"Authoritarian parents … not only offer minimal opportunities for children to choose, but tend to treat matters of taste or personal style as if they were moral issues with a single right answer – an answer that must, of course, be provided by the parent." Alfie Kohn, in Unconditional Parenting, p. 180.
When I read this, I felt a sudden hollow ache in my solar plexus. It went beyond emotional, to physical sensation. The pain that came up surprised me in its intensity. I hadn't realized how much hurt, how much resentment and anger and grief still remain, buried deep inside me.
When I first heard Jimi Hendrix's fantastical guitar licks, way back around 1971 or so, when I was 11, I was blown away. It touched my soul, and still resonates deep inside. (I'm listening to him now, as I have many times when emotional pain rears its ugly head.)
My dad viewed it as a personal affront, not just a difference in taste - a deeply immoral offense, perhaps akin to shoplifting, or giving drugs to children. He liked Hank Williams, Sr., and clearly expected me to do the same. The music that rocked my world was viewed as my choice to totally reject everything good and honest and pure.
I couldn't choose my clothes. My haircut. My glasses. If I resisted, it was not a matter of personal taste, but a moral decision akin to choosing evil.
He showed no sense of curiosity about who I was, no interest in me as my own person. I had the sense I was created to allow him to vicariously live the childhood he wished he'd had.
And my god, it hurt. It still hurts. It hurts with a deep dull ache that will not go away.