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Abuse and Parenting

Updated on September 21, 2011

Overcoming the Patterns of our Past

A spiritual perspective on parenting. How often do abusers follow a perpetual pattern of upbringing vs. how often the pattern is broken. Do we as parents mirror the mistakes our parents made? How can we break free of this mold? We seek consistent understanding in our lives. Is it a matter of displaced failings wherein we blame our past, our parents, our experiences for the downtrodden aspects of our lives? Can we truly say we are shaped somehow by the fortunes and misfortunes of before? If so, how far back is it traceable? From the beginning? The mere essence of our spirits trapped within the womb of a stranger who’s either capable or incapable of positively addressing the growth of her belly; the imbalance of her personality, the utter lack of freedom from movement – from life? Shall we start there? When in a release of unwelcome cold and light our infantile minds are shaped and molded as clay into a permit able form until we are considered normal and worthy of love. Can we say it starts at birth then? How we respond to the world is based on this beginning and thereafter? That we are no more than a product of our environment. Some religions believe in preexistence where we as souls exist in form, in personality so to speak in some unknown realm of heavens. That it was here, before an earthly existence where we choose the tribulations we would face. The belief is the stronger the spirit the more difficult hardships one would bear. And then there is this idea of past lives and the karmic return and paying of debts. Are we then paying the debts of our parents and they their’s? Are we paying the debts of choices we have made in a pattern which is changed only when the end has been sought.

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Negative Patterns Are Established Early


What made me think of it? I was having dinner in a local restaurant one evening. I was sitting casually across from my fiancé’, anticipating lasagna and the warming swallow of red wine. Large booths lined the sides of the restaurant and the atmosphere was meant to be cozy and warm. In the booth, directly in front of my view sat a family. There was a man and beside him a freckled face, pug nosed boy. The father looked respectable. He wore a cashmere pullover sweater in blue donned over a white collared shirt. His salt and peppered hair was neatly combed, nicely cut. I couldn’t see his wife from where I sat but was eyeing the little boy who was quiet and well mannered in spite of being a mere six years old. I remember thinking to myself that I hoped to have such an introspective and mature child. What motivated the memory of this scene in particular was, as I was in mid swallow of glorious wine, eagerly awaiting dinner; I saw out of the corner of my eye the father reach over and slap his child twice across the smallish face. It was so loud it seemed to echo throughout the restaurant and I nearly dropped my glass and choked on the wine. My fiancé’ turned around having heard this and seeing my horrified reaction immediately grabbed my hand already fist formed. The little boy began whimpering as blood trickled down his lips from the nose his father had whacked and was now angrily trying to wipe clean. He continued to scold the boy in a low toned threatening voice as if to blame him for having a nose that bled for no significant reason. My fist began to tremble throughout this miserable scene and I whispered, “Did you see that?” to my fiancé’ who hadn’t seen but understood based on the contortion of my face. “I have to say something.” I whispered in rage. I couldn’t stop shaking so I got up in spite of his pleading eyes and went to the table. I stood as close to the man as I possibly dared. I stared at him for a moment. Locked and horrified and unable to speak for the boiling inside of me. The man was looking at me questioningly and I looked at the wife whose eyes were still with no reaction. She looked tired and helpless. My fists still clenched I considered bringing them down upon his nose which was not nearly as cute but I knew I could make bleed more. Finally, when the words came, I stooped down to be eye level with him able to smell the Marsala on his breath and I said ferociously in a voice trembling with anger, “I want you to know that it is NOT OKAY to hit your child. I know it is none of my business but since my evening was disturbed I had to come over to tell you it is NOT RIGHT and I will not stand to see someone so young and innocent hurt! I think you are pathetic and you should consider dealing with your own self hate some other way!”

I wanted to walk away but I couldn’t. I remained waiting for his reaction, his remorse. I wanted to empower his shocked wife to stand up for her small boy. The father finally snapped back, “You’re right! It’s none of your business!” This snide, unrepentant attitude infuriated me even more. The sight of blood trickling down his pudgy face once again flashed before my piercing eyes. All I could think of to say was, “Well, I just want you to know, this will never be forgotten. You will pay for this somehow.” The boy was looking down at his lap, blood dripping on slowly onto the table top. “You better hope he does his best to not grow to be like you!” I said to the boy in particular. It was my last hoorah before I stomped back to my table no longer wanting lasagna.

While lying in bed that night I wondered whether the boy would grow to acknowledge the pain he had endured; or simply would the patterns of his past be reflections of his present. A grown man who will not consider the consequences of these experiences on his damaged psyche and will so choose to wear shoes of the same color and stature. Burying the reasons for they are far too complicated and painful to analyze. Or perhaps these are his life lessons as history does seek to fulfill itself.


I have always had an awareness of the mistakes made by my parents or myself. There is rarely a moment without self examination and upon finding a flaw my first thought is to displace these weaknesses onto those who shaped me. Growing up in a liberal world where fingers are constantly pointed and there is nowhere to escape and hide without insanity; I found the exit of blaming others to be rather satisfying. Even in my adult life I catch myself constantly turning towards Freudian meanings. If I am angry, I will say – Well! My father was an angry man so he begat my temper. If I am defensive, of course it is because both parents were consistently criticizing me. And to explain my often laziness; it is simply based on the overbearing workload placed on me as a child. Were I not to have parents I assume simply I would be perfect. Right? A work of art. A framed thousand piece jigsaw puzzle; finished, without the task of complexities to figure out. Yet I often ponder the mystery which speaks of another time, another world where we are learning and doing what we have chosen to do. Whether it is by a divine appointment; but then I may blame God. Whether it is through a contract I drew up. Or perhaps a lesson in which I have yet to learn and grow.

It is my hope as parents we will not only consider the consequences of our actions which will have long term affects on our children but also analyze the backgrounds we come from and the ability to overcome what holds us to who we are.


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    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      This is a very insightful hub. Voted up! There are people who should NEVER be parents. Parenthood is a sacred vocation. Parents are to educate and guide their precious children. Children are individuals with their own desires and aspirations. However, many people view parenthood as the art of dominance and upmanship with the strongest( they) winning. Well, parenthood is not that at all! Sadly many parents are abusive either overtly or covertly whether they acknowledge it or not. Our precious children are suffering in the process.

    • AutumnLockwood profile image

      AutumnLockwood 7 years ago from Northern California

      I totally agree with you. I can't imagine how some parents could be so cruel.

    • Lgali profile image

      Lgali 9 years ago

      Very well written I love your points

    • dagny roth profile image

      dagny roth 9 years ago from Neverland

      I am glad to hear you support child abuse charities. I certainly appreciate your thoughts. I do think in most cases as Mighty Mom mentions children do become either abusers or victims when exposed to a perpetual pattern of any kind of abuse. It is a natural tendancy to immolate our past representations. That being said IT IS something I think can be overcome...aka the point of my article. Thanks for the comment!

    • equusport profile image

      equusport 9 years ago from Horse Captial of the World

      I was only offering an opinion to some of the questions asked in the article and was confirming that "parent's are NOT responsible for their adult children's failings," when I used the story of Caylee Anthony, as an example. I also saw a contradiction in where the writer said; "growing up in a liberal world," then went on to talk about a life that sounded more like that of a totalitarian world to me.

      As you put it Mom, "Children who grow up in abusive homes either grow up to be abusers themselves, or victims," which I don't think is true. They can grow up to be anything they want to be, but it does require work, sometimes with the help of a professional, and they can either carry that old baggage around and be a "victim," or "abusers," or they can learn to heal and become neither "victim" or "abuser." In the case of the boy in the story, all reports to CPS are confidential and kept on file, so that if there is a second time, the case against the abusive parents are much stronger. You can report it anonymously, as a "Good Samaritan." It is our business to do what we can to put an end to child abuse.

      I think that the article gave a lot of insight on being accountable for your own actions and not using the past as an excuse to blame your parents for your own mistakes and we can all learn to be better parents, so that our children never have to suffer the consequences of abuse - ever! I also liked Roth's other article on "relationships." I also support charities that fight to stop child abuse. That is what drew me to this article, which I am glad was posted, because it is a good cause and an intelligent perspective on the issue.

    • dagny roth profile image

      dagny roth 9 years ago from Neverland

      Actually this article was just meant to discuss the excuses people make for their bad actions. It is not meant to be a reflection on my life or upbringing nor is it meant to say it is ever okay to hurt someone.

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 9 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Equusport, I think you may have misinterepreted the writer's comments about blaming your parents for your own failings. I read it the opposite -- that she had come to the realizatioon that our parents are NOT responsible for our failings. Whether we actively rebel against overly strict parents or against overly permissive parents, as adults, we need to own our own stuff.

      The cycle of violence in families definitely will continue until someone breaks it. Children who grow up in abusive homes either grow up to be abusers themselves, or victims. It's what they know. My read on the author's learning experience at the restaurant is that she does recognize this need -- and is urging parents to get help if they need it.

      Unfortunately, one hard slap in a public place is not going to be enough for CPS to come to the aid of that little boy. Fingers x'd that neighbors or teachers or parents of his friends notice a pattern and turn that bastard father in.

    • equusport profile image

      equusport 9 years ago from Horse Captial of the World

      Doesn't sound like you were grown up in a very "liberal" world, but more like a Totalitarian State! To blame your "bad" parents for your own mistakes is a total lack of accountability. Since it's on the news daily, Casey Anthony comes to mind. And if this is true, then why was she still living with her "bad" parents, who made her this way? Unless they aided in the murder of their Granddaughter, the blame remains on Casey.

      Laziness is not the result of being taught that hard work equal's success and productivity. Constructive criticism can actually open your mind and teach you to listen and learn to be better. Parents that pop a bottle in their babies mouths, every time the baby cries for attention, rather then holding them and nurturing them, or plop them in front of a television set or allow them to play computer games all day, because they are too busy to be bothered, that is a big problem with parenting and the result is obesity and children who become lazy and not focused, which does continue on to adulthood. Hard work never teaches that.

      Abuse is always wrong. I think the Man in the story should have been reported for abuse, if his son was hit so hard that he was bleeding and the fact that in a busy restaurant, where that "slap" across the face was so loud that it "echoed throughout the restaurant" and only got him some angry words and dirty looks sickens me.

      Hopefully, we all grow up to be adults and chose to be responsible, productive member's of our society. You can't blame parents, evolution or God. However, if there was abuse, I would suggest professional help. You can't change the past. The cycle of abuse has to be broken and it has to begin with you.

    • dagny roth profile image

      dagny roth 9 years ago from Neverland

      Thanks I will! I am new to this so still learning and am very grateful for the advice!

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 9 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Very descriptive and I like your message. You show amazing insight -- without your parents you would have been perfect:-)! I found your description of the incident in the restaurant riveting. That poor little boy is going to be scarred internally, for sure. My heart goes out to him and to the wife who sat by helplessly and silently. The dad needs help (AA, anyone?).

      I look forward to reading more of your work. Try adding some visuals -- use all the capsules -- photo, videos, links -- to make your hubs even more interesting. MM

    • dagny roth profile image

      dagny roth 9 years ago from Neverland

      I appreciate it!

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 9 years ago from California Gold Country

      Very well written, with description and insight that drew me in. I appreciate your boldness in confronting the man. Too bad for the kid.


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