the
post
visit the
blog
skip to
comments
lots more
sdl
get it in
your email

The Human Parent – An Overdue Rant

Group of hand and fist lift up high

I don’t even know what to say after this morning’s parenting edition of The Truth Box. There have been a LOT of strong emotions flying around, and a lot of things said.

According to some of you, I crossed a serious line posting some of those confessions. Others of you have demanded that I report the submitters to the police, threatening that if I don’t, you will. Others have demanded that some of the children need to be taken away from their parents.

When I shared the link this morning, I told you all that it was my favorite edition of The Truth Box yet. And I stand by that. We had never done a parental confessions edition, and something about it all made me feel so much more empowered and emboldened as a parent while I put it together.

Many of the confessions were light-hearted. Some even humorous. And some were extremely heavy and hard to hear. That, to me, is what makes The Truth Box so powerful.

But right now let’s talk about a couple of the heavier ones.

This one has really struck a nerve with people:

The embarrassing thing I did as a parent:

I’ve lost control of my temper and hurt my son more than once, even when he was a baby.

Why I’ve never told anyone:

I’m afraid he would get taken away. And I really love him, even though he does everything possible to push my buttons all the time.

And this one:

The embarrassing thing I did as a parent:

Left my 8 year old daughter alone at night after she fell asleep so I could go to the bar for some me time for a couple of hours.

Why I’ve never told anyone:

Because it’s dangerous and I could get into a lot of trouble!

There were others that pushed readers’ buttons, and believe me. I understand why. But to respond and attack the confessors? I fear that the reason for the Truth Box is becoming hard to remember at all.

The Truth Box is a place where people can come and share a secret that they’ve been holding onto and share it anonymously. I don’t collect any information about the sender, not even their IP address. I have no way to tie any of these to anyone.

I also am a big time advocate for good parenting. I’m an advocate for involved parenting. I’m definitely an advocate for controlled and non-abusive parenting.

Which is why I loved this version of the Truth Box.

Every person who shared a secret, big or small, had been holding onto that secret for God knows how long. Many of them felt like their secrets defined them as parents. Many of them felt that their secrets often meant that deep down they were bad parents, and were scared shitless at the thought of others finding out the truth.

Yet they posted anyway because they needed to say the words out loud, even if anonymously. They needed to admit what they had done, even if anonymously. They knew that others might respond harshly, and they did it anyway.

And then we go open our big mouths and crucify them and want to take their children away?

CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE

630 comments
Guest
Guest

I am reading these comments, and I'm seeing worthy discussion.  I grew up in a home with an alcoholic mother and a coke-head dad.  Everything was tight including money, tempers, and the shoes on my feet.  I can think back to several specific events that could have gotten us kids taken away, but it never happened.  There were times that I felt helpless, and alone, and scared.  I NEVER wanted to be taken away though, and we never were.  Since we stayed together as a family we were forced to sit down at the dinner table every night and actually talk to each other.  Our nightly dinner conversation brought us closer as a family and we were forced to solve our problems as a family.  There was never a lack of love, there were only two parents going through a rough time.  I'm fairly certain that most everyone reading Dan's page has gone through a rough time at some point in their lives.  It is natural.  As a family, we are very close now because we have seen the worst in each other, but we have chosen to continue on loving one another.  My father died five years ago from brain cancer and my mother is 7 years sober, circumstances change and so do people.  It is because of all of the bad events that us siblings are emotionally evolved in our relationships.  We are all thankful for every rough memory so far, for these events have made us who we are today.  I believe that there are times that children need to be taken out of a bad place, but usually a family just needs the resources to become better people or get out of a bad situation.  It is hard to thrive when you aren't in a good mental or physical space.

onlyme024
onlyme024

I agree with what Dan said. Everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes we mess up big-time. Then we apologize for our mistakes. We expect others to forgive us. In return we need to do the same.

Egowillneverwin
Egowillneverwin

I love how the word hurt - automatically translates to abuse. Every Single negative comment is made by a hypocrite. THERE IS NOT ONE PERSON HERE THAT HAS NOT "HURT" SOMEONE IN ANGER. This is where the difference of hearing and "listening" comes into perspective. I have hurt many people in anger I am not a monster.. I am human - I am learning every day. Get off your high horses and offer ways you help yourself over take anger so that maybe this parent who is asking for help may receive it.

overwhelmedmomof4
overwhelmedmomof4

I am a mom of FOUR kids, one who is 20F, one who has mental and physical differentabities 13F, one who has ODD and ADHD unmedicated 11M and one sweet as pie 8F. I will tell you this is not the dream parent world I had envisioned when I had these children. My son is a test from GOD almightly himself. Sometimes I feel like Job! My 13 yr old does not have the ability to control anger. To say the lease I have a very stressful and overwhelming house hold. Recentely my 13 yr old said something at school that was not true, completely. DSS was called on me. That was the BEST thing that ever happened. Now the findings were I was not an unfit mom, but a mom who needed help. A case was never opened on me BUT they set me up with Child and family who has been a BLESSING in my life. They are there to help me and my kids get the help we all need and to help me be a better mom. We will be having a in home family therapist come in and shadow my son and teach me how to discipline the right way. My 13 and 11 yr olds have therapeutic mentors (kinda like a big sibling program with therapy incorporated into it) and we are working to be a better family. So to these woman and men who forgot to pick up their instruction booklets on the way out from the hospital on how to be a parent, there is help out there, and awesome help!! My daughter saying the wrong thing at the wrong time at school was the best thing that ever happened to us. 

Guest1
Guest1

While foster care is both expensive and over-crowded, I would have to say it is certainly better than a child dying at the hands of his parent.

Losing control and then saying that the child "pushes all of my buttons" is classic behavior of an abuser. The majority of people who murder their children don't intend to. Each year an estimated 2000 children die at the hand of a caregiver.

I would encourage anyone who has witnessed the abuse of a child or fears they might harm their own child to report it and get help. Ignoring abuse results at BEST in wounded children who become damaged adults.

Call 1.800.4.A.Child for help.

I would also urge you not to minimize the issue of abuse by saying "All parents lose their cool sometimes." While everyone has had moments of parenting that are less than stellar, there is a big difference between that and repeatedly hurting a child (particularly when your "confession" includes a statement blaming the child.)

Danielle
Danielle

The most important lesson we teach our son is that EVERYone makes mistakes. It is not about the mistakes you make but it is about what you do about the mistakes that matters. I make mistakes all of time but I have never once hit my child out of anger. Why not? Because I was not raised in a home that showed anger so this behavior was not taught to me. People who do harm to children are oftentimes not monsters but people who need help. Only until people can ask for help and give help will this world be a better place. As a child advocate I would be a hypocrite if I did not understand that I need to not only help the child but also help the people who most affect the children of the world - their parents.While we focus on that bad behavior a child sees so much more than just that in their parent and we need to look real deep and find the good if at all possible.

WayneToles
WayneToles

I swear we are brothers from another mother. You always say and do the right thing. Keep doing what you do. It is wanted and enjoyed

redmagiq
redmagiq

i may not be very smart, or have all the answers ~ or even any of the answers, but it occurred to me the other day that there is no situation in life that has ever been made worse by throwing love at it.  lots of love, love till it hurts love, piles and armfuls of love... secrets, and the shame that goes along with them, is what keep us sick and scared and i can only think that so many people have relieved themselves of a burden by releasing that secret into a safe, loving, and nonjudgmental ear. and those who responded in anger or judgment?  kind of makes me wonder if they would respond the same way to their loved ones if they were made aware of some human transgression.  and so i have to love them too, even if i don't like what they said, because that is what we are supposed to do.  thank you for reminding me.

Raven101
Raven101

My reaction to this post: What the Hell, because when I read the post this one is based on I had to stop reading it because, I found it boring. Well borings the wrong word it just wasn't what I'd excepted. I'd thought it was going to be stuff like: accidently locking your kid out of the house on a cold winters day for several hours or forcing them to take some medicine only to find out later their allergic to it (both of which my parents have done to me and no their not abusive). Instead I found posts about spider water, something which I'm pretty sure happened a lot when I was a kid and wasn't even considered an event. After all if you've boiled the water then all the germs are gone.

In regard to the “I’ve lost control of my temper and hurt my son more than once, even when he was a baby.” comment how can anyone say that, that person shouldn't be a parent and needs to have their kids taken into care? If that was the case then every kid alive would be in care, because there isn't a parent alive who hasn't at some point lost their temper with their child. This doesn't mean they've hit them. After all losing your temper can mean yelling, punching a wall, storming up stairs to your room, playing loud music or doing physical exercise. And even if it means hitting there is a big difference between disciplining a child through physical means and abuse. I'm not saying that smacking a child is the right way to discipline, but it isn't always abuse. I can also understand how some people might look at the statement above and see it as meaning extreme abuse, but the language used is very general and none pacific so we can't know that, that is what happened. The fact is that by judging them in such a drastic way we are making the problem worse as they will feel unable to get help.

My advice, always get all the facts or as many as possible before jumping to conclusions.

Spikemare
Spikemare

I can't submit to this because I'm not a parent.  I was a kid.  But my dad actually left me with my head out of the automatic sunroof.  It nearly closed on my head.  It's something I laugh about today, but it was absolutely terrifying.  Do I think my dad was a bad parent because of that?  Nope.  Just not paying attention.

Cari Eilers
Cari Eilers

How many of you who say they have "seen" abuse, sit back and do nothing or first thing they do is say how they will call the authorities? How many actually step up and try to help the parent?..you may not know whats going on in their lives and no it does not excuse actual child abuse and we all have our own definition of abuse, if there were actually decent human beings out there they would not sit by and rant over these things online here. We are a country who walks by and only judges people behind their backs instead of standing up and trying to help because we don't want to get involved. We are human..we make horrible mistakes in our lives, not one of us are perfect, but for heavens sake don't sit here and judge when you don't know the truth. The parent who said she hurt her child..do you actually know what they did? Could be a simple spanking and they feel horrible.

JesterJAG
JesterJAG

I know people who made these same mistakes and worse and here is what I say to them and to the parents who shared in "the Truth Box" : I will not judge you on the choices you made yesterday but only on the ones you make today. 

You are right Dan, what makes us human is that we CAN learn from our mistakes, we can become better people and better parents because of the mistakes we have made.  What happened in the past is not nearly as important as what will happen going forward.  Obviously all of these parents feel bad for what they did - or they would not be keeping it secret - so they are clearly not Inhumane Monsters.  Have they made poor choices? YES! Is there a better way? YES! Are they Human? YES!  and so are the rest of us - I would not want anyone to judge me on my past, therefore I will not judge anyone else on their past.

People do change, we do learn from our mistakes and to think these people will never change is extremely narrow minded.  Is any one of us exactly the same as we were 5 years ago? or 10 years ago?  or even last year?  No, because as human beings we are always growing and learning.  Take these children away and put them in Foster care and you risk having them disappear into an abyss and grow into troubled teens and troubled adults who will continue the cycle! And you break their Parents' spirits forever!  Help these families find the help they need and you help the adults become better parents and you help the children grow into Better Human Beings and more stable members of society.

I wish I could give each of these parents that made a confession a Hug and tell them they are better than that and they are not their past.

"Judge not Lest ye be judged"

"Yesterday is gone forever, and Tommorrow is always out of reach.  Today is a gift - that is why we call it the Present"

The Real Dave
The Real Dave

Looking at those two confessions it's impossible to tell if they were something that happened long in the past or a current issue.  On that basis alone we have no right to judge because we don't have any details.  For all we know, they got counseling or help for their issues and are much better people now than they were when they did those things.  And you're absolutely right, calling these people out and threatening them with prosecution or CPS, especially on so little information, does nothing but isolate them and make the problem worse.  And even the best parents can have their bad moments where they do something they regret later.  What matters is how they handle it afterwards, what they learn from it, and what steps they take to make sure it doesn't happen again.

I will add one caveat though - if there was any indication of sexual abuse of children then I would be concerned enough to take action, unless I could be fully satisfied that it was a past issue that was dealt with appropriately.  That's something I consider a  zero tolerance item. 

Matthew Carpenter
Matthew Carpenter

I wasn't one who was "angry" that Dan speaks of, however doing something wrong 10 years ago and doing something wrong currently are two different things. A parent can not change what they have done, however when we readers read that the person "hurts" (indicates current) and the child "knows how to push my buttons" indicates the parent is blaming the child not their own self for the "hurt" they are causing their child when they (the parent) gets angry at the child-- that child may still be getting "hurt"-- are we readers supposed to sit back knowing a child may be getting hurt and not say anything? Are we not human?? Sure, some have made mistakes (every parent has at one point or another, even if it is as simple as giving the child the wrong foods) but to know that a child is potentially being harmed and not being able to do anything about it, leaves everyone feeling helpless and their words are the only thing they have left to speak out with...

SueCraneBryan
SueCraneBryan

I had a moment I regret..my daughter, 4 at the time, decided to steal a necklace from the store while she was with Grandma. She asked Grandma to buy it and she said no. When they got back to grandma's. she showed gma what I had bought her..same necklace..Gma took her back to the store and then called me. I arrived just fit to be tied..spanked her and took her home. The next day I caught her with something else that didn't belong to her and I went nuts! I screamed at her, smacked her with a belt..we both were crying hysterically..it was awful! Her father had been in prison for armed robbery and I wasn't raising a thief...christian parenting books were spouting spare the rod, spoil the child nonsense..worst moment of my life..hers, too, at that moment. I apologized to her and that kind of melt down never happened again. I threw out those christian handbooks and followed my own instincts. She is 31 now and remembers none of it and I am so, so, glad. We all can have parenting fails..apologize and make steps to correct it. Seek help if you need it and keep the conversation going. I was a young mom..wisdom came with age and experience. I know how parents get to certain points..reach out and help instead of judging. 

T
T

I've been reading the commentary, and I just wanted to respond to "who helps the child?" I was severely abused as a child, more than a decade of violence, hostility, and the "breaking" of me. I love my two main abusers. Taking me away from my parents and shoving me through child protection services MIGHT have saved me some physical pain, but it would not have fixed anything for me. Helping my parents with their issues so that we could have a healthy relationship together, would have helped me. So, to the question "Who helps the child?" I'd like to offer the idea the it COULD be the person who helps the parent of the child.


KatherineWhite
KatherineWhite

I can't say "It's ok" to someone who willfully hurts their child or intentionally puts them at risk.  If you've done it, hopefully you KNOW it's not ok.  My hesitance in all this "accept/don't judge" movement, is that people will continue to make excuses in their own mind for what's going on/what they've done.  

So, I'll say, "that was terrible", that guilt/shame you feel is meant to cause you to turn around and find a better way.  And that can be hard if you're dealing with depression or anxiety--but the way you're living isn't fun for you either.  If you're always (or often) at the boiling point with your kid, where you'd lay a hand on your child in anger, you're not having fun either.  So I'm glad you found the courage to put your shame and guilt into words, but now put it into action...you just have to (or you'll end up with more guilt and shame and maybe even grief)  No, I'm not saying that anyone on that list needs to have their children taken away, what do I know of how their household actually runs, but some know they're at risk for at least a visit (not that a CPS visit is always a bad thing).

No one is a perfect parent, that's true, but no one has that as an excuse to keep from learning to do better.  There are parenting classes available, there are websites on peaceful parenting with TONS of good ideas, there are Meetup groups for you to find other parents who need some friends/support/encouragement/activities.  If you're overwhelmed, find ONE of those to start with...talk to other parents, find other role models (maybe your parents were even worse, so find people whose parenting style you admire and PICK THEIR BRAIN, mimic them, etc).

Look, if mama and daddy ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.  Find your happy life.  It's there for you, and your kids, but it's not in a bottle of alcohol or a screaming fit with your kids...so find another way...keep looking, or your confession was for nothing, 

AngelaPerry
AngelaPerry

My husband is a family therapist. He sees a lot of this: parents who are terrified and ashamed to seek help because of what other people will think of them. Many of them eventually land in his office through court ordered therapy, after something irreversible has happened to the children, because they were afraid to seek help sooner.

I understand that many people are concerned for the children. That's natural and normal and right. However, the best way to stop abuse is to stop the cycle of abuse. That means helping the abuser. Not vilifying them. Not demanding their children be taken away and they be thrown in jail. That is NOT an appropriate reaction.

To everyone who shared, who has made mistakes and feels ashamed and helpless but wants to change, I say please seek help. Remember, what you did does not define who you are. You made bad choices, but that doesn't make you a bad person. Many therapists offer reduced rate or pro bono counseling if you can't afford the visits. Lots of schools offer parenting classes. Everyone, EVERYONE, is screwed up in some way, and counseling is about teaching you the life skills you missed growing up. It doesn't mean you're broken, and it shouldn't be your last resort. You will be met with love and understanding.

To the people judging: I challenge you to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. The safety in anonymity is essential to helping people open up. The safety from judgment is essential to self honesty and change. You will see this at a meeting, and perhaps it can touch you in a way that words can't.

And finally, to Dan: I'm a newbie here. I've liked what I've seen in the past few weeks, and I think you're trying to do a good thing with these posts. You have no obligation to take my advice. But I would suggest this isn't the best forum for these types of discussions. You have the anonymity component, but not the safety component. The Internet is NOT a safe place for people to share. It's harsh and judgmental and full of knee-jerk reactions based on incomplete information. I think people would be better helped with parenting challenges by providing places where they can find true help and support. FWIW.

Teresa Su
Teresa Su

Thank you, Tiffany for writing that. I just had a baby... he's only a week old and already my husband and I face many scary decisions everyday. And all the results can be judged poorly by one party or another. I know I am in for a lifetime of scary decision making and listening to other judge me on what I do as a parent. It's so comforting to know there is someone like you out there that would simply accept my parenting choices.

shadeflower
shadeflower

Dan, you are an amazing person and I truly appreciate you, your honesty and the inherent love you hold for all people.

Ashley-Michelle Carrowan
Ashley-Michelle Carrowan

Angie Sharp, not a one of us "angry parents" has suggested we've never made a mistake. Your argument is invalid.

CarrieAnneGrover
CarrieAnneGrover

Trying to be the perfect parent is like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall.  To the parents who judge other parents. Glass houses, friend. Glass houses.  It is so much easier to put someone down than it is to reach out a hand and offer support it would seem.....

Sarah77
Sarah77

I read some of the comments yesterday too and was appalled at how insensitive. We all make mistakes as parents. Parenting is hard. It pushes every button you never knew you had. There is no perfect parent out there. Realizing you have done something you shouldn't have as a parent and confessing it are the first steps to being a better parent. As you stated, what good does it do to tear someone down when they need help? Is that not hypocritical?

kgpaints
kgpaints

Dan, you're awesome.  I wish more people put actual thought and discernment and caring into their words before spewing them out into the internet to live forever and potentially either help or damage total strangers.  There are people who you are not going to get through to - ever.  The air is nice up there on that tall horse called Perfection.  They will never understand how to respond to something negative with something positive or loving.  Well, screw those people. (How's that for loving?)   It's the others, the real people, the imperfect ones, that things like The Truth Box are very helpful for and I hope that you continue to periodically offer a Parent edition.  You never know who you might be saving.

Ellie
Ellie

I get your point about responding with love, but seriously - what did you expect?  Did you expect everyone to be all "Oh that's ok honey. My kids stress me out too.  Perhaps you could do something other than shove them in a metal trash can and sit on the lid for a few minutes.  Would that be ok with you? Do you have a support system? Sending you (hugs)!"

I'm callin' BS on this one.  People who hear about children being mistreated SHOULD get upset - isn't that a good thing?   Where is the voice of the children?  Where is their truth box? "Mommy/Daddy put me in a trash can, hurts me sometimes, gives me special sleeping medicine."  Screw empathy and sympathy for some of these parents - and don't give them credit for anonymously confessing on someone's blog.  Feeling attacked by angry blog readers? Too bad for you.  What do you think these kids felt?  They don't get to close the internet window and make it go away - they cannot escape angry parents.  They have no power.  

I hope whoever needs help gets it, because if I found out about abuse, I would report it.  In a heartbeat.  Not because I endorse family separation or want more kids in foster care.  But because kids deserve a safe environment. Period.


Angie Sharp
Angie Sharp

good to know that the people who are "angry" are such good parents that have done nothing wrong in their entire life. who are we to judge other people for what they do.

Jody
Jody

Dan, thank you for championing for a world where we can be honest without being punished for it.  That should go for everyone!  Parents, children, everyone, no matter what age.  I have realized lately that this atmosphere of safety and honesty and accountability is something I have a huge burden for.  But I don't know how to facilitate it...it's so counter cultural in the circles some of us walk in.  You are providing a beautiful model of life.  Human life with each other.  Keeping the conversation open.  And always providing a balance of accountability and encouragement.  If we're honest, we've all done/said things we would do anything to go back and rewind.  Thanks for the reminder that we need to allow ourselves to be human together, and thereby allow for the redemption and transformation of our brokenness.


Felicia Johnston
Felicia Johnston

to the parents that felt they were driven to violence because they were tire or stressed, even if you don't think you have a support system. You do. I am by no way religious but I am always aware of help and places to go. Many churches, hospitals and social services offer that break you need when you feel you are going to lose it. Even coming over to give you the ten minute break you need to calm down. Leave the room let the child cry if you need those few mins, that is much less harmful than physically hurting them. Hang in there.

Ashley-Michelle Carrowan
Ashley-Michelle Carrowan

I'm just so baffled by the "it was only one time" and "we don't know the circumstances of why these things happened". Who cares?! It happened once! In one example, not only does the mother admits to harming her BABY, she admits that it was several times and suggests that the abuse is ongoing! Who cares what the circumstances were? That sort of mindset is right in line with a rapist blaming his victim because she wore skimpy clothing and "was asking for it". That is the mindset of a man beating his wife because she burned dinner and "knew what she was doing to make him mad". When IS an acceptable time to neglect and abuse your child? When they "push your buttons"? When you've bad a particularly rough day at work? When you run out of booze to "help you cope"? I really hope you think on this the next time you see a battered, beaten, or murdered child on the news. I truly hope you think on it and make the right choice to advocate for these voiceless children. I WILL NOT TURN AWAY FROM THIS ISSUE UNTIL JUSTICE IS SERVED FOR THESE ABUSED CHILDREN! Just because these people confessed their sins does NOT imply that the abuse has stopped. Nor does it imply that the abuser feels remorse for their injustices toward their children. These people are cowards, hiding behind the animosity of a computer screen and Dan's "it's ok, do better next time" and THAT is unacceptable. These children deserve better.

JenniferBettsShettle
JenniferBettsShettle

It really disgusts me that anyone would defend some of these confessions. There is a HUGE difference in being an "imperfect parent", which we ALL are, and abusing your children. Hurting a baby is abuse, no matter how you cut it. YES, they need help, but who helps the child that is getting hurt? Who would help the 8 year old left alone if the house caught on fire, or someone broke in? The main focus should ALWAYS be the children, not the "parents" who do things like this.

Macarpen
Macarpen

@The Real Dave Just a PS-- I think it was courageous of the person to "confess" and am glad they did, because it got a subject out there that obviously needs discussed; however if they truly want to change, they need to realize that children push buttons-- that is what children do. It is up the adult to realize their behavior is what they can control, and if they can not control their anger, they need to address that issue, which I hope reading the responses will allow them to do.

Macarpen
Macarpen

@The Real Dave Abuse is abuse is abuse. Sexual abuse hurts the same as physical/mental/psychological abuse. Actually, psychological abuse is probably the worst, because physical and sexual abuse is something that can physically end, allowing for healing to begin the moment the abuse stops, whereas the psychological abuse is internal torment that goes on for many, many years. With sexual abuse, healing CAN take place-- it is difficult but with much work, one can "move on".  So I am curious as to why sexual abuse seems the worst of the worst in your opinion? (I am a survivor of sexual abuse, so I do know that life can go on after the abuse). 
Anyway, let's analyze the words of one of the confessions to see if there are indications as to whether it was recent or long ago:
To quote the confession:

"I’ve lost control of my temper and hurt my son more than once, even when he was a baby."

I've lost indicates past.. Even when he was a baby indicates that the son is no longer a baby and that the hurt had gone on.. Son could now be 50 years old for all we know, but what we do know is that he was hurt repeatedly. Let's continue.

"Why I’ve never told anyone: I’m afraid he would get taken away. And I really love him, even though he does everything possible to push my buttons all the time."

Ahhh.. this helps.. "I'm afraid" indicates current.. "I was afraid" or "I used to be afraid" would have indicated past. "I AM AFRAID" indicates that the fear of the son being taken away is a current fear so the son still lives with them. "I really love him" indicates a current love. "Even though he does everything possible to push my buttons ALL THE TIME." Indicates a current pushing of the buttons.. Not "even though he had pushed my buttons" but rather "does" (current) "push my buttons all the time" indicates current. 

I am not saying this person is a monster, or a horrible parent-- that hurt could be something minor and not abuse.. However, the fact that they blame the child "pushing buttons" instead of saying "I wish I could stop" or "I know I shouldn't do it but.." they just justify the behavior. To a trained ear, that would indicate that there is a problem with that person-- not that the person is bad, but rather the person has some behavior that needs to be corrected to ensure they do not hurt their child. 

AngelaPerry
AngelaPerry

@SueCraneBryan Thank you for sharing, Sue. Apologies can go a long way. I used to think admitting I was wrong would make my son think less of me and I'd lose his respect. He thought I was perfect, and I didn't want to disappoint him. But when I started admitting I screwed up, apologized for it, and did what I could to make up for it, I saw that he did too.

wisemoon
wisemoon

@Ellie Please remember that mistreatment occurs on a spectrum, and "abuse" is not quite as black and white as you are implying. You might be surprised at the actual legal definition of abuse or neglect in the legal code of your state. People you and others might judge as "bad parents" are probably within the limits of the law. Also, the impact that mistreatment has on an individual can vary extremely from one case to another. Lastly, CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING. When my oldest son was little, when he threw a huge tantrum, I would often use the technique called "therapeutic hold"--hold the child on your lap, with your arms wrapped tightly around their arms, and let them scream and struggle and cry until they calm down. I would talk to him calmly, letting him know that I loved him and realized he was very upset or frustrated, but that I was going to hold him so that he didn't hurt himself or me. But all people in the next room would hear is him screaming "let go of me!" Sometimes he even said "you're hurting me" even though all I was doing was holding on to him. But I wasn't hurting him--I was protecting him from hurting me or himself. It all depends on how much you know about the context, so keep that in mind before you rush to judgment.

AngelaPerry
AngelaPerry

@JenniferBettsShettle The main focus should be the FAMILY. By helping the parents, you help the child. Words like "abuser" and "disgust" are emotionally charged and do not facilitate communication. That's why we send families to professionals for help, rather than to well-meaning housewives on the Internet.

wisemoon
wisemoon

@JenniferBettsShettle CONTEXT CONTEXT CONTEXT. If someone is severely sleep deprived, and their baby has been screaming for hours, and they are a bit rough in changing a diaper and stick the baby with a pin--is that abuse? Or an accident? If someone turns away for a second and their baby rolls off a changing table onto the floor and hurts themselves, is that neglect? Or an accident? YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT REALLY HAPPENED. What if you kid told you they were going outside to play and ended up going to some other kid's house in another apartment complex and being gone for hours? And when you finally found them you grabbed their arm hard enough to hurt and yelled at them for scaring you half to death? Is that abuse? I just don't get you people. Maybe you just haven't had the same experiences I have, because you don't seem to understand what is abuse and what is not.

SueCraneBryan
SueCraneBryan

@AngelaPerry @SueCraneBryan I decided long before I had kids that I would do things differently than my parents. One of these was apologizing to my children if I was wrong. When I was a kid, we always new when our parents were being assholes but they never admitted when they were wrong even when it was staring them right in the face. I decided then and there that I wouldn't do that to my kids and I didn't. I also realized that my parents were also young parents looking back..6 kids in 7 years..all by the time my mom was 26. It is amazing we all turned out as well as we did but they did the best that they could..just like I did. We are raised to think certain ways and it takes courage to break away from those things when you see that they are bringing you and your kids harm rather than joy. There is no handbook for parenting. Everyone has different ideas or beliefs but it really is a crapshoot. You just might get that one kid that drives you crazy or hurts themselves or others..no matter what you do. There is no such thing as a perfect family and I think that is why people do some of the stupid stuff they do. We try to live up to a fantasy rather than working with reality. I know when my daughter was born, all I could think was that now my job was to take care of her and never let anything hurt her. Little did I realize that sometimes it would be me..whether I got angry over stupid stuff or important stuff. I protected her from the world as best as I could but really, we all think differently even about that. It is amazing that any of us grow up and don't become serial killers, rapists, etc..Everybody is doing the best that they can with the tools they have..does that mean I condone child abuse? Not in the least.. but we need to educate and support parents and families..remember there are a lot more single parents than any other time in history and it is tough with 2 parents..can you imagine what it is like with just one? Scary business..

Ellie
Ellie

@wisemoon I have done the hold as well.  There is no appropriate context for putting your child in a metal trash can and sitting on the lid.  Except maybe they were being chased by a rabid dog.  I get context.  There is no context that excuses abuse.  I will rush to protect children.  Every time.  Safety first.  Questions and explanations later.

JenniferBettsShettle
JenniferBettsShettle

And for the record, there are things in here that I laughed at. I am not judging anyone, but I think there are parents in here that need to seek help before something they truly regret happens


JenniferBettsShettle
JenniferBettsShettle

@wisemoon@JenniferBettsShettle Absolutely. Context is everything. As you yourself said,  "There is no appropriate context for putting your child in a metal trash can and sitting on the lid" I nicely remind you that you have no idea what experiences I have had, and if you knew me in person, might think differently. I know that intentionally hurting your child is ABUSE. Maybe I should have written "intentionally" on my first post, because that is what I meant. Some of these stories are intentionally inflicting pain or suffering on a child, and that is abuse. I get that parents lose their temper sometimes. I do it myself too. I have NOT ever hurt my child intentionally (not counting spanking) and that is the difference. A parent who comes on here (or anywhere) and admits to intentionally hurting their children.....how much is not being admitted? How far do you let it go before you step in? When the parent loses their cool one too many times, and a bone is broken? Or a child is dead? I understand these examples are extreme cases, but I would MUCH rather be labeled "you people" by you, than stand by and let ANOTHER child get hurt.

Ellie
Ellie

@AngelaPerry Past tense didn't matter much to my comment - that's what I meant when I said it didn't matter.   I think you and I are not as opposed to each other as you might think.  I said I would report abusive behavior - and I stand by that.  I don't want kids to be taken from their parents or put in foster care. But the first priority is to get the kids in a safe environment - if that can be done at home, fabulous.  If not, so be it.  Do the investigation and get the kid back home.   Families belong together whenever possible.  I just don't feel like we need to make people feel better about themselves simply because they confessed to abusive behavior online.  

AngelaPerry
AngelaPerry

@Ellie If you're involved in the issue, then you know the best thing you can do for an abused child is to help their parents get help, because then they can be a family. Children love their parents unconditionally, and they don't want to be separated from them. Foster care causes more emotional scarring, not less. It should only be used in the worst cases (and sorry, sticking your kid in a trashcan for five minutes doesn't qualify).

Of course parents who screw up should deal with the consequences, but who's to say they haven't? Past tense does matter, because people change. Hence the reason people shouldn't be judging on this small amount of information, and why I don't support this entire blog series.

Kids don't need Internet comment boxes. It's only when they hit puberty that people start getting self involved and spending all day yelling at people on the Internet for not agreeing with them :)

Ellie
Ellie

@AngelaPerry Kids are/were hurt - past tense or present, doesn't matter.  Kids don't have internet comment boxes to confess in.  They  have to find an adult that doesn't hurt them that they can trust, a feat in itself, and then maybe get some help.

I'm actually pretty involved in the issue, but I don't need to prove myself to anyone here.  Bottom line, make bad parenting choices, deal with the consequences.  Which may end up actually helping everyone involved.  We've all screwed up - own it and fix it, but don't expect a pat on the back every step of the way.

AngelaPerry
AngelaPerry

@Ellie Actually, we don't even know whether kids are being hurt. These could be stories shared from years ago. I don't see anyone here who doesn't have compassion for the children, just a lot of people who don't have compassion for the parents.

This is a pet peeve of mine: people who go no-holds-barred on people on the Internet for things they don't like, but never do anything in real life to stop it. The Internet has enough armchair activists. Hate child abuse? Stop talking about it and go do something about it. I can give you names and numbers if you're interested.

Ellie
Ellie

@wisemoon actually not true at all.  I'm not even a regular commenter on blogs.  Just extremely irked that people are leaning towards compassion for the parents than concern for children's safety.

I'm not close-minded, hearted, or anything else-d.  Again, I stand in judgment of no person, only behavior.  This is not a hug-it-out situation - kids are being hurt here. Where is the compassion for them?

If one of my kids makes a bad choice, they must deal with the consequences of that choice.  They don't get a free pass.  I hope that if someone sees me sitting on a trash can with my kid in it, they report me.  I would obviously need resources I don't have to deal with the situation.

Abusive parents shouldn't get a free pass either.  Confess online, so what?  Get some real help and start treating their kids better, or get reported. Stop whining that people are calling them out on it and concentrate their efforts on not repeating the cycle.

Getting reported may actually get some much-needed counseling to people who would otherwise never receive it.  And a safe environment for the child.  

wisemoon
wisemoon

@Ellie @wisemoon Well obviously you aren't open to changing your perspective. I guess you haven't been in a bad situation, so you can't understand. But then I don't know anything about you, so who knows. But your comments on this thread indicate a very closed mind in my opinion, and a very closed heart. When you are in a situation where all the choices available to you are bad ones, maybe you will have a bit more compassion.

Ellie
Ellie

@wisemoonTwo bad choices are still just that.  Bad choices.  Both wrong.  Both reportable.

Ellie
Ellie

@wisemoon forgot to add that I am not judging people, only behavior.  Labeling people is not the goal - only calling out inappropriate behaviors.

wisemoon
wisemoon

@Ellie @wisemoon Yes but which is better? Putting your kid in the bin, then explaining to them later? Or losing control of your temper and smacking the heck out of the kid? Because sometimes you don't have good choices, Ellie. Sometimes all you have are two bad ones, and you have to pick the lesser of two evils and hope you can fix what's broken later. Maybe you have never been in that situation--but I have. Depression and many other circumstances can cause this kind of Catch22 situation. I have to say if I had had the presence of mind to put my kids in a bin as an alternative to smacking them, I would have probably done it too.

wisemoon
wisemoon

@JenniferBettsShettle @wisemoon You made my point for me. I don't know you, you don't know me, you certainly don't know the anonymous people who posted their confessions in the Truth Box. And some people would say that spanking constitutes abuse--it's a subjective thing in many cases. But if you want to stay in your self-righteousness, that's fine. I'll protect my kids my way, and you protect your kids your way. Whatever.