Would you consider an extremely chaotic childhood "abuse" for a kid? *might be triggering* - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 44 Old 04-15-2011, 06:13 AM - Thread Starter
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I am just curious...DH and I were having this discussion last night in relation to my own childhood which was very chaotic. By chaotic I mean, not stable....parents fighting etc. moving a lot (a biggie for me, I endured many midnight moves). Being around "bad" people, being a pawn in divorce (as a child). I mean the list could be endless because there are many ways for a child's life to be chaotic. My opinion last night was that, yes, a chaotic childhood can be "abuse" (not in the literal sense, like SA or being beaten etc. I dealt with SA as a kid so I know there is a difference and really don't want to offend/upset anyone!) if that child grows up and is dealing with things that happened in childhood that have changed/impacted them in ways that wouldn't have happened had it not been for the chaos in their lives.

DH wasn't so much in agreement on this point so I was just curious how other people felt about it. I guess having lived a very turbulent/chaotic/dysfunctional (whatever) childhood I feel more strongly about it than DH...At the same time I feel like the word abuse suggests a specific person doing "things" to a child (childhood abuse, I understand there is abuse aimed at adults as well) instead of an overall climate of chaos, danger, instability etc... I am confused about how I feel about it and justed to hear what other people think about it. 

 

Please forgive if I didn't word things right, or upset someone. I am muddling through these feelings as I type so it is hard to be coherent and articulate all the time.redface.gif

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#2 of 44 Old 04-15-2011, 07:24 AM
 
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I'm very sorry for the things you have gone through. Your childhood sounds very scary.

 

I would classify those things more as "neglect" than abuse, though. That isn't meant to minimize them in ANY way.

 

I was sexual abused, violently abused, and verbally abused. Most people would consider the violent or sexual abuse the "worst," but as an adult it has been the verbal abuse that has been the most difficult for me to come to terms with. It's more subtle, more like a constant sound track in my head.

 

So me to, the kind of chaos you describe, while not actual abuse, could be very difficult to come to terms with. It sounds like what you needed as a child wasn't a consideration to your parents partly because they didn't have their own lives together.  It also sounds like you are slowly realizing exactly how bad things were, how your basic needs were not meet. It also sounds like it was some big things combined with many, many small things, but that at the end of the day, your parents were unable or unwilling to meet your emotional needs in even the most basic ways.

 

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#3 of 44 Old 04-15-2011, 07:32 AM - Thread Starter
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thank you Linda!

Like I said, or should have said, no wrong or right answer. I am just curious how other people would consider chaos that has a lasting impact on a child...Things that leave emotional, if not physical scars...I try to tread lightly because I know there are lots of mama who have been very violently physically abused (SA or otherwise) on these boards. It is hard to pick the right words without sounding offensive. Thank you for understanding...My own experiences aside, I am curious because DH and I got into a really deep conversation about it last night. 

 

Like where does the line become crossed from neglect to abuse? Is it always physical and then the line is crossed? Do kids who have lasting emotional issues or struggles benefit from abuse type counseling? All things we talked about last night.

 

ETA: I think I can totally relate to the constant soundtrack in your head feeling...Like even when you aren't thinking about it, it is right there waiting to break into the front of your thoughts...

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#4 of 44 Old 04-15-2011, 08:04 AM
 
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I think that while those things can be damaging and negative to a child they are not really abuse. I think of abuse as something done directly to that person with the knowledge and intent to harm them. I think that is different than being caught up in a negative environment or feeling the effects of someone else's negative events/poor judgement.

 

 

 


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That sounds like emotional/ psychological abuse to me.  I was physically and psychologically abused as a child.  In some ways the psych. abuse was worse.  I was sexually abused but not by a family member-- SA in my view is a combination of physical and very deep psychological abuse.

 

I try very hard to keep a stable, loving environment for my kids!

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I don't see that type of environment to be necessarily abusive.  I don't see it as a good one for a child but can't classify it as abusive, in my mind.

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#7 of 44 Old 04-15-2011, 08:39 AM
 
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No I don't think that is abuse.  My childhood was a lot like that and I don't think that I had the fear and trauma that kids who are actually abused have.  It does have some negative effects on kids but it isn't the same as having an abusive home at all, not even close.  A lot of those things have an impact in the short term but not really in the long term.  That may really depend on the person of course, I am not one to dwell on things and I have almost no patience for not getting over things quickly, so I may not see it the same way as someone who is more inclined to dwell would see it.

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#8 of 44 Old 04-15-2011, 08:47 AM
 
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Originally Posted by onlyzombiecat View Post

I think that while those things can be damaging and negative to a child they are not really abuse. I think of abuse as something done directly to that person with the knowledge and intent to harm them. I think that is different than being caught up in a negative environment or feeling the effects of someone else's negative events/poor judgement.

 

 

 

I agree with this. It has a lot to do with intent. Playing devil's advocate with myself, I guess you could argue that perpetrators of SA and violence and verbal abuse are not really setting out to harm the child, it's just collateral damage, but I believe those things fall into a category of their own. Those things are just abusive, period, and the mindset of the adult doing them can not be taken into consideration because clearly their mind is a little unbalanced anyway. I read your post about your mother, so I have some idea the kind of stuff you are talking about. In those sort of cases, the intent must absolutely be considered. I wouldn't consider a midnight move to get away from an abusive spouse to be an example of child abuse, although clearly it is chaotic and not an example of a stable environment. I know that that's not your sole complaint against your mother, but I was just using that bit as an example of what I wouldn't consider abuse. Basically, it comes down to actions that are done with a complete and utter disregard for the well-being of the child, actions that your average person would agree are just not a good idea. 

 

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#9 of 44 Old 04-15-2011, 08:54 AM
 
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Abusive? No, not really b/c I think of child abuse as being so much more severe than that.  Extremely dysfunctional?  Definitely.  Growing up in those conditions can absolutely impact healthy development - emotionally, mentally, socially, and even physically.  But I guess I wouldn't personally classify it as abuse of a child.


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Quote:
Originally Posted by onlyzombiecat View Post

I think that while those things can be damaging and negative to a child they are not really abuse. I think of abuse as something done directly to that person with the knowledge and intent to harm them. I think that is different than being caught up in a negative environment or feeling the effects of someone else's negative events/poor judgement.

 

 

 



Stressed out/mentally ill/emotionally immature/poor self-regulators etc who abuse their children may not be doing it with intent and knowledge.  It's not a rational act in such cases.  Children can be abused by a parent's action or lack of action, or through actions to the child's significant detriment, particularly if it's chronic.

 

OP, I think you need to use whatever language feels right for you in this part of your process.  Here's a piece from the CDC, and a good word might be maltreatment, although CDC supports your definition.

http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/childmaltreatment/

 

You might find reading attachment theory interesting, because what you describe could have been damaging to your ability to create and maintain healthy attachments in childhood.

 

This book is less scary to read than the title and description indicate.  It's written by one of the primary child trauma psychiatrists in the US and does a great job of explaining the impact of events on children's mental and emotional development.  It's written with a science writer, and it's very readable.  It's available on google books with preview.

http://www.amazon.com/Boy-Who-Raised-Psychiatrists-Notebook--What/dp/0465056539/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1302883603&sr=8-1

 

 

 


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Originally Posted by One_Girl View Post

No I don't think that is abuse.  My childhood was a lot like that and I don't think that I had the fear and trauma that kids who are actually abused have.  It does have some negative effects on kids but it isn't the same as having an abusive home at all, not even close.  A lot of those things have an impact in the short term but not really in the long term.  That may really depend on the person of course, I am not one to dwell on things and I have almost no patience for not getting over things quickly, so I may not see it the same way as someone who is more inclined to dwell would see it.


Hmm, you are a stronger mama than I am..or maybe I am just a "dweller" (I love making up new words).. The only point I would disagree on is things not having a long term impact. I think there are plenty of people in the world who would disagree with that. Like you pointed out though, that can depend entirely on the person and kudos to you mama for being a able to not dwell on things...I wish I had more of that in me!

 

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I agree with this. It has a lot to do with intent. Playing devil's advocate with myself, I guess you could argue that perpetrators of SA and violence and verbal abuse are not really setting out to harm the child, it's just collateral damage, but I believe those things fall into a category of their own. Those things are just abusive, period, and the mindset of the adult doing them can not be taken into consideration because clearly their mind is a little unbalanced anyway. I read your post about your mother, so I have some idea the kind of stuff you are talking about. In those sort of cases, the intent must absolutely be considered. I wouldn't consider a midnight move to get away from an abusive spouse to be an example of child abuse, although clearly it is chaotic and not an example of a stable environment. I know that that's not your sole complaint against your mother, but I was just using that bit as an example of what I wouldn't consider abuse. Basically, it comes down to actions that are done with a complete and utter disregard for the well-being of the child, actions that your average person would agree are just not a good idea. 

 

Interestingly I had not thought about intent in the definition...Intent absolutely plays a huge role I think...For example, I think I would say that my dad saying to me, "your mom is a dyke and is going to hell so you will never see her." to me when I am 7 would be emotional/verbal abuse primarily because his intent was to upset and hurt me, (yes he really said that to a 7 year-old) and he did it maliciously. 

I agree the midnight moving was definitely not intended to harm and actually intended as the best solution to a tough situation for her, definitely not something I would call abuse.  It is all so shifting and gray I feel. Part of my problem with the word intent in regard to abuse is that my dad molested me when I was very young but was his "intent" to hurt me? Physically, emotionally whatever...I honestly can say that I don't think his intent was to hurt me. I don't think he was thinking about me at all but I would still call it abuse despite the lack of intent to cause harm...See how it gets confusing...

 

I think also legally one has to look at whether or not something like being shuttled around in your youth, moving out of one bad situation to another or whatever the case may be wouldn't be viewed as abuse by a court..I am not so familiar with the legalities of neglect so I can't really speculate on that but maybe in a legal sense the dysfunction would fall into a neglect category legally... 

 

My super chaotic childhood is one of many reasons why I just so badly want DD to have a stable, mellow home life. No moving all the time, no police involvement would be nice..Just being a kid without worries (or too many of them)...Big goal in life, don't freak my kid out so when she is older with her own kids she is left wondering who the bleep was interested in her well-being as a child..
 

 

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#12 of 44 Old 04-15-2011, 09:17 AM - Thread Starter
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I was typing while you posted this. I actually have heard of attachment theory in passing but never in depth so it is definitely something I am interested in learning more about it. How about healthy attachments in adulthood? Something I struggle with a lot, or so I think anyway. 

Part of my curiosity is because I went to a therapist a couple of weeks ago and it wasn't a great experience. She didn't get what I was trying to tell her I guess, or she seemed somewhat dismissive in general, so I am wondering if a different one, perhaps with a specialty in abuse of various kinds would be more comfortable for me...

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Stressed out/mentally ill/emotionally immature/poor self-regulators etc who abuse their children may not be doing it with intent and knowledge.  It's not a rational act in such cases.  Children can be abused by a parent's action or lack of action, or through actions to the child's significant detriment, particularly if it's chronic.

 

OP, I think you need to use whatever language feels right for you in this part of your process.  Here's a piece from the CDC, and a good word might be maltreatment, although CDC supports your definition.

http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/childmaltreatment/

 

You might find reading attachment theory interesting, because what you describe could have been damaging to your ability to create and maintain healthy attachments in childhood.

 

This book is less scary to read than the title and description indicate.  It's written by one of the primary child trauma psychiatrists in the US and does a great job of explaining the impact of events on children's mental and emotional development.  It's written with a science writer, and it's very readable.  It's available on google books with preview.

http://www.amazon.com/Boy-Who-Raised-Psychiatrists-Notebook--What/dp/0465056539/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1302883603&sr=8-1

 

 

 



 

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The only point I would disagree on is things not having a long term impact. I think there are plenty of people in the world who would disagree with that. Like you pointed out though, that can depend entirely on the person and kudos to you mama for being a able to not dwell on things...I wish I had more of that in me!

 

I think that different people are wired differently, and some people are more resilent than others. I also think that a lot of people think they are doing just fine but really very screwed up. My sister's like that. She's never been to therapy. She's a mess.

 

Owning the long term impact takes strength.

 

I don't think that intent is the key point between abuse and neglect. I think it is the divide between committing an act which is harmful, and failing to do or provide something needed. But I think there is a gray area, and that some families that are mostly abusive also have some neglect, and some families that are mostly neglectful have a little abuse, which sounds like the case in your family. And I'm not convinced that one is worse than the other.

 

If someone is dead, does it matter if they were hit by a motorcycle or a truck?

 

My kids have been moved. A lot. It's the nature of my DH's job. We've done everything we can to make it as easy for them as possible. It has been hard on them, but I don't think it fails into neglect.


 

One that that jumps out at me is that you are asking for forgiveness for even asking the question -- afraid to offend. I wonder if part of what you are asking isn't just the name for the ways in which your childhood was screwed up, but if what happened to you *counts.*  If is was bad enough to warrant the way you feel.

 

It's almost like you are asking for permission to feel the way you feel, like you need those of us who lied about where we got black eyes to tell you that it's OK that you hurt, and it's OK that you didn't feel safe, and it OK to deeply grieve what you never got as a child.

 

 

 



 

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#14 of 44 Old 04-15-2011, 09:23 AM
 
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It''s not abuse per se, but it can be very damaging and cause a lot of real issues for you as an adult.
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Like where does the line become crossed from neglect to abuse? Is it always physical and then the line is crossed? Do kids who have lasting emotional issues or struggles benefit from abuse type counseling? All things we talked about last night.

 

Neglect is a form of abuse. Neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse are the basic categories, although emotional abuse isn't investigated on its own by authorities.
Yes, you can have the other 3 kinds without any physical abuse. Physical doesn't have to come first, if at all.
What kind of abuse counseling are you talking about? Like a group situation? If you went to a counselor by yourself, they wouldn't need to label it as "abuse" or not to help you. But I'd bet they would talk about some of the same things with you as a person who had been abused. Because really, it's about healing from a hurtful childhood, either way, and tryingt o change the way you see yourself and the world.
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Hmm, you are a stronger mama than I am..or maybe I am just a "dweller" (I love making up new words).. The only point I would disagree on is things not having a long term impact. I think there are plenty of people in the world who would disagree with that. Like you pointed out though, that can depend entirely on the person and kudos to you mama for being a able to not dwell on things...I wish I had more of that in me!

 

Interestingly I had not thought about intent in the definition...Intent absolutely plays a huge role I think...For example, I think I would say that my dad saying to me, "your mom is a dyke and is going to hell so you will never see her." to me when I am 7 would be emotional/verbal abuse primarily because his intent was to upset and hurt me, (yes he really said that to a 7 year-old) and he did it maliciously. 

I agree the midnight moving was definitely not intended to harm and actually intended as the best solution to a tough situation for her, definitely not something I would call abuse.  It is all so shifting and gray I feel. Part of my problem with the word intent in regard to abuse is that my dad molested me when I was very young but was his "intent" to hurt me? Physically, emotionally whatever...I honestly can say that I don't think his intent was to hurt me. I don't think he was thinking about me at all but I would still call it abuse despite the lack of intent to cause harm...See how it gets confusing...

 

I think also legally one has to look at whether or not something like being shuttled around in your youth, moving out of one bad situation to another or whatever the case may be wouldn't be viewed as abuse by a court..I am not so familiar with the legalities of neglect so I can't really speculate on that but maybe in a legal sense the dysfunction would fall into a neglect category legally... 

 

My super chaotic childhood is one of many reasons why I just so badly want DD to have a stable, mellow home life. No moving all the time, no police involvement would be nice..Just being a kid without worries (or too many of them)...Big goal in life, don't freak my kid out so when she is older with her own kids she is left wondering who the bleep was interested in her well-being as a child..
 

 


Yes. I can see how this can be grey when you are really thinking (overthinking?) about it. But to me, this would also be included in utter and blatant disregard for the well-being of a child. Or simply in my first category of sick minds. You can't measure sick minds by the same yard stick you would measure a healthy one. A healthy person would realize they were damaging a child by molesting them -- but a healthy person wouldn't do that in the first place. I am so sorry you had to go through that. I think your intention to not repeat your childhood with your daughter is the best thing you can do with your experience. 

 

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#16 of 44 Old 04-15-2011, 09:32 AM
 
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I'm sorry the counselor wasn't helpful!  I have found that in therapy, it's so helpful just to talk about my past and how I feel about it, just process it in a safe place. None of my therapists have ever really offered much besides an ear, and that was tremendously helpful.

 

I think our duty as parents is to provide a loving stable home to our children.  Your childhood sounds really hard, but I don't know how to define it in terms of abuse. Different people react differently to the same situation. I think, if you are/were traumatized or feel neglected, then that's what matters.  It's great that you want to process what you went through so you don't repeat it with your daughter.  hug.gif


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#17 of 44 Old 04-15-2011, 09:38 AM - Thread Starter
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Yes. I can see how this can be grey when you are really thinking (overthinking?) about it. But to me, this would also be included in utter and blatant disregard for the well-being of a child. Or simply in my first category of sick minds. You can't measure sick minds by the same yard stick you would measure a healthy one. A healthy person would realize they were damaging a child by molesting them -- but a healthy person wouldn't do that in the first place. I am so sorry you had to go through that. I think your intention to not repeat your childhood with your daughter is the best thing you can do with your experience. 

 

I'm just gonna go with overthinking itwink1.gif

 

This is what happens when both DD and I have colds and all we are doing is snuggling on the bed watching movies together...mommy gets to over think EVERYTHING!

 

I just want to say that I am starting to feel like I am looking for a pity party and I really do apologize for that! MDC is my place to really share my thoughts, you guys get more info than my closest friend or even DH does sometimes. 

 

Right now I have a good life! DH who adores me, a DD who is only making me a little crazy (sick and getting those last few teeth in) I have my pets who I adore, my chickens and gardening who give me great fulfillment and I almost have an idea with what I would like to do with my life! So once again I am sorry for the sob stories I am flooding MDC withbag.gif

 

 

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#18 of 44 Old 04-15-2011, 09:43 AM
 
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I didn't read thru the entire thread b'c for me it triggers.  Most of my adult life, I've thought that I was handling it on my own.  Not until some news came to light in my family a year ago, did I consider counseling.  Very recently (last week, first time ever seeking outside help) I called a psychotherapist and only talked once, for an hour, and already I feel like I've let some air in and can start to make a clearer and more stable path for myself.  My suggestion is that, categories don't offer much in the way of healing and living how you want to live.  If you feel that there are things in your past that are getting in your way of the life you want to live, go talk things out with someone who is not a friend, boyfriend or family member.  Just talking about things has helped me realize that my parents did what they did.  But thats over.  I can only take what happened as a learning experience from here on out.  I have ignored it and thought that it was in the past for all of these years.  Now I have the opportunity to dig in, realize how their actions and words have affected my life until now, and uproot the things that have been holding me back from living to my fullest desires.  Low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, abandonment issues, this is what has been part of me for this long due to how I grew up feeling about myself... but it isn't who I am.  Talking with someone ONE time, even tho I've been journalling my painful emotions for years and years, helped things sort of click into place more than replaying then ignoring the loop by trying to deal with it on my own.  

 

Sorry, I'm rambling.  Don't feel weird or weak for seeking someone to talk with if something is looped in your head and holding you back.  Let some light in and start to unravel things.  It was hard for me for some reason to differentiate who I am from who I was made to feel like growing up.  And it really was affecting my adult life and adult relationships with myself and others, even when I thought it was not.  Hope this all makes sense, I'm writing quickly during lunch!


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I just want to say that I am starting to feel like I am looking for a pity party and I really do apologize for that! MDC is my place to really share my thoughts, you guys get more info than my closest friend or even DH does sometimes. 

... So once again I am sorry for the sob stories I am flooding MDC withbag.gif

 

 

 

It's OK to feel how you feel. I think the first step to releasing emotions is accepting them.

 

I don't think that having the intention to not repeat a bad childhood is enough. I think that our perceptions of dysfuction as child are a bit like looking at icebergs -- we only see the top. Without really examening the pattern, we can end up headed for the bigger part of the berg that was under the surface. Our childhoods didn't teach us better coping skills. They didn't model what to do when things get tough. They may have shown us very clearly what NOT to do, but they didn't teach what TO DO.

 

We don't even have family members we can call for support or advice. Some of us don't even know what emotional health looks like. 

 

My childhood was screwed up beyond belief. I've spent years in counseling and still check into the a counselor once a month. My sister has shoved her feelings away, "dealt with it on her own" and just done her best to live in denial. She even takes her 3 kids on vacation with my child molesting father.

 

She is a real mess. She can't get through a holiday dinner without screaming. She's only 2 year older than me, but looks about 15 years older because her face is so deeply lined with misery.
 

But she's very determined to avoid all the screws up my parents have, and she has avoided some of the them. She's made different mistakes, and still has no idea what true emotional health looks like. She's miserable and at this point, seems incapable of joy.

 

Finding a therapist you connect with is worth the effort.

 


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Hi, I don't know if anyone else who works for CPS has responded (can't read all the replies right now) but OP re: your question, well, first off, since I believe you said you were also sexually abused as a child, right there clearly abuse was part of the "chaotic environment" that you grew up in.  And often it is exactly that kind of chaos that molesters take advantage of in victimizing children (although sexual abuse also happens in quiet, non-transitory homes as well).  So I don't want to gloss over the fact that there was actual abuse in your experience.

 

But the line between abuse and neglect is not at all about whether it's physical or not.  A really dirty home, or a lack of food, or inadequate clothing are all physical things, and they are all neglect.

 

Saying cruel things to a child, playing mean emotional games, using a child as a pawn to get back at a significant other (or ex)... none of those are physical, you can't see them or see marks because of them.  But they absolutely can be defined as abuse. 

 

The line between abuse and neglect falls more between the sides of "intention" and "failure to provide".  If you intentionally hurt a child (or hurt a child in a way that an average person could predict would be hurtful to a child), that is abuse, even if it's verbal or emotional or psychological.

 

If you do not adequately supervise a child so a toddler gets bitten by a dog when wandering away from the house, or you don't adequately supervise a child so a molester gains access to your child, that is usually considered neglect, even though there are physical consequences, because there was not a clear intention of directly hurting the child.

 

Lots of midnight moves, lots of fighting (I assume among the adults), being used as a pawn... that is usually considered neglect because it's a failure to provide for a child's basic emotional, physical and psychological needs.  Directly being yelled at in a cruel or manipulative way, that can be abuse.

 

But no matter which it's called (abuse or neglect), it's absolutely critical to understand that they are both usually traumatic to a child and can have very serious short and/or longterm impacts on kids.  All kids are different... some come out of serious, long term abuse and you'd never guess at their history... others suffer neglect and are crushed by it.  The effect on the child is never the child's fault though.  We are who we are... and whoever we are, no child should ever have to deal with abuse or neglect.  But so many do.  And it's important not to underestimate the possible impacts, especially when we're trying to heal or help someone else heal.

 

Does that help at all, and did I make sense?  It is Friday after all... :)


Thanks for asking, it's a really important thing to think about.

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#21 of 44 Old 04-15-2011, 11:11 AM
 
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I'd consider it slightly abusive, and very bad and selfish parenting.

 

I think a lot of things parents do is slightly abusive.  Allowing kids to be obese... smoking around kids...getting drunk when there is only one adult to care for the kids.  But, I don't think those are 'removal worthy".  It just makes for bad parenting, and a rough childhood for the kids.

 

A lot of us had lousy parents, and it's unfair.  I had bad parents.  But, I had a fun childhood.   (unsupervised)  I spent a good part of my childhood being jealous of kids who's parents were involved.  The parents who went to see the kids in the school play.  I was in several science fairs and school programs, and my parents never went to a single one.  I even asked my uncle to go once, and instead, he stopped at my parent's house, and they stayed home getting drunk.  I walked home alone in the snow at 9:00 pm.  I wasn't even that sad or angry, because it was such a part of my life that I never had any expectations.

 

Now, as an adult, I look at facebook and I see people who grew up together and have been best friends since 1st grade... I moved every year or so, and never had a chance to make a best friend, much less a forever friend. 

 

I mourn  the childhood I wish I'd had.  But, I had fun.  I had freedom, and I did exciting things, I wasn't afraid... I had experiences I wouldn't have had if I'd had supervision or rules.  

 

 

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#22 of 44 Old 04-15-2011, 11:15 AM
 
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I'd say it's a form of neglect, and also emotionally abusive. Some of the things you describe are kind of borderline, but show no consideration for the child. However, imo, using a child as a pawn in a divorce is emotionally abusive of a really nasty kind. That's putting a child in the position of having to "pick a side" between the two people who have been that child's foundation for their entire life, solely to serve the interests of the "adults" involved. Soooooo not okay.


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#23 of 44 Old 04-15-2011, 11:25 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post


 

 

It's OK to feel how you feel. I think the first step to releasing emotions is accepting them.

 

I don't think that having the intention to not repeat a bad childhood is enough. I think that our perceptions of dysfuction as child are a bit like looking at icebergs -- we only see the top. Without really examening the pattern, we can end up headed for the bigger part of the berg that was under the surface. Our childhoods didn't teach us better coping skills. They didn't model what to do when things get tough. They may have shown us very clearly what NOT to do, but they didn't teach what TO DO.

 

We don't even have family members we can call for support or advice. Some of us don't even know what emotional health looks like. 

 

My childhood was screwed up beyond belief. I've spent years in counseling and still check into the a counselor once a month. My sister has shoved her feelings away, "dealt with it on her own" and just done her best to live in denial. She even takes her 3 kids on vacation with my child molesting father.

 

She is a real mess. She can't get through a holiday dinner without screaming. She's only 2 year older than me, but looks about 15 years older because her face is so deeply lined with misery.
 

But she's very determined to avoid all the screws up my parents have, and she has avoided some of the them. She's made different mistakes, and still has no idea what true emotional health looks like. She's miserable and at this point, seems incapable of joy.

 

Finding a therapist you connect with is worth the effort.

 



All of this.

 

Therapists are not all created equal, and it's really important to find one that you can connect with and who is productive.  If the next one you try isn't a fit, keep looking.

 

I don't think finely defining what happened to you as abuse or neglect or bad parenting or whatever is the crux of the issue - this isn't a CPS investigation (and different jurisdictions apply differing definitions, as do experts in the field - that's why I provided the CDC definition as it's broadly accepted).   You had very negative experiences which harmed you, lead to attachement issues, confusion about relationships and about yourself.  You deserve to lead a whole life, as free of this mess as you can be.

 

I'm sorry you went through all that - which, by the way, is about your parents' stuff and has nothing to do with your value as a person.  I'm impressed with your strength.

 


Mom to a teenager and a middle schooler.

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#24 of 44 Old 04-15-2011, 01:16 PM
 
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Personal experience and observation-- could get slightly OT. wink1.gif

 

I grew up in a dysfunctional family due to my dad's drug and alcohol use. His addictions eventually rendered him disabled, unable to hold down a steady job, and homeless. During his long downward spiral, there was a lot of instability and stress created by his actions. He went to jail, he got beat up by so-called friends, sometimes so severely he had to be hospitalized. My mom is a strong woman, but even she could not completely prevent the fallout from affecting my siblings and me in a traumatic way.

 

My parents divorced when I was a freshman in high school. After my dad left, the stress didn't end. I would go to bed at night wondering if my dad was hungry or hurt. I worried he would die on the street and nobody would know. I had dreams where I watched him die and wanted to help him but was powerless to do anything. Just a lot of unrelenting stress. 

 

My mom had a nervous breakdown from the stress of dealing with my dad and the resulting divorce. She went on temporary disability from her job for almost a year when I was still in high school. She hardly got out of bed. We were lucky though, because if she hadn't had access to disability benefits that paid the bills and her mortgage, we would have been homeless just like my dad.

 

I believe that having experienced this dysfunction affects how I approach interpersonal relationships. I'm really aloof and have a hard time maintainig friendships--I just don't like getting close to people when I don't know if I can trust them to be around over the long haul. I also am extemely scared of abandonment, whether physical or emotional. I freak out when my DH has too much to drink because I equate alcohol use with destitution.    I got married young (22) because I desperately wanted stability and somebody permanent in my life. My DH and I are still together after 13 years and are each other's best friend, but I'm pretty sure I would have waited until I was much older before getting married if I had grown up with a sober and mentally stable dad.

 

With all that said, I don't think I was abused. That doesn't mean I'm not a victim of my dad's poor judgement and choices, though. I also think that abuse is a subjective phenomenon. One person's tough luck can be another person's abuse. The compulsion to objectify what constitutes "abuse" is necessary to protect children (and adults) legally, but it may also diminish or downplay one's very real and traumatic life events or experiences if what that person experienced doesn't fall into the "abuse" category recognized by social workers or other protective professionals.

 

I don't know if this makes any sense. I'm just rambling. redface.gif  I just wanted to say that traumatic life events have a lasting effect on the person who experiences them, regardless of whether or not we (or others) choose to define them as abusive. And I'm so sorry you had to endure such traumatizing childhood events, OP.

 


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#25 of 44 Old 04-15-2011, 02:28 PM
 
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I'd say it's neglectful if your mom put you in a position where she couldn't provide stability and a safe environment. I don't think moving frequently is inherently neglectful or abusive, but those kinds of chaotic moves sure are. 

 

I definitely think you should look for someone who can help you with it. If the first therapist wasn't a good fit, try another. 

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#26 of 44 Old 04-15-2011, 03:12 PM
 
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Oh you poor dear. You absolutely 100% deserve a therapist who will actually help you with working through your neglectful childhood.


Neglect and abuse are simply not okay to do to children. The semantics of them is only important in so far as there might be different approaches that are helpful in working through them. I bet a lot of the therapy work for abuse applies to neglect and vice versa though.

 

Especially since you were definitely abused by your father.

 

As for ending the cycle, there's a thread over in personal growth on that topic. I know at least one of the women in that thread has done some intensive self-work on the subject and had some excellent insights.

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#27 of 44 Old 04-15-2011, 04:35 PM - Thread Starter
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LROM...thank you so much for the kind words. They brought me to tears (in a good way I suppose) and I am thinking about them a lot. 

My dad only got to me once, in that way (ugh), and for that I am thankful. They really touched me. Everyone's kind words has...

I feel like I have done what a PP's sister has done, just push everything away for a long time...The problem is, it isn't working for me. I am stunted, as another PP mentioned interpersonally I suck at relationships (even with DH)...I can't handle a deep relationship (outside of DH)...If things get too close, I shut it off, drift away and just close myself off. More than one person in my life has commented on this, I also can't manage to keep a relationship (short of DH again) going for any length of time. I can't blame those issues on my childhood but I won't deny that it has probably had an effect on them.

 

I feel like those of us who have dealt with abuse (in any form) want so badly to do better, be better, for our kids. I want nothing more than to avoid for my DD the issues that I dealt with. That is my ultimate goal. I have to figure out how to heal myself, find a compatible therapist, so I can make sure I don't do the things to DD that happened to me (obviously what my dad did will not be happening to her)....

 

Thank you again. DH and I were talking about it more and I told him about this thread I wrote and he is nothing but sympathetic, his own childhood was no picnic with a miserably depressed bi-polar mother but the more we talk the more he understands some of the reasons why I am the way I am... He is a good man and an amazing father, I couldn't ask more from him than the understanding he gives me on a daily basisluxlove.gif

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#28 of 44 Old 04-15-2011, 05:08 PM
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I don't think whether it is defined as abuse, neglect, or something else really matters. It was bad for you, it makes you unhappy. There's not a standard that something hurtful has to hit for you to feel justified in being in pain. You are justified.
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#29 of 44 Old 04-15-2011, 06:59 PM
 
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In your latest post, you mention not wanting to blame your childhood but still feel that it has affected you.  That's honest.  It won't help to blame anything.  What will help is to allow it to be real.  What happened to you in your upbringing is real.  And it has had very real effects within your life so far.  Cause = effect.  Maybe you've been trying to live as if it didn't happen, in order to live in peace.  But the only way to live in true peace, is to accept what really happened and how you were raised to feel about yourself, release that, then create who you are now and what you want for your own future.  Denial won't lead you out of reality, yk?  Your parents did what they did.  It wasn't ideal and caused you a lot of pain and you still feel certain ways about yourself, and navigate relationships in certain ways, because of what you were taught.  

 

Now, what you have in front of you, is accepting that part of yourself and learning from it.  Pushing it down or trying to minimize into some form of self-perceived sort of personal weakness, will only cause it to erupt in various ways whenever a stressful or sad situation arises in your life.  Killing it with blaming others (denial), or trying to fill painful void with food or alcohol or drugs, or whatever other escape mechanisms you've put into (may have put into) place so far, won't make it disappear either.  You can learn how to build a new foundation for yourself now.  But you have to accept where you're coming from in order to do that.

 

It's that even your current relationship could suffer to a point of ending.  I was in a similar place, that you write about in your latest post.  My dp was the only one who understood and stood by me no matter what.  But he was still there.  I was incapable of having long lasting friendships, even though I'm very capable of gaining people's trust and their desire for a friendship with me initially.  I'd get phone calls asking for lunches or to go do things from people I met, but for reasons within, I'd always self sabotage those connections, then eventually people would take it personally, like I didn't want them as a friend, or simply give up on having anything meaningful with me.  My reasons for not going to the lunches or calling people to initiate meetings was  insecurity and feeling socially inadequate.  I'm still working thru a lot, but I can tell you that most likely, it's not you, it's the things that you need to work thru, that is cutting you off.  

 

Do yourself the favor of working things out for yourself.  I don't know your relationship with your dh, but have read a few posts from you about you two, and I fear that without getting the personal therapy you need, due to leftover crap from your upbringing and ideas of who you are, your dh may not be there either eventually.  It took mine cheating on me for over a year without telling me, to finally wake me up and make me see that, YES, I need to find another way.  You can handle this.  Getting some light and saying what you've been thru out loud to someone non-judgmental, like a therapist, can help you become more confident.  And that can help you salvage your relationship with yourself, your friends and your dh.

 

I sincerely wish you the best.  You deserve to free yourself.  You've been thru enough.


"When the external begins to define the internal, instead of the internal defining the external, one begins living as a mortal rather than as a universal being." ~ unknown
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#30 of 44 Old 04-16-2011, 09:04 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spring Lily View Post

It''s not abuse per se, but it can be very damaging and cause a lot of real issues for you as an adult.
 


I personally don't know if I'd call it abuse or neglect or what category I'd put it in, but I DEFINITELY think the chaos you grew up with sounds damaging and has a very real long term impact. I grew up with a schizophrenic mother and know that growing up with that kind of chaos (though different) has definitely made a HUGE impact on me and my life.

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