“The Secret Art of Making Children”: Jacques Arènes deciphers a powerful and fragile link

The Secret Art of Making Children. Essay on the torments of time and filiation

by Jacques Arènes

Deer, 294 p., € 20

“The making of threads is fragile, as is the link which connects everyone to humanity. “ This sentence by Pierre Legendre, quoted by Jacques Arènes at the heart of his work on parentage, should have been highlighted. It sounds like an invitation to consider with attention and delicacy the bond uniting parents and children, a bond that the time sometimes manipulates with brutality. To read Jacques Arènes, it takes wisdom to “have children”, to understand: to give birth to sons and daughters who will become autonomous, will know how to receive life, deploy it and then transmit it.

→ READ. Conscious or unconscious, what is behind the desire for a child

Clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst, professor at the Catholic Institute of Paris, Jacques Arènes has gathered his research – including certain articles already published – on this “Separate link”, asymmetrical, which stands out in a time marked by egalitarianism, individualism and presentism. Perceived as more solid than the conjugal bond, the filiation bond is now weakened by the very investment to which it is the object.

With the experience of listening, without accusing spirit but without naivety either, Jacques Arènes auscultates the difficulties and transformations of filiation: the possible end of “Paternal principle”, the recomposition of the roles of the father and the mother, the difficulties of transmission, the recent weakness of the symbolic and institutional part of parenthood …

The blind spots of desire

Over the pages, the psychoanalyst sheds light on the blind spots of the desire for a child which is expressed powerfully today, to the point of being sometimes used as a compass. “The desire for a child is not in itself respectful of the unborn child”, he warns, pointing to the current difficulty “To perceive that the power of life, and of expansion, that of the desire for a child for example, always holds a sacrificial shadow”.

If society now knows how to be wary of authoritarian fathers, it seems less aware of the violence of “Soft hold” (from loving parent) “Which is just as surely a place of power completely unknown to the protagonists themselves”. Positioning himself on the side of the children, Jacques Arènes notices the harmful effects: “Always these desired children ask even more to be always wanted and loved, as if it was necessary to continue to support the desire which presided over their coming into the world. “

Under the brush of Jacques Arènes, “The art of making children” is not a manual. It unfolds in small inspiring touches. It signals dead ends, indicates passages, so that life can gradually clear its way.


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