Tag Archives: abuse

The Coddled Society

playgrounds, overprotective, children, safety,coddling, protection

Creative Commons: Los Angeles CB Grant

Hundreds of years ago a child was only a child for so long. When they got big enough to walk and carry, that’s what they did. When they got big enough to hold a sword, they learned how to use one. When they could ride a horse, shear a sheep, seed the ground or chop food, they did. There was no waiting until you were of driving age, drinking age, voting age. There was no waiting, sitting and playing while mom and dad prepared things for you. Childhood probably lasted until about the age of five and then you were put to work. Even if you were noble, you were learning the ways of society and ruling at an early age.

Anyone who’s lived on a farm knows this lifestyle. Farm kids don’t sit and watch TV before or after school. They feed chickens, milk cows, bale hay, muck out pens and do a myriad of chores to keep the farm running. Third world countries have higher populations and larger families because, in their poverty, the more hands that can work then the more money and food they can bring in, even if there are more mouths to feed. I don’t just say this. Studies show that populations slow and stabilize the more a country moves towards a good economy.

As a child I learned to cook and bake by the time I was eight,with my mother guiding. I helped stir bowls of batter, added eggs and made hamburger patties, basted turkeys. I was cooking on my own by the age of ten. I had to pick up after myself, vacuum, wash dishes, polish and dust. My siblings of both genders had to do the same. We walked to school, a good mile distant, from grades 1-12. We walked in sun, and in rain, in hail and in snow. I remember the big snowsuit in grade one and so much snow that I was late every day for a week. But I walked, by myself.

My mother told us to go outside and play. If we said we were bored you can bet she’d give us chores. Sure we had to check in or tell her where we were going and I remember getting in hot water because I went off and played in the alley with my sister and her friend at the age of four, and didn’t tell my mother. But I did it, without constant adult supervision.

My hand wasn’t held as I slid down the slide, I wasn’t told I was too young to bake. We learned and we grew self-sufficient. I could cook and drive when I moved out on my own and in with my boyfriend. And so could he. I’ve met men (more than women) who couldn’t cook because mommy had done everything for their sons or only children. I’ve met people who couldn’t iron and lived in pigsties because they were never taught to clean up. And I meet people who think children have to be protected 24/7.

Many threats to children haven’t increased over the years, but media coverage of kidnappings and perverts have. I drive by a school where the parents are lined up to drop off their children. I’ve read about a school that was going to raze a low hill because the children might fall down it. I’ve read and seen playground slides lowered, guards put up, safety nets added so that children can’t bump or scrape or get a few of life’s bruises.

And what do studies show, out of Norway and the US? That people who are coddled so much grow up with more anxieties, are less likely to take any risks and find all of the world a big scary place. In essence, they become victims of parenting. Never has there been an age where children were padded, wrapped, helmeted, swaddled and overly protected from the daily aspects of living. Sure, don’t leave toxic chemicals in the reach of a baby but teach your children how to be cautious yet adventuresome, and how to apply thought and learning. We never would have hit the age of exploration if all those searfaring adventurers had been raised as coddled children. Let your children live a little.

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Spanking: Discipline or Abuse?

There is debate going on about whether spanking should be abolished and made a criminal offence. Disciplining a child will result in no physical contact (the other extreme is that some schools are banning hugging…WTF). CBC Radio One interviewed a couple of advocates (for and against spanking) earlier this week, which included a human rights advocate in Sweden. The woman (a lawyer I believe) gave the instance of a woman whose daughter often ran away from home. When the girl was brought in by police she said she was afraid to go home because her mother might hit her.

After going home, she sassed her mother (according to this lawyer) and her mother smacked her across the face. The girl went to the police the next day with a red handmark on her cheek. The lawyer said she was so light-skinned anything showed on her face. This lawyer was for the mother. Not exactly a good advocacy for keeping corporal punishment. Light skinned or not, if a hand impression is still visible the next day it means that person was hit with undue force. The girl may have had a well-founded fear.

There are people who use no physical discipline on their children, instead withholding treats or doing timeouts and sending them to their rooms. For most children this is effective and they will obey the authority of the parent at this level. However, there will be a small percentage that may go against all of these forms of discipline, requiring a spank.

There are people who use spanking as a form of discipline, giving their child a smack on the butt, especially if they’re having tantrums. And who of us has not watched the tantrum child in a mall and thought the kid a monster? I have also felt sorry for the parent, embarrassed by their child’s behavior but afraid to spank because of ridicule, and stuck with the willful petulance of children.

There are those people who beat their children. These may include slaps across the face, spankings until welts or bruises show, and other forms of physical abuse. These people may think they’re using reasonable force or they may be out of control for some reason.

The debate is that a child who is physically disciplined does worse in school or has a lower IQ. I can’t imagine the genius I would have been if I wasn’t spanked. (note that intelligence doesn’t always equate with wisdom or success) I turned out a fairly law-abiding citizen with a couple of degrees. However, there were other repercussions.

Here is what discipline looked like in my family. Being spanked with wooden spoons: my younger brother was the only one devious enough to hide them. Being spanked with a leather belt (there was a stropping belt for a straight-edge razor which may have been a little softer than a real belt). Being spanked, okay beaten, with a thin (one-inch diameter), hard green rubber hose/tube. Being smacked across the face. These disciplinary actions only cover the physical ones. The results were bruises, welts and bleeding noses. The last time I was smacked I was sixteen and my mother gave me a bleeding nose and broke my watch (I stopped wearing watches for many years after that).

Some of these disciplines were for perceived infringements against parental authority. Some were for actual ones. However, I can’t remember one childhood crime, only the punishment. Besides the physical marks that healed, there were the emotional/psychological ones. Those were much more long lasting but are so mixed with other dysfunctions of the family it would definitely take an expert to unravel which abuse caused what problem.

My siblings and I survived. But there are many rifts in the family from those forms of corporal punishment. Was it reasonable force? In most cases, no. Most of us avoided a life of crime though not all of us even finished high school. Do I think parents should be allowed to spank their children?

Maybe, but I think that as long as “reasonable force” is left part of the law, a parent will interpret that to suit their way. Hitting anywhere but on the butt should definitely be banned. And really, there are many people who have lived with timeouts and have grown up to be quite healthy, functioning members of society. What is needed is balance. The good parents will be able to discipline their children without undue force. The bad parents will use it because they lack the skills and coping mechanisms of being a parent. Training parents wouldn’t be a bad course of action, just like prenatal classes.

All in all I’m not for force. I have the memories. But I have also seen a few children who are beyond control. Sometimes there are personality defects. Sociopaths and psychopaths are born, not created later. But in those cases parents should be seeking help. So to spank? Only as a very last resort, after having taken classes on child discipline.

 http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2009/07/31/f-spanking-discipline-debate.html#socialcomments

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Alcoholism and Life

I grew up with an alcoholic father. Some might debate this but he drank a fair amount, did terrible things to us and grew violent. It was not pretty and it marred us with scars we bear to this day. My mother went back to school at one point and worked as an alcohol and drug abuse counsellor so she knew the signs well. It’s interesting, before she moved into that line of work, the men she dated were all alcoholics.

I also had a friend who became my best friend and lived across the alley from me. We got into various types of trouble together, went to parties, and drank underage, as most of our friends did. I cannot tell her tale as to what pushed her too far. It could be an easy statement of physiology though easy is not the way it was. By sixteen she was an alcoholic with a host of embarrassing events under her belt, making difficult for her friends to be around her. I asked my mother what to do (and I have to say my mother was very good about not berating us for drinking underage) so she gave me some pamphlets to pass on to my friend. One was a checklist of behaviors that could indicate you’re an alcoholic. Some of the statements were: do you not remember what you’ve done while drinking, do you pass out after drinking, do you feel the need to drink every day–things like that.

Of course, giving a teenager such pamphlets didn’t go over that well and as high school grew towards its end and my friend also became pregnant (facilitating a quick marriage), we also started to grow apart. I couldn’t help her and she was going to need to help herself. I don’t know if she was embarrassed by her alcoholism or felt that I judged her (and I confess that I did at that time) but we eventually lost contact. It was only many many years later that she made the effort to contact me, having been dry for a long time, with grown and growing children. I then had to get past the wall that I had left behind from that time.

In high school I had also started dating a guy who I went with for a year and a half. He was two years older than me so he was finished while I was in grade 11. And he worked at a pub. I looked old for my age and could get into the bars without being ID’d. (Oddly enough, after I turned legal age, I was ID’d often.) He too became an alcoholic, drinking too much and too often. I don’t remember if that’s what broke up the relationship but it was a contributing factor.

I’d seen enough alcoholism by my mid-twenties, including an Irish couple in Vancouver who were on a self-destructive path through their drinking.  We also stopped being friends. And there are others, those with the red splotchy faces, the abusive tongues, the rude behavior that had driven friend and family away. I would often talk to these people, if they were friends, expressing concern but when they continued along their way I felt I didn’t need to be in the path of their abuse either.

I was arrogant enough to think I’d never be an alcoholic because I didn’t like alcohol that much and I was aware of it. That may have been the case but I wasn’t aware of the abyss in my soul and where it was sucking me to. I was unhappy and single, while all my friends were in couples. I hated myself, my eating disorder was out of control. On top of it, I’d fallen in love with a man who didn’t love me and inadvertently probably rubbed the fact in my face with his patronizing way.

Before I knew it I was drinking to drown the pain and perceived loneliness. I stood in the back of a poetry performance night one evening, crying (from my broken heart), then going out to my car to drink a cider, then coming in and crying, and repeating in progressively drunken way. I went to a camping event and proceeded to get so drunk that I didn’t know what I did. In essence, I had a blackout. Then on New Year’s eve I went to Blaine to some friends’ party. Bored and feeling the loneliness around all the couples there, I decided to drive back to Vancouver to another party.

Lucky for me, some friends braved my wrath and took my keys away. I later passed out and left the next day. Shortly after that night I was thinking of my life and realized I teetered on the edge of becoming a full fledged alcoholic. The brink was close and I was sliding over it. Also lucky for me, with that realization, I started to reassert control over my life.

And two friends at that time, drew straws to see who would approach me and say I had a drinking problem. The loser got to come up to me, probably expecting me to tear into her. But when she said, we think you have a drinking problem, I said, Thank you for being such good friends to tell me. You have the right, if you see me out of control at any time, please tell me.

And after that, I did try to control it, and not drink to cover my problems. Alcoholism, though, can strike for a number of reasons. Some people are physiologically more susceptible. Others make it part of their lifestyle. Others use to flood the hollow spots. It is the duty of anyone who is friend or family to say to the drinker, You have a problem and you need help. But as always, it is up to the person to change and hopefully have the support of friends when they take that path. I learned some valuable lessons about drinking and about me. I wouldn’t want to go that road again.

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Sixty-Year-Old Woman has Babies

Everyone is talking about the 60-year-old woman who had in vitro fertilization to have babies. There were three embryos but one was removed because of health reasons, whether to the woman or the embryo wasn’t clear but I believe it was the embryo that wouldn’t survive. She gave birth prematurely to twins in Alberta.

But now every news show seems to have jumped on the ethics bandwagon. Is it right, is it ethical? Should parents so old have babies? Etc. ad nauseum. Let’s break this down into the two questions? Should old people (you define the age) have babies and should physically fit people have babies?

Looking at that last question first, should people who are physically debilitated have children? Years ago Ablerta performed mandatory sterilization on people from 1928 to 1972. The Sexual Sterilization Act was to keep undesirable traits from showing in offspring. Of course there would be no offspring with sterilization. Some of the people who were reviewed for sterilization were alcoholics, paupers, epileptics, prostitutes, mentally retarded, psychotics, had Huntington’s disease, or in some cases were just abused children themselves: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_Sterilization_Act_of_Alberta

Very draconian and far reaching. There are recent cases of quadriplegicshaving children. Crippled people who may spend their lives in wheelchairs or walking on one leg have successfully raised children, even as have people with low IQs, which did not pass on to their children. Although alcoholics should probably be held responsible for children born with fetal alcohol syndrome, they’re usually not barred from having children and they may be less fit than a 40, 50 or 60-year-old in good shape.

So, should “old” people have children? Maybe they’re less likely to run off with someone else, making the other spouse a single parent. People who come from those large families of twelve kids or so may find that if they’re the youngest their parent is indeed old by the time they’re born. Sometimes one parent is much older than the other. Under various reasons of health, emotional or financial instability people have given up their children for adoption or to be raised by grandparents. Sometimes the parents die. As someone pointed out, Obama was raised by his grandparents. He seems a normal human. Old people don’t grow horns and become another species. They’re capable of raising young humans and there’s no guarantee that one 60-year-old is as fit or unfit as another.

What I find interesting is that people of older years have had children before but this time someone, maybe the Alberta health authorities, decided to alert the media and the media leapt for the bone. Even mainstream media seems to be going more tabloid these days with the sensationalist nosiness. When will we start taking responsibility for our own lives and what we do and stop sticking our noses into everyone else’s business?

These parents may turn out to be rotten or the best parents ever. Pretty much it’s the luck of the draw that all of us get at birth, and at least they’re not living in poverty, nor in 1928 when the Alberta government would have seen fit to sterilize them.

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Forgiveness & Betrayal

Well, it’s come up because of my recent post on eating disorders. Could I forgive my father for what he did to me?

Let me say that my father abused me and my older sister, who had to deal with a lot more for far too many years. Such abuse leaves emotional scars that can sometimes never be corrected. It sets you back on the path of life, if nothing else, taking one much longer to achieve what emotionally happy people can. If there’s one thing I’ve learned very strongly over the years: what you give your children will be what they give back in years to come. If they are abused in any way, chances are they won’t succeed in some area, that they’ll be petty, mean, abusive, unstable, wounded, or worse. Some will become criminals. We’re lucky in my family that none of us strayed too far down that path.

Forgiveness is something I can grant many people who have done me wrong. I’ve been betrayed a couple of times in the last few years. Betrayal is one of the worst things a person can do to me. It hits at a fundamental level of trust. These betrayals caused such distress for me that I no longer do many things in the arenas where those people are. I lost the love to do so. I’m probably ready to return to some events, but others, it will never be the same.

Still, such betrayals are forgiveable. On one level I know that one person did what she thought was right, no matter that she was influenced by someone else. The other person, well, she had always been self-serving and I should have been wary. In each case I thought I was friends with these people but friendship means different things to different people. I can forgive them that they had a different viewpoint and that they probably didn’t think they were betraying me. It doesn’t mean they’re friends anymore or that I like them (I may or may not in the individual cases.) but I can forgive their actions as not having meshed with mine.

I cannot and not sure I ever will be able to, forgive my father. He abused and betrayed a fundamental role as father. He never showed remorse and never tried to communicate. When I went into art college, he told my older brother he would pay my way through college. I said, “I can’t be bought and if this means he wants to see me, then he needs to stop drinking and see an counsellor. Then I’ll accept and see him.” I never heard anything else on that front and I paid my way through college.

Someone who knowingly and repeatedly does harm to another is, to me, beyond forgiveness. Sure they may have been shaped by their childhoods but they know what’s right and wrong. Should I forgive the sociopaths that kidnap, torture and murder someone? Forgive them because they know not what they do? Unfortunately they know very well what they do. They hide it because it is wrong and they get off on it. How should I forgive that?

Some day, like I said, perhaps someone will explain forgiveness in a way that I can grant it. But to me, to forgive is to accept. I can’t accept the self-serving heinous actions of people who murder and rape. My father is dead and that’s a blessing. I’ve done a fair amount of work to get myself to a stable and contented space. Sure I still have anger to deal with and I’m working on it. But some people aren’t so lucky in their lives.

Like I said above, nurture your children well. Love them. For the foundations you give them today will help them succeed tomorrow.

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Polygamy: I Do I Do I Do

Polygamy is defined as a person having multiple spouses but is most often referring to polygyny, a man with more than one wife. The even rarer polyandry is a woman with more than one husband.

Several polygamist communities have been in the news of late: El Dorado, Texas and Bountiful, BC. The Texan community fell afoul of the law and 400 children were removed but recently returned. Bountiful is under police scrutiny; the courts are debating charging them. Over and over again, the media talks about the polygamist marriages where men in their 40s seem to have many wives, some as young as 12 years of age.

It’s polygamy that gets mentioned most of all but really there are two other issues here. The first is that of child abuse and rape. The second, harder to prove if all those 14-year-old girls have hit the age of consent and marry a 45-year-old man, is that of coercion, subjugation and good ole fashioned brainwashing.

Let’s take a look at equality. If you google pictures of the El Dorado Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints sect, you’ll get many shots of women in frumpy Holly Hobby outfits all with the same peter pan collar, button-down demure front, and sleeves neatly buttoned at the wrist. Oh, and with a good ankle length cut. Although blue seems to be a favorite color, there was a woman in pink and one in purple, and even one in business brown. And the hair, ohmigod, the hair, all coiffed in the same sweep, no matter the shape of face or age. Can you say Stepford Wives, moreso than they ever were portrayed in the movie? Though I think there is something scarily in common with these fundamentalist sects and the The Stepford Wives.

But where are the men, you ask? Men? Well, yes, obviously there are fewer of them. After all, every man has several wives. You can probably blame the media for going for the more high profile pictures. After all, any pictures of the men (and there are very few) seem to have them in fairly standard jeans and shirts, even if they are buttoned at wrist and neck. But perhaps there are fewer men because, when the authorities raided the Texas compound, those ole guys went into hiding. And one has to wonder if this particular brand of polygamy is not just another word for pedophilia hiding under the guise of religion.

Bountiful’s pictures are not as…bountiful and there are the same pictures of women in outdated dresses (with running shoes, mind you) and yet some of women in modern dress. Winston Blackmore, the BC sect’s leader is shown with women in traditional dress and all those women and daughters in modern dress. Always, there are a lot of women, and girls. One has to start to wonder if the law of averages with both genders shows up in Bountiful, or if there are more girls born. After all, they’d be more of a benefit to such a man who needs at least three wives. You don’t want any mating wars with other vying males either.

So, why aren’t the women collecting several husbands? I’m sure the men could answer this. I’m sure the women could too, because they’ve probably been schooled since they were young on what they should or shouldn’t do and to “keep sweet,” as Bountiful’s motto goes.

Even though the FLDS sects are part of Mormonism, the larger body of Mormons these days do not follow polygamy, and most of the FLDS groups get around the law by actually only having one married wife and the rest as just secondary wives. And there are enough groups, religious or not that follow polygamy.

I always have a hard time with any group or faith that requires different things from men or women. Whether one gender must wear something or another gender is not allowed to do something, I get suspicious. It usually means there is some inclusion/exclusion based on gender that gets past all sorts of human rights because it is religion. And after all, whichever gender has the restrictions, they’re usually told it’s god’s will, so therefore it’s right. And the only thing that sticks in us as much as how family styles us is how we’re styled by religion.

There is another side to polygamy, and I’ll cover that tomorrow.

http://www.rickross.com/reference/polygamy/polygamy65.html

Many articles exist on the above. You just have to google one of the many tags to read up on it.

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