It All Starts when We Punish our Kids, #8

           It all starts when we punish our kids.

          What “all starts?” Well . . .

          8. Domestic Violence.

          I know, I`ve already talked about violence generally (part 2), as well as misogyny (part 3) and rape (part 5) all in this series and I`ve written this argument before too, but I thought it deserved its own entry.

Here`s the rest of the series:

http://abusewithanexcuse.com/2015/08/19/it-all-starts-when-we-punish-our-kids-8/

http://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/11/30/it-all-starts-when-we-punish-our-kids-6/

 

http://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/09/11/it-all-starts-when-we-punish-our-kids-5/

         

http://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/08/25/it-all-starts-when-we-punish-our-kids-4/

 

http://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/07/20/it-all-starts-when-we-punish-our-kids-3/

 

http://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/07/19/it-all-starts-when-we-punish-our-kids-2/

 

http://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/07/19/it-all-starts-when-we-punish-our-kids-1/

And here`s the other one:

http://abusewithanexcuse.com/2014/09/11/why-do-i-stay-the-hopelessness-of-popular-issues/

Oh, and there`s this, possibly amusing and enlightening for those who haven`t seen it yet:

http://abusewithanexcuse.com/2013/11/26/punishment-of-children-as-domestic-abuse/

          Wow, seems this is all I ever say!

          OK then, so, one more f/$%?*g time: when you start to see a few things, when you start to see that there is no qualitative difference between abuse and punishment, and that there really is no form of punishment that isn`t physical, then the connections stand out like a white guy in a rice paddy.

          Personally, it doesn’t surprise me. From my point of view, the idea that some folks get used to the situation we mostly all shared in our childhoods, that our creators and landlords (“I brought you into this world, I can take you out” and “As long as you’re living under my roof you’ll obey my rules”) make the decisions and keep control through force and intimidation and so they just transition smoothly into adult abusive relationships. It’s only a surprise when we’re going about in denial about it. I tell you now, the surprise is a clue, an opportunity.

          When two apparent facts are in conflict, one of them must be wrong, or there is a higher truth behind them. Certainly not in every individual case, of course, but in general, adult abusive relationships give the lie to stories we tell of peoples’ idyllic, or even “normal” childhoods. I think in a way, we all intuit this connection, and so parents and caregivers of abused women have a range of reactions to their child’s adult abuse, from blatant support for the abuser against a child they always thought was difficult, through blindness to it, to demonization of the abuser in an attempt to distance themselves and preserve the family myth of discipline without abuse. Sometimes the parents figure it out and guilt ensues. Perhaps some of these parents would have changed their ways having seen where their kids ended up.

          Now I’m not unsympathetic, at least not from my vantage here at the computer. Honestly, I get unsympathetic (frightened and reactive) in the presence of violent people, but in theory, parents deserve some sympathy, some understanding. The shock and horror of seeing the child we raised apparently addicted to abuse, that is terrible, and in theory, if not in real life, I imagine I can empathize with the experience even if I think that generally, parents set it up in the first place. That’s not easy, because parents and caregivers are very active, very much the agents of this thing. You can’t stop them from their discipline, they are committed to it and won’t be turned away. Empathy for the way things turn out afterwards would seem to require either approval of their methods or some sort of acknowledgment that they too are victims, driven by unconscious forces, that their agency and authority were illusions.

          It’s hard, finding sympathy and forgiveness for those whose mistake was to be powerful and authoritative. Seriously, if that was forgivable, who is left that we can just relax and hate? That rationale puts Hitler, Stalin, and dictators generally in the ‘there but for the grace of God go I’ column. It’s where every sinner belongs if we’re saints, but actually getting there, well . . . let’s just say there is intellectual forgiveness. We know, that in theory, in a perfect world, or from our image of our perfect selves, power ultimately needs to be forgiven and understood, eventually.

          So, with that caveat, that there is sympathy for every possible mistake and that we are all only human, raised in the system, here are the ways in which parents and caregivers lay the groundwork for abusive adult relationships:

<!--[if !supportLists]-->-        <!--[endif]-->Modelling authority. If our childhood home has a hierarchy, if the adults are in charge and make the decisions, then that power structure becomes part of our worldview. Every person raised this way will expect to be a boss or an underling. Most children are trained to take orders.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->-        <!--[endif]--> 

<!--[if !supportLists]-->-        <!--[endif]-->Modelling intimidation, violence and personal disregard through the use and teaching of punishment. We call it “discipline,” but it means all of that.

<!--[if !supportLists]-->-        <!--[endif]--> 

<!--[if !supportLists]-->-        <!--[endif]-->Modelling gender roles, as relates to hierarchy and power sharing. Many families still have certain expectations of children based on their gender, such as that violence is somewhat more acceptable from boys than girls and that girls are more often expected to be the peacemakers

          I’m successfully resisting the temptation here to give this one of my pithy, rhetorical endings, I think this one is better left hanging, like the situation I’m talking about, unresolved and embarrassing . . .

 

Thanks for reading, Folks. Please re-tweet and repost, trying to save the world here.

 

Jeff

 

August 8, 2015

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Comments (33)

  1. killingtime

    Just the other day I wandered on to one of those black blocks with writing on it that reminded me of you. It said:
    .
    My parents spanked me as a child. As a result I now suffer from a psychological condition known as “Respect for Others”.
    .
    Just wanted to voice my opposite opinion on the topic (as usual). (wink).

    August 08, 2015
    1. Neighsayer

      thanks, that was close. I almost added you to my list of converts!

      August 08, 2015
  2. GoldenPig2012

    There IS a hierarchy in any household, from long ago, to today. There IS. You want to think it should be free-form, all fluid, fine. But, for most of us, it has not been, will not be, ESPECIALLY if there is some sort of religion. Yikes. We don’t have children and just thrust them out there in the world, teaching them that they that they can and should be whomever they choose to be……………….WITHOUT CONSEQUENCES. Whether or not we approve of or even, unknowingly contribute to, those consequences, they exist. Gosh, we’ve had this discussion before, so, I’ll concentrate on this: “Many families still have expectations based on gender……..”, etc. Yes. Why? Because males and females ARE different. They DO react differently. To punish any gender for not conforming…………………..absolutely wrong, but to deny there are differences…………….just as wrong.

    August 10, 2015
    1. Neighsayer

      Yes, but just because something isn’t likely to change tomorrow doesn’t mean it has no effect. Of course when there are problems – like domestic violence – it’s because of something, and it’s a move away from the truth to refuse to recognize a true cause just because changing it is difficult or impossible. I believe this connection is real, I’m sorry if it sucks.

      August 10, 2015
      1. GoldenPig2012

        Of course I know that. Duh. We humans change more slowly than many want or hope or expect. Yet, we DO change (thankfully, mostly). You know what “sucks”? I have tried for almost 30 years to incorporate this “unisex” crap into my household. It wasn’t “unisex” when I started, it was me allowing my son to play with a baby doll, my daughter to LOVE her brother’s Erector Set. This “blue” or “pink” crap is modern and useless. Encourage your child to explore, discover and find what MOVES them. It IS just that easy and I won’t argue with you about it, though I DO respect your opinion.

        August 10, 2015
        1. Neighsayer

          my older daughter, 20 now, has just dumped her BF of more than three years, and it came down to a male dominance issue. She never looked at it that way until the very end, she was just treating it as an interpersonal struggle, a power struggle, but during the breakup talks, he said everything every male abuser ever said, revealing all his fucked up core beliefs.

          August 10, 2015
          1. GoldenPig2012

            Applause for her. That, still, darlin’, does not prove your point or disprove mine.

            August 10, 2015
            1. Neighsayer

              not sure what your point is, and I was just saying why it was on my mind. If there was a point to it, it was that my kid didn’t expect that sort of stuff and wasn’t going to get used to it. Also that he so clearly expected to be at the top of the hierarchy, and that attitude derived from his childhood, not from any previous interactions with girls, because there weren’t any of those. This was his first rodeo, as they say, but the world he expected and the world my kid expected are two very different places.

              August 10, 2015
            2. Neighsayer

              you mad or something?

              August 10, 2015
  3. GoldenPig2012

    neighsayer, you know what? Yes, I was, yesterday and it had nothing to do with you and I should have refrained from replying to your, as usual, articulate and thoughtful, post. That is on me and I apologize. You always make me pause and think and I did not do so, yesterday, I reacted for reasons totally unconnected to you. Again, I’m sorry. I will re-read your post in a calmer state of mind and perhaps, if you’ll allow it, respond with some thought and care given.

    August 11, 2015
    1. Neighsayer

      no troubles, GP, thanks for that. I hope it’s not anything serious going on.

      August 11, 2015
      1. GoldenPig2012

        Oh, nothing serious, just humanity in action. (weak chuckle, embarrassed chuckle) A bad day, that’s all. I WILL re-read this post. I did once, today, and wondered about too many things to ask, so, I’ll re-read it again so I don’t embarrass myself or look stupid. Thank you for your understanding.

        August 11, 2015
        1. Neighsayer

          oh, stop. You’re my only and favourite commenter! Is your two year old proving us wrong?

          August 12, 2015
          1. GoldenPig2012

            Oh, honey……………….you don’t WANT to hear about my two-year old and his recent activities. My mother once told me that children being “cute” is what saves their lives. She was NOT kidding! He’s not stupid. He’s not without understanding. He IS without any sense of danger, including pissing his mother off!

            August 12, 2015
            1. GoldenPig2012

              Tell me, once again, neighsayer, WHY I don’t just beat his little ass. Just TELL me!

              August 12, 2015
            2. Neighsayer

              I’m sorry . . . because he may be the one making long term care and end of life decisions for you?

              August 12, 2015
  4. GoldenPig2012

    Yep, probably, unless his older brothers and sister will do it instead. I DID spank them. So, I’m screwed. A pillow discreetly applied and….poof, I’m done.

    August 12, 2015
  5. Neighsayer

    Oops! – this series already had a “#7.” Just edited it to make it #8.

    August 19, 2015
  6. Neighsayer

    not all bad . . . bit of a fog lately, kinda run out of steam for this stuff. I keep looking, but not writing much, kind of just wasting away this summer. I hope to return ti life some in September. How’s things with you?

    August 10, 2015
    1. Neighsayer

      Yeah, I have to say, something’s going on for me these days, not sure what, some stress symptoms, maybe some depression creeping in . . . maybe, or maybe it’s a physical ailment, I’ve been fatigued, which could be mental/emotional, but I’m not sure. I’m usually pretty sensitive, I usually don’t require a doctor to tell me I’m depressed. I’m afraid I might really be ill, but the doctor’s aren’t finding anything . . . definitely some guilt for me too. It’s bothering me that I haven’t had the attention to give anyone around me, ever, just wrapped up in myself. Why do we expect better from ourselves than we do of everybody else?

      August 11, 2015