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Caring Vs. Control

Here are some writings from various articles on EQI.org related to caring vs. control.

As I say in this article, I have noticed in my travels around the world that there are many more people who control us than who care about us. And I wonder what the world would be like if we simply had more people who cared about us and fewer people who controlled us.

Caring vs. Controlling Parents

Caring vs. Control - The Threatening Wife

Google Search - "More Caring or More Control" - as of Oct 20, 2011 there were no results found....

One day I happened to be walking by an expensive private school in downtown Sydney just during their lunch break. The school was surrounded by a high fence. From inside the fence, students were starting to pour out. I noticed that they all had to show a guardian something as they left. I assumed it was some kind of a pass, but feeling curious to know more, I stopped to speak with the guardian.

He and one of the older students explained that they students must show that they have their parents' permission because if anything happens to the students, the school can't be held liable. So the school is obviously controlling the students' freedom to leave at lunch time with the rest of their friends while protecting its own interests.

June 2011

One day while in Bulgaria a university student told me her parents disapproved of her living with a Muslim from Turkey. She said her father told her that he would never forgive her and he stopped paying for her to study English at the university. She said her mother stopped writing her.

This is an example of control vs. caring. I have not yet asked the girl if she felt more cared about or more controlled by her parents when they did this, but I suspect she will say more controlled.

Once a student from New Zealand told me her boyfriend made her delete all the other male friend's numbers from her cell phone the other day. At the time I wondered if she felt more cared about or more controlled. A few years later he became physically abusive to her.

I have written before about caring and control. I just realized that if you have never had someone truly care about you, it is likely you will try to compensate for this unmet need by trying to feel in control of something or someone. It is easier to see this being in Eastern Europe.

In Eastern Europe it is quickly obvious that the people in Moscow didn’t care about the people in countries like Bulgaria, Estonia and Romania. I have spent enough time in these three countries to see how the system works, in its dysfunctional way. It worked in some ways. Factories did produce things. People did have just enough to eat most of the time, although food was rationed in some cases, and there were enough police and soldiers produced to keep things minimally functioning for a long time. But the people who had the power didn’t care much about the people they had power over. For one thing they were literally too far away to care. For another they had too much absolute power.

Now if we jump to countries like the USA and England, you can see similarities. I mention these two in particular because I know them well and because they are both still very influential in the world.

Do teachers get paid to care?

What happens when a society has too many people controlling others and not enough people caring about others?

You can travel through Eastern Europe to see what the Communist system did. You can see it in the crumbling buildings and the empty faces.

In Eastern Europe, as everywhere really, it is only the children who are more often smiling than not. But the differences in the faces here are more pronounced. You can see the effect of the Communist system in the eyes of the older generation. They are what you could call the walking dead.

One day I was in the kitchen of a hostel and one of the workers walked in quickly and said “Come with me.” I felt a little surprised by this but decided to go see what he was talking about. Then he took me to the door and showed me how to lock and unlock it. He said he had seen me trying to unlock it the night before. So he gave me a small lesson on it. It wasn’t necessary at all. I had already figured out how to unlock it myself. I didn’t tell him that though. I let him think that he was helping me and I appreciated him telling me.

Looking back I wonder why I was so obedient. I wonder why I just followed him when I didn’t know where we were going. I wonder why I didn’t say “Come with you to to where?” I suppose it is because I was conditioned to obey the voice of authority, or you might say any and all authority figures. So, since he was the hostel manager, even though he is half my age and much less experienced in life than me, I obeyed him when he ordered me to follow me. And it was an order. It wasn’t a request. He didn’t say “Could you come with me for a minute?” He just said, “Come with me.”

So why did I obey him? Was I afraid of disobeying him? Did I believe he would show me something that would help me? Did I somehow think he cared about me and was using his authority to help me? Is this what we are supposed to think? Is it what we are conditioned to believe? That people control us because they care about us?

I never really bought into this concept. I was always a bit of a rebel. I never liked school, for example. There was way too much control. I didn’t realize at the time there was too little caring. But now I am “wiser”.

- From Romania 2008

This writing is about a high school student and her family in Ecuador. Her home and school were so much like prisons that I started refering to them as such, and to her parents as "wardens." The mother had told me her daughter was an angel, but later she hit that same angel for not obeying her...


I had been talking to my angel friend about caring vs. control. A few days ago I wondered if the warden said she wanted the daughter/inmate back at the prison by a certain time each day because she cared about her or because she felt a need to control her. The inmate had almost had me convinced that the warden cared about her. But last night, what was the main motivation in hitting the angel/inmate/teenage daughter?

Was she just showing how much she cared about her and how concerned she was for her health and happiness? Is this her way of showing these things?

I wonder if the warden would sit and look me in the eyes and tell me that yes, she hit her because she loves her. This reminds me of the school director who said love was the highest value at his school. This is the kind of myth that is perpetuated by adults to try to confuse children and teenagers: I hit you and punish you because I love you. (Note - Later I was in Peru and I heard that they actually have a common saying there: Te pego porque te amo. This means literally, I hit you because I love you. Not only will parents say this to their children and teenagers, but men will say it to their wives.)

But if this is the way they show their love, I would say, "No thank you. I would rather look elsewhere for love."

No, I don't believe this warden/mother was showing how much she cared about her daughter's health and happiness. Instead, I believe the mother felt out of control. I have felt out of control, too, in my life. Sometimes I have used violence to try to feel more powerful and in control. But often when I realize I care about someone but I can't control them, I simply break down and cry.

When someone cries over us, I suspect we feel more cared about than when someone hits us or punishes us. I'm not sure about this for everyone, but I think I would certainly feel more cared about if someone cried than if they hit me.


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See also this article about caring and control in Estonia

Study about Caring vs Controlling Parents finds teenage girls were six times more likely to suffer from depressive disorders than those in the ‘optimum parenting’ group, where parents are perceived as being caring but not controlling.


Too many people controlling. Not enough caring or producing. Reducing resources -> struggle for those resources.