Re: Daughter exposed to violence!

[ Parent to Parent Forum ]

Posted by judy lavin on April 13, 2004 at 23:46:55:

In Reply to: Daughter exposed to violence! posted by Lani on April 13, 2004 at 01:13:01:

Hi Lani,
I understand how distressed you are, but that doesn't mean you're a terrible mother. So, take that guilt off your plate.

It would be terrific if we could control everyone and everything around us ...wouldn't it? Sadly, we can't. We have to deal with all of the lumps and bumps that are thrown at us--all of life's messiness. In short, we have to deal with reality...and so do our children.
As parents, it's our job to teach and help our children, to love our children and to try to protect them as best we can. We can't protect our children from life, however.
Bad things happen in life. And, we have to face those things. We have to deal with those things when they happen.
We can talk to our children about what's happened. We can hear their thoughts and tell them ours. We can discuss how to make that situation not occur again or deal with it if it does occur again. We can do lots of things like that, but we can't put our kids in a world with no violence and no problems. We can't--because that's not our world. That's not life. That's "Leave It To Beaver," and even HE had problems!

What we can do for our children is teach them how to protect themselves. We can teach them how to avoid getting into bad relationships. We can give them moral strength. We can guide them. We can model behaviors, by not getting into or staying in bad relationships ourselves--which teaches them--and we can learn how to solve problems.

A big part of problem-solving is being able to think through issues. To be able to get emotional distance from an issue so that we can work with it and get resolution. Sometimes resolutions involve unpleasantries, such as having to get a restraining order. Ok. That's not anyone's first choice, but if you have to do that, you have to do that. AND, it's a GOOD thing that your daughter learned that there is a way to remove yourself from harm's way legally.
There's no shame in that. People have to take care of themselves. You didn't murder anyone. You didn't steal from anyone. All you did was protect yourself. That's a GOOD thing.

I want to ask you another thing, is it such a bad thing that your daughter is learning that not everyone in our world is nice? I'm not sure it is.

Regarding your work experience, what did you learn from that? Anything positive that you can pass along to your child?
How do you think it could have been handled so that you could have protected yourself or avoided the bully? One superviser didn't help you...what about the human resources department? Could they help you? Try to think of ways to solve the problems and then share those ways with your child, if you feel you need to do that. Don't scare her. She's young, but teach her if she's concerned. You want to make her feel safe. You want her to feel she can confide in you and that you can handle things.

It seems to me that the reason you are so depressed is not only because of the negative people who've come into your life, but also because you're experiencing shared pain with your daughter.
In other words, YOU have enormous pain from what's been done to YOU--not only the things that have happened recently, but also, things that may have happened in your past. It seems that these hostile individuals you're encountering now remind you of similar painful incidences that may have occurred in your childhood. You haven't healed from your childhood issues and therefore, the current incidences are reawakening pain from your earlier life.

Because of this, you're imagining that your daughter is feeling the same emotions that you once felt and you want to protect her. That's normal. But, you should know, that your daughter may feel safer and more protected than you felt in your childhood BECAUSE of the type of mother you are.
Your daughter may be upset, but not as upset as you are. (I'm not saying that the things you've experienced aren't upsetting, they are.)

Right now, I'm actually more worried about YOU then your daughter. To me, it sounds like you've been traumatized. If you're able to help yourself so that you can deal with things in a calmer way you'll be helping your daughter immensely. She'll feel safer.
You'll be able to show her how to not attract people who can hurt her and then, if she does--because we all know the bad guys don't wear signs or black hats warning us of who they really are--you'll know how to teach her to defend herself. Those are important life lessons.

I think you need to talk to a professional so that you can get a better handle on your own feelings. These incidences, obviously, hit huge emotional buttons for you and you need to sort through your pain so you can heal.

You also need to figure out a way to keep the volatile types away from you or at least to learn how to not get into tangles with them. You need to learn how to spot those angry types. Certainly, you don't want to have boyfriends around who are potential abusers. That's dangerous. You don't want to be a victim.

One of the things that worries me from your letter, is that there seems to be a pattern that you've developed of attracting people to you who can be hurtful to you. That's not what you sound like you want in your life.

In order to figure out how to help yourself, I think there must be a Family Counseling Center near you--either through a hospital or if you live near a university, they usually have such a center--where you can get counseling at very reasonable rates. Look for a place that does family and marital therapy. They should be able to help you and your daughter.

If you go to counseling with a competent professional, I think your life and your daughter's can improve.

Another option is to talk to the clergy or any counselors at your church. They may be able to help you, too. The key is to get some outside guidance and support from people who are trained to listen. They can help guide you and be a valuable resource at a time when you sound like you need extra help.

I'm so glad you wrote. Let me know what happens. I'm wishing you the best of luck.