As I peered at my reflection in the window on the day of the broken vase incident, all I saw was the Beast…and she frightened me. Was this the same woman who sang lullabies and baked brownies in an Easy-Bake oven? Looking into my daughter’s tear-stained face, I
realized at that very moment, that the Beast was also the image my daughter saw as I screamed at her, and it changed me for life. This was the last time I ever raised my voice to a decibel that would deafen a dog.
To live in fear is to forever cast doubt on trust. Children who grow up in a hostile environment usually end up with very low self-esteem. For them, hostility, and even violence, become the only familiar answers to life’s problems. These same children also
learn that the fallout of fear is resentment, and end up confused and outcast when faced with social situations. They balk at authority and wind up being disagreeable loners who cannot seem to make it in the real world.
When we scream in anger at our children, we make them fearful of the beast inside of us – the one that teeters on the edge of losing control and threatens our children’s very basic feelings of security, self worth, and trust. In a child’s eyes, the image of a sweet, loving mother is replaced by an image of a monstrous, hideous stranger – a beast. Parent-child
communication begins to diminish, as a child who is fearful of this kind of response will withdraw from that parent. This hairy animal is not someone we, as parents, are proud of. Sometimes we barely recognize the monster within, since it only comes out of its cave once in a while. But we should know it well, for it behooves us as responsible parents to take a
good, hard look at our own anger and soften the lines around its face when we are dealing with our children. Before it has a chance to scar our children – and our relationship with them – for life, we need to wrestle it back into its cage, lock the door, and throw away the key…forever.
Knowing the scary but true statistics about children of a hostile upbringing, we need our own magic mirrors to show us the beast within, so we can make a concerted effort to change our fear-inducing parental reactions. We have a responsibility to act humanely and sensitively when we are frustrated by our children’s mistakes.
And, most importantly, we need to constantly remember that a simple vase is nothing compared to the treasure of our children’s love and trust.
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