Have you ever watched your child interact with your grandchild and felt appalled? Spending time with my daughter and granddaughter can be both a blessing and a curse. Watching them hug and laugh together makes my heart sing. Watching some of disciplinary actions my daughter uses with my granddaughter makes my heart ache.
I shake my head in distaste but where did she learn this chastising behavior? From me. It was the way I was raised and a repeat of how my mother was raised and so on. Mom trusts she tweaked it for the better as innately we try to do better than our parents, but some patterns are hard to break.
When I was a kid, things were different. Children were seen, not heard. We did wear our shoes until they had holes in them. The only things recycled were hand-me-down clothes. The cleaning service used in our home was called, “the children”.
And when we were “bad” for punishment we were spanked and verbally abused. It wasn’t understood, in my family anyway, that there was anything wrong. It’s just the way it was.
During my own parental development, I introduced things I felt were lacking as a child such as saying, “I love you,” to my children often and having involvement in school activities. I
went to counseling and participated in parenting classes. I learned to let them voice their opinion and most of all; I tried not to hit or verbally abuse.
I believe I did make progress with my parenting, but at times I over compensated and swung too far the other way. When my idealistic parenting practices fell down like a house of cards, I was left with the only thing I had left. My experience and my experience to get control of the children were to hit and yell. So it goes, history repeating itself.
I have explained to my daughter what I now know to be abuse and I don’t condone her behavior, but as a grandparent, I know to tread lightly. Too much interference and I may not see my granddaughter. My best bet is to spend quality time with them both and treat them like the gifts they are.
I do remain hopeful. I believe my daughter doesn’t like the way she reacts at times and does try in her way to do better. I try to focus on the positive she is doing as part of the solution. It is extremely hard to break the cycle but with continued awareness and education our family can evolve into an “abuse free” generation.
Some things still ring true. I don’t believe children should be running our homes, but there are ways to discipline a child without causing physical or mental pain. I also know we have all turned out fairly decent but just because that is how we were raised, don’t make it right.
Cheryl Burns is a freelance writer residing in North Riverside, Il. Being a 46 year old mother of three children ages 26, 20 and 7 and grandmother of a 4 and 1 yr old, there is never a dull moment. Some of these experiences have been published on more.com, humorpress.com and Media for Living magazine.