At the very outset of this write up let me tell you that I’m not a parent myself; and if you think that it’s a reason enough for me to not have any opinions about the subject then, I urge you to stop reading this now.
Parenting is, without any doubt, one of the most immense responsibilities and commitments. For one, as a parent is required to support as well as promote not only the physical but also the emotional, social and intellectual development of a child; right from infancy to adulthood. In fact, this very word refers to the various aspects involved in raising a child apart from the obvious biological relationship.
It is, perhaps one of the most frightening jobs for an individual because it makes you accountable for another human being, whose mind and heart is as complex as yours! I don’t know if this thought is shared by the entire populace of the world but in the culture that I belong to, I daresay, that having children is just the next step to getting married, which is probably one of the biggest TO DO things in the list as soon as you are born.
Now, do not get me wrong. I have great respect for the sacred institution of marriage and immense admiration for all individuals who decide to bring a new life into this world; or to support one. I realize that there is a sort of structure in this world. That we, as human beings are social animals, we have an innate requirement for belonging- to have friends, a companion, a family. But I also, truly believe that the decisions to marry someone or to have a family are not somethings with which someone can be reckless.
Why connect marriage and having children, you may ask? The answer is pretty simple. It is the single most important thing which can have drastic impact on your offspring/s. It is certainly not a rule (or so I would like to believe) but several times it is the naked hands of children that are burnt in the crossfire between the couples. Not everyone is able to deal with marital issues in a manner such that the child is not affected. Rather, the child is always affected if things are wrong between his/her parents but bigger issues arise when the any form of abuse trickles down to the child. Maybe one of the spouse is him/herself so affected by the strife that he/she is psychologically disturbed and in turn mistreats the child. Worse, if both are.
I am not sure how common is the scenario wherein, the love of the parent for the child is affected by the hate/dislike for their spouse. After all, the child is a part of the spouse too! This, is an extremely sad scenario wherein the child bears the brunt of the mutual differences that his/her parents share.
Then, there’s also something on the lines of The Trickle Down Effect in which the parents pass the legacy of abusive parenting which they’ve in turn learnt from their own parents. Author Susan Forward has talked about this chain of hurtful parenting in her book Toxic Parents: Overcoming their hurtful legacy and reclaiming your life. Just because your parents pressed a needle into your hands when you couldn’t memorize your schoolwork and you only beat the child with a belt, doesn’t make you any less of an abuser.
There are other psychological prejudices as well, say being biased towards the elder child more than the younger one because you were the elder one in your house and growing up your parents were unfair & partial to your younger sibling etc.
My point is I understand the difficulty of the immense task at hand (of raising and being responsible for a child); and am not ignorant of psychological issues arising due to various circumstances in life, current/any form of past hurt or trauma. But I do not think that these are any excuses to lash out on another living being, let alone an innocent child who YOU decided to bring into this world. Because then, chances are very high that you are just aiding this hurtful and miserable cycle of emotional abuse (and in turn mental illness) to continue through to the next generation.
I remember how it was till the time I thought that my reality was the only reality that existed in the whole wide world. How blown away I was, when I learnt at 12 that some kids (in my own country) have never been hit by their parents. I remember all those feelings that I’ve felt while growing up and how miserable it made me when things got bad. And then, when I finally started realizing that I have been wronged in ways… it was already too late. I realized that I already had in me, many issues (?) which stem from my childhood. Not to forget that the lack of any support from anyone at certain
ugly tough situations in life has taken its toll too.
The extent to which other human beings can affect you is astonishing, to be honest. Yes, most definitely there is no standard scale to show how much X person will be affected by Y person’s behavior. Every individual is different. But, certain relationships in life certainly have the potential to cause paramount damage.
Anxiousness, self hate, self doubt, low self esteem, depression are just a few issues from the top of my head. It is only the sufferers or the victims who truly know how these simple sounding words to laymen, often casually used, engulf and swallow your entire being. And who is the person to turn to if the saviors are the exploiters? Not all bullied become bullies, some individuals turn their hurt and torment inwards.
This life is hard enough to not have your own roots to go back to. It’s just as much difficult to find and trust someone else in the outside world who will be there for you no matter what because that’s usually what the family is for.
And, I don’t know if there’s an invisible line. Do you draw the line at corporal punishment (which I’m extremely against) or do you give it a free pass because in your country it’s not a crime? Do you draw the line at calling your child stupid or fat or ugly or do you draw the line at calling them more abusive words like prostitute? What are you ready to pass off as stuff said in an episode of anger? Isn’t this behavior itself that tags you as an abusive person?
If you think that the 10 year old kid doesn’t understand anything, you are wrong. You are affecting him/her in ways you cannot imagine. It is not impossible that your behavior is subconsciously absorbed by the child only to come out in their own personal relationships, later in life.
The positive side to all this awareness is, as I have the fortune to know, that there are options like therapy existing. And, that the damage can be managed. Whether you’re a grown adult wanting to seek therapy as a parent or even if you’re an adult whose demons are refusing to rest. Life only gets tougher; and sometimes things don’t magically cure themselves. Deep seated issues like such.
Most important of all, the awareness of your condition is extremely important. Not only that, remembering your tough times which you are facing in life, or which you’ve faced as a child! Ask yourself a question today– Do you want another undeserving innocent person to go through what you suffering/ have suffered? Now, remember the answer.
I may be young today. But I pray to god either give me the courage to work towards healing myself. Or give me the courage to take other decisions in life, so that I don’t end up impacting any other person the wrong way.