Fear And Abuse: A Short Post

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month.  When I got on Facebook today, I noticed someone had shared something I wrote two years ago.

I shared it even though I might get backlash from certain people.  As I continue to struggle and work towards getting my emotional health back after so much trauma, I can definitely attest to this:

Fear is not a good thing. When a child’s brain is wired with fear from harsh/abusive parenting, he/she will likely suffer with anxiety for the rest of his/her life. This is not good and can make the person feel like a failure because no matter how hard he/she tries, he/she can’t always overcome the intense, overwhelming fear and anxiety. Please use trust, connection, and love to parent.

I don’t think I would have half the issues I had if it weren’t for the abuse I suffered. 😔

Stay tuned!  I hope to get more posts written.

Original image from https://www.livescience.com/17031-penn-state-child-abuse-eyewitness-psychology.html

 

 

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Cancer Free And Trauma…Plus Some Potty Training Tips

I haven’t been up to really writing this post even though as of January 2nd, our beliefs were finally confirmed after a biopsy, that I am indeed cancer free.

You see, except for mild pneumonia, from which I was able to recover at home, this was my first medical scare that required a hospitalization, a MRI under anesthesia, and a procedure in the OR all within 3 months.  Going to an oncologist also isn’t fun even though nobody ever really threw around the “C-word.”

This is unusual for people with severe cerebral palsy.  I’m very blessed to not have needed surgeries to fix joints and other things that can come with having severe or even mild cerebral palsy.

But after over 2.5 years of trauma due to the three major losses in our family, this pretty much sent us over the edge. I felt guilty at first for not being as happy that I was cancer free like everyone else because, for me (and my husband since he has to care and comfort me), it isn’t over.

Plus, because I’m unable to walk around like typical people and I have spasms, it takes me longer to physically heal.

As one of my good friends says, it’s actually satan-induced anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that I have.  They are not mine to own.  Going to the bathroom can still be scary for me.  Sometimes certain things that happen in the bathroom or in my body send me into a panic attack or PTSD episode.

I want to talk about PTSD for a moment especially with this recent school shooting.  As I said in my previous post, people in this society don’t take mental health issues seriously.  They worry about the physical well-being of people, and only and/or repeatedly argue about objects that hurt and murder people when they are in the wrong hands.  Keeping them out of the wrong hands is crucial but also almost impossible because if someone truly wants to do something bad, they will.

That’s the sad truth. So learning how the young mind works and about mental health issues is one of the best ways to stop some or most of these horrible tragedies.

What is PTSD?

“Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault” (American Psychiatric Association, 2017, https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ptsd/what-is-ptsd).

This video also describes PTSD very well.

I am working very hard to overcome this. My abusive background doesn’t make it easy because there’s PTSD from that as well.  However, through medication, including medical marijuana, meditation, professional counseling, writing positive notes to remind myself of all that’s good in my life, my small support group, and spending time with the Lord, I am slowly getting better.

It’s quite a process and I have to learn to be okay with however long this takes.  I have to learn how to not berate myself every time I perceive a “setback.”  Even learning self compassion is extremely difficult for me.

Why?  Because I grew up with a dad who was abusive, and school personnel putting me down. Plus, my disability has occasionally been treated as a “burden.”  Or at least this is how I felt as a child sometimes.

Children are very sensitive to their parents.  Everything we say to them is ingrained into their brains FOREVER — even if we don’t think they are listening.

Potty training for children is one of those crucial times when parents either remain patient, compassionate, and encouraging or become angry, punitive, and sometimes even abusive.  In both cases, most parents mean well but some understand gentle parenting and the consequences of not being gentle while others do not.

Bathroom trauma is REAL.  I found this article to be very informative about bathroom trauma in children.  It’s so important that young children have positive associations with going to the bathroom.

Here’s what I tell parents regarding potty training their children:

*Wait until the child is showing interest in the bathroom to slowly introduce him/her to the potty.

*Let them lead the way.

*Read fun books about going potty.

*Let them pick out their new underwear.

*Give them plenty of choices for what potty they want to use.  Some children like the small, portable potty chairs and use them while watching tv or wherever they are most comfortable.  Other children want to use the toilet with a small seat on the toilet and a footstool to put their feet on.

*Allow them to experiment with going back and forth between diapers and underwear.

*Expect many accidents and don’t overreact.  After all, we ALL have accidents.

*Gently remind children to go potty many times as they are often so into what they’re doing that they miss the signals that they need to go until it’s too late.

*NEVER force potty training.  Don’t punish or reward them.  This shouldn’t make them feel as if their whole identity is contingent on being able to go potty. You may celebrate by doing the “potty dance,” saying, “Yay! You did it,” and giving high fives.

*Poop is the hardest for young children to master when it comes to potty training. Give them plenty of liquids to keep their stools soft. Hard, painful bowel movements often make young children (and even some adults) afraid to go to the bathroom and then they hold it too long.

*Be careful with flushing the toilet in front of the children. It could startle them. And children can view poop as “a part of them” for a while and will get very upset when it’s flushed down the toilet.  This won’t last long.

*Use correct terms for body parts.

*Make the potty routine fun.  Read books, splash and/or run water (it helps them pee), sing fun songs, have special “potty toys,” and do whatever else you can to make going potty as fun as possible.

*Finally, feel free to set limits on the type of talk and behaviors that are only for the bathroom.  Children don’t have filters and exploring new language and body parts is so fun and funny to them. Give them a safe, private place to do this.  This is an excellent time to also reiterate body consent and who may and may not touch certain body parts.

If these basic guidelines are followed by us, most children will master potty training by the age of four.  Please be gentle during the whole potty training process even if it’s really hard sometimes.

Having experience with PTSD, abuse, and trauma, I truly implore anyone reading this to place more importance on, and time into, creating healthy human beings from conception on. They are our future.

Every child and adult reacts to trauma in very different ways and that needs to be fully explored and parents should do their best to look for warning signs as should others in the community.  It still takes a village to raise children.

Mental illnesses usually are rooted in childhood trauma.  Here are two excellent books that explain how trauma can affect children:

The Boy who was Raised as a Dog by Dr. Bruce Perry.

Ghosts from the Nursery: Tracing the Roots of Violence by Robin Karr-Morse and Meredith S. Wiley.

I truly believe that by respecting children from conception on and providing compassion to them in the worst of their moments is the way to a healthier—both physically and emotionally—society.  Compassion matters!

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Recent Horrific Child Abuse Cases

I am truly heartbroken by the recent cases of horrific child abuse. The parent of the most recent abuse case claimed that she just “spanked” and “disciplined” the children.

I’m sorry but hitting children, withholding food from children, locking and tying up children IS ABUSE!

I will NEVER stop advocating for the use of gentle parenting because even if these parents were truly trying to do their “best” with the children, there’s no way gentle parenting is ever abusive to children!

Everyone is always concerned about the physical health of these children and treat them accordingly, but people quickly forget the emotional trauma of abuse. These children will live with the emotional trauma for the rest of their lives.

I will write another blog post soon about my physical health issues and the trauma I am currently trying to work through. I have no doubt that my own history of being abused as a child has made it very difficult for me to work through other trauma, but I AM doing it and grateful for my support system.

I just had to condemn the recent abuse cases. It is NEVER okay to hurt children!

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The First Christmas

This is an especially difficult holiday season for us due to another loss of a loved one and my medical issues. I got the results of my MRI, and I now have to get the suspicious mass checked out that was discovered when I was hospitalized for a bowel blockage.  My biopsy is scheduled for January 2, 2018.

So we’re dealing with fresh grief again and my anxiety level is really high right now. As I have said many times, children who are spanked/hit/abused have a higher chance of getting an anxiety disorder. I’m working on getting my anxiety under control.  Not easy!

All this has me thinking about the first Christmas.  My friend and I were discussing grief and how this Christmas doesn’t feel magical or joyful to either of us.  One of my other friends got us a new small Christmas tree and scented candle to smell like a tree in order to change things up and make it a little less painful.  We also got a new outside Christmas light.

There’s joy amidst the pain.  Just like the first Christmas.

Imagine the emotional drama Mary and Joseph went through when Mary got pregnant with Jesus.  How do you explain that to people who might not believe you that you are carrying God’s child and did nothing wrong?  Thank the Lord, God explained to Joseph that he could still marry her after the Baby was born.  He was going to divorce her.

They had so much joy in having God’s Son!  How humbling it must have been for Mary.  But she had to deal with everything that comes with normal pregnancy.  And, again, how did she explain to people about the pregnancy?

Keep in mind that they were living in poverty and in tumultuous political times.  Imagine having to travel by camel to register in their hometown of Bethlehem while being in the last stages of pregnancy.  I can guarantee that Mary experienced pain which must have upset Joseph because he loved her and had to do his best to protect her and the Baby.    That must have been a lot of pressure on him!

Yes, God was with them.  But that doesn’t mean it was easy!

After arriving in Bethlehem, Mary went into labor.  She didn’t have the Baby in a nice home or hospital.  There was no room for them in the inn—both physically and emotionally—so she gave birth in a place where the animals were kept.   It was not very sanitary or comfortable, making labor, which is no fun in and of itself, even more difficult.

But here comes Jesus Christ and there was great JOY!

“In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them” (Luke 2-20, NASB).

There was pain and joy. It wasn’t this totally joyful event for Mary and Joseph, yet, there was plenty of joy and rejoicing!

That was until King Herod found out about this Baby that people were coming to worship.  How dare they worship a baby and call Him “King!”  King Herod had a fit and ordered his men to kill all the male babies that were 2 or younger.  There was a lot of screaming and weeping from parents who had their babies murdered for no reason.  God told Joseph in a dream to take Jesus and Mary to Egypt until it was safe for them to return to Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16-18).

This meant another trip across the desert with the Baby.  Jesus may have been a toddler by then.  I know Jesus was completely without sin, but I truly believe that He behaved as a typical infant and toddler; crying and going through the typical developmental stages are not “sin” as many Christians believe.  See more info here.  He cried when He needed something such as a feeding, nap, diaper change, or just to be comforted.  We all know how difficult it is to travel with a baby.  And then they were in hiding until Herod died.

Yes, there was joy on the first Christmas but the reality is that it wasn’t all joy.  There was plenty of pain, fear, stress, and confusion.  God was there through it all, but due to sin in the world, He had to watch suffering too.  Jesus chose pain over continuous joy in Heaven in order to save us from our sins.

Also, God didn’t rebuke or punish them for expressing their pain and frustration.  He loved them and that’s what He still does with us.  He suffers along with us and comforts us while correcting us gently when necessary. 

We should do our best to be there for our children instead of punishing them. God does not punish us.  Therefore, we should do our best to help our children instead of punishing them.

 “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow”  (‭James‬ ‭1‬:‭17‬ NASB).

We are going through some rough, scary things right now, but I know God is with me/us.  He will see us through this painful, scary season and I am counting on next Christmas being more joyful. In the meantime, I continue to look for the moments of joy.

Every good thing comes from the Lord.  If you too are going through some rough things this holiday season, please know that you’re not alone. God’s with you.  Please try to find friends to help support you.  It’s okay to change traditions if the old ones are too painful this year. We hope to get back into our traditions next Christmas. Whatever you need to do to find some joy and peace this Christmas, please do.

Please keep praying for me. Thank you so much!

Incidentally, I still have a very limited number of books if you want a signed copy for $10.  Free shipping in the continental United States. Please contact me and we’ll work something out.

May everyone have a peaceful, blessed, and merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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My Child Abuse Awareness Ribbon Tattoo

About a week ago I got my beautiful child abuse awareness ribbon tattoo.  It came out so much better than I imagined!

It’s serious but I wanted something to give hope and the flowers do just that!  I honestly think it’s the best child abuse awareness tattoo I have ever seen.  I’m very grateful to my tattoo artist for coming up with it!  Please see my other tattoo posts on my getting tattoos with my severe cerebral palsy.

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Child abuse is 100% preventable!  Sadly, many pro-spanking advocates try to claim that spankings prevent abuse but any type of hitting is abuse because it leaves marks that are not always visible.  Plus, if one believes she/he can inflict pain on another human being, he/she will.

Research also shows that spankings usually increase in intensity, putting the child at a higher risk of being abused.

Then there’s the emotional and verbal abuse that often goes with the physical abuse, like telling the child that “you made me do it.”  Or that “you deserve it.”  Basically putting the child down in any way is verbal and emotional abuse.  The child never makes one do anything.  This is victim blaming.

Finally, there’s sexual abuse and sometimes this occurs alone or with the physical abuse because, for some, spanking children is sexually arousing which is absolutely disgusting.  

I believe that we have to educate people to get them to see that children are unique people. Understanding child development is crucial for stopping child abuse. And allowing corporal punishment with children does not decrease child abuse!  And one should never say he/she is against child abuse when he/she is advocating for corporal punishment.

It shouldn’t matter how old or big someone is, he/she should be protected from having harm inflicted on him/her by another person. It should not be left up to parents concerning how much pain can be inflicted on their children because “children can be subjected to an incredible amount of pain and suffering before our perception of parental prerogative changes to one of parental abuse” (Quinn, 1988, p.19).”

While April is child abuse awareness month, every day children are being abused by the very people who are supposed to care for them.  I got my child abuse awareness ribbon tattoo to remind myself why I keep fighting for children’s rights even though it doesn’t always feel like I’m making a difference. It will also make the public aware of child abuse all year long.

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Reference:Quinn, P. E. (1988). Spare the Rod. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

A Mishmash Of Thoughts

This post may be all over the place but it’s based on things I have experienced this week. It was a rough week as May 2nd was the one year anniversary of my dear grandpa going Home. I have really struggled with his passing. He and I were extremely close and he was a wonderful grandfather who never intentionally hurt me.

Since my family has not had any “official” services for him yet and I won’t be able to go to them due to financial issues and a cat who has chronic diseases and is not yet ready to die, I had my own private funeral service on Tuesday May 2nd that included getting a beautiful tattoo.

I kept thinking “goodbye grandpa” during the tattoo which is on my upper right arm.  The tattoo came out perfectly!   Parts of it hurt like heck as the inside of one’s arm is much more sensitive, but my tattoo artist and my husband encouraged me during the tough parts and I breathed and laughed my way through it.  I cried when it was done.

I’m not letting go but I finally feel so at peace that he is physically gone. I miss him and my mother-in-law so much, but I just couldn’t get comfortable with Grandpa being gone until until I got this memorial tattoo.  Plus, he deserved a detailed tattoo. I LOVE my first tattoo which is for him but I was feeling guilty that everybody else has detailed tattoos and he didn’t. So now that I know I can get detailed tattoos, I’m happy I got one for him and the jacket that was his. She made it look like a watercolor.

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However, I have been experiencing some things that prove how important respect is. I haven’t felt very respected and that has made me lash out. I didn’t repay evil for evil, but I could have done better.

When adults and children don’t feel respected and heard, it makes them angry. That’s why children usually act out.  They need connections and respect.  But it is so hard when you’re doing your best to be respectful and the other person doesn’t respect you. Children don’t mean to be disrespectful as they are still learning how to respect.  But adults should know better.

I also feel like, based on my own experiences as well as observations, people of all ages tend to want to control and manipulate others that they feel are weaker.  These people usually have emotional problems that make them need to feel powerful and in control by manipulating the weaker person.

We see this all the time with the parent-child dyad. The parent finally has someone they can control and manipulate after they were controlled and manipulated as children. They may be doing it unconsciously, but they do it nonetheless.  Others are fully aware of what they are doing.

But another group that is often controlled and manipulated, sometimes even by family, are people with disabilities.  I have severe cerebral palsy and I often feel like people don’t respect me. No matter how old I get, I often get treated as a child.  Of course, anyone who knows my story knows that I was physically, verbally, and emotionally abused by my late dad. I was also emotionally abused by my school aide.

In addition to dealing the my grief of losing my mother-in-law and grandpa as well as dealing with my beloved kitty going downhill and other life stresses, I have felt very disrespected.  Trying to have boundaries and protect myself while remaining Christ-like is not easy.

Of course, this makes me think of children. We need to respect their personal boundaries as we set our own boundaries with them. It is such a helpless feeling knowing that someone you love is trying to control, manipulate, and make you feel guilty for something that you didn’t do. I’m 35 and I’m really struggling with it and I don’t always handle it as well as I should.  It’s no wonder that children have meltdowns and anxiety and feel so out of control when we try to control, manipulate, and shame them. I can relate so much to the feelings children have.

I am at peace with the loss of my grandpa and I am thankful for that. At the same time, it comes to light that we all need to be respected by the people we love no matter what our age is. I don’t believe that elders deserve respect just because they are older.  I believe respect is earned. It must be mutual. It cannot be forced. If it is forced, it leads to strong resentment.

I guess that is my mishmash of thoughts. I hope it helps someone else dealing with similar things. I also hope it helps parents to see how important it is to respect their children. Only through respecting our children will they learn to respect others.

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“Do Not Repay Evil For Evil.”

“Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men” (Romans 12:17, NASB).

“Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9, ESV).

I have been going through a great deal of things recently.  I was badly hurt by some people.  Believe me, I have been tempted to repay evil for evil, but that is not what God wants us to do.  I am far from perfect, but I am really doing my best to not repay evil.

I have learned a few things as I continue to work through the hurt, anger, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and anxiety from the recent incidents and they also apply to gentle parenting.

1. Scolding harshly just shuts children and adults down.  It’s true. Scolding anyone of any age just makes them feel angry, defensive, small, and helpless.  This is especially true when a child has not even done anything wrong.  And often harsh scolding is abusive and/or shaming, which is very harmful and hurtful.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1, NASB).

2.  People of all ages act badly when they feel badly.  This is a common idea throughout gentle parenting.  Realizing why a child is acting out is so important because he/she is usually feeling badly either physically or emotionally or both.  When we stop to see behind the behavior, we see a whole new picture that changes, hopefully, the way we respond to the child.  The same is true with adults.  Being lashed out at by an adult is harder for me to deal with than if it was a child.  Yet, when I am really hurting, I tend to lash out too.  But I have learned that trying to be quiet and not lash out is always the best way to go.  Easier said than done, though.

3.  Mutual respect is key for healthy relationships.  From the moment a child is conceived, he/she should be respected.  Teaching respect means being respectful by not doing anything to the child that you know will intentionally hurt them such as cry-it-out, saying harsh words to them, manipulating them either physically or emotionally or both, and spanking/hitting them.  I often feel like people don’t truly respect me and that’s so hard when I’m trying to be respectful.  Again, I am far from perfect, but without mutual respect, one person will be walked all over by the other person.  The only way I know to encourage mutual respect is to teach it to children.  And just because someone is disabled or different doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the same respect as everyone else!

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;” (Romans 12:10, NASB).

“and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” (Ephesians 5:21, NASB).

4.  PTSD, anxiety, and sensitivity are real and not weaknesses. Due to being abused throughout my childhood by my dad and a school personal aide, I have all of these things.  When people I am close to say “mean” things to me–whether it’s intentional or not-– it triggers my anxiety and PTSD.  I’m left debilitated for a while.  For children, saying mean, hurtful things will only tear them down and may lead to anxiety and PTSD.  Some children, as I was , and still am, are quite sensitive.  Unfortunately, being sensitive is often looked down upon and seen as a weakness.  Then people try to use this to manipulate and control these children and adults.  This is not ok!  If everyone was sensitive and empathetic, the world would be a much better place!

5.  Despite the common Christian doctrine that we’re born selfish, selfishness is a learned behavior.  Children raised with respect, compassion, empathy, and love usually learn to be the same.  These children are more competent in social interactions and have a lower rate of anti-social behaviors.  People raised with selfishness can learn how not to be, but many remain selfish until the day they die. If we want less selfishness in the world, we need to learn how to be selfless!  And we must teach our children how to be selfless by modeling it to them daily.

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;” (Philippians 2:3, NASB).

6.  We must forgive while not allowing people to walk all over us.  Boundaries and limits are a must for children and adults in our life.  Children usually cooperate with boundaries and limits when they understand the reason behind them.  Adults, however, can be more complicated because they don’t always respect the limits and boundaries.  Sometimes all we can do is to put more space between us and them to protect ourselves. I’m still figuring out how to do this.

Also when we forgive, we should never throw stuff back in their faces when we are upset with them.  That isn’t fair.  We don’t forget but we move on if we can with the relationship.  Otherwise, it might be better to get out of a toxic relationship.

7.  We can’t control others but we can control ourselves.  The best thing is to focus on controlling our responses to others.  We are the only one that we can control.

I’m still working on all of this.  If everyone would do their best to work on these things, I truly believe that we’d have healthier relationships.

 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12, ESV).

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Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones But Words Will Never Hurt Me, Huh?

We’ve all heard the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”  We probably have said it as children, but is it true?  For me, it is not true at all.

In fact, this is not true for many people.  Words have power.  The Bible even acknowledges that words have power and we need to choose our words carefully.  Let’s look at some of these verses:

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits” (Proverbs 18:21, ESV).

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29, ESV).

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person” (Matthew 15:18, ESV).

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1, ESV).

Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent” (Proverbs 11:12, ESV).

As we can see, words have the power to build people up or tear them down.  And sometimes words hurt more than being hit, though that is never an excuse to spank/hit a child.  

I was verbally abused by my dad and my high school personal assistant. Even though I was able to rise above it with the help of the Lord and my husband, I still struggle with not feeling good enough or not believing in myself.  I beat myself up a lot in my head.  I take things very personally.  I hate making mistakes because I best myself so much.

In this technological-advanced age, there is a horrible trend of shaming children online.  So not only are parents saying that their children are “bad,” “brats,” “disrespectful,” and “crybabies” to their faces, they’re posting it for the whole world to see.  I can’t even begin to imagine the pain and embarrassment these children feel or will feel when they see the world looking at their mistakes and applauding their parents for “putting them in their place.”

It’s hard enough being shamed and put down privately. The messages that we put into children’s heads become their inner voices.  They start to believe that they are “bad,” “sinful,” and “ungrateful.”  Putting children down only tears them down.  And it begins in infancy.  Infants hear our tone and read our body language to understand us. And most infants begin to understand words before they ever start talking.

Therefore, telling an infant to “shut up,” calling him/her a “brat,” and saying things like “you’re gross” will make them internalize these messages.  And of course, treating infants like we don’t want to be with them also sends the message that they are “burdens.”

Sometimes shaming is used to threaten the child before physical punishment is administered.  Some parents who may not use physical punishment with their children, but believe that children deserve some type of punishment, use shaming to control their children’s behavior.  Many Christians tend to tell children that they have “sinned” against God.  This does nothing but lead to worldly sorrow.

Shaming and punishment leads to worldly sorrow as the child focuses on stopping his/her own pain. The child may appear to have self control after receiving regular punishment and shaming, but it’s actually self-preservation to avoid pain. Discipline, however, teaches godly sorrow and true self-control because discipline teaches empathy for others. There may be pain as a byproduct of discipline due to the discovery of hurting another and God, but pain is NEVER inflicted on the child by an adult. This allows for true self-control as the child learns from natural consequences and gains empathy. Godly sorrow makes the child truly want to repent and make things right. And it’s important to remember that self-control develops very, very slowly in children.

Now, I am not saying that we shouldn’t correct our children.  We should do so in a way that doesn’t shame them. Pointing out how their behavior affected another person and empathizing with him/her will allow the child to calm down and eventually see that he/she hurt his/her friend which will lead the child to true sorrow.

For example, if 4-year-old Billy hits Sarah, we make sure Sarah is ok and then talk to Billy about his behavior and why he hit.

Adult: “Billy, you hit Sarah.  I know you were angry but it’s never okay to hit people.”

Billy:  “But she wouldn’t let me have a turn with the ball.”

Adult:  “Yes, I can see why you got angry. But you cannot hit.”

Billy:  “But I really wanted to play with the ball.  She wouldn’t let me.”

Adult:  “It’s hard to control our impulses when we’re angry.  Did you try to use your words?”

Billy:  “I asked her over and over for a turn and she said ‘no’ all the time.”

Adult:  “Ok, but when she kept telling you no, you hit her.  What happened when you hit her?

Billy:  “She started crying.”

Adult: “Yes, she cried because hitting hurts.  And now nobody is playing with the ball because you’re both upset.  What can we do to fix this?”

Billy: “I shouldn’t have hit her. I will go say sorry.”

Billy goes to Sarah and apologizes all on his own. They talk and begin playing together.

There was no need for shaming or punishment. Billy just needed help getting his brain to calm down enough to realize that he hurt his friend. The adult remained calm and empathetic to Billy.  The natural consequence for Billy’s behavior was that Sarah was hurt and cried when he hit her.   Of course, some children will take longer to calm down and realize they hurt someone. This is all based on the development of the child and how that child is treated.

The more we tear down children, the harder it is for them to learn empathy. If you’re always in self-preservation mode, you can’t see past your own pain.  And sometimes people that have been so torn down may actually take the opposite approach by becoming bullies. Children and adults who feel badly about themselves can sometimes gain “power” by hurting others.  Not all people beat themselves up.  Rather, they take their pain out on others.

We can discipline children without shaming them and putting them down. Let’s build them up so that they can build others up.  Sticks and stones may break my bones but words DO HURT ME.

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Make Your Children’s Memories Of You Happy

This was a rough week for my husband and me.  I dealt with the three month anniversary of my beloved grandpa going Home, the first year anniversary of my husband’s beloved mom going Home, and today was the 13th anniversary of my abusive dad going Home.

Having these hit all in a row made it obvious to me that I would much rather feel the pain of losing my mother-in-law and dear grandpa because I have happy memories to think back on.  The reason I miss them so much is because they loved me!  They never intentionally hurt me.

I believe in signs from Heaven and it is a joy when I get one from my mother-in-law and grandpa.

But with my abusive dad, it’s a totally different feeling.  An emptiness.  A dark feeling even though I forgive him and have hope for our relationship to be restored in Heaven, I just feel like I want so badly to miss him but I don’t.  Instead I still feel angry and I just can’t muster any good feelings about him.  I so wish that I could.

Losing two people with whom I was extremely close has put this stark contrast between grieving for the loving people versus my dad. And I must say it sucks!

Therefore, as I’ve gone through this week of grieving for the loving relationships I’ve physically lost and the yucky one I never had, I wanted to make a meme to try to explain how I feel. I hope this helps parents understand better what it feels like.

May parents love their children because having wonderful memories is MUCH better than abusive, hurtful memories even if in Heaven, that will all be wiped away.

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Review Of “13:24: A Story Of Faith And Obsession” By M. Dolon Hickmon.

I read this book over a year ago.  It is excellent!  Now that I finally have a blog of my own, I can post my review here.

Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them” (Ephesians 5:11, NASB).

As Christians, we are called to expose darkness where we find it, and to recognize sin not only in the world around us, but also in the Body of Christ. M. Dolon Hickmon has done just that in 13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession, a fast-paced crime thriller that offers readers a sobering glimpse of one of the darkest aspects of Christianity.

13:24 opens with protagonists Chris and Josh leading hard, sinful lives. Chris is an emotionally neglected teenaged fan of the heavy metal band, Rehoboam. Josh is the wild, tattooed leader of that band. At every concert, Christians protest with signs and slogans that are almost as hate-filled as Josh’s violent lyrics seem to be. When Chris goes on a murderous rampage, people blame his fascination with “demonic” music. Meanwhile, celebrity evangelist Allen Garnfield capitalizes on the media frenzy, using details from Chris’ crimes to rail against what he sees as the true cause of violent youth: society’s ongoing shift away from old-fashioned physical punishment. While the criminal investigation unfolds, Garnfield’s sermons are presented alongside scenes of disciplinary beatings, which contribute to the implosions of both Chris’ and Josh’s lives.

For some believers, it might be tempting to deny that Christian spanking advocates have contributed to such tragedies of physical abuse. Sadly, Allen Garnfield’s incendiary lines could easily be quotes from popular books by real-life iconic Christian pro-spanking teachers:

“On the bare legs or bottom, switch him eight or ten licks; then, while waiting for the pain to subside, speak calm words of rebuke. If the crying turns to a true, wounded, submissive whimper, you have conquered; he has submitted his will. If the crying is still defiant, protesting and other than a response to pain, spank him again” (Pearl, 1994, p. 80).
“The child may be more strong-willed than the parent, and they both know it. If he can outlast a temporary onslaught, he has won a major battle, eliminating punishment in the parent’s repertoire. Even though Mom spanks him, he wins the battle by defying her again. The solution to this situation is obvious: outlast him; win, even if it takes a repeated measure” (Dobson, 1970, p. 45).

“For example, a dime sized bruise on the buttocks of a fair-skinned child may or may not indicate an abusive situation. It all depends. In an otherwise secure and loving home, that bruise may have no greater psychological impact than a skinned knee or a stubbed toe. Again the issue in not the small abrasion; it is the meaning behind it” (Dobson, 1996, p. 25).

“After you have spanked, take the child up on your lap and hug him, telling him how much you love him, how much it grieves you to spank him, and how you hope that it will not be necessary again. Then if he is still not restored, you are to check your own spirit to see if you have handled him roughly… [or] brought unholy anger on this holy mission, and if you have, seek forgiveness from God. If your child is still angry, it’s time for another round, ‘Daddy has spanked you, but you are not sweet enough yet. We are going to have to go back upstairs for another spanking'” (Tripp, 1995, p. 149).

As a Christ-follower I was a bit nervous about reading this book. I was concerned that its purpose was to rip Christians and the Bible apart. Having read it, I can assure readers that Hickmon does no such thing.

The title of the book is taken from Proverbs 13:24, “He who withholds his rod hates his son.”   See here regarding how to accurately interpret the “rod” verses.  The importance of this verse becomes clear when Josh uses music and stagecraft to reenact the rarely-told history of King Solomon—widely credited as the compiler of the Book of Proverbs. In these concert scenes, readers graphically witness that King Solomon, though gifted with wisdom from God, was also deeply flawed as a father, husband, and spiritual leader. He ultimately chose worldly sensuality and treasures over keeping with the wisdom that God gave him.

“Solomon was a great ruler who sowed the seeds of the dissolution of his empire and his kingdom was split into two after he died. Solomon’s blunder was that, as he got older, accumulating personal wealth became more important than building up his country. His love for foreign women caused him to accumulate a ridiculous number of wives (I Kings 11:1-4). As Solomon himself noted, leaders need wisdom, understanding, righteousness, and truth to ensure the success of their reign. Wealth, fame, beautiful women, and incredible edifices are not what leadership is all about. God himself praised a young Solomon for choosing wisdom and justice over wealth, longevity, or power over his enemies (I Kings 3:10-11), but it seems that he forgot about his mission” (Friedman, http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/economic/friedman/moralleadership.htm).

Hickmon’s ultimate point is made when Josh, while being questioned about his possible connection to a string of murders, points out how Solomon’s seemingly harsh, authoritarian prescriptions violate Christianity’s important ideals: “Jesus didn’t burden his disciples with impossible demands or whip them into automatic obedience. Rather, Jesus said ‘My yoke is light,’ and demonstrated his authority by kneeling to wash his servants’ feet. On the subject of physical punishment, Jesus said, ‘Whoever is without blame, cast the first stone.’ And while Solomon dismissed children as fools, Christ insisted, ‘Heaven is ruled by such as these'” (Hickmon, 2013, p. 47). Yes, the entire Bible is divinely inspired. However, Jesus changed everything when He suffered and died on the cross for humanity’s sins. Jesus desires mercy, not sacrifice.

I must quickly point out that upon deeper study of Hebrew, the “rod” verses of Proverbs do not mean to spank children, but rather to discipline (teach, guide) children. Most Jews do not practice corporal punishment.

Another aspect of the book is that both Chris and Josh experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Hickmon does a wonderful job depicting what people go through when they have this serious disorder. Wired with fear from harsh/abusive parenting, a child may suffer with anxiety for the rest of his/her life. Experiences of maltreatment can also leave victims feeling like failures, because no matter how hard they try, they can’t always overcome the intense, overwhelming fear and anxiety.

Chris and Josh also demonstrate a range of other effects that we now know to be associated with even mild corporal punishment. “Corporal punishment has been linked to a host of psychological problems. A history of harsh punishment has been found to underlie ‘conduct disorder,’ and anxiety disorders in children. Adults who were physically punished as adolescents are more likely to suffer from depressive symptoms, suicidal thoughts and alcohol abuse” (Grille, 2005, p. 184).

One of my favorite quotes from this book is a comment one investigator makes about his grandfather: “He used to say that Satan’s greatest trick wasn’t making people think he didn’t exist–it was convincing Christians that he couldn’t speak from the pulpit” (Hickmon, 2013, p. 308). This is so true. Pro-spanking theology is not from God. Hurting children in God’s name is blasphemy. I explain this in detail in my own book, Gentle Firmness.

If you like mystery/thrillers, you will not be disappointed with 13:24. I must warn that many scenes are extremely graphic and can be triggering for some. I had a very hard time reading the child abuse scenes and cried through them. I give Hickmon five stars for creating a totally fictitious story that exposes one of Christianity’s darkest corners, creating the possibility of real insight and change.

References:

Dobson, J. (1970). Dare to Discipline. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

Dobson, J. (1996). The New Dare to Discipline. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

Friedman, http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/economic/friedman/moralleadership.htm.

Grille, R. (2005). Parenting for a Peaceful World. New South Wales, Australia: Longueville Media.

Pearl, M. (1994). To Train Up A Child. Pleasantville, TN: No Greater Joy Ministries.

Tripp, T. (1995). Shepherding a Child’s Heart. Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherd Press.