Parenting

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When a child dies and another is born: response to Yahoo article

Recently, I was interviewed following the news that a family just welcomed a new child into their family after tragically losing their six-year-old in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting two years ago. You can see the article here:   https://www.yahoo.com/parenting/when-a-child-dies-and-another-is-born-103051055797.html.

The reporter asked me some relevant questions about my own experience, being born after a sibling has died, that was the topic of my memoir, Replacement Child. It was also in relation to a new book coming out in the Spring of 2015, Replacement Children: Personal Journeys, co-written by Dr. Abigail Brenner, a San Francisco Psychiatrist, and Rita Battat Silverman.… Read more

Reaction to the 3-year-old girl in Miss., asked to leave restaurant because of scars

Lin Garden Drive010The story this morning about the three-year-old girl who was asked to leave a KFC restaurant in Jackson, Miss. by an employee there who said her scars were disturbing customers, gave me a chill and brought back sharp memories of my sister.

Her grandmother had stopped there, on the way home from the hospital, to get her mashed potatoes because she had trouble swallowing after surviving an attack by three pit bulls. Even though that incident is horrendous, and my heart goes out to this little girl for her physical suffering, it is the action of the restaurant employee that is most disturbing to me.… Read more

Getting to Know My Mother

MomFav     0069_1Some of us get to know our mothers better after they have passed from this life, through writing about them. It can be one of the benefits of writing a memoir, that we gain a unique insight from mining our life experience through a writerly lens.

Writing, by necessity, makes us take notice of the details surrounding an event or a meaningful moment in our lives. Sometimes the writing helps us see the significance in a conversation, or the scar left by a parent’s action or inaction. This was certainly the case as I wrote the chapters for my memoir Replacement Child.… Read more

A Psychoanalyst’s View of the Replacement Child

butterfliesRecently, I had the good fortune of speaking at length with psychoanalyst Kristina Schellinski about her in-depth work with replacement children in her practice.

Kristina Schellinski has an M.A. in Political Science and Literature. She worked for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in New York and Geneva from 1983-1998 and received her Diploma as Jungian Psychoanalyst and Psychotherapist from the C.G. Jung Institute in Zürich in 2002. She practices as a Jungian Analyst in Geneva, Switzerland. She is a training analyst and supervisor at ISAP (International School of Analytical Psychology), Zürich and a member of IAAP, AGAP, ASP and EAP, the Swiss and European Association of Psychotherapists, and a founding member of the Rencontres Jungiennes at Lavigny, Switzerland.… Read more

The clarity to see inner beauty – my story of Purim

33 Mom & Dad at the Purim festival

I wanted to be Queen Esther. She was the real hero in the Purim play.

Purim is the Feast of Lots, commemorating the Jews being saved once again from extinction. There were never enough parts for girls, and I was cast as Esther’s uncle, Mordechai. I wore a black mustache and cape, which almost made up for not being the queen.

I instinctively loved Queen Esther, whose name is derived from the Hebrew saiter, meaning concealment. The story goes that she saw through to her hidden role to save her people. Her other name—Hadassah—references the clarity of her eyes to see beyond surface realities to inner beauty.… Read more

Grieving, Subsequent Children, and the Replacement Child, After the Death of a Child

Abigail Brenner, M.D.Guest interview with Abigail Brenner, M.D.

I conducted this interview with Abigail Brenner, M.D., several weeks ago. It now seems to have a new relevance in light of the Newtown tragedy as I asked her the questions I so often hear concerning replacement children.

Dr. Brenner is a psychiatrist in private practice. A board certified psychiatrist in practice for more than 30 years, Dr. Brenner is a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. Her work has focused on understanding change and the challenges and opportunities afforded by change in relationship to major life transitions. She is the author of Transitions: How Women Embrace Change and Celebrate Life, SHIFT: How to Deal When Life Changes, and co-author of The Essential Guide to Baby’s First Year (Alpha Books, a member of the Penguin Group).… Read more

A Message of Hope for Newtown Parents

birdMy mother always told me that life was never the same for her after she lost her first-born child. Like the tragedy in Newtown that took 20 precious children, at the hands of a gunman surely struggling with his own demons, there was no sense to be made of my sister’s death. We can rail at gun control laws that are failing us, at a mother who thought she had a need for assault weapons in her home, at a system that may have failed a troubled young man.

But, I want to offer a measure of hope for the families of the lost children.… Read more

Lincoln’s Replacement Children

There is so much to talk about after seeing Lincoln this weekend, but since I have my Replacement Child lenses adjusted, I can’t help but focus on one scene in the film that touched on Lincoln as a husband and father.

In the scene we discover that Abe and Mary lost a child to illness as Abe rails at Mary for her extended grieving, and she in turn admonishes him for putting their oldest son, Robert, in harm’s way by allowing him to join the ranks of the Union soldiers.  When her grieving over the death of their son became too prolonged, in Lincoln’s view, he had apparently threatened Mary with having her committed to an asylum, (using the vernacular of the film). … Read more

The Search for Self for the Replacement Child; Captured in a Poem by Victor Hugo

In the literature and research I have read, there is agreement on at least one of the characteristics of the replacement child; the search for an individual identity apart from the child they have replaced, or have been born after. I can attest to this personally, in that the search for my own identity and for my role in my family was the strongest drive for me to write Replacement Child.

Looking at more academic studies of replacement children, I was struck by these selected lines from the poem “The One Who Returned” by Victor Hugo (1802 – 85) that are included in the article, “Life After Death: The Replacement Child’s Search for Self,” by Kristina Schellinski as part of her thesis for the Association of Graduate Analytical Psychologists in Geneva, Switzerland (2009).… Read more

Replacement Children You May Know

Last week we talked about the first reference to a replacement child in recorded history possibly being Seth (or Shet in Hebrew) who replaced Abel, who was killed by Cain. Talk about complicated family history. In Genesis 4:25, Eve refers to his birth:

“God has granted me other seed in place of Abel. . .”

And God said to Cain: (Genesis 4:10)

“The voice of your brother’s blood crieth unto Me from the ground.”

Interesting to note some of the other replacement children from history:

  • Solomon
  • Napoleon III
  • Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Vincent van Gogh
  • Salvador Dali
  • Rainer Maria Rilke
  • Sabina Spielrein
  • Françoise Dolto
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • James Barrie (creator of Peter Pan)
  • Eugene O’Neill (my favorite playwright)
  • Carl Gustav Jung

I’m heartened to see that some of these replacement children are creative stars, and include some of my favorite artists.… Read more