Marnie was scared. She couldn’t believe how mad she’d gotten at the kids just now. She felt like a stranger, watching herself unleash on them over something stupid. She’d told herself to stop, that they were just kids, but she hadn’t been able to. The words and the anger just kept pouring out. Thank God, she hadn’t hit any of them, though at one point she’d really wanted to. That’s when she’d felt herself snap out of it. Dear God, how could she even have thought to do such a thing?
Marnie had looked down at those two terrified little faces and, suddenly, saw herself looking back. She knew what that felt like. What was wrong with her? How had she ever let herself get so out of control? Dear God, Marnie thought, what if it happens again and I can’t stop? Who am I? Who have I become?
As you consider the effect of childhood abuse on your relationship with others, I ask those of you who are parents, or who have access to authority over children, to give thought to how those relationships may be affected. Do you find yourself doing or saying things you swore you would never do or say when you grew up? Or do you find yourself giving in to childish requests and behaviors to say no, all to avoid a confrontation? Do you find yourself trying to be a “nice” parent more than a “good” parent?
If the parenting model you grew up with was fundamentally flawed, you may be at a loss to determine what is normal and what is not, what is helpful and what is harmful. You may go to the opposite extreme to avoid any semblance of harsh behavior. You may be terrified of becoming a monster yourself. You may gain satisfaction from finally being the one in charge. I implore you not to shy away from examining your own beliefs and behaviors about raising children, especially when it comes to discipline.
Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE, and author of 37 books. The Center creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others. If you or a loved one is struggling with past abuse, The Center is here to help. Our team is skilled at navigating these sensitive issues. For more information, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today.