• Posted: Jan 12, 2014 10:52:37
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Family get togethers over the holidays can be warm, memorable events, where parents and grandparents swell with pride at how well their beloved offspring are doing and young ones listen wide-eyed to sage stories and advice from revered elders. But not all such get togethers are fun for everyone involved. There are some tragically dysfunctional traditions that never seem to die away. And, unfortunately, far too many of our youth will bear scars and bruises from those traditions well into their adult lives. Research has clearly shone there are better, healthier ways to inspire admirable behavior in youth than to pummel them with angry insults, threats, efforts to shame, and beatings. But whose job is it to intervene, to offer safe haven, to teach away ineffective hurtful harmful parenting practices?
It is ironic that churches, institutions many would point to as wise sources of healthful parenting advice, more often than not serve to inspire and give rationale to the worst abuses of parenting techniques. One need only review the headlines to see the extremes to which such twisted rationalizations have carried people. Honor killings, maimings, beatings, acid attacks, scaldings, imprisonment in closets with no food or water for days, weeks, or even longer. One parent in my experience boasted of chaining his son to a tree and feeding him from a bowl as punishment for mistreating their family dog. And those are only the physical abuses. How many of us adults still cringe at thought of our own parents and how they once treated us, manipulated us, berated us with words that haunt us, plague us, even to this day? Very few adults can honestly claim no residual psychological harm from bad parenting. And that is sad, so very sad. Because we are our parent's legacy, their immortality. And instead of strengthening us for all that is to come, they have crippled us in often horribly debilitating ways. Society too suffers as a result, because we know not how to trust each other, how to healthfully care for each other, how to merely appreciate one another. Instead, we can be found soothing our own psyches by taking self-righteous note of what is pitiable or "wrong" in others, or adopting our own parent's policies, in laws we propose, rules we endorse, punishments we advocate. So sad. So very sad.
It is not up to us to control our children, to forcibly model and mold them into something we believe will be praise-worthy. Instead, it is up to us to set an example for them to learn from, be that memorably inspiring or only fondly thought of as at least we cared and tried our best.
It is also up to us, I think, to step in when given opportunity and say "Hey guy, don't treat your kids like that. They deserve better. They deserve and need our help, appreciation, and respect, not our scorn and abuse. Inspire and responsibly empower them. Don't berate and belittle them. It matters. It really matters."
Saturday, August 31st, 2013