They do their homework on time;
their writing is neat;
they keep their bedroom tidy;
they are often a little shy;
they want to help their parents;
they use their brakes
when cycling down a hill.
Because they don’t pose many immediate problems,
we tend to assume that
all is well with good children.
They aren’t the target for particular concern;
that all goes to the kids who are graffitiing the underpass.
People imagine the good children are fine;
because they do everything that’s expected of them.
And that, of course, is precisely the problem.
The secret sorrows –
and future difficulties – of the good boy or girl
begin with their inner need
for excessive compliance.
The good child isn’t good
because by a quirk of nature.
They simply have no inclination to be anything else.
They are good because
they have no other option.
Their goodness is a necessity
rather than a choice.
Many good children are good
out of love of a depressed harassed parent
who makes it clear they just couldn’t cope with
any more complications or difficulties.
Or maybe they are very good to soothe
a violently angry parent
who could become catastrophically frightening
at any sign of less than perfect conduct.
But this sort of repression of more challenging emotions,
though it produces short-term
stores up a huge amount of difficulty in later life.
Practiced educators and parents should
spot signs of exaggerated politeness –
and treat it as the grave danger
it really is.
The good child becomes a keeper of too many secrets
and an appalling communicator of unpopular
but important things.
They say lovely words,
they are experts in satisfying the expectations
of their audiences,
but their real thoughts and feelings
generate psychosomatic symptoms,
twitches, sudden outbursts
and sulphurous bitterness.
The sickness of the good child
is that they have no experience of other people
being able to tolerate their badness.
They have missed out a vital privilege
accorded to the healthy child;
that of being able to display envious,
greedy, egomaniacal sides and
yet be tolerated and loved
The good person typically has particular problems around sex.
As a child,
they may have been praised for being
pure and innocent.
As they become an adult, however,
like all of us,
they discover the ecstasies of sex,
which can be beautifully perverse and excitingly
But this may be radically at odds with the picture of what they believe
they are allowed to be like.
They may in response disavow their desires,
go cold and detached from their bodies
– or perhaps give in to their longings
only in a disproportionate way
that is destructive to other bits of their lives
and leaves them disgusted and frightened.
the good adult has problems too.
As a child, they follow the rules;
never make trouble
and take care not to annoy anyone.
But following the rules
won’t get you very far in adult life.
Almost everything that’s interesting,
worth doing or important
will meet with a degree of opposition.
A brilliant idea will always disappoint certain people –
and yet very much be worth holding on to.
The good child is condemned to career mediocrity
and sterile people-pleasing.
Being properly mature
involves a frank, unfrightened relationship
with one’s own darkness,
It involves accepting
that not everything that makes us happy
will please others
or be honoured as especially
‘nice’ by society –
but that it can be important to explore
and hold on to it nevertheless.
The desire to be good
is one of the loveliest things in the world,
but in order to have a genuinely good life,
we may sometimes need to be-
by the standards of the good child
fruitfully and bravely bad.
We love bringing you these films,
if you want to help us to keep bringing you thoughtful content,
please consider supporting us
by visiting our shop at the link
on your screen now.