Parenting-issues can come up for anyone, but when it comes to the sexual abuse survivor, Parenting-issues are more common and depend upon the survivor's involvement in the recovery process.
It can also be more complicated if physical abuse was present along with the sexual abuse.
No one is born with natural parenting skills. They are something that is learned from watching our own parents or from our own care givers. We do what we have learned, or what we have not learned! It is learned behavior. That is the reason that parenting-issues might occur.
If our parents spanked us, then our first inclination when a child misbehaves is to spank. We have to be taught not to spank if that is something that we do not wish to do.
I found that after my abuse and after getting into recovery, when I decided to have a child, I had taught parenting classes. Just by teaching the classes did not make me a good parent.
I had to apply the knowledge I taught to myself.
It takes practice!! Lots of practice!! Lots of patience!!
I also found myself hypervigilent. I trusted no one around my daughter!! I was sure that someone was going to abuse her sexually! That was a huge Parenting-issue for me!
I believe that this is common among women who have been sexually abused. In my professional career, I had also treated sex offenders prior to having my daughter. It made it extremely difficult for me to trust anyone due to having an understanding of the thought processes of abusers, in fact, after having my daughter, I practically did not want to take her out of the house because of my knowledge!! Now that was a little extreme!!
It took time, but I did loosen my control and begin to trust her safety to those close to me..but only after addressing my own fears.
We are so afraid that what happened to us will happen to our children that we sometimes isolate our children and over protect them..which is not necessarily a good thing.
Developmentally, children are supposed to try new things, sometimes they fall and get hurt no matter how much you try to protect them. They are supposed to gain their independence.
I think the biggest mistake we can make as mothers is to try and make them dependent upon us for too long. Sometimes we use them for OUR support system. That is another huge Perenting-issue! That isn't fair to our children!
They are kids, WE are supposed to be THEIR support system. They need to look to us as adults to provide their safety, their unconditional love and their safe haven.
If you are alone and have a baby, it is too easy to get wrapped up in your baby and think that the baby is all you need for support. WRONG! You need other adults, primarily women who are in the same position that you are in. Eventually, yes, you may want to be with a partner, but for now, get a support group of women to vent to. Your job is to be strong for your child.
Like I said previously, Parenting-issues are common, be prepared for them to arise. Don't freak out. It is normal for you to have them if you were sexually abused, or physically abused.
If you get to the point where you feel like you are going to hit your child out of anger...even if you have your hand raised in the air ready to strike..THINK..Take a deep breath..and WALK AWAY!
Go into another room and take a time out. Do some deep breathing exercises like I discussed in the meditation section, look at a magazine, call a friend, call a hotline, write me an email or chat in our online chat room, do anything to keep you from hitting your child. You know that you will feel bad after you do it, so don't!!!
We are creatures of habit, so if all we saw as children was our parents hitting us when we misbehaved, then that is what our first inclination is to do with our own children.
We, as recovering women, have to break the cycle! When a Parenting-issue arises, be aware of it and deal with it. The key is the awareness of it and taking action.
You can do it! I know you can!
When you pick out a day care center for your child (another difficult thing to do!)
Check out the center, is it clean ?, check references, pop in during the day to check on the staff, ask about staff-children ratio, Do they serve nutritious meals and snacks?
How do they discipline?
How often do they change diapers?
Feed babies? etc.
Ask until you feel satisfied. I know I went through at least five different ones until I picked out a home daycare provider.
A great reference for parenting skills, and it just happens to be the one that I taught, is "Love and Logic Parenting". It is wonderful and the best thing is that it really works!
Here is the link:
They teach parenting skills from pre-school up through adolescence. All valuable techniques!
It teaches children responsibility through natural and logical consequences with empathy.
Consistency with parenting is a huge issue! All the good parenting in the world is useless if you are not consistent! and are aware of your own Parenting-issues.
My daughter pointed that out to me when she was five years old.
I told her that she would be punished if she didn't stop a certain behavior and I told her what the punishment would be. Her response to me was "You said that before and you didn't do it!" Well, that was my wake up call! I thought I had been doing pretty well until then! You had better believe I became consistent after that!! and more aware of my Parenting-issues!
Now, at age nine, we have much fewer problems and she knows what it means to have a consequence! (With empathy! NEVER forget the empathy! That is the key!)
Nothing is easy about parenting or having Parenting-issues, but it helps to have a roadmap!
I fell into the category of not wanting to "hurt" my child because of my abuse. So much that I was letting her get away with way too much! It is so easy to fall into that trap. We want to protect our children from pain.
Sorry, the world doesn't work that way. We can't take all their pain away. We can teach them right from wrong and teach them skills on how to protect themselves. We can also pray for their safety.
Unfortunately, there will be times when we are not around them and we have to trust that they will remember what we have taught them.
Also, us staying in recovery helps a great deal!
Know your own issues and try not to put them on your child. I think that is the toughest thing. That is something to be aware of every day!
Keep plugging away and you can do it! Be the best parent you can be! Ask God for help. Don't let a day go by where you don't pray for the safety of your family, especially your children. They certainly need it in today's world!
One final note, watch what you say and watch what you do. The main thing I have learned from being a parent is that my daughter watches and listens to everything I say and do..whether I think she is or not. I might say something in passing and a month later she will mention it to me..and I had no idea that she even heard what I said!
They are always watching and listening and learning.
Knowing that, what do you want them to learn from you?
That is something to think about!
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