. –My daughter and I did that from the start.
Next Update: September 30, 2006