This interactive billboard in London’s Eustis Station invites people to use their mobile phones to drag the abuser away from a woman….drag him across several large screens. It’s a clever way to make the point….especially as it focuses the change of behavior on the abuser, rather than a sometimes more traditional question: “Why doesn’t the victim leave?”
IN THIS LETTER TO AN ADVICE COLUMN, a grandmother asks what to do about how her daughter and son-in-law behave with their children:
The parents think that they’re doing a good job because they don’t hit their children, but they do scream at their little girl, they demean her and they can be extremely hateful to her, even though she is loving, smart and athletic. She is, however, a challenging child who doesn’t always listen, who can be defiant at times and who has always had trouble falling asleep. Her father reacts to it by staying with her for more than an hour at night or by forcing her back to bed while he boils with anger.
If my daughter sees her child misbehave, she says, ”You’ll never have any friends.” And she yelled at her when the child’s attention waned when she was playing soccer. “You’re just too little to play!” she said. And then they threw her into the car and drove her home — screaming all the way — so she could take a nap.
The columnist’s response was to tell the grandmother to take dinner over on Thursdays and give them copies of a couple of books. What do you think?
The headline said: “Child abuse — or not?” In my book, it definitely is. However, providing dinner and a couple of books isn’t the answer. Neither is calling in child protective services. This is a good example of parents probably not recognizing the damage they’re causing with this verbal abuse, and the potential for it to become severe….but they obviously need help. What can we set up in communities to provide intervention that helps the whole family?
Parents often respond out of frustration and ignorance of effective parenting skills. Dr. John Gottman teaches “Emotional Coaching and Discipline” and Dr. Harvey Karp teaches “The Happiest Toddler on the Block” which presents a simple method of producing happy, respectful children. Both approaches include understanding the meaning of the child’s behavior and feelings and effectively responding. There are many parenting skills classes. Everyone who has a child could learn these basic skills if enough of us offered them. See what is available in your local community. Barbara Stern