Christiane Olivier: "We can allow ourselves to be bad from time to time"

For more than twenty-five years, the psychoanalyst has explored the complexity of parent-child relationships. For us, it summarizes the essence of his discoveries. And proposes some benchmarks on the place of each one. As a psychoanalyst, she herself was analyzed by Jacques Lacan and Françoise Dolto. She notably wrote The Children of Jocasta (Denoel, 2001), The Inner Ogre and Can we be a good mother? (Fayard, 1998 and 2000).

Interview by Isabelle Yhuel

Psychologies: Today, do mothers have a hard time fulfilling their role?

Christiane Olivier: Yes, because they work, they have less time to devote to their children and, therefore, they feel guilty to have given them birth so that another - nurse, grandmother - takes care of it. Current women feel that they have been betrayed. On the one hand, feminism has advanced them socially and has enabled them to live richer lives; on the other hand, they did not know how to evolve as mothers, that is to say, to agree to resign, in part, from their maternal function. They continue to think that they are the only ones who know how to take care of their child. Which is wrong. It must be acknowledged that society has not encouraged them to let go of this role, since almost nothing is planned to release them.

So, according to you, a mother can share her role with another person from the birth of the child ...

Of course. With the father first, but also with a third person, because a baby of a few months, and even a few days, is very sociable. The important thing, up to 8 months, is that it is always the same person or persons who take care of the child, that there is a continuity. Indeed, until this age, the baby is not different from the person who supports him, so he would lose a little of himself by losing the other. Mothers keep track of the time they spend with their child, always feeling they are not giving enough. But if they give enough! For it is not a question of being at the disposal of one's child, but rather of keeping him in his sphere while going about his business. For example, to put it at your feet on the carpet while you write, read, or iron.

What will we try to avoid in the relationship with his child?

Guilt and the desire to fill. Guilt because it is pernicious. The mother who thinks she does not have enough time or tenderness feels in debt to her child. She then redeems herself by giving him small gifts, being unable to say no to him, to frustrate him.This mother, who feels guilty, has trouble educating her child, since she can not get tough with him. She can not enact laws. And he, in fact, can not learn respect from the other. This is how generations of wanton children were born, because they were constantly outnumbered by their mothers. And, as a teenager, this gives individuals of 1m80 who scream and bang like angry 2 year olds. Mothers must therefore defend themselves from their children, dare to be the adult who commands, which is even more difficult for single mothers, because they are the ones who feel the most guilty.

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