Posts Tagged by Abuse
|May 15, 2013||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
Excerpts from Children Talk But No One Listens from s.e. smith:
The sentiment ‘better seen than heard’ reflects a larger social attitude of the value of children’s voices, namely that they have none. Children should remain silent, and they are ‘good’ when they’re quiet, but ‘bad’ when they are not, because they are disturbing the adults and causing trouble. This attitude runs through the way people interact with children on every level, and yet, they seem surprised when it turns out that children have been struggling with serious medical problems, or they’ve been assaulted or abused.
The most common response is ‘well why didn’t the child say something?’ or ‘why didn’t the child talk to an adult?’ Adults constantly assure themselves that children know to go to a grownup when they are in trouble, and they even repeat that sentiment to children; you can always come to us, adults tell children, when you need help. Find a trusted adult, a teacher or a doctor or a police officer or a firefighter, and tell that adult what’s going on, and you’ll be helped, and everything will be all right.
The thing is that children do that, and the adults don’t listen. Every time a child tells an adult about something and nothing happens, that child learns that adults are liars, and that they don’t provide the promised help. Children hold up their end of the deal by reporting, sometimes at great personal risk, and they get no concrete action in return. Sometimes, the very adult people tell a child to ‘trust’ is the least reliable person; the teacher is friends with the priest who is molesting a student, the firefighter plays pool with the father who is beating a child, they don’t want to cause a scene.
Children are also told that they aren’t experiencing what they’re actually experiencing, or they’re being fussy about nothing. A child reports a pain in her leg after gym class, and she’s told to quit whining. Four months later, everyone is shocked when her metastatic bone cancer becomes unavoidably apparent. Had someone listened to her in the first place when she reported the original bone pain and said it felt different that usual, she would have been evaluated sooner. A child tells a teacher he has trouble seeing the blackboard, and the teacher dismisses it, so the child is never referred for glasses; the child struggles with math until high school, when someone finally acknowledges there’s a problem.
This attitude, that children shouldn’t be believed, puts the burden of proof on children, rather than assuming that there might be something to their statements. Some people seem to think that actually listening to children would result in a generation of hopelessly spoiled brats who know they can say anything for attention, but would that actually be the case? That assumption is rooted in the idea that children are not trustworthy, and cannot be respected. I’m having trouble understanding why adults should be viewed as inherently trustworthy and respectable, especially in light of the way we treat children.
Treating children well, treating them as people, and being part of the solution in creating a world where they have a place involves allowing children to speak, listening when they do, and believing what they say.
|January 9, 2012||Posted by Issa under Parenting|
Parenting isn’t hard.
Well, okay, sometimes it’s hard.
Sometimes it’s hard to contain all this love that I feel for my child, and I’m worried I’m just going to snatch him up and squeeze him to bits in a fit of overly-emotional love-smush.
Sometimes it’s hard to fathom the future and that someday there will be a 6 year old, an 11 year old, a 17 year old living here, and someday a 25 year old not living here, living out in the world instead where I can’t watch over him.
Sometimes it’s hard to love him so deeply and yet not be able to take his hurts away. I am sometimes bowed in this powerlessness.
Sometimes it’s hard to realize that I am his whole world right now and that his trust is vast and complete. I tremble before this power.
Sometimes I participate in a discussion about someone in public being mean to their child. By “being mean” I mean spanking, slapping, grabbing, yanking, dragging, yelling, name-calling, belittling, punishing and so forth. And there’s always someone in these discussions ready to declare that “parenting is hard” and we should therefore cut the parent some slack. And I just reject this wholeheartedly. It is not hard to not treat people like shit. Children are small, dependent people, and we should be doubly sure not to treat them like shit.
Parenting is the very act of caring for these smaller people. It should not be synonymous with treating them in abusive ways.
Say I’m in a McDonald’s. In a booth near me is what appears to be a romantically involved man and woman enjoying a meal together. Near the end of the meal, the woman accidentally knocks her soda over and it spills over the table and floor. The man leaps to his feet and yells, “Oh my god! I told you to be careful with that!” He grabs her by the arm and drags her out of the booth. “That’s the last time you get to have a medium drink!” He shoves her off to the side while he starts to clean up. “Go stand by the door, we’re going home right now.” After an initial little gasp at the spilled drink, the woman remains silent, body slack, eyes averted.
I would be horrified to witness this scene. I would worry about the verbal lashing, and I would worry about the physical aspects. Probably most people would be concerned on some level. However, when I witnessed that scene with, instead of a woman, a 10 year old child, no one batted an eye. It doesn’t even stand out. Doesn’t register. Some might even consider it “good discipline”.
But, it’s not. It’s just abusive. We would not say about the man, “Well, relationships are hard. He’s probably just having a bad day. Cut him some slack.”
On a “bad day”, I might grumble at Joshua. I might be a little curt, a little snippy. I would not pull his body around, hit him, yell at him, say belittling things at him, or order him about. We have a loving relationship together that doesn’t include those kinds of actions. Likewise, parenting is between parent and child but is still supposed to be a loving relationship together. People who are mean and abusive to children don’t have a parenting problem. They have an abuse problem.
Except it becomes a parenting problem when there are people running around saying “parenting is hard” as a way to excuse the abuse of children. I’ll bet there are people who aren’t actually assholes trying to be mean to their kids because they think that’s what parenting is. I’d like to put a stop to that.
Parenting is supposed to be a loving relationship between parent and child, and it should look like one, and that shouldn’t be hard.