When Vampire Moms Attack
Barbara Almond, MD, explains “vampyric mothering” and the damage it can do to your child. Paging Dina Lohan!
-Kathryn H. Cusimano
There’s a lot of talk about the vampires of today’s popular fiction (Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, True Blood), but did you know that vampires actually exist in real life? They can be well-disguised as… you’ll never believe this… moms!
Psychoanalyst and author Barbara Almond, MD, discusses what she calls “vampyric mothers” in her new book, The Monster Within: The Hidden Side of Motherhood. We caught up with Almond to find out more about vampyric mothering and ask about our “favorite” momager Dina Lohan.
As you might have guessed, vampyric mothering does not refer to raising Twilight vampires. “It’s a term that actually covers a spectrum of a certain kind of mothering,” Almond says. “[It] is a form of overinvolved mothering to the point of being highly inappropriate or damaging. But it’s a spectrum.”
Almond explains that behavior on this spectrum can range from “benign to malignant.” On the benign end are moms who are active participants in their children’s lives, but who make take their duties a little too far. “[These can be] mothers who are not only enthused about their children’s activities, but really sort of overinvolved in them, who may push the child to do more than the child wants to do.”
Forcing your child to play your favorite sport isn’t necessarily the worst thing you can do as a parent, though Almond notes that your interest may leave your child “flooded with expectations.” However, she notes that malignant vampire mothering can cause a great deal of damage, though it is often very subtle.
In this case, Almond says, “The message [from the mother] is never [direct], but essentially is ‘You must not only do what I want you to do or what I would want to do, but you must believe the way I believe. My view is the correct view.’ In a sense it’s the invasion of the child’s mind and will. It’s very much the way Dracula invaded his victims and made them vampires also.”
Malignant vampyric mothering can have a deep, lasting impact on the child and may be difficult to recover from. According to Almond, there are a few ways the child of a vampyric mother might respond: “When it’s very bad, either they leave home and won’t have anything to do with the parent, or will get some really good therapy and a lot of it, or they kind of succumb and become a partner, twin, someone who can’t leave home, who can’t declare her independence.”