A wonderful mama-to-be (due this summer) shared her story, and her's touched me so deeply that I asked permission to write about it. She too was disciplined by hitting and here's the rest of her story:
She said, "You know how you have a childhood memory that you can never forget?...Well when I was 9 years old, my father apologized. He told me that back in Vietnam that is how they disciplined and that was all he knew, but since we moved to the U.S. he learned to do things a different way and he was sorry for hitting me. Now as adults, we're like buddies".
I wish all parents would have the guts to apologize to their children for mistakes that they made. Denying or pretending that it didn't happen by not discussing it doesn't make the memory, the hurt or resentment go away. I feel parents should validate their child's experience just as this father did as it demonstrated respect, compassion and love. He showed that he was human, imperfect, but with a willingness to grow.
At a baby shower last weekend I met a woman with a babe 3 months younger than Satch. I noticed that he was gently touching his mama's hair. I remarked, "That's so sweet...he's so gentle. Satchel still tugs quite hard". The woman replied, "Well he used to do that too, but I kept smacking his hand and eventually he stopped".
I felt as if I caved in on myself. I could never do that. I believe that hitting is abuse. I would never want my son to distrust me, to resent me, to fear me or to feel any of the confusing emotions that consume you when someone who "loves" you physically hurts you.
(I asked my husband about his childhood. Though he doesn't remember much of his childhood, he said that was disciplined by "spanking" until the age of six. His parents became Dr. Spock-ers.)
Over the years I've read many books in an attempt to mend old wounds and for personal growth. I believe the information has enabled me to be a better parent.
Here are some gems for dealing with your childhood "baggage":
- Healing the Child Within by Charles Whitfield, M.D.
- Mothering Ourselves by Evelyn Bassoff, PhD
- Toxic Parents by Dr. Susan Forward