7 Things Parents Can Do to Stop Domestic Violence
by Dr. Dean Beckloff | Contributor
We see violence erupting in families. Just recently, a woman shot and killed her two daughters as a result of losing a court battle with her ex-husband. And behind closed doors, too many children are living in fear of the abuse that they either witness or receive upon themselves.
Abuse is a terrifying thing and has horrible consequences. Abused children grow up with harsh anxieties, intense fears and burning angers. Children who witness abuse grow up with distorted perceptions of reality. And as most of us now know, these children often grow up to be abusive adults to their own families—and so the violence continues and is perpetuated. Changes need to occur in order for our children to grow up strong, resilient and capable.
Science tells us rats that live in cages with rich supplies of what they need and enjoy, are much less violent and more playful and caring with each other. That if their environments are healthy, healing and caring, the rats respond with greater kindness and lose their addictions. This tells us something about us. We need better, healthier and enriching “cages.” Our society, our cities and finally our homes need to be rich in love, in kindness, in healing and rich in community with each other. And of course, free from violence.
What parents can do to stop domestic violence:
1. Speak up and speak out. If you suspect abuse, there are hotlines in every state for you to call in anonymously. These folks need help. That’s what the hotlines are for, not for “telling on people,” but to get these families the help and resources they need. If we don’t speak out, we will not only condone but will also allow a situation to get potentially worse. If we do speak out, the situation may be reversed.
2. If you see parents becoming overly frustrated with their child, be gentle and not condemning. All of us need understanding. I’ve seen parents yelled at for problems with their child in public. We all need a helping, not hurting hand.
3. Be careful with yourself. If you were spanked a great deal as a child, you must be careful. I resolved never to spank my children. We had consequences, but we did not resort to physical punishment. And if aggressive means were used on you as a child, you must be willing to do whatever it takes to stop that cycle, beginning with yourself.
4. If you blow it with your kids in some way, tell the truth. Be willing to admit to them when you were wrong. When we yelled and shouldn’t have—speak that truth. They cannot learn how to take and accept responsibility if they don’t see it modeled. Admitting our own wrongs stops any resentment from building.
5. It is abusive to witness abuse. Please know that if the children are not being abused, but you are—and they witness it in any way—they are being abused. They will deal with the consequences (PTSD and other inherent issues that go with stunted emotional development), perhaps for life. Get help immediately so that the children can be helped. The abuser may not be actively abusing the kids, however, the emotional scarring will leave its legacy.
6. If you are divorced, it goes without saying that you must be aware of how your children are faring at the other parent’s home. Be aware of any signs of neglect or abuse after separating, but also be careful and diligent not to point a finger too readily. It’s wonderful for your kids when you and your ex-spouse are on the same page, but when there are issues that you feel must be addressed, especially ones that could be harmful to the children, you must speak up. If there is a situation that may be going too far with the other parent or a step-parent, speaking up can curtail a challenging experience for your children.
7. If your anger is getting the best of you around the kids, get help. Find a counselor. Be proactive. When your kids and teens see a proactive approach, they see that you want the good—and not the negativity—to prevail in the family.
Reach Dr. Dean Beckloff at Beckloff Pediatric Behavioral Center
drbeckloff.com | 972.250.1700