Abusive past resurfacing as a parent - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 04-25-2003, 08:54 AM - Thread Starter
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I have a big problem. My dad was incredibly verbally and emotionally abusive to me. All I remember about my childhood is being yelled at, sworn at, etc. I have a beautiful two year old boy who is a real handful. Over the past few months since my ddaughter was born he has been incredibly hard to handle. I am finding myself filled with such a rage towards him, I want to yell at him, curse him, hit him. I don't know why I feel these things because in my head I know that and believe these things are wrong. But I find myself doing them anyways. I have yelled at him and even hit him a few times. One time last week he kicked me in the face while I was changing him and I popped him one on his bare thigh. How horrible am I? I just don't know what to do with such a wild kid. He doesn't listen to a word I say, he laughs in my face if I try and discipline him gently. I'm afraid I am raising a brat and most of all I am afraid I am going to start abusing my child. Please help!

Shawna, married to Michael, mommy to Elijah 1/18/01, Olivia 11/9/02, and Eliana 1/22/06
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#2 of 12 Old 04-25-2003, 09:09 AM
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First you must understand that having two children two and under is a severe challenge under any circumstance.

Also, unless you make a conscious effort to break a familiar cycle you will repeat it (I know these things firsthand) What you grew up with is what is familiar to you, it is what you will *do* naturally unless you actively fight to establish healthier patterns.

This is hard work but it is so worthwhile....you are breaking a generational cycle of abuse and will be saving your decendents the same task.

Debra Baker
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#3 of 12 Old 04-25-2003, 10:13 PM
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Traumatic experiences are stored in the brain and are expressed in ways we might not expect. Even if they seem to make sense, we can't control them.

I suggest seeking out a counselor who does EMDR therapy. For more info, do a search on "EMDR" (I can't remember exactly what the letters stand for.)

I found this therapy very useful in dealing with past trauma. Even a more traditional therapy may help you...as well as any relaxation/mediatation you can practice on your own. Good luck. You CAN break a cycle. It really can be done.
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#4 of 12 Old 04-26-2003, 01:34 PM
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I want to re-affrim how difficult having 2 children are, and how challenging a 2 year old is. It is a huge adjustment.
So, please, do not tell yourself you are horrible for reacting, because if you feel guilty, your resentment and anger will only grow.

You are so lucky that your head does think your reaction is over the top. You and your child are so lucky that you are seeking advice and trying to change. So many of us did not have parents who either thought they were doing anything wrong or did not want to change.

I also want you to try and find time as often as posible by yourself. It is so hard with 2, but so neccessary.

Also, trying to write daily can realy help. Keep a journal handy when the babe is asleep, and your son is occupied. Let yourself write down all your positive and Negative feelings. It would also be abeautiful thing to give your son when he is older. I really appreciated the talks I had with my mother about her efforts to change, and it made me accept and love her more for her struggle.

Also, I think it is so hard to be a mother right now. All the images are about happy, happy moms- but mothering is hard, and mothers get angry- but in our culture to be an anry mother somehow means you love your child less and almost that you are committing a crime. No, we are just human. Its all how you handle the anger that makes the biggest difference.

Good luck, and please keep us posted about how things change.
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#5 of 12 Old 04-28-2003, 08:22 AM
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Please don't be so hard on yourself. Lots of hugs and blessings to you The first step is recognizing that there is a problem. I too come from an abusive background and it is soooo hard not to repeat that with my own children. I have 3 kids--two of which act like their on crack most of the time. It's a daily fight, but I try REALLY hard and count my successes in days--like this-- I haven't yelled or swatted at anyone in 5 days. And the more days I have under my belt the easier it is. When you start yelling and hitting, the first few times your'e appauled at yourself, then slowly it becomes second nature because its so easy to do sometimes when your angry. First, plan ahead. Think of some common behaviors that your child has that you would like to address, start with the things that set you off the most. And decide ahead of time what youre going to do if that behavior occurs. That way you don't just react.
Ahhh! Baby just woke up so I got to make this quick. Second, when you feel like hitting put your hands in your pocket. Third, try whispering instead of yelling. Or remove yourself from the situation till you calm down--take a time out.
Good luck to you!!!
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#6 of 12 Old 04-28-2003, 05:12 PM
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wow....i wish you the best. I often have that feeling of overwhelming anger and I am less htan gentle to my three. i even find myself telling my baby to knock it off when he kicks me...how can he mean it? i know that it is difficult when you have a history of abuse...it is hard to be a gentle parent when you have inherited anger. If you find the answers PLEASE let me know. It is never too late to make a conscious effort at gentler and gentler parenting, as I am discovering these message boards are good reminders of who i am trying to be and they are agood time out when the babe is napping and the kids are busy. FInd what works for you and once in a while take a walk by yourself or go out to eat alone...it is weird but so amazing. i am starting to cry now...I REALLY REALLY WISH YOU THE BEST. you will be in my thoughts and prayers.
PS my three year old NEVER has listened to me, not if he doesn't want to. sometimes nothing does work, but eventually (last night it was 1am...he falls asleep and the next day he gets a new chance to obey and I get the chance to face the new challenge of the day! I am trying to think of it as an opportunity for growth, but man it is hard.)
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#7 of 12 Old 04-28-2003, 05:58 PM
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I am reading a wonderful book right now about this very issue. How to figure out what we bring from our childhood into our parenting, and how we can not only avoid taking these issues out on our children, but also how to use parenting as a way of healing ourselves. It's called "Giving the Love that Heals: a guide for parents" by Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt. I think it might be exactly what you need.

Big hugs to you, too!!

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#8 of 12 Old 04-29-2003, 03:27 AM
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My DH has a similar situation, and struggles with it particularly every day. Some days better than others ...

Please go as fast as your mouse will click to the Gentle Discipline forum. It has been hugely helpful with my own discipline/child rearing (even those of us without abuse in our pasts need help in this arena) and also very much so in dealing with a spouse who is, well, in your emotional neck of the woods ...

Lastly, a 2yo is doing what he's supposed to when he's experimenting and pushing buttons. He is not a brat. Way to young to even begin to think such a thing. Part of teaching him to control himself is teaching ourselves to control our reactions to his experimenting and button-pushing.

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#9 of 12 Old 04-29-2003, 01:11 PM
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Something I have found extremely helpful is talking to my ds about my feelings before they get out of hand. "I feel really angry when you kick me." It's good for kids to hear how you feel, it's good modeling to talk about your feelings openly, it's good for kids to know that negative feelings are OK and not scary. And the added bonus is it makes me feel better, it makes me stop just long enough to get a grip on myself.

This from a Mom who smashed a bowl in the sink this morning.
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#10 of 12 Old 04-29-2003, 06:01 PM
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I hear you mammas!!!

Good for all of us for continuing to be committed to doing things differently. It is sometimes a minute by minute struggle. My girls will have their own issues, but dealing with daily violence will not be one of them. As much as you don't want to, sometimes you might lose it. Be pateint and loving with yourself. Know you are not alone and love is the answer!!! Take care, Deirdre
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#11 of 12 Old 04-29-2003, 09:28 PM
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Abusive behavior is learned behavior. It can be unlearned.

What I did was be with people who acted as tho they loved and cherished their children, and imitated/learned that behavior.

"Vaccines are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are gonna get - eczema, allergies, diabetes, petit/gran mal seizures, ADEM, SPD, GBS, TPI, POTS, JRA, RA, JPA, CFS, SLE, fibromyalgia, encephalitis, neurological damage, coma, or death."

~paraphrased from "Forrest Gump"~

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#12 of 12 Old 04-29-2003, 11:17 PM
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Hey Heavenly,
You're not alone! This is the absolute hardest thing you will do in your life. And the most soul changing thing you will ever do - I can't really think of a way to put it but every time I conquer the rage and reflex to hit or scream or abandon or sneer I feel powerful and it is the most healing experience I have ever come across. You are doing this for yourself too! When you realize your potential to change it is like the whole world opens up for you - at least that's how I feel.
Just one practical tip - I have a few numbers I can call - and yes one is an abuse line. They understand that I feel like I'm abusing my child if I yell or hit hands, etc. and devote the same compassion and energy to me as they would to the mom struggling not to beat her child with a belt. It helps so much in the moment to get out of the moment and get some perspective.
And take care of yourself. The work you are doing takes tremendous mental and emotional energy. You have to set yourself up for success. Start with the small challenges - try one thing at a time. That's worked for me - when my dd hits me I will say or do xyz. That's probably not a small challenge - I know hitting is a real button pusher but maybe you know what i mean.
The book "Giving the Love that Heals" is kind of corny but it had some good stuff to say I thought.
And just think of the gift you will give your child if he can be free of the struggle you are going through because of the struggle you went through.
All the luck in the world to you!
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