The Family Dynamic and Gender Expression

The Family Dynamic and Gender Expression

 

The information contained in our familial context and parental relationships permits a child to implement the basic layers of personality and faculty of communication. If these foundations are not given suitable structure, some vital currents may be detoured away from their natural paths, thus forming a terrain that is favorable for the appearance of various disorders in adulthood. A child who receives the structuring information that is crucial for future development will gradually attain a certain sensory and cognitive maturity that will enable him or her to deal with the events of life without stress.
 
Familial T riangulation
 
Every child positions him or herself as a boy or girl with respect to the parent couple. He or she naturally finds a place at the tip of a triangle with the mother and the father forming the base. The child generally has two reference frames: one provided by the parent of the same sex, the other by the parent of the opposite sex. When each parent lives in harmony with their individual reality as a woman or man (in other words without any ambivalence concerning their sexual identity) and plays their maternal or paternal role, the child (if his or her sexual identity is duly recognized) is automatically placed between these two opposite poles, yinyang, without overly identifying with one or the other.
 
However, a desire for fusion with the mother can linger as a remnant of the mutually beneficial, mother/baby symbiosis during the period from conception to weaning, which makes it possible for life to be given to a new being. In the behavioral development that marks the transition from the dyadic mother/baby relationship to the triadic dynamic of mother/baby/father, each of the three figures
has their own place and role to play. At this stage the child generally displays an emotional projection toward the parent of the opposite sex. In psychoanalysis, this behavior is identified as the “Oedipus complex,” which is recognized as an essential passage in the building of social relationships. Through this projection (which becomes visible between three and six or seven years of age), the child builds emotional reference points, sets standards and expectations for the other sex, and affirms his or her sexual reality.
 
At the age of reason, or at the latest during adolescence, a child is normally ready to move beyond this “complex.” In fact, if the parent holds on, consciously or not, to the desire to form a couple with the child, this bond often becomes pathological, deforming the roles of each character in the family triangle and the overall behavioral dynamic.

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