menu/ RAISING A CHILD: THE RULES

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1. All children are born to grow, to develop, to live, to love, and to articulate their needs and feelings for their self-protection.

2. For their development, children need to the respect and protection of adults who take them seriously, love them, and honestly help them to become oriented in the world.

3. When these vital needs are frustrated and children are, instead, abused for the sake of the adults' needs by being exploited, beaten, punished, taken advantage of, manipulated neglected, or deceived without the intervention of any witness, then their integrity will be lastingly impaired.

4. The normal reactions to such injury should be anger and pain. Since children in this hurtful kind of environment are forbidden to express their anger, however, and since it would be unbearable to experience their pain all alone, they are compelled to suppress their feelings, repress all memory of the trauma, and idealize those guilty of the abuse. Later they will have no memory of what was done to them.

5. Dissociated from the original cause, their feelings of anger, helplessness, despair, longing, anxiety, and pain will find expression in destructive acts against others (criminal behavior, mass murder) or against themselves (drug addiction, alcoholism, prostitution, psychic disorders, suicide).

6. If these people become parents, they will then often direct acts of revenge for their mistreatment in childhood against their own children, whom they use as scapegoats. Child abuse is still sanctioned - indeed, held in high regard - in our society as long as it is defined as child-rearing. It is a tragic fact that parents beat their children in order to escape the emotions from how they were treated by their own parents.

7. If mistreated children are not to become criminals or mentally ill, it is essential that at least once in their life they come in contact with a person who knows without any doubt that the environment, not the helpless, battered child, is at fault. In this regard, knowledge or ignorance on the part of society can be instrumental in either saving or destroying a life. Here lies the great opportunity for relatives, social workers, therapists, teachers, doctors, psychiatrists, officials and nurses to support the child and believe in her or him.

8. Till now, society has protected the adult and blamed the victim. It has been abetted in its blindness by theories, still in keeping with the pedagogical principles of our great-grandparents, according to which children are viewed as crafty creatures, dominated by wicked drives, who invent stories and attack innocent parents or desire them sexually. In reality, children tend to blame themselves for their parents' cruelty and to absolve their parents, whom they invariably love of all responsibility.

9. For some years now, it has been possible to prove, through new therapeutic methods, that repressed traumatic experiences of childhood are stored up in the body and, though unconscious, exert an influence even in adulthood. In addition, electronic testing of the fetus has revealed a fact previously unknown to most adults -- that a child responds to and learns both tenderness and cruelty from the very beginning.

10. In the light of this new knowledge, even the most absurd behavior reveals its formerly hidden logic once the traumatic experiences of childhood need no longer remain shrouded in darkness.

11. Our sensitization to the cruelty with which children are treated, until now commonly denied, and to the consequences of such treatment will as a matter of course bring an end to the perpetuation of violence from generation to generation.

12. People whose integrity has not been damaged in childhood, who were protected, respected, and treated with honesty by their parents, will be - both in their youth and in adulthood - intelligent, responsive, empathic and highly sensitive. They will take pleasure in life and will not feel any need to kill or even hurt others or themselves. They will use their power to defend themselves, not to attack others. They will not be able to do otherwise than respect and protect those weaker than themselves, including their own children, because this is what they have learned from their own experience, and because it is this knowledge (and not the experience of cruelty) that has been stored up inside them from the beginning.

It will be inconceivable to such people that earlier generations had to build up a gigantic war industry in order to feel comfortable and safe in this world. Since it will not be their unconscious drive in life to ward off intimidation experienced at a very early age, they will be able to deal with attempts at intimidation in their adult life more rationally and creatively.

- from For Your Own Good, by Alice Miller

sanctify your relationship with your child

Whether it is clearly visible or not, every relationship has a higher purpose than itself alone, a meaning that goes beyond [conventions] ... and attaches two people into a destiny that has roots in the past and wings for the future.

This purpose is to shape us individuals into the highest and best versions of ourselves, and to change, if only in some tiny way, the essential character of the reality we have entrusted here by being born.

To know that is to believe that whatever occurs between you - the petty dramas and traumas, the life-shaping tragedies - is honing you for your unique participation in the human stream. It is to accept that the person you love has come into your life for a reason that goes beyond the satisfactions of the moment or even your personal future, to reach into the web of time beyond time. What you do here together, how well and how beautifully you do it, has implications ... for every other living being.

We are all participants in the process of creating a species and a world that hums with peace and is informed by love. This is our highest heritage, and when we sanctify our relationships, the difficulties and insults they contain will be instantly diminished and what will stand in their place is the overwhelming presence of real love.

Sanctifying your relationship means seeing it not as an act of self-indulgence, but as an offering of love that you deliver up with joy to the fulfillment of its higher meaning. This entails not only an attitude of acceptance but also two behaviors: making speech and keeping silence. It means verbally acknowledging this higher truth to one another:

- "Thank you for being the instrument for the discovery of my purpose"; - "I know we have come together for an important reason"; and- "I love you for being my way to see the holiness of life."

 

At times it also means keeping silence in your heart which is a thanksgiving of this higher purpose, or engaging together in a practice meditation which is walking together in spirit, a prayer that your purpose together be revealed.

Your love is a stitch in the fabric of All. To see it as such is to place your relationship in its ultimate perspective and to receive from it the ultimate joy.

- from True Love, by Daphne Rose Kingma

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