Words can be a form of emotional abuse which hit as hard as any form of physical abuse. "Your'e pathetic. You can't do anything right." "You disgust me. Just shut up." "Hey stupid. Don't you know how to listen?" "Get outta here. I'm sick of looking at your face." "You're more trouble than you're worth." "Why don't you go and find some other place to live."
Some parents who are abusive to their children do not realize the harm they are doing.
"I wish you were never born." Children believe what their parents tell them. Parents need to stop and listen to what they are saying to their children. Children are not merely possessions of adults, they are human beings, and entitled to be treated with dignity and respect. Children are often the target of parents who live stressful lives.
Some parents who are abusive to their children do not realize the harm they are doing. Many were raised that way and know no other way of relating to children. They may be isolated from other adults, without the possibility of seeing alternative behavior modeled for them.
As a result, many parents are poorly trained for the most important job they will ever do. There are organizations like Parents Anonymous which help parents. This is group of parents who help other parents. Their main goal is prevention. They understand that being a parent is a very hard job and most of us need help to do it right. Abusive behavior and healthy parenting exist on a continuum, with parents occupying various areas of the continuum at different points in their lives, even at different moments of the day. Many parents reading the list of sentences at the beginning of this article may have felt guilty because at one time or another they have used similar ones.
Another source of help is the National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse, a volunteer organization that believes in the right of every child to have a safe and nurturing home. They also believe that every parent needs to be adequately educated and supported in order to do the important job of parenting well. Everyone needs help at sometime in his life because we live in stressful times. One of the best ways to gain the support needed during these periods is to find a group of people who understands your pain because they "have been there." If you are need of such support, the New Jersey Mutual Aid Self-Help Clearing House will direct you to the group that fulfills your need. Their number is l-800-367-6274. I encourage you to call.
First published in 1995