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It’s Normal: Every Child Would Find the Parent of the Opposite Sex Attractive at Certain Stage

It’s Normal:  Every Child Would Find the Parent of the Opposite Sex Attractive at Certain Stage

“Mom, I love you. I want to marry you,” your three-year-old son says, planting a kiss on your cheek. Your heart melts. Then your husband comes home and that same endearing little boy launches an angry campaign against him, all the while sweetly holding your hand. Has your son suddenly become a tyrant with a split-personality disorder?

Relax. He’s simply displaying an Oedipus complex – an essential developmental phase every child goes through. The Oedipus complex is a normal childhood stage of psychological development that occurs between the ages of 3 to 5. This phase comes after your child has partially detached themselves from you, setting out to find his own identity. He tends to develop a deep affection — and even physical attraction — towards the parent of the opposite sex and a rivalry towards the same-sex parent.

The Origin of the Term “Oedipus Complex”

Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud coined the term “Oedipus complex” after the play Oedipus Rex, written by Sophocles in 429 B.C. In this Greek tragedy, the king of Thebes is told by an oracle that his son Oedipus will kill him. As a result, his wife deserts baby Oedipus on a mountain to die. Unbeknownst to them, the baby is rescued and raised by the King of Corinth.

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When Oedipus becomes a man, he is told by an oracle that he will kill his father and sire kids with his mother. To avoid this horror, he leaves Corinth and the people he believes to be his parents, and heads to Thebes where he meets the Thebian king (his biological dad) and kills him in a fight. He goes to the palace and wins the hand of the widowed queen (his biological mom) and marries her.

It’s totally accidental. Oedipus is not a bad guy. He ran from the “kill Dad and marry Mom” idea. When they learn that Oedipus is actually the queen’s son, she hangs herself. Oedipus finds her and with shame and guilt, he blinds himself and wanders thereafter as a tormented soul.

Recognizing the Signs of Oedipus Complex Phase in Your Child

Freud asserts that the Oedipus complex stage is a natural phase and avoidance of this crucial stage could prove detrimental to a child’s psychological development.

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How do you know if your child has entered this stage? There are signs you can spot.[1]

  • Deep affection for opposite sex parent: Your child may become overly loving and even try to kiss you “like daddy does.” He may demand constant attention — only Mom’s.
  • Indifference or harsh attitude to same-sex parent: He may become mean towards his dad and act out when he’s around. He may resort to the silent treatment around his father. It may seem like he doesn’t love his dad at all.
  • Jealousy of a possessive nature: Your child will exhibit a possessive nature towards Mom. He may get angry when Dad tries to show affection to Mom and when Mom shows affection for Dad! During this phase the child wants Mom for himself.

The Psychology That Causes Oedipus Complex

The boy focuses his affections on his mother because she is his caregiver. When his feelings become powerful and overwhelming — an infantile sexual awakening — he becomes aware of the difference between male and female. He takes note of the relationship between his father and mother and views his dad as his rival. He becomes possessive of his mother and jealous of his father.

The Appropriate Attitude of Parents

This is a natural process. Richard Boyd of the Energetics Institute says that it’s the parents’ responsibility to be aware that this is a normal stage of development. During that time, it is essential that “a child should not be rejected, used, punished, or shamed for having natural impulses of the heart and sexuality.”

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While it would be good if you could sit down and have a heart-to-heart with your child about this topic, at ages three to five it is doubtful he would listen or comprehend the subject, let alone sit still that long. Instead, try these tactics:

  • Love your child unconditionally, even if you are the dad and suffering the brunt of your child’s jealousies.
  • Don’t criticize, tease or shame your child for exhibiting these behaviors.
  • If your child crosses a boundary that you feel uncomfortable with (such as trying to kiss like Daddy), divert and redirect his attention elsewhere.
  • Remember that you are dealing with a young child.
  • Know that this is only a phase and it will pass. Be stoic and hang in there!

Exiting the Oedipus Complex Phase

Your child is traveling through this stage of development in order to learn his own sexual identity. When your child reaches the end of this phase, he abandons his sexual attraction towards his mother and begins to identify more with his father, stepping down to let his father win their rivalry. At this time, the father begins to bond more with the child, aiding the development of his masculinity.

Oedipus Complex Is a Natural Stage of Growth for Both Boys and Girls

Young girls do not by-pass this phase. They go through a similar stage in development called the “Elektra complex”, based on another tragic Greek tale.

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It is imperative that all children successfully pass through this stage of development in childhood. Repercussions from punishments and criticisms during the phase can lead to psychological problems in adulthood. It’s far easier to face the overt affections of a 3-year-old than surmount the troubles of a 35-year-old!

Reference

[1] Changing Minds: Oedipus Complex

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Sally White

writer, artist & blogger

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Last Updated on December 2, 2019

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

6. Give for the Joy of Giving

When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

More About Living a Fulfilling Life

Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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