Adult vs Child

Apologies for the delay in posting this month's (August) article. I deeply appreciate those of you who comment and participate when I can't to keep our discussion going -- and I especially appreciate those of you who emailed me to make sure I was okay and that my slightly longer than usual absence wasn't indicative of any personal crisis. (It isn't. Just new job, long hours, high stress, etc.)

Several of you wrote comments in response to the prior article that included your thoughts on whether or not women who engaged in DD were adults. This an intriguing issue and it seems worth exploring a bit further.

In interest of stirring up a bit of controversy up front to make things interesting (!), my short response to this is that, no, I do not believe that women (myself included) who engage in DD are adults.

As I've written before in other posts, I believe DD to be, at its heart, a reaction to a deeply felt need for boundaries and accountability that is often absent in our culture, most notably as the result of so-called "progressive" parenting ("DD as a Reaction to Me-Generation Parenting") that emphasizes individual expression and personal freedom over boundaries and consequences. I've also mentioned in prior articles that DD seen in this light is an extremely healthy way for our infinitely-creative psyches to get what's missing in our lives in a way that feels safe, fair and straightforward. (see just about every entry!)

(DD does, of course, have other archetypal origins, and some day I'm actually going to write the article that explores those...)

My underlying theory here is that DD is first and foremost a re-parenting process -- a method of gifting our inner child with the experiences of being held accountable to rules and boundaries. That means that the role of the submissive partner in a DD relationship is at its core that of the externalized inner child. Spanking, scolding, corner time, grounding -- all experiences that are, of course, strongly associated with childhood rather than adulthood.

Being able to safely give up our adult selves to experience this powerful cycle of guilt, justice and forgiveness is, I believe, at the heart of what makes DD so appealing to many women. It's also what separates true DD (real punishments for real misbehaviors) for S&M sex play or disciplinary fantasies). I believe the need for some of us to have it "be real" to be effective is our strongest clue that something developmentally significant -- essential even -- is going on for us.

I believe that to fully understand and benefit from the DD experience requires us to let go of the illusion that women who have a strong need to DD are adults. We are not. If we were, we would already have progressed through the developmental stage that DD fulfills a need for.

Our society has systematically done away with most of the primitive tribal rituals that used to help people transition from childhood to adulthood -- mostly ritual pain experiences that are now viewed as barbaric but serve a critical developmental function of helping us to make the transition to adulthood. As a result, we have an entire culture of people, male and female, who live as adults, are legally considered adults, and have adult bodies and responsibilities, but who fundamentally do not have the emotional maturity and capacity of a fully grown being.

For all kinds of reasons, including social conditioning and weak parenting, they/we are lacking the internalized "strong parent" that is required for the child to become an independent, emotionally self-supporting, confident individual.

Some might be offended at the idea that women who crave DD are child-like. I hope those of you who are feeling a bit offended might re-think any perceptions our society has instilled in us that children are stupid or simple. Children are, in reality, vibrant, creative beings who actively seek out what they need to strive and grow into healthy adults. And women who seek out the loving solution of DD as a way to become healthy adults are demonstrating a striking amount of courage, creativity and resiliency that many others in our culture with similar needs (and that's probably most of us) don't demonstrate.

Most readers will probably agree that DD is one of the most elegant, simple and effective ways of meeting our unmet developmental needs -- of literally turning those of us who look like and live like adults into actual functioning adults by allowing us to turn back the clock to childhood to get the type of discipline and structure we need to complete our journey.

As I experience DD in my real life -- along with that empowering feeling of taking such literal and simple responsibility for my actions -- I can feel myself filling that long-unmet need. I'm literally growing up before my own eyes.

Becoming a real adult instead of a pretend one.