OK, I was watching the Tyra show about kids beating their moms. My first reaction was what the *&%@! Tyra was trying not to be confrontational but it came across as placating. Why haven’t parents taught their kids that there is always someone bigger and stronger than you? Always. Hitting is not an acceptable way to deal with your emotions. Period. Full Stop.
Now my sister is watching with me because my kids had quiet time and I missed the middle part of this show so I’m catching it on another station. She brought out an interesting point even before the little miscreants began speaking. Chemical imbalance. This is a topic she is very familiar with having had not only serious chemical and hormonal imbalances growing up but she also is celiac. This may have been the driving force for her chemical problems and likely even the hormonal imbalance. Inability to control emotional response whether it’s crying or rage was a major symptom prior to her diagnosis and one that ruled our home life growing up. You’d never know what you were going to get with her and it was like walking on eggshells all of the time. Translation, it was exhausting to have her around. (She did discover the fact that she was intolerant to gluten and had many food allergies. We’ve all been walking normally for decades.)
It makes me wonder, in my less angry moments thinking about the children who beat their moms, if some of these reasons may offer a why. I am a big believer in consequences and questioning. For every problem there exists a series of potential solutions. Unfortunately, hindsight is always 20/20. I’d be willing to bet that if these parents could step back from the situations they are in they could see the whens and circumstances that precede escalation before any physical violence occurs.
I often am thankful to Nanny Jo Frost for her tips and techniques. One situation that pertains to the issue at hand was used when she was dealing with a violently aggressive boy who was 8 or 10. She did something so simple that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it and probably never would have; she empathized with him. She told him that she understood that he was frustrated and he didn’t have the means to deal with it. I did this with my own little one and was surprised at how it took her rage from an 8 down to a 4 almost instantly. From there, we could talk it out. Letting her know that I didn’t know how to handle frustration very well when it happened to me also helped her to see that not even mom has all of the answers all of the time but that we could talk things out and it would get better. So simple – why didn’t I think of that?
Another issue with regards to these mommy-hitters, that I think could have been better spelled out on the show was the difference of the relationship you have with your mom versus the ones you have with everyone else. (Don’t get me wrong there are bad moms out there and the ‘norm’ doesn’t apply to them.) One of the girls had been threatened with being sent to a foster home and it turned out that the mom did get to that point and did send her to foster care. And good on her for following through with it. The girl clearly wanted to say more about her experiences with her life in a foster home and it looked like she was holding back. The show did allow time for a genuine apology and taught the girl what asking for forgiveness really was. Big kudos to Tyra for that!
Tyra finished the segment off by explaining to these kids that no one loves you like your mom. You can screw up with your friends once, twice, three times and they’re gone. The mom who sent her kid away told the daughter that she not only forgives her but that she still loves her, always has and always will. That’s a mom. It doesn’t mean it’s OK to walk on them, it doesn’t mean that there are no consequences to childrens’ actions. I’ve told my own child that I don’t always like her behavior. When it is inappropriate and unacceptable, I let it be known. (And we use Nanny Jo’s suggestions for reasonable consequences.)
I don’t know when we as a group stopped parenting our children – maybe when the legal recourse for child abuse went into overdrive. But just like laws for child offenders that had to be rewritten in the last 20 years to actually punish crimes committed by those under 18, so too will the laws for physical assault against parents (perpetrated by child offenders) require rewriting. Perhaps we can start turning the tide by bringing the lessons into the classroom. Teaching our children how to handle emotions, life’s disappointments, how to approach interpersonal relationships and financial matters might be a step in the right direction. We took out aspects of the curriculum that were deemed unnecessary (like religion, music, cooking, etc.). Why not replace them with things that are needed to navigate life? I spent many years working and studying within the faculty of medicine and I can say with certainty that there are rules to how to conduct yourself if you want to be successful. By not learning how to behave, how to handle life, the choices for what are possible narrow. Soon infinite career choices become several. And what about interpersonal relationships? If you don’t know how to treat your own parents what are the odds that you’ll be able to handle the strains and stresses of your own children (hopefully later in life) and a committed relationship.
Freakanomics brings good data to bear on the questions of how certain societal or governmental choices affect crime rates – definitely worth a read. Another stat I remember hearing on the Dr. Phil show was that something crazy like 70% of felonies are committed by people who had been in foster care. Clearly there is some kind of a connection between how much we not only care but teach our children affects their ability to make appropriate choices for how to conduct themselves. If you think I’m off my rocker, just take a look at road rage – a perfect example of how the lack of patience and unwillingness to cooperate lead to fatal consequences.
It’s not easy when tired and drained to take the time to parent children but it has to be done. One day every parent will take stock of the job they’ve done and don’t we all want to say we sought out the best advice, followed through and enjoyed our families?