I’ve wanted to write about this topic for quite some time, but never got around to it. Events of the past week have forced me to do so, and from an angle I didn’t want to do it from.
I was both surprised and not at things I’ve learned over the course of the last week. Surprised, because I thought things were getting better for my older son, at least when he wasn’t around us. Around us, I understood that there is a lot of pain there. As I told him after everything came to a head, “I’m sorry I didn’t get us out earlier. I should have taken my frustration out on him not you kids.”*
But elsewhere, I saw different things. I mostly saw him at the farmstand where he was friendly and talkative. I assumed that had spread to all areas of his life. Apparently, it had not.
Normally, I would not talk about my kids’ failures here. Not because I’m embarrassed by them or don’t want people to know they are fallible, but because, generally, it’s no one’s business and usually it’s not that big of a deal. But this is one that must be broached because it’s something people need to start thinking about.
Before I start, I’d like to say that I in no way defend my son or his actions. I don’t know all the details but I can pretty well guess from what I do know and it is entirely unacceptable and the people who were forced to cut him from their lives were completely in the right. No form of abuse should ever be tolerated.
Also, I do not blame any of the people who stood up to him. They are suffering, they have to pick up the pieces. I know exactly what that is like. I’m still picking up the pieces from my parents’ and husband’s abuse. I hope they will find healing. I do not, however, hope that the relationships can be mended. I know that is, in cases like this, not possible. That is exactly how it should be. That, people, is what real bravery is.
What I had hoped to originally write was a generic post about how an abusive marriage could possibly create children who grow up and are abusive. I had planned to vaguely mention my own situation and those of the many women I have spoken with since coming out about my husband’s abuse who see so many things in their children that have a negative potential. That is no longer possible, so I’m going to be frank.
Abusive marriages lead to abusive children.
It’s really that simple people.
When the pastor stands up before the congregation and touts the usual bullshit stats about how divorce negatively impacts kids, he is setting up another generation to carry on abuse.
When the news quotes half-stats about fatherless children, they are setting up another generation to carry on abuse.
When society in general forces victims of abuse to forgive and embrace their abuser, they are setting up another generation to carry on abuse.
So, just stop.
Instead, teach your children what abuse is. You can start by reexamining how you discipline your children. Then examine what you teach them about love. Is love forgiving regardless the evil done to you? Then you have just set your child up to think that abuse might be OK. What do you teach them about self-protection? Do you teach them that they must give up themselves to become what you or your god want them to be? These, too, are ways to set your children up to be receptive and tolerant of abuse. **
No one should tolerate abuse.
It’s been a rough week. Hell, it’s been a rough life. It shouldn’t have been. There were plenty of opportunities for someone, including myself, to make decisions that changed things radically. But none of us was taught to do so. We were all taught by society, the church, and Hollywood, that abuse is OK. Abuse should be tolerated for the good of the whole. We should love our abusers and ignore the pain and suffering they cause. And even that abuse can be an indicator of love.
It’s time to change these things. It’s time to unlearn the lies and learn the truth. We live in a time when that is possible. Teach your children. Stand up for them and teach them to stand up for themselves. This needs to end, and we can only blame ourselves if it doesn’t.
*Parents in bad marriages almost always take it out on the kids. You can try to romanticize life all you want and say parents shouldn’t do that, but you only deny the reality of what these kids are suffering.
**This is a great article on abusive friendships. So many articles on abuse are on romantic relationships specifically, but this one will help your child identify if even their friends…or parents…are abusive.