Go to Your Room

Effects of Emotional Abuse

Reposted from here – Please, take a moment to read and visit the originating site.

Many of us who have every good intention toward our children may find the need to re-evaluate the environment their children are developing in.  With grace and patience for oneself and others, honestly reflect on what is written here and in your own home.

The ultimate goal here is to give our children an environment that honors, respects, and builds up.  To never diminish. To love and cherish, without condition.  And to do so wholly and in action, not simply intent.


HOW DOES EMOTIONAL ABUSE HURT?


The effects of emotional abuse are often silent. Verbal and psychological wounds leave a child forever changed. Emotional abuse is often overlooked, unnoticed or confused with other causes.

Emotional child abuse attacks a child’s self-concept. The child comes to see him or herself as unworthy of love and affection.

The wounds of maltreatment, in children who are shamed, I can’t believe you embarrassed me like this!,” humiliated, “You idiot!,” terrorized, “You’re really gonna get it now!” or rejected, “Go to your room!” are as equally significant, although seemingly invisible and harder to recognize or quantify than the wounds of the worst physical and sexual abuse.

An infant who is being deprived of emotional nurturing, connection and bonding through close contact, even though physically well cared for, can fail to thrive.

Less severe forms of early emotional deprivation still can produce drastic effects of emotional abuse such as babies who grow into anxious andinsecure children who are slow to develop and who may fail to develop a strong sense of self-esteem.

Other types of abuse are usually noticed because marks or other physical evidence is left, however, signs of emotional abuse can be very hard to define.

In some instances, the effects of emotional abuse are so subtle that an emotionally mistreated child may show no outward signs of abuse. For this reason, emotional abuse is the most difficult form of child maltreatment to identify and stop.

This type of abuse leaves hidden scars that manifest themselves in numerous ways.

Insecurity, poor self-esteem, destructive behavior, angry acts such as fire setting or cruelty to animals, withdrawal, poor development of basic skills, alcohol or drug abuse, suicide and difficulty forming relationships can all be possible results of emotional abuse.


BEHAVIORAL EFFECTS


Emotional child abuse can result in other more serious psychological and/or behavioral problems. These include depression, lack of attachment or emotional bond to a parent or guardian, low cognitive ability and educational achievement and poor social skills.

One study which followed emotionally abused children in infancy and then again during their preschool years consistently found them to be “angry, uncooperative and unattached to their primary caregiver.” These children more often also lacked creativity, persistence and enthusiasm.

The effects of emotional abuse in children who experience rejection demonstrate that they are more likely than accepted children to exhibit hostility, aggressive or passive-aggressive behavior, to be extremely dependent, to have negative opinions of themselves and their abilities, to be emotionally unstable or unresponsive, and to have a negative perception of the world around them.

Parental verbal aggression (e.g., yelling, insulting) or symbolic aggression (e.g., slamming a door, giving the silent treatment) toward children can have serious consequences.

Children who witness abuse in relationships or emotional spousal abuse demonstrate higher rates of physical aggressiveness, delinquency and interpersonal problems than other children. Children whose parents are additionally physically abusive are even more likely to experience such difficulties.

Children who see or hear their mothers being abused
are victims of emotional abuse.

Growing up in such an environment is terrifying and severely affects a child’s psychological and social development. Male children may learn to model violent behavior while female children may learn that being abused is a normal part of relationships. This contributes to the intergenerational cycle of violence.

The consequences of emotional child abuse can be serious and long-term. Emotionally abused children may experience a lifelong pattern of depression, estrangement, anxiety, low self-esteem, inappropriate or troubled relationships, or a lack of empathy.

As teenagers, they find it difficult to trust, participate in and achieve happiness in relationships, and resolve the complex feelings left over from their childhoods. As adults, they may have trouble recognizing and appreciating the needs and feelings of their own children and emotionally abuse them as well.


Effects of Emotional Abuse: Return to Emotional Abuse Info
Effects of Emotional Abuse: Return to Home

No Defense, Just Reflection

A beautiful reflection of a heart wounded…  Please take a moment to read and reflect on your own life.  I also want to encourage any of you who feel so compelled to reach out and share yourself with this writer.

S O U R C E

Processing Spanking

Spanking.  A huge hot button topic. I know.  And now, with post #1, being somewhat normal, and post #2, being an emotional cry, I figured it was okay to break up the hot button topics in post #3.Knowing that my parents loved me, and would do anything for me, and yet still processing how spanking affected me is a very painful process.  I feel like I am the problem. I feel like the feelings and effects spanking had on me are unique to only me, and that if I were just “better” in some way, I would not have the severe emotional trauma from such a “normal” childhood event.  To put this post in perspective, let me just spend a few moments to brag on my wonderful parents.  My dad is a wonderful Godly man.  He isn’t afraid to take the uncomfortable road.  He is more generous that most people I know.  He is deeply committed to taking care of the needy, and reaching people with the gospel of Christ.  I am, and always have been, a daddy’s girl. <3 I remember going on daddy daughter dates.. I remember being a able to cry in his arms. I remember how excited I would be when he would get home.  My daddy was always the #1 man in my life, until I met Pine.. And now, he still is very important to me.  I want his approval, and I have strode to get it my whole life.  I feel safer, and more secure if he tells me I am doing well.

My mom is a very strong woman, with a heartbreaking past.  No one should be able to be as healthy as her considering what she has gone through.  My mom probably would understand the deep soul searching I am doing now, if it didn’t hit her personally, because I have seen her do the same things.  Evaluate the way she was raised.. Try to keep the good, and get rid of the abusive, unhealthy patterns she was raised with.  My mom was committed to our characters no matter the cost.  And she has cried many tears, because she felt as if she never lived up to it.  I can totally understand that feeling now as I look at my own little boy, and think of all the mistakes I have made in such a short time.

Spanking.  To this day, we (my parents and I) do not agree on the topic of spanking.  I can point you to a hundred different studies that show why spanking is unhealthy.. I can show you a hundred different stories like mine to show how it affects people. Not all people, but enough to make me think twice.  But that’s not the purpose of this blog. For once, I am not going to defend what I have come so strongly to believe.  Instead, I am just going to write out my feelings.  My vulnerabilities, my anxieties, my memories.  This is part of a process towards healing..

I remember being spanked often as a child.  Sometimes several times a day.  I remember the panic that would well inside of me as I was forced to bend over.  I remember instinctively, uncontrollably rolling off the side of the bed to avoid the spoon, or belt, or hanger.  I remember trying so hard to stay still as they hit me.. Because I knew that if I did move, I would get more. I remember crying out in fright, frustration and anger “I am not trying to move! I can’t help it!”  And I remember getting the extra lashes anyways.  My parents did spank in anger, but some of the worst spankings I got were done “correctly” My parents were not visibly angry.  They explained in quiet tones why I deserved what was coming.  They explained that it would all stop as soon as I repented.  The amount of shame…  A sick, dark cloud of shame would hang over my soul.  I am not talking about my conscience here.  I think that the word shame means something very different than guilt.  Guilt is something you feel because you committed a wrong action. Shame is something you feel, because you are worth less.. Your very value is defined by an action, or how someone perceives you.  I would be spanked, a minimum of 10 times.  That seemed to be the starting point to the best of my memory.  When I got better at staying still, it would only be 10.  Otherwise it would be until I had received 10 in a row without moving away from the blows. Every time I flinched to hard and moved to the side, the count would restart.  After the spanking was over, my parents would hold me.  I remember being terrified, humiliated, and scared to do anything that would displease them in the least, lest the nightmare repeat itself.  I would sit in their laps and pretend I was sorry.  I learned that tears of “repentance” really made them happy.  I became a fake repenter.  I felt bad about what I had done, don’t get me wrong.  I even wished I had not done it. But not because it was wrong.. But because with the punishment came the terror of shame.  The sick feeling of worthlessness, and a total and complete failure as a person.

This dynamic I think, is why I am having such a hard time understanding the grace of God.  God does not love me because I “perform”.  And God’s love does not change when my actions or attitudes are not pleasing to him.  God’s love is constant.  I learned the opposite.. That acceptance and otherwise love is conditional on performance.  And I also learned that if the person you were trying to please thought you were doing right, then you could earn your acceptance, and still behave the way you liked.

There is more than that though.  A darker side of spanking.  One I have voiced very rarely, and one that is deeply humiliating.  And that is the sexual side of spanking. Even typing this out makes me shake a little bit, and the nerve endings in my bottom twitch uncomfortably. Its something people don’t talk about.  But I am not alone in the way it felt.  Before I had any idea what sex was, or how different parts of our bodies reacted in different ways, I always felt… encroached upon whenever someone even brushed up against my butt. Spanking was a nightmare because of it.  I felt dirty, and deeply humiliated by the act of bending over, and willingly allowing someone else to invade that which was so deeply private to me.  By humiliated, I don’t just mean embraced.. I mean a feeling so strong and dark it would make me physically ill.  I don’t remember any of my siblings struggling so much with staying in the one position while the spanking was administered.  But I literally could.not. stay still without trying to move away.  It took years of training before I could force myself to, and even then my entire body would flinch.  I didn’t realize until after my husband tried to show me sexual attention with my butt just how unsafe I feel. I have a hard time when he shows me intended and healthy sexual attention, because every time he touches me, it throws me down across a bed, and my whole body flinches to get away.  The invasion of the basic boundary of my body was devastating.

My parents did not sexually abuse me.  There was not one spanking that was intended in any ill manner. I know this with 100% certainty.  I also know they have no idea how it felt.  And I have no intention of telling them.  It would cause to much heartache.  If they even believed me.  Processing these feelings has been very hard.  Actually confronting them, instead of shoving them so far under the surface has been deeply painful.  But even now, I know my parents loved me.  They sacrificed, money, convenience, and so much more for us kids.  They did many things right. They taught us the value of hard work and honesty. They taught us that wrong actions often have unpleasant consequences.  And they never once fathomed a simple routine “godly” spanking could cause so much harm.

That thought scares the bejabbers out of me.  Aspen!  My son.. The one I would die for much in the same way my parents loved me.  How is he going to understand and feel the things I do only for his benefit?  Am I going to so deeply invade his personal boundaries, to where the simple thought of it makes him quake and shiver with fear, hopelessness, worthlessness?

Not all children have such a harsh reaction to spanking.  But if you presented everything in this post to my parents, I am sure they would say with certainty it never affected their children this way.

I have so much fear of hurting Aspen unintentionally. But yesterday I realized something.  God is forcing me to deal with the hurt and pain I suffered.  He is working healing in my heart. I have forgiven my parents, and love them dearly.  Really, what God is doing in me now, is a fulfilment of his promise to my parents.  He is being faithful to them to fix the mistakes that they made.  I can only trust that he will do the same for Aspen and Sappling, and any of my other kids.  There is no such thing as a parent that will not cause their children emotional distress. That I am sure of.  I am equally convinced that God has the power to heal the wounds I make in my children, that I have no idea of.  He is faithful!  And that is so encouraging to me.

I don’t think my parents would understand that I am not angry with them if I shared this with them.  I don’t think they would understand that my facing and processing this is a sign of His deep and everlasting love and faithfulness not only to me, but to them.  I have no desire to hurt them, so I probably will never share this with them. There really is no purpose.

I praise God for the changes he is making in me… And tonight, for the first time, I thanked him for healing the wounds I will inflict on my own children.


A few related posts…

A Letter
Why Spank? Well, It Works. Embarrassment is a Powerful Tool
Why Timeouts Are Even Worse Than Spanking
Beyond Spanking, Beyond Training: A Look At Our Littlest Minds
Humiliation – Far Reaching Effects on Children, Adults, Society
Toddler Spanking


The One Who Makes You Think You Must Be Losing It

THE BOOMERANG RELATIONSHIP

Passivity, Irresponsibility and Resulting Partner Anger

Lynne Namka, Ed. D © 1998



One of the hardest patterns of behavior for all of us to deal with is passive aggressive behavior. Passive aggressive behavior happens when the person avoids responsibility and attempts to control others to keep them away through his passivity and withdrawal. It is a dynamic born of fear of being controlled, fear of confrontation, hidden anger and an inability to deal straight with people.

Passive aggressive behavior is complex and takes many forms. We all have passive behavior that comes up when we don’t want to deal with conflict directly or do a task. We all hedge, fudge and remain noncommittal on issues some of the time. That’s normal. It’s only when repeated passivity creates severe issues for others setting up continual tension and anger in the household that it becomes a serious problem that should be addressed. Common examples of this habitual, passive retreat style (read Silent Treatment) of dealing with confrontation and stress include:

  • The person who says one thing but means the opposite.
  • The man who acts passive but aggressively gets his own way by not doing what is wanted.
  • The boss who squelches his anger then strikes out indirectly. (Perhaps by withdrawing.)
  • The woman who says yes when she means no; then gets cold feet and refuses to follow through.
  • The teenager who agrees up front then doesn’t do what he agreed to.
  • The client who schedules an appointment but does not show up.
  • The person who fears self assertion and confrontation, but says no by sidestepping responsibility.
  • Anyone in the family who creatively gets out of doing his or her part of the chores.
  • The Mr. Nice Guy who puts on the sweet face to agree, then does what he darn well pleases.
  • The student who procrastinates with studying and does poorly in school.
  • The parent who refuses to discipline the children and insists on the spouse being the ‘heavy.’
  • The bored housewife who refuses to clean the house or cook for her family.
  • The person who refuses to hear criticism, discuss his problems or read books about the issue.
  • The dad who pushes one child hard but allows the other child to get out of responsibility.
  • The not ready to be committed man wanting someone there for him but feels entitled to his freedom.
  • Any individual who spends his effort into under achieving in school, in relationships and in life!

What all of these people have in common is that the significant people in their life become very, very angry at their resistant behavior. The negative energy in the relationship boomerangs from one partner to the other resulting in an unhappy relationship.

________________

While women can have passive aggressive behavior, this condition is more typically found in men, therefore this article will focus on the typical male version of this dynamic. The typical passive aggressive man has not worked through his anger and power issues with his parents so he replays them in current relationships. His anger comes out in passive way of avoidance.

Psychologist, Scott Wetzler, in Living With the Passive Aggressive Man: Coping with the Personality Syndrome of Hidden Aggression From the Bedroom to the Boardroom, discusses the dynamic that sets up passive behavior. There are many childhood set ups for this way of coping but most often there is a domineering mother and a father who is ineffectual. Or there may be a passive mother who gets out of responsibility by her helplessness. There are power struggles in the marriage with one parent backing off and withdrawing. The boy feels trapped between choosing loyalties at home. He is afraid to compete with his father who is absent either physically or emotionally or perceived as being inadequate. In the typical mother dominant-father passive relationship, the boy learns that the job of being a man in relationship is to escape the woman’s needs and subsequent demands.

The young boy is not allowed to express his feelings and develop a sense of self. He wants his mother’s attention and care yet he resents her continual intrusion. His anger grows but he cannot express it so it becomes submerged and is expressed in an unconscious ‘You can’t tell me what to do.’ He is not allowed to get his way by direct confrontation and competition so he learns to displace his anger through resistance. He learns to use charm, stubbornness, resistance and withdrawal to protect himself in power struggles. He rebels by becoming moody, being an underachiever or developing behavior problems. His self protectiveness and duplicity from the squelched anger and hostility becomes a habit that he plays out with other women he meets. He desperately seeks a woman to meet his needs of being accepted for who he is, but puts her off with small, continual acts of rebellion. He replays the distancing drama of his original family In the relationship.

Agreement, Resistance and Hidden Hostility as Major Characteristics

The man with passive aggressive behavior needs someone to be the object of his hidden hostility. He needs an adversary whose expectations and demands he can resist as he plays out the dance he learned from his parents. He chooses a woman who will agree to be on the receiving end of his disowned anger. He resists her in small ways setting up a pattern of frustration so that she gets to express the anger that he cannot.


Keep Reading…

Becoming as Wise as Your Baby

At babywisemom.com (a site with content I detest),
it was said:

“Despite the flaws of the book, I highly recommend it, especially if you are sleep training. It will give you the courage to continue forward.”
S O U R C E


One might ask, why is courage needed, if it is a positive and beneficial method of working with our littlest humans.  Furthermore, why would pediatricians be warning against this process, along with “On Becoming Babywise”, if it were so effective and beneficial?

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My Little One’s Portrait

To all the parents out there, veteran and new, courage to continue forward in a process that isolates a child and forces the mind to develop self coping mechanisms in a timeline that is premature, and in the only environment that is supposed to be completely safe (home, mama, papa), is not courage,
it is stupid and cruel.

The courage to never abandon, never neglect, never delay,
and never isolate is what your child actually needs from you.

Courage to be conveniently not stuck with dealing with an infant or baby behaving as such is not courage, it is selfishness.

The Pearls’, Ezzo’s, Weissbluth’s, Lessin’s, Lindvall, and countless others think they’ve found themselves a kingdom of heaven in their methods of not having to deal with the inconveniences of childhood.  They propagate their selfishness and pride rampantly, and hide it under the guise of God and Godly Ways. They teach behaviorism, religiosity, arrogance, subjugation, and shame. What good they impart is the only way they continue their “ministries”, because were the legitimate truth and goodness stripped (it is, but done so in a manner that is deceptive and very covert), no one would pay them an ounce of attention. They hook people with their “good”, reel in with their “Godly this and that”, and then sink every single one of their followers through coercion, guilt, and fear (fear of not raising a good child, fear of disappointing the community, fear of falling short of a God that suddenly measures and gives only warranted approval, according to their interpretation and preachings).


If you are trying to follow these methods, yet find yourself at all struggling or questioning, please pause for a moment. Review your instinct, and shut out all the voices. Forget the methods, the science, the motives.. Just stop and listen to what is there to be heard. Look into your little one’s eyes, listen to their breath, search their thoughts, see their body as it communicates so very much… Observe and reflect, and find your compassion. They deserve nothing less than your all, because, they exist.

 

Children are not machines to be operated, drones to be cut out of a mold, or soldiers to be beaten into unquestioning submission. Children are precious, most valuable, worthy of honor and respect. Love them.

Lead them by example and mentorship. Do not damage, do not diminish.

Children, when revered for their very existence respond in turn. They will see your honesty, see your imperfections, see your wisdom and maturity, and feel your love without condition. They will taste your selflessness, your sacrifice, your pride in them.  They will grow strong, capable, stable.  They are born with the opportunity and the right to be whole. Do not break them.


Quoted from below, “It was not like having a baby in the family at all, but rather just like having another child in the family. What a blessing.”

This statement sickens me. Someone, please respond with a legitimate, unselfish explanation of what the trouble with having a baby in the family is exactly.  Isn’t becoming pregnant and giving birth to a baby likely going to result in the family adding a baby to its midst?

“Our first child was a demand fed baby and it was a nightmare. He was more demanding for a long time as a child.”

Oh my little ones… to think you are valued high enough that you are fed when your body triggers your mind to alert your caregiver to feed…

Dear mother,
Dear father,

The next time your stomach indicates hunger, ignore it.  Simply learn to control your hunger pangs will you! How inconvenient. (Unless, of course, they occur on schedule, my schedule that is.)  If by chance you have decided to modify your needs to suit mine, I will feed you what I determine is appropriate.  If you are not satisfied, consider this a chance to build your character – self control after all is a highly valued asset.

I dare you to implement upon yourself, under the control of someone you cannot manipulate, your own  control techniques that you force upon your children.




The paragraph below is from –
Gary Ezzo, Anne Marie Ezzo, Babywise and Growing Kid’s God’s Way

From Dr. Heldzinger: We started implementing the principles in Baby Wise with our 4th baby (unfortunately we did not learn them before.) What a difference it made to our family. Our first child was a demand fed baby and it was a nightmare. He was more demanding for a long time as a child. With the third we implemented parent-controlled feeding out of our own and with the 4th we used the Ezzo method. It was not like having a baby in the family at all, but rather just like having another child in the family. What a blessing.We subsequently implemented the principles in Growing Kids God’s Way and Reflections of Moral Innocence in our family. My 3 teenagers and 1 child are loved by others and are committed Christians. In fact they have their own ministry, sharing the Word of God. I have seen over 150,000 patients as a family physician and have used these principles to counsel parents with great success (by God’s grace). These are common sense principles, not rocket science. I believe our society has lost their common sense. These principles work! These parent-contolled feeding principles improves people’s lifestyles and makes having a baby in the family an enjoyable experience. My wife breastfed our youngest until he was 3 years old, and he never tugged and begged to be breastfed. He always knew we would feed him when the time was right. I have seen a patient with 4 year old out of control twin boys, for example, and counsel all my patients to follow the methods of calm discipline with firm boundaries and set consequences. When the parents implement these principles, they have great success. I highly recommend the Ezzo’s ministry and all their series to people who want to raise morally responsible, enjoyable youth. Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo changed our marriage (from being child-centered to spouse-centered). We likely could have been divorced if we did not learn what we learned.Growing Kids God’s Way changed our lives. Only in Eternity will the results of their ministry truly be known. Thank you so much Pastor Gary and Anne Marie. My wife and I appreciate your ministry so much.

The sorrow I feel is palpable.

Angie

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There is more on this subject worth review – found here

Resorting to Violent Correction in Dangerous Situations

This is absolutely beautifully written.  I shall direct you to her blog for many more tender morsels that hopefully will encourage you on your journey.

S O U R C E

The Danger Dilemma

One grey area in the Gentle Parenting debate seems to be what to do about dangerous situations. Many spankers argue that they only find spanking necessary when their children attempt something dangerous, and they feel no compunction against using physical punishment in those cases. I feel qualified to dissect and hopefully expose this argument, because I was one of those parents. I thought it better to smack my child’s hand then to let him experience a cut or burn.

One of the moments when a child MUST know absolutely that his parents love him- no matter what- is the moment he has found himself in danger. Children need a refuge- a safe place to run.  Think Prodigal Son. So what happens when, after obeying Mom’s order to come back off the street or to drop the sharp knife, a child is punished? Don’t they need something ‘for shock value’ just to communicate how terrible that thing was they almost experienced? Shouldn’t a parent ‘do something’ to inform the child of her fear for him? Pain is a deterrent, right? If my child learns to associate pain with a certain thing- say the oven for example, or the word ‘hot’- isn’t that a good thing?

Life threatening situations are the one thing that parents think gives them the right to at least punish, and usually spank or confine or both, a child.  It is our fear speaking in that moment…a fear that often turns to anger at being afraid. We direct that anger towards the child who, ‘should have known better’. When a child who has never attempted anything dangerous attempts something dangerous (and he/she will) punishment still doesn’t work. Either the consequences of the act will be enough, or they won’t be- and then a parent’s job becomes to modify the environment or provide supervision until the fascination with the forbidden thing ends.

Maximus learned very early what HOT meant. I’d pour coffee while he was balanced on my hip and he’d reach for it. Over and over every day he’d hear, ‘Hot! No touch! Hurt baby!’ He stopped reaching for my coffee. A year later we started cooking together. He complied with my instructions regarding the stove and oven. I NEVER expected him at the ripe old age of 3.5 to lay his hand on the burner. Angels must have been working overtime that night, because he barely got burned. A while later, he snuck cheese off of a pizza right out of the oven and burned his fingertips, mouth and his forearm where he laid it against the rim of the pizza pan. That burn has healed- but a red scar remains… Now when I’m cooking and he gets too close, I remind him, ‘remember what happened to your arm?’ and he steps away. I watch him as closely now as the 2 year old.

My warnings were not enough. No matter that I had taught him that ‘Stove’ was ‘hot’ and ‘hot’ meant ‘hurt’ he STILL didn’t understand that a burn equals pain. That is something he would never have understood without the experience. Of course I wish he could have learned that lesson without the pain, but I think we all know life really doesn’t work that way. So many people would suggest I smack his fingers so he ‘learns’ that if he touches the stove he’ll be hurt. But children do not learn well by conditioned response. This is one area where Dr. Dobson’s reasoning and my experience conflict wildly. When you repeated smack a child’s fingers for touching things, two things happen. The first lesson that the child learns is that it’s bad to touch things, period. That leads to problems later when you wish your child would be interested in trying new things, but you have inadvertently taught her to avoid anything interesting. The second is that the child becomes desensitized to pain in this regard. If you’re a spanker, you’ve probably seen this phenomenon. The shock of the smacking wears off.

Another thing- in regard to ‘shock value’; Not every child perceives a spanking in the same way. I have realized that Maximus may not feel pain very sharply. Spankings never seemed to have any shock value to them, ever. When I think of the things I tried to get his attention…..I feel sick. That time he burned his forearm? He never told me! He nevercomplained about it…until the blister popped when he scraped it on something. I never knew it was that bad! It took a month or more in healing and the spot is still visible.

In regard to running away- into the street, etc. – Maximus responded quite predictably when I spanked him for running away. He started to run away whenever he thought I was angry with him. When he saw me coming, he ran farther away. 🙁  The first time I got to him and did not spank him…he didn’t know what to think. After a bit, I could call to him, ‘Maximus stop and wait for me.’ and he would- because he knew I wouldn’t hurt him. A while after that, I could call to him to come back and he would meet me halfway, take my hand and walk calmly back to the house with me, often telling me he was glad I was there.

My point is that when I stopped trying to enforce the wrongness and danger of what he was doing, I started to get the results I was aiming at- Safety!  He started to pay attention to me, and take my instructions seriously when I. Calmed. Down.  That was (not so) coincidentally the same time I actually started enforcing the boundaries for him that I had previously set. I began going out and getting him immediately as soon as he left the house without me (instead of yelling several times). I put a second lock on the screen door that he could not open. I started going outside with him more often- I realized he needed the sunshine and the free space to roam. We took more walks. (I got off my lazy duff) Every time he tried to get out without me, I re-stated the boundary- ‘You may not go outside without Mommy or Daddy.’

Gradually, he began to stop trying to get out by himself. He started asking to go out more often. One day he asked to go outside when I was cooking and Minimus was napping. I told him I couldn’t go out, but that if he could stay on the porch, he could go out without me. He did! We worked our way up from there, each small success granting him more freedom as my trust in him grew. He had to stay where I could see him from the porch, and he HAD to answer me when I called his name- or he had to come right back in. The amazing thing is that when I needed to go out and bring him in because he had violated those boundaries, he would often come in without a contest! Sometimes I just had to ask, other times I had to go get him, but he didn’t run from me anymore. I had earned HIS trust back once again.

The surest way to help a child deal with danger is to first keep them safe; second, allow room in the boundaries for small developments in safety skills; and third, set a clear boundary and enforce it.

 
greenegem

One Kid Spared.

In March of this year (2010), I began this blog.  I honestly expected a very limited audience and wrote primarily out of my own need to purge.  However, within the first week, 400 people had viewed the site.  A month later, Google was indexing the blog and that 400 a week sprang up to 400 a day.

9 months later, we have surpassed 5000 readers a week – on average there are 300 unique views of at least one entry per day.  Most of these viewers don’t stop at just one entry either.

What does this mean?  Perhaps it means that there is a chance that a few children are going to sleep tonight with a little less fear in the hearts, and fewer bruises on their body and soul.  Maybe it means a few less children will grow up damaged.  For these children, perhaps love and respect, honor and safety will prevail, and what could be worth more?

To date, I have received confirmation of 7 families who no longer choose to harm their children in the name of discipline and order.  To me, this is amazing and is all the incentive I need to keep writing. Confirmed means they communicate with me either via comments or direct email and our conversations include their choice to stop punishing and harming their children, in favor of raising them with love, respect, and admiration. They are actively choosing to stop damaging their kids, stop heaping guilt upon themselves due to the constant struggle and failure following the Pearls (etc..) brings, and stop hurting the little ones that hold our future, in the name of anything (order, good parenting, God).  These families are relearning how to be parents, how to be children, how to be a family that loves openly and encourages life and childhood to thrive genuinely and freely.

You keep me going.

The hope that even one child might no longer suffer under the damage and abuse is THE reason I write.  That which I experience personally when I actually learn that my hope has taken the shape of reality for one of these kids is beyond words.

Parenting, Aware. Childhood, Worth Remembering.

This is beautiful.  And alas, I surrender.  I permit you to label me.  Happily.  🙂

The 3 aspects of Aware Parenting

(French versionSpanish version)

Aware Parenting Consists of:

heartAttachment-style parenting
blue dotNatural childbirth and early bonding
blue dotPlenty of physical contact
blue dotProlonged breast-feeding
blue dotPrompt responsiveness to crying
blue dotSensitive attunement
heartNon-punitive discipline
blue dotNo punishments of any kind (including spanking, “time-out”, and artificial “consequences”)
blue dotNo rewards or bribes (based upon behavioral performance)  – Italicized content added by Angie for clarification
blue dotA search for underlying needs and feelings
blue dotAnger management for parents
blue dotPeaceful conflict-resolution (family meetings, mediation, etc.)
heartHealing from stress and trauma
blue dotRecognition of stress and trauma (including unmet needs) as primary causes of behavioral and emotional problems
blue dotEmphasis on prevention of stress and trauma
blue dotRecognition of the healing effects of play, laughter, and crying in the context of a loving parent/child relationship
blue dotRespectful, empathic listening and acceptance of children’s emotions

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The 10 principles of Aware Parenting

(French versionGerman versionSpanish version)

1. Aware parents fill their children’s needs for physical contact (holding, cuddling, etc.). They do not worry about “spoiling” their children.

2. Aware parents accept the entire range of emotions and listen non-judgmentally to children’s expressions of feelings. They realize that they cannot prevent all sadness, anger, or frustration, and they do not attempt to stop children from releasing painful feelings through crying or raging.

3. Aware parents offer age-appropriate stimulation, and trust children to learn at their own rate and in their own way. They do not try to hurry children on to new stages of development.

4. Aware parents offer encouragement for learning new skills, but do not judge children’s performance with either criticism or evaluative praise.

5. Aware parents spend time each day giving full attention to their children. During this special, quality time, they observe, listen, respond, and join in their children’s play (if invited to do so), but they do not direct the children’s activities.

6. Aware parents protect children from danger, but they do not attempt to prevent all of their children’s mistakes, problems, or conflicts.

7. Aware parents encourage children to be autonomous problem-solvers and help only when needed. They do not solve their children’s problems for them.

8. Aware parents set reasonable boundaries and limits, gently guide children towards acceptable behavior, and consider everyone’s needs when solving conflicts. They do not control children with bribes, rewards, threats, or punishments of any kind.

9. Aware parents take care of themselves and are honest about their own needs and feelings. They do not sacrifice themselves to the point of becoming resentful.

10. Aware parents strive to be aware of the ways in which their own childhood pain interferes with their ability to be good parents, and they make conscious efforts to avoid passing on their own hurts to their children.

Aware Parenting is based on the work of Dr. Aletha Solter. For more information, please see Dr. Aletha Solter’s books, The Aware BabyHelping Young Children Flourish, Tears and Tantrums, and Raising Drug-Free Kids

Copyright © 1994 by Aletha Solter

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Here, Let Me Do That… Let Me Help

I came across this blurb (end of post) a few months back.  I don’t recall what led me to it specifically.  Sometimes I’ll find something so profound that I’ll compose a draft with its contents knowing I will want to write about it later.  Tonight, I started to go through my “drafts” for the purpose of writing out of discipline.  This stuck out… But before I address said contents, I want to digress.  🙂 ________________________________________________________ The other day, I had a simple and brief conversation with my husband that I think is one of the more “successful” instances where we actually communicated effectively, bi-directionally.  Further, I think the conclusion of the conversation was mutual and effective; the far reaching benefits of a very simple concept are already starting to be evident.

Let me give you a brief bit of background information so you can follow the dialogue I will use to share the experience with you.  My daughter, who will be three in the very near future, has taken to a specific doll.  When we began our nomadic journeys, 4 months ago, she suddenly became very attached to this doll (she calls her “Baby”) and we fostered her interest.

Every day, my daughter’s waking thought is to care for her Baby; she won’t get out of bed without first tending to her.  Sometimes my daughter will personify her own needs through those of her baby (“Mama, my baby is hungry for breakfast”), and often she will simply communicate her Baby’s needs, independent of her own.  She keeps track of her Baby as we do her.

The doll is never left at home alone, she won’t leave her in the car alone, she takes her everywhere she goes.  We have never tested her loyalty by, for instance, leaving the doll in the car overnight (having taken my sleeping daughter in from the carseat).  We have too much respect and value for our child to test her dedication to this doll, or to attempt to make her prove how that dedication represents her internal values.  We don’t want to know her anguish at waking in the middle of the night to find her Baby not lying next to her, but instead discover that baby had been left alone, in the cold and dark, abandoned.  This is the extent of value her Baby has: We have two children now, one just happens to be stuffed with cotton and the other is stuffed with bones, nerves, arteries, and muscles.  This is also the extent of admiration and awareness we have of our what our daughter holds as valuable… and what we hold as valuable.

I assume you get the picture.

We have taken to commenting on our daughter’s attentiveness by statements such as, “Your Baby is such a lucky baby to have you”, and “It’s so awesome to see you take such great care of your Baby…. You always know just what she needs”.

We have even, on occasion, indicated to our kiddo that her baby seems to need her, taking our cue from our daughter saying things like, “My baby is scared of _________, she needs me to hold/fix/take care of her.”  As well as the baby being hungry, thirsty, hot/cold, tired… etc.

I often remark that my daughter is a wonderful mama for her baby.  And sometimes we say that she’s “such a good Baby Mama”.  She understands and acknowledges our praise and recognition, usually with some sort of intelligent response that demonstrates and affirms our comments.  However, the other day I noticed a different response…

Instead of affirming our comments, she rather sulked. It was barely perceivable, but I happened to catch a glimpse of a momentary facial expression, followed by just a tiny flash of body language that was inconsistent with pride, confidence, and self-esteem.  In its place, I saw what almost appeared to be invalidation and a touch of diminished self-value set itself in her countenance and little form.  Her shoulders dropped a bit, her head angle changed, she looked somewhat conflicted internally (like she wanted to say something but didn’t know what/how), and she just sort of – missed a beat.  This is the kid that never misses even 1/16 of a beat, but at that moment, she skipped out for almost an entire phrase.

So, I brought it to her Papa’s attention and told him what I observed.  I identified some of it immediately, and some of the concept developed subsequently, but we concluded that she was indeed affected “not positively” by what had been said.  And through conversation (in code, I might add), we realized that, from the best we can tell, our quantifying and qualifying of her actions, assigning an ambiguously positive adjective to them (based upon us assuming we have the power to assign such value), was what sat wrong with her that day.

She knows how attentive she is.  We don’t need to tell her. She is well aware of herself, and is not seeking empty praise. She is seeking recognition and acknowledgement; confirmation of her success and a shared sense of value and commonality. She also knows that we see her value of/for her baby and we approve.  We approve directly as well as inwardly. We both appreciate her actions because they seem an indicator of how she perceives our care of her.

Our assignment of a quality/value (such as “good”) that was not her own self assessment, triggered something inside of her that was not “good”.  She didn’t beam with pride and confidence, which is our goal.  She sunk and struggled with an internal “offset” instead. She did not benefit from us telling her something is “good”, “great”, “bad”, or any other ambiguous adjective of qualified value, assigned by us, as if we hold the power to bestow such an assignment.  She benefits from our approval and awareness of her efforts, the reasons for those efforts, and the values that she holds for and of herself. These are the comments that build her up, give her wings, and cause her to soar.   – And no, we’re not inflating her pride, we’re giving her the building blocks to construct her self-esteem and foundation.

All that said, I believe there is a connection with the concept identified above, and that of the one discussed below, that I initially mentioned at the beginning of this post.  The exchange above is positive, below is not so positive, but the unifying understanding is significantly similar.  I hope you’ll catch it. Above, I talked about the value of acknowledgement; of not assigning one’s personal value system to another, but instead giving the other person the respect and due recognition of their efforts and values, and acknowledging their own assigned levels of quality.  Approval and acknowledgement are not synonymous, but sometimes are very intricately linked, as in the above example. In what follows, you will see something that initially may look positive, but I submit that it is indeed actually demeaning, diminishing, and causes far reaching damage.  This sort of interplay can be overt and with malice, which usually results in a diminished recipient (who may then be invalidated further by the denial of the existence of such invalidation). However, such behavior can just as easily be inconspicuous and with an apparent intent to be constructive and beneficial, and is then often very confusing to the recipient and others within observational range.  In reality, taking into consideration the very real likelihood that the individual controlling the dynamics of the exchange suffers from his/her own insecurities and a need to raise themselves above others, at the cost of the others’ autonomy and self-value, it is an entirely unsuccessful approach at anything in the realm of positive and beneficial.

Loosely quoted:  Source is here

For example, a father conveys the subtle message of “I don’t think you’re capable” by taking on a (the child’s) task to do it right.

“Here, let me help you cut that out”, as he takes over the child’s school project.

When the child states, “I can do it myself”, the father keeps working on the project.

“I know you can. I’m just helping. Now doesn’t that look better?”

If the child should protest angrily, “You don’t think I can do it right!” the father might respond, Of course I do”, “I was just helping”, or “you are so ungrateful!”   Do you see the three levels of damage here?

In this situation, the father has escalated the situation to cause the child to become angry and then to criticize the child for being angry. (This is called a setup, in case you aren’t seeing what the problem is yet.  The father instigates the conflict and the child’s loss of self-value by devaluing and having no courage to trust in his child’s own abilities, and telling him as much.  Then the father sets the child in a position of defense or subjugation (child can pick), which he then berates the child for acting out his need to defend. And then the father adds insult to injury by telling the child he is further lacking in value and lacking in a common socially expected behavior patter.  The father hopes the child will surrender to the barrage, thereby giving the father his sadly desired “victory”.  Might as well add an “I told you so, stupid”.  The kid is low enough at this point that he would agree.)

This teaches the child that his emotions are unacceptable, as well as that her father doesn’t believe he/she is capable.

Let that last sentence sit for a moment.  Read it again.  Can you identify the ramifications of those two concepts in their entirety?  Grab a pencil and start making a list.  Seriously.  It’s multi-layered and extends far greater than what appears obvious at the surface.

Over time the child learns to not trust her own perceptions of reality.  That’s not all she learns… but let’s just think on what bad sort of stuff might result in her experiencing doubt on this level, when so vulnerable.

Another example of this sort of devaluing is a parent telling their children that they should respect or love them because they are their parents – nothing more.  Not a mutual respect, a respect learned by example, or even a natural respect allowed to grow and develop due to a distinct absence of hindrances.

“Love and respect is something that occurs due to the underlying relationship not because of a demand.”   And to that, I add, love and respect are due to many things far greater and in more depth than just an underlying relationship, but that’s a good place to start the understanding and exploration.

Love and respect are intrinsically interconnected with recognition, acknowledgement, and value.  Look up validation.