Teaching Our Children

My stomach tied itself in knots yesterday–and while they are loosening today, the knots are still there…as they are for other family members as well.

We had a significant situation to deal with yesterday, a situation that I know other families have to deal with. Teenagers can always be challenges!

But we knew there was something underlying this situation–something foundational that was creating the difficulties this loved one had…and in a loving confrontation, we began to finally get at it. I’m sure there’s still more work to do, but I think we made a significant start.

But as we were talking through the situation–and as the tears were flowing–I wondered. What are we teaching our children by the ways we treat them?

It’s a long story, but because of life situations, this child spent much of the first few years with a different side of the family…and the message received in that situation was basically “Might makes right.” Violence was the solution to any problem–and that message was internalized. I think for the first time, this child realized that the way they were treated was wrong wrong wrong…and is beginning to understand that violence only begets violence. Right now the child knows the words; we’re hoping and praying that the words can be lived out in actions before the child has backed everyone into a corner with no options.

But I wonder… How many more children learn the lesson that “Might makes right” because of the ways they are punished when they are too young to know any better? How many children learn that it’s not safe to tell what’s happened to them because if they do, something worse might happen? Even when they finally move into a safe environment, those early lessons have sunk deep roots into their souls…

What are we teaching our children? Whatever it is…it will either come back to haunt us–or help us create a future of hope for all children.

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2 thoughts on “Teaching Our Children

  1. In response to these needs, Nancy Carlsson-Paige of Lesley University and Diane E. Levin of Wheelock College, researchers who have written extensively on conflict management and the impact of violence on children, have created a curriculum guide to help teachers and providers teach conflict resolution skills to young children. The guide, Before Push Comes to Shove: Building Conflict Resolution Skills with Children, provides strategies to help children build social skills to counteract the effects of real and portrayed violence in everyday life. Throughout the guide, the authors use the children’s book Best Days of the Week (also by Carlsson-Paige) to serve as a springboard for teaching conflict resolution skills and concepts to children and provide meaningful situations to which children can relate. The guide also encourages children to discover satisfaction and a sense of empowerment by learning to create positive social relationships and solve their problems without violence.

  2. The earlier a child is removed from the situation or the abuse in the home can be resolved, the easier it will be to help the child become whole again. Children are our future and we have to protect and nurture them. It is possible to heal the internal and emotional scars that are left when domestic violence and children are brought together, and the effect is to harm a child’s life. However, the violence needs to be caught early on. It may take a great deal of treatment, but, if the violence can be removed prior to them becoming adults, the process of healing will be much easier to accomplish.

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