Listen to My Heart

Yesterday I talked about the concept of how our society uses the term “Listen” with our kids.  In our home, we use ‘listen’ differently than what I have observed in the majority of families with whom I’ve come into contact.  In our home, when one of us says ‘listen’, what is actually being said is, “Please stop a moment, I want to share my heart, the thoughts that are really big in my mind right now.  Please, look at me, hear me with your ears, and hear me with your heart.  I want to connect.  I want your acknowledgement.  I am needing your validation of my feelings and thoughts at this moment/on this topic.  And once I finish sharing my thoughts, I want to receive your response and share a conversation about this…”.

So, you won’t hear us say “Listen to me” unless it’s important and we expect to have an in depth conversation (kid to adult, kid to kid, adult to adult). Further, the “listen to me” aspect will be with a “please” because it is a request.  Always.

In limited instances however, you will hear one of us say, “Please do/don’t  _____________; I expect you to comply/expect your compliance.”  Then, immediately following (or as soon as possible), we will provide a concise explanation for the expectation if it is beneficial or requested.

When a communication is delivered in our home without the “expectation of compliance” as a part of the entire message, everyone knows that a request is being communicated.  Everyone also knows they have the right to deny any request, or grant any request.  This is universal; there is no double standard where the parent can deny a request but the child can’t, for instance.

Do we always interact with this concept being the underlying and motivating factor?  Are we explicitly consistent?  No.  We (big people and little people) screw it up sometimes.  Humans ability to use manipulation is uncanny… And we are not perfect, nor do we intend to be.  However, each person (and dog) in our home knows deep within them the value we hold for one another, as well as the value of consistency and forthrightness.  We each know that it does not feel good to be on the receiving end of manipulation, and it is our responsibility to make the conscious choice to not allow ourselves to be in the position of delivering an attempt at manipulation.

Sometimes we fail.  When that happens, acknowledgement is what makes the difference.. That acknowledgement begins as an internal acceptance of something that requires adjustment, followed by that same awareness being communicated outwardly to all involved.

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When compliance is expected, the communication is never delivered as a request, it is always delivered as a command, and phrased in the format the child is accustomed to.

The command is always communicated with the expectation of compliance as a part of the entire communicationThe “comply” aspect is not one that is resorted to (or tacked on) in the event the child doesn’t give the adult what is expected/wanted.  This is crucial.

Our communication doesn’t look like this –
Kid, I want you to do/not do something.
Kid hesitates.. doesn’t choose to do as the communication indicates.
Ok Kid, since you didn’t decide to give me what I want, I’m going to now say, “comply”.

This sort of approach is unfair and does not uphold the child.  Why?  Because the adult is retaining an upper hand that they perceive they have due to their size/age/status/etc. By phrasing as a request what is actually a command for which compliance is expected, they are being manipulative.

When the child, who interprets the communication as a request (because it wasn’t clearly delivered as a requirement initially), and chooses to deny it (for whatever their reason), is then forced to accept that the autonomy (self-governing) and right to choose he believed was his was actually never there, he can experience everything from confusion, to betrayal, to a much decreased sense of self. When the adult uses manipulation and then resorts to dominance to force compliance, they are stripping their child of his autonomy.  It’s insulting and demeaning, and undermines the child’s internal reasoning and sense of self.

That said, there are instances when the adult cannot fully articulate the entire phrase, including something along the lines of “compliance is expected”.  These sort of instances might be when walking in the city and or parking lot and the child is suddenly in some sort of danger.  In times like this, the adult often cannot sputter out much more than a “STOP” (or other imperative) in time to prevent harm, and the child’s safety depends on his compliance. I’ll discuss this situation in a separate post. ~>

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In the mean time, what scenarios can you recall when you and your child successfully interacted on an almost innate/intuitive level – where they sensed your dire need for their compliance, and they granted it (whether threat of physical or emotional harm – which is equally valuable). Please share your experiences.

Spanking is Not God’s Will

This means not allowing your child to go down the wrong road that could lead to a premature death.  This has absolutely nothing to do with actual crying as Dobson and many other Christian advocates of spanking believe!  Children need limits.  We wouldn’t let a toddler run out in the street to be run over by a car.  But instead of spanking the toddler, we should firmly tell the toddler that the street is dangerous, and then show the toddler the safe way to cross the street holding onto Mommy or Daddy hands.  Does hitting a toddler really teach him or her why the street is dangerous and how to be safe?  No!  It teaches them that danger makes Mommy and Daddy hurt me.   That Jesus wants me to be hurt when I’m in danger.  Remember, young children cannot make abstract connections like adults can.

 

Please take a moment to read the rest of the article found here, as well as the three that precede it in the series.

Refusing to Diminish: Holding High Our Children’s Value

From the naturalchild.org website
Emotions are Not Bad Behavior by Robin Grille
Excerpted from Heart to Heart Parenting



A Child’s Right to Receive Attention

One of the most commonly heard parental laments is about how children try to get attention. So many behaviors that adults don’t like are brushed off as “merely” attention-seeking devices. “Don’t worry about him,” we say, “he is just doing it to get attention.”

When children use oblique ways to get attention, such as causing a ruckus, exaggerating or feigning their hurts, picking on other children, showing off, being coquettish – they risk being ignored or put down, as nearby adults roll their eyes in exasperation. Sometimes, this also happens to children even when they directly and openly call for the attention they crave. Instead of scorning the child, why don’t we ask these questions: When a child is being manipulative, instead of direct, how did he learn to do this? How did he come to feel that he shouldn’t openly ask for a hug, an answer to his question, sympathy or just to be noticed or played with?

All children begin their lives with complete frankness about their needs. Babies and toddlers reveal their longings with no compunction: what you see is what you get. If a child reaches out for attention and for warmth and she gets it, her ability to be open and directly assertive is reinforced. By begrudging our children’s healthy attention-seeking behaviors, we unwittingly train them to be indirect. We leave them little room for much else, so they go for the attention they need and deserve through the back door.

We unwittingly train our children to be indirect.

Our society tends to consider children’s needs for attention as a bother. No wonder children become indirect attention seekers, some even going to great lengths to fall ill or get injured in order to be noticed. Children who have too often been denied attention can become insatiable, as if no amount of limelight ever fills their cup. Attention is life-giving, a basic need and a human right. Children deserve all the attention they want.When you wholeheartedly give a child the attention she asks for from the beginning, she soon has her fill. This is precisely what helps her to become more autonomous. As she grows, she asks for less of your attention (research shows that well-attached babies grow into children who are more independent), and when she does want attention, she asks directly, boldly and clearly.

 


Punished for Feeling

Time and time again children are heavily reprimanded for committing the offence of crying or being angry. Let’s get this straight: emotions are not bad behavior. Emotions don’t hurt anyone. Suppressing children’s emotions does, on the other hand, cause them harm: over time, if done repeatedly, it unbalances their brain chemistry, it stresses their immune and digestive systems, and it undermines their ability to relate to others.

Emotional censorship starts early. One of the most common things we say to a crying baby is “Shhh!” We say it soothingly, but why exactly do we shush them? Think of all the lullabies that start by telling our little babies to “hush”, and “don’t you cry”. Have you ever paused to wonder why, in trying to comfort our babies, we ask them to be quiet? It seems as if the first thing we want is for the crying to stop – instead of connecting with our baby until the reason for crying has gone.

Attention is a basic need and a human right.

Instead of berating your child for feeling her feelings, give her the space to feel, and comfort and support her if she needs it. Sometimes when our children cry, sob or yell in anger we feel overwhelmed, irritated or burdened. Our children don’t deserve the blame for this. When our child’s emotions press our buttons, we need to own the problem. We need to somehow honor our own need for support or rest without making our children responsible.

 


What Does Listening Mean?

The listening I am talking about here is not just about receiving and storing information, not just about remembering what your child said. I am talking about listening with your heart, not just with your ears. Real listening is all about feelings. All you need to be a good listener is a genuine interest in your child’s emotional world. When you truly want to hear, no special skill is needed. Your child senses your interest in the tone of your voice, in your body language and the look in your eyes. You know you have listened when you feel moved. You might feel compassion, protectiveness, you might feel some pain about your child’s hurts, pride or excitement about his achievements, or joy to meet his joy. Listening means letting yourself feel touched somehow, and being aware of the feelings that move through you.

Real listening is all about feelings.

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What Listening is Not

Sometimes listening comes easy. You find yourself intently listening in stillness, without even having decided to, and there is a wonderful and natural flow between you and your child. But sometimes listening can be hard. Our children’s emotions spark off our own, and in discomfort we turn away, or we try to talk them out of their feelings. Whether it’s because we cannot bear to see our children in pain or because they are freely feeling something that we were never allowed to express – anger, joy, sadness, fear, passion – we block them out, we nip the connection in the bud.

Anyone can be a profoundly good listener.

I remember the embarrassment many of us felt as students of counseling psychology as we awkwardly practiced our listening skills together in the classroom, how often we appeared to be listening, while inside we were miles away, disengaged from the person speaking to us. It was often funny, and always quite confronting, to ask ourselves and each other: Are you listening right now, or just nodding your head a lot while you wait for your turn to speak? Are you actually listening, or sitting in judgment? Are you really listening, or just taking mental notes and storing facts? Are you listening, or just thinking about how you can change me?

How often we tell ourselves we are listening intently when in fact our minds are wandering elsewhere. It is unlikely that consistently good listeners exist. For most of us, good listening is a skill that comes and goes with our fluctuating moods. All counselors, psychologists and anyone in the helping professions are imperfect (and sometimes lousy) listeners, and we should be honing our listening capacity for the rest of our lives. It is humbling to note that anyone can be a profoundly good listener without any training whatsoever, since all it takes is an open heart and an interest in the other person.


Blocking Empathy

It’s a fact of human relationships that our capacity for listening is elusive; we lose it, we regain it, we lose it again. Sometimes it is hard to see whether we are listening so that our children really feel heard. We kid ourselves. We think we are listening when really we are avoiding contact – and then we are bewildered by and surprised at our child’s frustration. It can be very useful to get a clear picture of what is listening and what is not. When our own fears, our shame, our jealousies or our emotional exhaustion get in the way, we tend to play some pretty clever games to deflect our children’s communications so that their feelings won’t touch us. One of the biggest reasons we avoid listening is because our children’s disappointments make us feel guilty. Our evasive tactics are called “empathy blockers”. Empathy blockers save us the trouble of listening, but they cost us our connection with each other.<

Our children’s disappointments make us feel guilty.

Sometimes we use empathy blockers inadvertently because we are anxiously trying to save our children from emotional pain. Ironically, the greatest salve for our children comes from being heard, not from us trying to change how they feel. For all of these reasons, we all use empathy blockers from time to time, quite automatically and unconsciously. You could say we are all quite skilled at blocking. Here are some of the most common examples used when children become emotional:

EMPATHY BLOCKER EXAMPLES

Downplaying Oh, don’t cry. I’m sure it’s not that bad! It’s not the end of the world.

Denial There is nothing wrong; nothing for you to be upset about. Everything is OK.

Reasoning Don’t cry. Can’t you see that the other child didn’t mean to hurt you?

The positive spin Look on the bright side. Can’t you see, this probably happened for a good reason?

Cheering up Don’t worry. Here, let me tell you something funny I heard the other day. Here, have an ice cream. That’ll cheer you up.

Advising/giving options Why don’t you try doing this, or that? I think you should just ignore that so-and-so.

The expectation You should have known better. Get over it. Don’t let it get to you.

Put down Don’t be silly. Don’t be ridiculous.

Diagnosing/labeling You are being over-sensitive.

Distracting/diverting Hey, have a look at the pretty puppet.

Stealing the thunder Now you know how I felt when the same thing happened to me.

As you can see, on the surface most empathy blockers are not malicious, they are not ostensibly attempts to shame the child, and sometimes they can even be well intentioned, but they do not help the child to feel heard and connected to you. It might seem surprising, even bewildering, to hear that when you try to cheer up a child who is upset, this can often backfire – she might even feel more distressed, even angry. This is because she feels that her feelings are not accepted when what she actually needs is support for feeling the way she does. If this is hard to understand, then think of the last time you felt deeply upset, offended or anxious and someone told you to lighten up. How did that make you feel?

Empathy blockers leave anyone on the receiving end feeling shut out and frustrated, and as if there must be something wrong with them for feeling the way they do. Our children just want to be heard. Take a few moments to check this out for yourself. Have you ever heard yourself use one, a few or perhaps even all of the above empathy blockers with your child? How did your child respond? Can you imagine what you could have done instead? Now, in case you’re tempted to become self-critical, remember: we all put up barriers to listening from time to time. Those of us who teach others about empathy blockers know them too well because we’ve used them so much ourselves.

By the way, not all of the responses in the table above are always inappropriate. There sometimes is a place for advice or a helpful opinion, but unless we take the time to hear our children’s feelings first, advice comes too soon and it alienates our child from us. Before jumping in with advice, we need to ask our children if they want it. The most important thing for us to get is that primarily, our children just want to be heard. First and foremost they want evidence that they are not alone, that someone sees how they feel and cares about them. This makes more of a difference than all the advice in the world.

Empathy blockers really muddy the connection between parents and children; they create detachment and distance, and they frustrate children’s attempts to reach out. The more we use empathy blockers, the less our children are inclined to come to us with their feelings, the less they want to tell us about their lives and the less they want to listen to us. When we are concerned that our children don’t listen to us, perhaps we need to take an honest look at how well we have listened to them.

Listening is at the heart of connection.

It is sad when blocked empathy diminishes our sense of closeness with each other, and particularly worrisome when our children feel lost or in some kind of trouble but don’t turn to us for help. Our children’s trust in us is a function of how safe they feel to open up to us without feeling manipulated, expected of, judged, put down or criticized. Listening is at the heart of connection, and if we can’t listen well, we cease to be an influence in our children’s lives.

Excerpted from Heart to Heart Parenting with permission of the author. It is available in Australia through ABC Bookstores. The USA edition will be available in May 2011 and can be pre-ordered now at Amazon.Robin Grille is a Sydney-based psychologist and author of Parenting for a Peaceful World. He has a private practice in individual psychotherapy and relationship counseling, and can be contacted by email at robingrille (at) gmail (dot) com . More Articles by Robin Grille

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.

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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…

Conveniently Artificial

From my FACEBOOK comment…. Continued here – and rather oddly placed in this blog, but the concept here is much farther reaching than its content alone.

Try this on – A society that in general, and as a whole, for as many years as is well documented, views women as inferior.  Why? My guess is it all stems from the survival of the fittest instinct that runs rampant, especially in males, and women are in a position where they need the physical efforts of men, especially while pregnant.   Could a society void of men survive?  From purely a physical survival standpoint, minus reproduction, yes.  Would it be more work for all women? Yes.  My guess is after a few generations, the women would adapt and their bodies would be bigger, to support the physical demands of the absent male bodies.

Wet nurses were a necessity in the event that the mother died, was too ill to produce milk, or… absent.

 

Now the rest of it…

I heard an argument once that a woman was disgusted by the thought of having another woman’s breast feeding her baby.  Science defeats this theory, given the woman tends to hygiene.  She could eat terribly, but hydrate properly, and her body would still come up with something capable of nourishing and sustaining, maybe even benefiting the infant.  You know what? In the south, women discovered something, their slaves made wonderful nannies. So wonderful that many women would force the slave to stop tending to their own babies so that they could nurse the master’s infants.  Boy, it was good that formula had already been invented because in the rare event that a slave was solo and didn’t have another slave to nurse her baby, while she was off nursing the master’s baby, the slave’s baby would die.  Perhaps preferable to many slaves, but as the slave’s status followed the mother, not favorable to the slaveholder.

“Make babies!”  The slaves were ordered to.

“But nourish my baby!”

Why?

The slaveholder was busy being a society woman, with her many slaves to show off among other things… but tell me, with the horrible opinion and assumed inferiority of slaves, why did these female slave masters assume the milk that came out of those brown breasts was safe for their baby’s little white mouths?  I suspect it was the same thing we know today, and instinct is what it is – breast milk is just that, and the baby needs it.  If it comes out of a breast, it is liquid gold, and it is what new life needs.

So, that takes us into the previous century, when a new reason became apparent for substitute human milk.  As Kate stated above – women joined the war effort.  As equals?  No.  Not only were they not given the same recognition and compensation as the males who were exerting just as much effort as the females, but the females had an extra burden to carry, that of motherhood.  While the men were off chasing their anger and proving their self righteousness, the women were obligated to support that game, tried to insist on equal recognition when it wasn’t automatically given, and managed to keep having and caring for the offspring that was continually created due to human nature running its course.

Were wet nurses in existence during the world wars of the early 20th century?  Yes, especially where there were enough women not stuck in a factory to provide for such a luxury. But, with the advent of society and/or, in stark contrast, families that settled themselves on land in the west that was annexed for their use, wetnurses became much less common.  Though some of those “settling” families saw fit to “employ” indigenous women to supply this crucial aspect of early life… much like the women in the south who turned to their slave’s breasts.

Enter mid-century, the silently tumultuous and oppressed 50’s, where, after centuries, women suddenly found their voices. Unfortunately for them, in the face of no equal respect for their contribution to humanity, yet in their need to demand appropriate recognition and compensation for their efforts and contributions, they went about forcing the issue the only way they could see how.  They decided that to prove they were not inferior to a man, they had to behave like men – like the very 1/2 of society that had managed to collectively raise itself into a stupor of superiority – at least those that came from the European influence (other regions as well).

Well, if a woman has to behave like a man to be considered as superior as man, there are a few things that happen (and that don’t).  First, she has to be capable of doing and managing the exact same situations that a man is capable of.  Funny how the men throughout history, have never had to prove the same the opposite direction – though I see some indication that may happen in the near future.

Second, while women conducted themselves during the day in the same environment that the men were in, those environments were not conducive for their children. Women couldn’t assemble or type very well while holding a baby at the breast, or chasing a toddler.  Men couldn’t assemble, type, or have adult conversations while chasing toddlers either.  Women seem to have the conversation ability a bit better figured out… while chasing 10 toddlers. Sort of.

See, when we forget how valuable each of our unique contributions are, we have to compensate to survive.  Instead of working together, which some societies still actually manage to succeed at (though few and rare), we tear each other apart.  And in so doing, the most helpless of our society suffer the most.

My life is a bit of a paradox in that I spent  my 20’s functioning in a career where I did manage and accomplish the exact same tasks and situations that my male co-workers did.  And when I discovered I was being paid less than my lateral male associates, I caused the situation to be remedied.

I have always taken a stand for “equality”, but not until the recent years have my eyes been open.  I no longer see women needing to demand equal consideration and recognition with most men, but they are now waging this battle among themselves.  I also now see men being diminished systematically by the very women (and their daughters) that took the only route they could come up with to make a difference in how they were treated. Albeit a sad route.

We are such an intelligent creature, are we not.

Now, in my 30’s, as a mother who has to routinely stand up for myself because somehow the work I do raising my daughter is viewed as something less than a career worth recognizing (let alone, the most crucial in the continuance of the species), I am starting to see a bigger picture.  Originally, it was men vs women, but now, more and more, I experience women vs women.  And in the process, we have shrunken the men to the point where many of them won’t even lift a finger to help us because they know we’ll criticize and belittle them for doing so.  This is not what was supposed to happen.

The fact is, that in order for a woman to work somewhere that doesn’t include her nursing child be with her continually, the child must take second chair.  Whether this means with formula, bottles of breast milk that the mother regularly manages to pump, a wetnurse, daycare, or some other solution, a substitute for mom must be acquired, on all fronts, while mom is away being comparable to the men and other women.

I develop websites.  I teach English to foreigners. I taught teens to drive for 6 years.  I teach music – multiple instruments.  I am a musician and artist.  I am a teacher – and now I independently educate my daughter.  I have been a nanny.  I have been a manager of others.  I have been a technician and responsible for lots of important (to those I worked with) stuff.  I write.  I speak publicly.  Someday I may run for office.  I am crunchy, advocate for animals, and try to protect our natural environment.

I am a wife, a soul mate that is a partner 100% and then some.  I am a mother, who believed in the strength of her body, the abilities of her body to naturally function, and believes in respect and wholly loving her child.

We are all connected.

So, in my Utopian society, we respect our men for their strength, their ability to solve problems, their physical ability to lift things that would wreak havoc on my body if I did it.  We would appreciate men for their sensitivities, their attentiveness, their protective and loyal qualities, and their ability to remain childlike while carrying the weight of a man with many children to feed, at the same time.

In my Utopian society, we would honor our women for their ability to nurture life, comfort the weak, teach compassion, organize insurmountable orchestrations of accomplishment (while nourishing life, sometimes), and heal wounded souls.

Further, we would value our children and the future so much that we, as adults, would never do anything to retract, degrade, diminish, harm, or hurt them.  We would not even go so far as to settle for anything less than the most healthy, most positive, most productive, and most beneficial environments.  This, my friends, is why I like Star Trek.

Hitting our children is not a productive and positive solution for a happy childhood and happy, non-harmful adults.  We know this now. Neglect and surrogate care is not what the child needs.  We know this now, thank you chimpanzees.  Women are valuable and do not do well when beaten or oppressed.  We know this now.  Men are valuable and do not do well when not appreciated or diminished.  We know this now.

Preserved meats are damaging and we all know it now.  Chemically altered anything is potentially harmful.  We know it and are learning more and more daily.  Artificial anything has its consequences.  We are learning quickly.  Neglect and abuse of the environment is lunacy. Some of us are aware of this now.

Formula feeding is not as healthy as human milk and we all know it now. There are presumed safeties, and as many concerns for long term effects in using this artificial substance.  I dare you to prove my statement wrong.

I have a friend who cannot breastfeed; she has no breasts.  She is in her 30’s and has a baby.  She knows well about the known dangers and drawbacks of human milk substitute, as well as the many questions and concerns that are not yet fully understood or proven.  She has decided that her child is too valuable to settle for something artificial, so she has involved a couple of her friends and other acquaintances (now friends) in the task of providing her baby with human milk, until the baby itself no longer needs it (this may be a few years still).

One of the friends that supplies this woman human milk no longer nurses her own children – they have weaned themselves – but this woman still routinely pumps her milk and gives it to my friend’s family.  It’s an annoying and time consuming task sometimes (especially to those of us like me who couldn’t get a pump to work for much of anything), but to these people (both the women and the men who are very much involved) it is the only option as they refuse to settle for artificial, even if it is convenient.

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