It must be true...A mother knows what's best for her children. Who isn't for motherhood and apple pie? It's reinforced in our literature, movies, books, our laws, our religion. Mom knows best. There is no love greater than that of a mother for her children.
A Mother's Love
A Mother's love is something
that no one can explain,
It is made of deep devotion
and of sacrifice and pain,
It is endless and unselfish
and enduring come what may
For nothing can destroy it
or take that love away . . .
It is patient and forgiving
when all others are forsaking,
And it never fails or falters
even though the heart is breaking . . .
It believes beyond believing
when the world around condemns,
And it glows with all the beauty
of the rarest, brightest gems . . .
It is far beyond defining,
it defies all explanation,
And it still remains a secret
like the mysteries of creation . . .
A many splendoured miracle
man cannot understand
And another wondrous evidence
of God's tender guiding hand.
- Helen Steiner Rice -
Our governments, schools, churches, courts bend over backwards to protect and support the rights of mothers. Mothers are encouraged and empowered to home school their children, diagnose their illnesses, control their activities, choose their friendships, dictate their living conditions, even select their religion.
Parenthood isn't easy and many mothers do an excellent job of what is a very challenging assignment...
But not all.
How Common is Child Abuse?
In the US, an estimated 903,000 children (1.2% of all children) were victims of abuse and neglect in 2001. 19% of reported and substantiated child abuse cases result in the child being removed from the home.
Blaming - The practice of identifying a person or people responsible for creating a problem, rather than identifying ways of dealing with the problem.
Bullying - Any systematic action of hurting a person from a position of relative physical, social, economic or emotional strength.
Emotional Blackmail - A system of threats and punishments used in an attempt to control someone’s behaviors.
Engulfment - An unhealthy and overwhelming level of attention and dependency on another person, which comes from imagining or believing one exists only within the context of that relationship.
False Accusations - Patterns of unwarranted or exaggerated criticism directed towards someone else.
Favoritism - Favoritism is the practice of systematically giving positive, preferential treatment to one child, subordinate or associate among a family or group of peers.
Gaslighting - The practice of brainwashing or convincing a mentally healthy individual that they are going insane or that their understanding of reality is mistaken or false. The term “Gaslighting” is based on the 1944 MGM movie “Gaslight”.
Infantilization - Treating a child as if they are much younger than their actual age.
Mood Swings - Unpredictable, rapid, dramatic emotional cycles which cannot be readily explained by changes in external circumstances.
Parentification - A form of role reversal, in which a child is inappropriately given the role of meeting the emotional or physical needs of the parent or of the family’s other children.
Perfectionism - The maladaptive practice of holding oneself or others to an unrealistic, unattainable or unsustainable standard of organization, order, or accomplishment in one particular area of living, while sometimes neglecting common standards of organization, order or accomplishment in other areas of living.
Projection - The act of attributing one's own feelings or traits to another person and imagining or believing that the other person has those same feelings or traits.
Push-Pull - A chronic pattern of sabotaging and re-establishing closeness in a relationship without appropriate cause or reason.
Scapegoating - Singling out an individual or group for unmerited negative treatment or blame.
Shaming - The difference between blaming and shaming is that in blaming someone tells you that you did something bad, in shaming someone tells you that you are something bad.
US Child Custody Statistics
Many people believe that mothers are naturally better caregivers than fathers. And the US courts seem to agree. US Divorce Statistics show that a divorcing mother is 7 times more likely to retain sole custody of her children than a father:
In the US, there are laws to protect all sorts of individuals from reckless behavior of others. For example, you must pass an exam before you may:
Drive a car,
Fly a plane
Operate a crane
Run a restaurant
Educate school children
Become a social worker or any kind of therapist
Diagnose an ailment or prescribe, dispense or administer any kind of medicine or medical treatment
But there is no qualification for becoming a Mother other than being female. Nor is there any review of your performance except in the most severe cases of physical violence and neglect.
When it comes to your treatment of strangers you may be prosecuted for:
invading their privacy
confiscating their property
When it comes to treatment of minors, parents are held almost completely unaccountable. Minor children of abusive parents are completely trapped in their environment - dependent totally on an overwhelmed legal system to take action - after the abuse has been witnessed and reported by a neighbor, teacher, doctor or social worker. Many cases go unreported.
The Role of Religion In Child Abuse
Most popular religions extol the virtues of being obedient and loyal to parents.
“Honor thy father and thy mother:that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”
- Exodus -
“He who wisheth to enter Paradise at the best door must please his father and mother.
- Prophet Muhammad -
While teachings like this make sense when a child is learning to accept the discipline and wisdom of a benevolent parent, there are situations where a lack of intervention or a maintenance of the biological family status quo is neither wise nor loving for a child - nor for the abusive parent.
However, most of the ancient sacred scriptures and modern religious organizations do not discriminate between parents who are loving and nurturing and parents who are abusive.
Children are repeatedly told that they are never supposed to hate, resent, criticize, disregard or abandon their parents. Instead they are reminded to honor them, obey them, cherish them, be loyal to them and take care of them in their old age.
This sends a confusing mixed-message to children who grow up in abusive homes. They can see the contradictions for themselves in the actions of an abusive parent - and often know that something is wrong about that. However, they will often be afraid to speak out to another adult, say anything negative about their parent or seek help for fear that they will be seen as "bad".
It's common for these children to reject their childhood religion in adulthood which they judge to have failed them, sustained the abusive parent and perpetuated the cycle of abuse.
By emphasizing the sanctity of marriage and traditional family roles, many religions discourage spouses of abusers - many of whom are victims themselves - from taking action to remove their children.
What Happens When the Children Grow Up?
What is surprising to many is that child abuse often extends long into adulthood although it often takes a more emotional,psychological or subtle form as children become physically stronger and more economically independent.
Adult children of abusive parents often feel trapped between maintaining an unhealthy relationship with an aging, yet disrespectful, stalking, slandering, harassing parent and being judged by extended family, friends and acquaintances if they choose to cut off all contact with the abusive parent.
Adult children of abusive parents are at increased risk of making poor personal, relationship and career choices in adulthood.
Abusive parents sometimes see things like relationships, career and outside interests of their young adult children as threats and may seek to undermine them.
Adult survivors of child abuse ultimately suffer in three distinct ways:
They suffer the abuse itself
They suffer the loss of knowing what should have been - the loss of a supportive parent, of a loving home and a safe refuge.
They suffer the consequences of protecting themselves from that abuse. They are often left feeling guilty, judged, condemned by society, religion, their communities and their families.
Support for Unchosen's
There is a section of our Support Forum dedicated to supporting people who find themselves in Unchosen Relationships - relationships with family members, parents, siblings who suffer from personality disorders.
Nov 9, 2013 - OOTF has just launched a new "Future Goals" forum. This forum is a safe place to store your goals of what you would like to achieve. Setting goals can help us move forward, and give us something to focus on while we are working our way through day to day issues. Goals can change, be amended or added to over time as we either achieve them, or determine new goals as our lives unfold.