“Because the victims are “only children,” their distress is trivialized. But in twenty years’ time these children will be adult who will feel compelled to pay it all back to their own children. They may consciously fight with vigor against cruelty in the world yet carry within themselves an experience of cruelty that they may unconsciously inflict on others. As long as it remains hidden behind their idealized picture of a happy childhood, they will have not awareness of it and will therefore be unable to avoid passing it on.

It is absolutely urgent that people become aware of the degree to which this disrespect of children is persistently transmitted from one generation to the next, perpetuating destructive behavior. Someone who slaps or hits another adult or knowingly insults her is aware of hurting her. Even if he doesn’t know why he is doing this, he has some sense of what he is doing. But how often were our parents, and we ourselves toward our own children, unconscious of how painfully, deeply, and abidingly they and we injured a child’s tender, budding self?”


Alice MIller, The Drama of the gifted child
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