An 11-year-old Utah boy told investigators that, from October to November of last year, his mother’s boyfriend made him stand in the corner without moving, except to go to the bathroom, eat, and sleep. If he moved otherwise, the boyfriend would allegedly punch him in the head or hit him with a belt; the boy told authorities he was hit every night of this period, and that one night he was hit with the belt 51 times. Now the boyfriend, Anthony Berardi, 28, and the mother, Amanda Ramirez, 29, have been charged, KSL reports.
According to court documents, Ramirez watched and did not prevent the beatings; she allegedly told police, “We are both enforcing my rules.” It’s not clear how the two were caught, but an arrest warrant was issued for Berardi on Jan. 21 and he was booked into jail on Friday. Both have been charged with 10 counts of child abuse.
This is a slightly severe case, where you’re already judging the mother, but do you know you could also be abusing your child without even realising it?
Do you know what is abuse?
We associate the term ‘abuse’ typically to physical and sexual abuse. But do you know that abuse can be emotional abuse, substance abuse, neglect can also be abuse, humiliation and even over regimentation is a form of abuse. Even, I was taken aback when I learnt that neglect and over regimentation can be a form of abuse. I am not bringing this up as a figment of my imagination, but recently I attended a workshop with counsellors, occupational therapists and special educators and this formed a very important part of the workshop.
(Source: Vachon DD, Krueger RF, Ragosch FA, Cicchetti D. Comparable consequences across different forms of child maltreatment. JAMA Psychiatry. 2015.)
As parents do we even realise that we might be abusing them in some way?
I didn’t! And some of us reading this article might not too. We have not learnt parenting by the book, but have picked it up along our way, from our parents, from our peers and through experimentation. While we grew up in a regimented household and have done well for ourselves, we try and apply the same theories to our kids. ‘ My word is the last word’, ‘because mommy says so’, ‘this is no way to behave’, ‘do you have any brains?’ and many such countless examples stand with us. Now we didn’t have as much exposure as kids or demands. We were expected to do well academically and that’s it. I don’t remember my parents shuttling me from one class to another for my extracurricular activities. If I was good at music and told them, they would get me a home tutor. They didn’t expect me to be an all rounder and I fared well. I did have my share of pressure to do well in academics, which is nothing compared to our kids who are expected to do well in academics, sports, performing arts and more. Moreover, we little or no engagement with our kids. We might be around them all the time, but on our smart devices, or chatting away with someone on the phone. I have found myself, often preoccupied.
You might argue that I am over analysing and your kids are growing up perfectly fine or now start self-doubting your parenting methods.
Or maybe your child is being bullied/ abused outside home.
What are the signs you can look out for to know that you are not going in the right direction?
- Fearfulness, anxiety, “clinginess” • Aggression, “acting out” (externalizing feelings)
• Aggression, “acting out” (externalizing feelings)
• Poor self-esteem, depression (internalizing feelings)
• Regression to an earlier developmental stage (temporary) e.g. bedwetting, thumb sucking.
• PTSD; hyper-vigilance • Nightmares, sleep disturbances
• Emotional numbing, dissociation, “spacing out”
• Trust and boundary issues
• Feelings of anger, shame, helplessness, anxiety, confusion, guilt, sadness
So if you see most boxes ticked above, you should take a step back. Don’t tell your kid if he is having a nightmare, you’re a sissy! Don’t shout back at your kids, if they are being aggressive! If they lie to you don’t judge them!
Rather, accept their issues and work on them and if you can’t resolve them on your own, then seek expert help. Maybe your child just needs your understanding, a hug, an encouraging smile. As parents, we don’t realise that how much we affect our kids and then often tend to ignore these signs. Urge all parents to please Stand Up and take Notice!! Afterall, we only want what’s best for our kids.