Following are the steps in the DOLF theory of family interaction, behavioral self-expression and personality development. As emphasized at several points throughout this website, the family pattern described is universal, fixed and cuts across all human boundaries such as race, color, gender, ability or disability, adoption or natural, and even time and history because it is rooted in every human child’s so-far unrecognized, but unalterable, instinct to seek out and capture ALL the parent-to-child LOVE which that child perceives is available in her/his nuclear family group.
The reader is asked to try to remain as open-minded as possible, and give due consideration to the fact that DOLF touches on areas of emotion that are as yet uncharted in the study of human behavior, areas that have thus far remained secret because they are either shameful, uncomfortable, or even offensive to their bearers. Some may also find the formula implausible because it is too fixed and mathematical.
Following is a basic explanation of DOLF theory, with examples and more in-depth information in the blogs. For clarity we start with a 4-person family consisting of 2 parents and 2 children, while later siblings, single children and twins will be dealt with elsewhere on the website.
THE DOLF FORMULA
PHASE I – THE DIVISION OF PARENTAL ROLES
As soon as a first child is born into a family of 2 parents, regardless of gender, color, race, ability or disability, adopted or natural, married or common law, etc., a critical emotional decision is made that is supremely important in the emotionally-driven world of a child, but makes no sense at all to adults.
The parents become divided into ONE MORE loving parent
and ONE LESS loving parent!
This decision about parental inequality in the eyes of the child is inevitable, occurring in every family universally. DOLF theory recognizes that two parents never play the same role or carry the same emotional meaning to their children, and can never substitute for each other in the eyes and minds of the children.
This separation of roles occurs both in the mind of the first child, and in the observable behavior of the new parents, and is made on the basis of the child’s emotionally-driven sense of the personal warmth, or quantity and quality of LOVE that one parent has to offer as compared with the other.
In this way, within the first 3 to 6 months of the first child’s life, one parent becomes identified as more emotionally available and attachable, and assumes the position of a warmer parent toward the child, whether this parent is male or female. In DOLF we call this parent the Prime Love Giver, or PLG. At the same time the other parent emerges as the less emotionally available and less loving parent, the Additional Love Giver, or ALG.
As a result, the child gravitates toward the more loving parent, the PLG, and the two come together as if attracted by a magnet.
So, upon the arrival of the first child the DOLF formula begins as follows:
ALG + PLG
Note the proximity of the first child to the warmer, more easy-going Prime Love Giving parent. This positioning indicates that in every child’s instinctual search for parental LOVE, and given the greater LOVING response of the Prime parent as compared with the Additional parent, the two become emotionally connected.
The best way to grasp the idea behind this elusive parent-child LOVE connection, is to think about the PLG in your own Family of Origin. Was your mother or father the closer, more attachable parent? Think about it. You might easily assume that your mother was that parent, but when you ponder a little deeper and search your soul, you may find your father filled that role.
Once you identify your Prime Love Giver, you can begin to follow the thread of LOVE you either received, or did not receive from this parent. And, if you have a second Family of Procreation with a spouse and children, think about whether you or your spouse might be the parent with the more easy-going personality and greater emotional affinity for the children.
In DOLF the second parent or spouse is known as the Additional Love Giver, or ALG. In character and temperament, and from the child’s point of view this parent, whether male or female is either (a) more organized, disciplinarian, socially-minded and driven by reality or (b) more emotionally detached, inaccessible and distant. Again, think of the ALG in your own Family of Origin, or Family of Procreation, and on what emotional basis, and why, this division comes to your heart and mind now.
Psychologically speaking, the ALG occupies the extremely important role of supplying a feeling of security, stability and sense of belonging to a group, a feeling that infiltrates and pervades the entire unspoken family atmosphere. Particularly for the children, this elusive group feeling of binding the family members together or sense of group adhesion, prevents them from becoming defiant toward the home base or going astray, such as rebelling, being defiant, angry or alienated, turning to substance abuse, joining non-conformist peer groups, or taking part in gang activity, acting out criminal behaviors, becoming depressed, anxious, feeling left out, etc.
Note here that either a mother or a father can be a PLG or an ALG. In DOLF, contrary to the common view that women must be the softer, warmer, more emotionally accessible and indulgent gender, experience and close observation suggest that mothers are PLG’s in only about half of families, while fathers are also PLG’s in about half.
To review the 4-person family, the PLG and child always remain in closer emotional proximity than the ALG.
PLG + ALG
PHASE II – THE BEGINNING OF SIBLING RELATIONS
After a while, the PLG, ALG and child, and the parent-child relationships that stem from them constituting the pattern above, become established in the family life activities and psychologically entrenched into the minds, daily habits and routines of the first three family members. However, sooner or later
A SECOND CHILD ARRIVES!
As soon as this second child enters the family scene, BOTH children’s INSTINCTS kick in! These instincts propel the siblings to perceive each other as competitors for what they both sense, through their narrow, immature, emotionally-dominated scope of perception, to be A LIMITED QUANTITY OF LOVE available in the family!
Note that this perception of competition between the existing child and the infant newcomer is an inborn human instinct, where each child perceives the other as the invader of their personal territory or emotional LOVE space. This perception is reflexively activated in the children’s psyches and is as compelling and hard-wired into human nature as territorialism in the wild kingdom that prompts an animal to protect their domain from intruders. The rivalrous instinct is an internal urge that is in charge of guiding specific competitive behaviors like combativeness, possessiveness, selfishness, feeling short-changed, discriminated, treated unfairly, etc., that seem extreme and excessive and may make no logical sense at all, just like salmon swimming upstream.
As a result of this overwhelming human instinct to attract the perceived limited quantity of LOVE, and the feeling that they are suddenly in the presence of an threatening arch rival, we find that both children not only dive in to capture all the LOVE for themselves, but each actually exercises a vigorous and uncontrollable urge to HOG it, to the exclusion of the other. Their quest is to possess, by any means humanly possible, all that precious ‘gold dust’ of LOVE that they sense, or “smell” floating down from their PLG source. It is exactly the same as the way adults might clamor to collect money falling from heaven!
THIS IS THE BEGINNING AND ESSENCE OF SIBLING RIVALRY: IT IS Every child’s desperation to claim parental LOVE.
An important consideration here is that the children have NO CONTROL or “choice” in the matter of whether or not to indulge in this intense struggle for LOVE, neither in their competitive attitude toward each other, nor in their overpowering desire to HOG or monopolize it. They are merely following their innate drives that fire up at the sight of each other, and are forced to muster up every scrap of energy, muscle, manipulation through their intellectual and emotional resources in order to confront their attacker!
In this sense, we might even think of children as pawns or victims of their own innate drives, since their actions and behaviors simply follow the command of their instincts reflexively and automatically, entirely outside their control.
And as such, for adults to expect more rational behavior from their children, such as no sibling rivalry, no fighting, or hope they will simply share the available LOVE from their parents, is in reality unreasonable, naive, and blatantly irrational!
It is a basic tenet of DOLF theory that every time two siblings are born into a nuclear family, SIBLING RIVALRY must OCCUR among theM. The goal of this rivalry is TO COMPETE, WIN AND HOG ENTIRELY FOR THEMSELVES ALONE THE UNDIVIDED LOVE AND ATTENTION OF THEIR PRIME LOVE GIVING PARENT.
PHASE III – THE DEVELOPMENT OF PERSONALITY AND BEHAVIOR
To clarify, the intent of the following section is to point out the personality and behavioral characteristics that result from the parent-child interactions and designate the first two children in a four-person family as Favored or Disfavored.
Acting purely on their instincts children, with their emotion-driven thoughts, primitive scope of reasoning, perception of a limited quantity of gold dust of LOVE floating in the air, and consumed by their struggle to win over and hog all the parental LOVE for themselves, they are subject to the 3 main negative human feelings. These are 3 negative emotions that characterize all humanity and persist throughout life:
ANXIETY, DEPRESSION AND ANGER.
As a result of these disturbing feelings, and in the face of the sibling rivalry they intuitively conjure up and sense in their family, the first two children, seeking ways to distance and differentiate themselves from their rival sibling, begin to OPPOSE each other in every possible, imaginable way!
It is important to note that sibling rivalry does NOT refer just to fighting.
Rather, THE RIVALRY WILL UNFOLD PHYSICALLY, EMOTIONALLY, MENTALLY, AND IN EVERY WAY POSSIBLE AND CONCEIVABLE TO US. INCREASINGLY WITH TIME AND AGE, THE RIVALRY AND THE 3 ASSOCIATED NEGATIVE FEELINGS WILL INVADE, INFILTRATE AND DRASTICALLY INFLUENCE ALL ASPECTS OF EACH CHILD’S SELF EXPRESSION, AND ULTIMATELY BECOME ENTRENCHED AS THE DETERMINANT OF EACH ONE’S UNIQUE STYLE OF BEHAVIOR AND PERSONALITY.
This urge to be different, opposed to, and feel bitterly angry with the next born sibling, or SIBLING RIVALRY, can be expressed in may ways. It will be shown through (a) open conflict such as hitting or fighting, (b) more underhanded means of attack such as teasing, tormenting, accusing, telling tales, telling white lies, etc. (b) attention-seeking behaviors such as tantrums or defiance, and/or (c) personality characteristics, more or less along the extroversion/introversion spectrum (One is subdued while the other is boisterous; one is social while the other is reclusive, etc.) These personality and behavioral traits, which become more and more entrenched with time, are actually territorial markers upon which the other child is forbidden from encroaching:, as in I am like this. You be like that!
Over time, the children begin to diverge in every conceivable way. On a practical level we see that if one likes meat the other likes vegetables; if one is a loner the other has many friends; if one is active the other is passive; if one likes music the other takes up sports; if one whines the other has an agreeable disposition, and so on. It is a rare parent who can report that their first two children are very much alike!
In the end, one child will choose one course of behavior, personal style and interests, and the other child will choose a completely different and separate track, course of behavior and path for life. Most likely, their patterns of behavior and interests will be diametrically opposed to each other, completely surprising their elders. THE ONLY GUARANTEED FACT IS THAT THE FIRST TWO CHILDREN OF ANY FAMILY WILL NEVER BEHAVE THE SAME WAY OR BE ALIKE, BUT WILL MOST LIKELY TURN OUT VERY, VERY DIFFERENT!
The result of this drive to be opposite and opposed to each other is that even if two children are identical twins, identical triplets, quadruplets , quintuplets, or other who share exactly the same DNA, they not only resist being the same as each other, but adopt ENTIRELY DIFFERENT AND OFTEN OPPOSITE INTERESTS, BEHAVIORAL STYLES AND PERSONALITY TRAITS. This has been shown repeatedly in identical twin studies, such as that of the Dionne quintuplets who are identical as to DNA but in no way identical in personality, or the three brothers depicted in the movie Three Identical Strangers.
DOLF theory maintains that the first two children are always driven by their instincts to be opposite to each other, rather than this disparity being due to random occurrences such as heredity or fate.
For those non-believers, here is an example. A Dr. Phil show featured three identical triplet boys, meaning they all have exactly the same DNA and all look exactly alike. At about ten years old, one was a sports fanatic and had put up banners throughout his bedroom depicting his favorite teams. The second had the ambition to become a soldier and was enamored of anything to do with the army, wearing army fatigues and collecting military symbols. The third one, acting to preserve his identity as well, chose to pursue the clear ambition to become a female. He decorated his room in pink, painted his nails, put on make-up and took on as many female characteristics as possible! While these three brothers came from the same fertilized egg so that their DNA was exactly identical, their personalities and behavior, driven by their emotions once they were exposed to the real world, turned out vastly different. In fact, it is not unusual to meet identical twins who do not share the same sexual identity, whether heterosexual, homosexual, transsexual, transgendered, or otherwise. If genetic or DNA factors were of such overwhelming importance in determining personality and behavior, these differences could not take place, especially with regard such to a deeply embedded psychological function as sexuality. At the very least the differences would not be so stark. A more logical question would be: Was each boy trying to assert his independent personal identity to avoid being exactly like either of the others? And is it human nature to want to differentiate ourselves from those closest to us for fear of losing our identity?
PHASE IV – HOW FAVORITISM DEVELOPS
IN GENERAL, THE TWO SETS OF CHARACTER TRAITS WILL TAKE EITHER A POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE DIRECTION. AND, IF ONE CHILD BEHAVES IN A POSITIVE WAY THAT IS LIKABLE AND PLEASING TO ADULTS, THE OTHER WILL BEHAVE IN A WAY THAT IS CHALLENGING, DIFFICULT TO MANAGE AND CAUSES FRICTION AND CONFLICT ON A SOCIAL LEVEL WITH OTHERS.
The PLG holds an integral position in the sibling struggle, but THE ALG IS AN OBSERVER AND WITNESS, and can have little influence on the final outcome in terms of influencing the children’s behavioral and personality outcomes.
In the eyes of the two children born first and second in their Family Of Origin, one child WINS the sibling battle for the LOVE of the PLG, while the other child LOSES this battle.
The WINNER of this underground struggle is the child who, for whatever reason, succeeds in attracting and securing a greater amount of emotional attachment and responsiveness from the PLG.
Contrary to Birth Order Theory in which the first child is always more loved, favored, and likely to be a high achiever, DOLF affirms that the winner of the sibling struggle, the Favored child, can be either the older or younger one, and that achievement will be variable.
The age of the children as well as the difference in age or gap between them is therefore NOT a factor in this struggle. There may be one year or as many as 10 years between two children, and the outcome is the same: One child wins and becomes the Favored child, while the other child loses the struggle for the LOVE of the PLG to become the Disfavored one.
The results now show up in their respective personality traits. According to DOLF, the WINNER of the sibling struggle for LOVE forms a stronger loving bond with the PLG than the loser. The PLG, who is immersed in adult life, is unwittingly drawn into this children’s drama, and becomes more emotionally attached to, the child who wins this battle, than to the child who loses it.
The basis for the loving attachment between the PLG and the winner can be due to many factors initiated by the child, such as the child’s apparently more agreeable behavior, more pleasant disposition, more mature personality style, or greater compliance with social demands. This loving PLG-child-attachment might also occur on the basis of common, random traits that adults deem desirable, such as the child’s beauty, gender, ability or disability, verbal strength, sensitivity, intelligence, precociousness, or any combination of the above.
In DOLF theory the child who is deemed more lovable develops a closer emotional bond with the PLG, whether first or second born. This child becomes MORE attached to the PLG and reciprocally, the PLG is MORE attached to this child, providing comparatively MORE LOVE and MORE EMOTIONAL NURTURING to this child than to the other one. DOLF theory designates this child as the FAVORED child.
THE FAVORED CHILD’S PERSONALITY AND BEHAVIOR TURNS OUT EASY-GOING, JOVIAL, COMPLIANT, GENTLE, LOVING AND COMPARATIVELY LESS AFFECTED BY 3 NEGATIVE EMOTIONS: ANGER, DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY,
N.B. NOTE THAT THE PERSONALITY AND BEHAVIOR OF THE FAVORED CHILD DEVELOPS IN RESPONSE TO THE MORE LOVING AND MORE NURTURING RELATIONSHIP THIS CHILD ENJOYS WITH THE PLG, RATHER THAN BEING DUE TO GENETIC FACTORS, HEREDITARY PREDISPOSITION OR A RANDOM EVENT.
THIS IS BY FAR THE MOST IMPORTANT DISCOVERY OF DOLF THEORY!
This “positive” personality style is a predetermined and predictable outcome based on the EMOTIONAL NURTURANCE offered to this child by the PLG, as compared with the sibling.
The other child, whether first or second born, becomes LESS attached to the PLG. Reciprocally, the PLG is LESS attached to this child, and engages in providing comparatively LESS LOVE and LESS EMOTIONAL NURTURING to this child than to the Favored one.
Whether the older or the younger, the Favored child displays MORE of what adults consider to be desirable personality and behavioral characteristics, and seems more attachable and lovable, while the Disfavored child displays LESS of what adults, parents and others in the social environment consider to be desirable personality and behavioral traits.
In DOLF psychology the comparatively LESS loved child is known as the DISFAVORED child.
The DISFAVORED child’s personality and behavior are dominated by any or all of the three negative feelings: Anger, Depression and Anxiety, in varying proportions, leading to greater disruption in the behavior and personality of this child.
N.B. NOTE THAT IN DOLF PSYCHOLOGY THE DISFAVORED PERSONALITY STRUCTURE IS ATTRIBUTED TO THE COMPARATIVELY LESS LOVING AND LESS NURTURING RELATIONSHIP THIS CHILD ENJOYS WITH THE PLG, and NOT to genetic, hereditary or random factors.
Likewise, the Favored personality structure is attributed to the comparatively MORE loving and MORE nurturing relationship this child enjoys with the PLG, and NOT to genetic, hereditary or random factors.
Because of the LACK OF LOVE between the PLG and the Disfavored child, there naturally develops a greater degree of CONFLICT between the Disfavored child and her/his parents. This negative relationship carries over to affect relationships with siblings, relatives, as well as outsiders such as peers, educators, and authority figures.
The personality and behavioral differences between Favored and Disfavored children are a result of the greater amount of Anger, Depression and Anxiety experienced by the Disfavored child throughout their lifetime, due to their more negatively charged relationship with their PLG in the Family of Origin, as compared with the Favored sibling. Negative feelings are expressed through the Disfavored child’s behavior and personality, as well as infiltrating all this child’s social interactions, inside and outside the immediate family.
DOLF FORMULA AND TREATMENT
In treatment using DOLF, if the LOVE between a prime parent or PLG and one child, whether the older or younger, is deemed to be creating a problem because it is too strong and firmly loving, giving rise to a Favored child with a very pleasant, easy-going disposition, while the relationship of the PLG with the adjacent sibling is more distant, irritating and disruptive to the family functioning, the corrective action is as follows.
The PLG must loosen her/his emotional bond with the Favored child, and share more LOVE with the immediately adjacent, Disfavored sibling, whether this is the older or younger one. By the same token, if a relationship between the PLG and one of the children is deemed to be too weak or lacking in LOVE, creating a Disfavored disposition in a child who is inclined to display Anger, Depression or Anxiety, the prescription is for an effort to be made by the PLG to strengthen this relationship, while of necessity loosening some of the ties with the Favored child.
Examples of this can be found in the blogs. This solution is the essence of the DOLF method and the re-distribution within the emotional haze of LOVE that permeates every nuclear family, that is so mysterious and elusive to adults, but is the lifeline of any child. The goal of DOLF therapy is to readjust loving feelings, thus to heal the behavior of children by “filling in the gaps of love”, a process that can and ideally should, start at the beginning of life. By following an emotional protocol that caters to the world of children rather than a socially and intellectually determined protocol that caters to adults, DOLF reaches far beyond adult reality, and results in a prescription for the speedy, effective handling and treatment of children’s personality and behavioral problems, including most mental diagnoses, substance abuse, criminal behavior and even suicide. DOLF is potent enough to change the entire emotional dynamics of any family, sometimes slowly, but often almost instantly, and time and again the application of the method is proof of its validity.
As a concrete formula of family interaction, DOLF theory can now be represented as follows:
ALG + PLG
Child l (Favored or Disfavored)
Child 2 (Favored or Disfavored)
In the above scenario Parent 1 is represented as the ALG, though this can be either parent. Note the children are clustered closer to the PLG, as this grouping constitutes what can be viewed as a permanent loving attachment between the PLG and the children. To enhance explanation, a Circle of Love can be drawn and imagined as occurring between the PLG and the children. In the meantime, the ALG plays the vital role of providing the sense of stability and security that is essential to induce the children to adhere to the family grouping rather than become alienated, feel lost and go outside the family to search for peer groups or gangs to which they can attach themselves. Note that the PLG AND ALG POSITIONS NEVER CHANGE throughout the remaining life of the family.
Just imagine an aura or “whiff” of essential, life-giving LOVE winding its way down from one parent, the PLG, to one child. Through interaction and over time, this relationship, in which this Favored child is receiving MORE LOVE than the adjacent sibling, whether older or younger, renders the child Favored in personality and behavior.
**In response to this loving relationship with the PLG parent, this child’s personality and behavior becomes typified as easy-going, docile, pleasing and cooperative.**
A PLG-Favored-Child relationship develops early in life, is often the strongest love bond in any 4-person family, and is envied by other family members. Even though it may not easily be detected at first sight, this emotional connection may actually be the most powerful relationship for the remaining lives of the PLG parent, the Favored child and the entire family. As soon as the first child is born and the PLG is identified as the parent with the greater amount of love to offer, PLG and Favored child are attracted to each other like magnets. The child is drawn by instinct not only to engage, but HOG all the available love that s/he senses this parent has to offer, and share it with nobody else. At the same time, unwittingly following this same invisible LOVE force, the prime parent or PLG is drawn involuntarily toward the child. Soon the LOVE connection between the two grows, and though it may be stronger or weaker at the start, it will definitely be put to the test when a second child comes along.
A first child is always under threat of being upstaged by a second. Meanwhile, parents have no idea that this conflict is going on, and the PLG naively aligns her/himself with one of them, usually on the basis of the “personalities” and “behaviors” displayed by one of the children. But once this alliance is established, which commonly takes place at record speed and is virtually imperceptible, the PLG-child relationship becomes formed and stabilized, rendering this child the FAVORED ONE whether the older or younger. Favorable personality and behavioral traits then follow naturally.
Now the LESS FAVORED OR DISFAVORED CHILD, whether the older or younger, finds it extremely difficult to break into this bond, but puts every ounce of effort into penetrating it by trying to supercede the FAVORED child using any and all manner of behavior that will attract the attention of the PLG. As a child, who like all other children is using few intellectual resources at this point in her/his life, but full emotional resources to work with, the Disfavored child mainly resorts to expressing behavior characterized by various forms of the 3 negative emotions of Anxiety, Depression and Anger. These are precisely the behaviors that tend to annoy parents most, and are powered by the same emotions we see in our diagnoses of children with their seemingly unexplainable or even absurd actions. These behaviors include temper tantrums (Anger), ADHD (Anxiety), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (Anger), OCD (Anxiety), Eating Disorders (Depression/Anxiety), Depression, etc. as well as more serious behaviors and personality diagnoses that include extremes of all 3 negative emotions, such as substance abuse, self-harm or suicide. They also include such apparently unalterable personality traits as argumentativeness, rebellion, hyperactivity, distractibility, negativity, oppositionalism, defiance of authority, depression, or personal “coldness”, as well as psychopathic / sociopathic behavior such as harming or killing one or both parents, or siblings, authority figures, peers and others.
The secret world of Favoritism then is exactly what children refer to when they scream: You don’t understand! As per the Canadian title of the author’s book, “They Love You, They Love Me Not”, they are really saying “You love my sibling. YOU DON’T LOVE ME!”
Bear in mind that there is very little that parents can do to overturn this dynamic, except to change their own attitudes. They hit a brick wall when they attempt to directly address their child’s behavior, such as by administering “time out’, “tough love”, deprivation of privileges or corporal punishment. Driven by instinct to gain the PLG’s LOVE and attention in whatever way they can, but having little or no intellectual recourse to know exactly what the parent wants, and behaving purely by obeying compelling innate emotions, the child is caught. If you think about it, besides copying the behavior of the Favored child which is forbidden by her/his instincts, the less favored child has very little choice of ways to design their own behavior. In the meantime as adults who are guided by our logic, we wonder why the Disfavored child “doesn’t just behave better – like the Favored sibling”. So easy we think! But unfortunately, in the world of a child, this is out of the question. Simply put, and for reasons of pure instinct, two adjacent siblings instinctively never want to be alike! Experience shows us that they always manage to turn out differently in personality and behavior, even if this means sacrificing everything that seems to us to be good in life, such as education, praise from others or avoiding punishment. Some don’t mind ruining their own good health, tempting physical attacks from parents, siblings or others, getting caught by police, becoming addicted and living in squalor, or even getting killed or committing suicide. In the context of a more peaceful, organized life, one may choose to become a musician while the other is a sports fanatic; one can aspire to be an actor, while the other may choose to be a scientist, and so on. Any way you care to look at it, they choose divergence from their sibling at all costs!