I witnessed the following interaction bewteen a parent and child - which you may or may not see as a "child abuse story" but the impact on the child was undeniable and for me, it was a defining moment in my career..
Many years ago, I was working at an event for local families, in Los Angeles as a facepainter. A little girl, maybe three or four years old, waited patiently in line with her mother to have her face painted. When it was finally her turn, the little girl became terribly frightened and decided that she most definitely did not want to have her face-painted.
Visibly disappointed, the young mother coaxed and pleaded with her sweet girl, but the little one was adamant - no paint!
Mom finally relented and they both stepped out of line. About fifteen minutes later they returned. The little girl hesitantly approached my chair. "You're back," I asked? "Did you change your mind?" She nodded shyly.
Then her mother turned to me and proudly whispered, "I told her I wouldn't be her friend anymore if she didn't get her face-painted.”
I was dumbfounded. She actually giggled when she told me, as if it was a "how to discipline children" joke. But I realized, she had GOOD intentions. Believe it or not, this mom, was loving and caring. She was also young and unaware.
My heart just sank.
Every cell in my body wept for this little girl - and her mother, who was so young, so naive - laughing playfully, unconscious of the damage she had just caused. To manipulate her daughter into compliance by threatening to take away her love, trust and support is an act only the ignorant could unload.
It may seem like an extreme example to illustrate a point but I've got a hundred more heart-wrenching discipline stories handy. Or, just hang out at any local playground and you can be a witness to an array of emotionally abusive situations. Children of all ages are routinely coerced, threatened, yelled at, ignored, bullied and [often unconsciously] verbally abused.
Most importantly, what I realized that day is that this young mom, who was innately so full of love and joy, had no idea what the cause of her actions would be - the damage done to her daughter's emotional well-being, the gouge in her self-esteem and the break in the bond between them. She had zero understanding of how damaging her words were.
It was that day that I vowed to make a difference in the lives of parents and children by raising the global awareness of emotional abuse and spreading the message of nonviolent communication and conscious, non-punitive discipline.
Have you been inspired to create change because of something you witnessed?
What do you think? I love hearing from you, so leave me a comment below. Share your stories, post your challenges and if you benefited from this article, consider sharing it with a friend!comments powered by Disqus