A message for a concerned mother

We all have a history, sometimes one we aren’t keen to share, it makes us feel less valuable, less likeable, less everything. It’s also likely that if you have the kind of past that makes you feel like this, you place a high value on the things you feel lacking in, at least that’s how it is for me.

While I’ve struggled sharing the past, particularly more recent events that stem from it, I did put a rather silly post on Facebook that aggravated issues, I’m not sure I really regret doing that. My half brother ran straight to dad to tell him, which is likely what he’ll do if he reads this.

On the other hand, trying to explain what happened and how it makes me feel often results in an outbreak of tears. I managed to contain much of that while trying to explain things to a client who was unfairly dragged into the mess. A fantastic momly scottish lady, she was understanding, but I don’t think things will be like they were before she knew, possibly more because of how I view things.

Why am I telling you this now? Well, because Kanga 4 is asking some pretty big questions over at her blog.

“I find myself stuck. I cannot simply take the kids, up and leave the husband and expect to make it on my own.

Now, why on earth would I want to do that in the first place? Well sometimes I wonder whether growing up without a father would be better for my children than growing up with their dad.”

Then after talking about the physical and emotional abuse her husband has meted out on her, this…

“The children’s rooms must at all times be neat and tidy and if not, and he is in one of his moods, he hits them, very hard, with a belt. I am not allowed to interfere and in fact he shouts at me for not doing it myself.”

This sounds like my dad. I think leaving him would be a smart move, but I should give a reason, so here goes…

My father had a violent temper, still does incidentally, he just isn’t as physically fit as he used to be. He was the dinosaur of parenting, children should: be seen and not heard, do as they are told, and get beaten if they forget this. My mom is a lovely Christian lady, but like many Christian parents never thought of questioning the oft misquoted Proverbs 13:24, and like Kanga4, was bullied for not beating us enough. The weapon of choice in this case wasn’t a belt, or wooden spoon, or even a good old cane, it was a riding crop, designed to make a half ton animal with half centimetre thick skin do something it doesn’t want to.

A riding crop, from Wikipedia

There wasn’t the kind of decorum of a good proper caning either. I was at high school by the time they banned caning in South Africa, and I wasn’t the most well behaved child, so I experienced that too, but it doesn’t leave me with quite the same sick taste in my mouth, the burning sensation in my eyes, and the rapid heart rate as the ones I got at home, but particularly from my dad.

The decorum behind a caning is simple. Usually you stand outside an office for a bit, so on the off chance that the person delivering the caning is the same one who caught you in the wrong, has had time to calm their temper a bit. When you finally enter the office, which may be after listening to sound of your accomplices backsides receiving the treatment that likewise awaits yours, you are normally asked what the crime is and if you understand why you are there (this, for me, is crucial to the process if this barbarous activity is allowed to continue anywhere). You are then asked to put your hands on something low down, or simply touch your toes. Some more sadistic teachers would put you under something, like a shelf, to stop you shooting up as the blow was administered, it wasn’t necessary, by then you stood still. You then received the blows, stood up, thanked the teacher involved and left.

My parents got angry, grabbed you by the arm and started thrashing, somewhere in the region of the rear end, but that wasn’t too important. There was no discussion, no reasoning, no, I’m sorry, it was a mistake, nothing, just a good thorough thrashing. I recall my dad once saying that we (my brother and I) “always knew why we were being punished.” He was right, it was, without fail, because he got angry. The incident didn’t really matter, it wasn’t about understanding, and often the punishment didn’t remotely match the crime. Ask yourself, how many things a particularly naughty boy could do in a week to warrant being thrashed with a riding crop. I wasn’t particularly naughty, just a little boy, a rather wimpy little boy.

Now to the things I think Kanga4 should consider. If this is how a parent reacts, what is the likely consequence on the child’s ability to deal with anger, frustration or someone’s books in their space? What is your children’s father’s response to frustration going to teach them about responding to frustration? Is this a lesson you want them to learn?

I have huge problems dealing with anger, I’m better with horses, but a bad mood and me doing any constructive work with a horse is a pipe dream, go over the basics put the horse away. With people, I get loud, I shout, get scary, intimidate. It’s horrible, it scares me. All I want is to have better management skills over this, and I’m working towards that, but until then I’m scared of relationships, and getting close to people, because that’s when it is an issue. This is my cross to bear, and although I have a past, the future is there for me to make good on what I see as being a better person.

There’s more to the story, there always is, but I don’t have much of a relationship with my family, I chat to my brother, but never go home. I can’t chat to mum, it hurts me too much, due to circumstances that I won’t prolong this post with.

For children, it is crucial they grow up with a half decent example, they learn from what their parents do, not what they say. It’s possible that your kids could end up more like my brother, well adjusted, not resentful. It’s also possible your kids could end up like me, and you may end up losing them.

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