Thursday, February 16, 2012
Like father, like daughter (part 3)
I'm actually amazed that you have intuited so well how best to deal with your daughter. I always advise parents of sociopathic leaning children to stay extremely consistent, don't get emotional, don't be critical to the extent that they feel like you are rejecting them or will reject who they are, don't punish -- incentivize and make the child see what's in it for them.
I think that sociopaths (particularly young ones) actually feel happier and thrive better in a world of clearly defined boundaries and rules that are so consistently enforced, the child will just start to take them as a given. I think having simple cause and effect rules/boundaries that have clear and predictable outcomes for acceptance/violation encourages the young sociopath to think of life as an interesting puzzle that can be gamed. As long as the young sociopath believes that he or she can acquire some advantage through skillful planning and execution (and finds some measure of success, which I feel is almost a given), they will stay committed to the structure of the game you have set up. It's why sociopaths can be ruthless businessmen fiercely defending the principles of capitalism.
The worst thing that parents can do is to be inconsistent. It makes the child sociopath think that the game is rigged and it doesn't matter what he or she does, except to the extent that he or she can outcheat the cheater (the parent). Other big mistakes are being emotional (it's insulting to the child and he or she will lose respect for you). If you react emotionally and negatively to the child, the child will perceive it as a clear betrayal and one that will instantly dissipate any trust in the relationship.
This is a very important topic you have raised. Would you allow me to publish this exchange? I can redact out any information that you believe is too personal.