24 December 2013
This. So much this.
I was assaulted by family members until I was nineteen. I don’t mean in a small way. I mean my stepmother actually used a cast iron skillet. She was not the only one. And yes, I limp. Coincidence? I’m not sure it is.
It’s a long and complicated story that feeds into why I joined Scientology, though it’s not why I joined per se. Where, I might add, people didn’t hit me, not even when I expected them to. (Yes, it’s sad when a cult is an improvement over your home life, but that was the truth. I’m also well aware that many Scientology stories, particularly those of Sea Org members, include horrific tales of violence.)
I am very, very fortunate that I have not turned out to be one of those people who hits others. I have never been in an abusive relationship as an adult. I have never hit a child.
But that wasn’t at all a given. I have worked to be a better person. I have worked to pick better people in my life.
Edited to add:
When I moved in with my first husband, I also acquired three stepsons in the bargain. The youngest, R-T, was a handful at age 5. My observation was that both of his parents were inconsistent about the rules they’d set. They’d set them, then let the kid break the boundaries with no consequences. As a result, R-T no longer listened.
Though I didn’t know it at the time, he’d actually been banned from my husband’s best friend’s house because of bad behavior.
There was an early formative moment in our relationship. We needed to run some errands, then we’d go to the ice cream shop (it was the first day it opened in spring, that much I remember). I was very clear: we’re doing A, B, C, D, then ice cream.
After A, he asked if we could do ice cream. I said, “You heard me say we were doing A, B, C, D, then ice cream. We have only done A.”
When he asked after B, I reminded him of what I’d said twice, “If you ask again, you will not get ice cream when we go to the ice cream shop.”
After C, he asked again.
Richard was very uncomfortable about enforcing the boundary, but Richard and I had ice cream and R-T did not.
And, you know what? He actually started listening after that. Not long after, he was allowed in the friend’s house again. Shocker, huh?
Now, I’m not saying that’s a solution for every problem with a kid, but you really can steer some kid behavior in meaningful ways.