View Full Version : How much have I damaged my child, and how do I fix it?


Gryphonfyre
02-07-16, 02:07 AM
Not really sure how to start this...

By giving somewhat of a backstory, I am trying to offer some sort of explanation of why I am the way I am -- or at least have been -- not trying to seem like I'm whining or making excuses. Shucks, my past may not even have been as bad as I'm remembering it and I'm just exaggerating it...

I was raised in an abusive home by both parents. Didn't know my biological father, but my step-dad was physically and sexually abusive. My mom was physically abusive -- one time in particular, I remember laying on the floor in the fetal position while she kicked me over and over, and after she left and I had a chance to check myself, I was bleeding; and because she stayed with him after I told her, I feel she was emotionally abusive as well. It made for constant eggshell walking. I did what I was told, period. Although, I evidently did everything very slowly because I remember my mom commenting on how slow I was ALL the time. And I remember all of my teachers commenting on how I couldn't sit still or daydreamed all the time or couldn't stop talking and on and on.

At this point, with my son, I have found myself yelling at him more times than I can count about why he didn't go straight to the bathroom to brush his teeth or to his clothes to get dressed when I told him to. Our morning and nighttime routines are a nightmare, and I dread them. We've done countless charts, but for some reason I seem to change them all the time. I don't know if they would have worked or not because I can't seem to stay focused enough myself to work on a chart for any length of time, but I digress. My point is this:

My son is six right now, and with all of the clashing we have had over the years based upon me coming from the school of thought where you do what you're told when you're told and not realizing that he may be suffering from something that is making him incapable of doing what I'm asking, I fear I've damaged him. When we're not in the middle of the chaos that is our routine time, I think of his tender heart and the damage I may have caused him and it makes me physically sick to my stomach and sad. I don't want him to go out into the world that can be cruel and unforgiving feeling like he's incapable because I've damaged his self-esteem or feeling exasperated, possibly even leading to depression, because I've made him feel like home isn't an unconditionally soft place for him to land.

How do I fix this? How do I make sure to help him have the highest self-esteem reasonably possible?

Thanks.

BellaVita
02-07-16, 02:25 AM
I'm so sorry you were abused in such horrific ways as a child. :(

I think it is great you have such an awareness - that really is a good thing. You know that you need to change things, and you feel empathy and feel bad about the yelling.

I'm sure many parents though, have yelled at their kids from time to time. Especially having an emotional dysregulation disorder yourself - it can probably be difficult at times to manage emotions.

I don't think you mentioned - but are you medicated? Getting on proper medication might allow for you to be calmer around your son, and have some more emotional-control.

You might have caused some fear in him, maybe even a lot, but I feel that with time things can heal.

With medication, I think therapy would be a good option. It seems clear that you are still carrying around old wounds, and the trauma you went through really affected you.

Seeing a therapist would help you to work through that trauma, and to heal.

It can take years to heal - so please do not feel pressured and in a hurry to "get it over with."

One thing I would suggest, if you aren't doing it already, is praise your son when he does something he is asked. If there was one thing I wish I got told growing up, it would have been "I'm proud of you."

Not having that really damaged me (as did the abuse), and it lowered my self-esteem.

I think you really can turn things around, and you sound like a very caring mother of her child.

Best wishes. :grouphug:

Gryphonfyre
02-07-16, 02:35 AM
Thank you so much for the response.

I am not on any kind of self-regulating medication. I am looking at options for that, actually, and have an appointment scheduled to discuss it. I really seem to have an issue with impulse control and it's exhausting trying to keep it in check.

As for therapy, I've gone through years of talk therapy and even done some EMDR. I don't feel like I have baggage from it still, but maybe I'm in denial? I can discuss it without breaking down in tears now or feeling woeful about it, but no amount of therapy will make me forget that it happened. Know what I mean?

I tell him a LOT how wonderful of a kiddo he is and how proud of him I am, how smart he is, and caring and giving. He really seems to soak it up, and I love making him feel good about himself. And it's not as though I'm making those things up. He really is a sweet, loving, funny, wonderful-in-so-many-ways little boy.

I'm sorry, BellaVita, that you went through your younger years dealing with abuse and, it sounds like, not feeling the acceptance you surely should have. Every child deserves that. Wish I could give you a hug and make any remaining hurt go away.

Again, thank you for the response. I will make sure to continue praises and look into medication for myself.

sarahsweets
02-07-16, 07:22 AM
When we have kids, we vow to never treat them poorly like we were treated. Some people can do that easily but for others, those old tapes in our head can make it difficult to cope with life and raise our own children. I dont believe this is beyond repair for you. I grew up with abuse as well, and I vowed that I would never get married so I would never have to get divorced like my parents did. My husband changed that and in our early days I had to learn how to deal with conflict in a healthy way. Same thing with parenting. I havent had the issues with my kids that you have had with your son but I think as a parent we can all have the potential to make a parenting mistake. Whether thats yelling, snapping, losing it...even a grown up temper tantrum. The key is to see it, feel it and change it. I have had to learn to apologize when I have lost it. My kids value the fact that their mom has flaws and can admit when she had made a mistake. I am showing them the importance of amends and that I am not perfect and dont deserve to be put on some pedestal. All is not lost. Your awareness speaks volumes. From now on, you have the power to share your human-ness with your son. If you find that you are unable to get a handle on this though, try a parenting support group. You are not defective and you are not alone.

BellaVita
02-07-16, 07:40 AM
Thank you so much for the response.

I am not on any kind of self-regulating medication. I am looking at options for that, actually, and have an appointment scheduled to discuss it. I really seem to have an issue with impulse control and it's exhausting trying to keep it in check.

I'm sorry it's been so exhausting. I hope treatment turns out to work/provide some help for you.

As for therapy, I've gone through years of talk therapy and even done some EMDR. I don't feel like I have baggage from it still, but maybe I'm in denial? I can discuss it without breaking down in tears now or feeling woeful about it, but no amount of therapy will make me forget that it happened. Know what I mean?

I know exactly what you mean. Sorry for making a wrong assumption.

I tell him a LOT how wonderful of a kiddo he is and how proud of him I am, how smart he is, and caring and giving. He really seems to soak it up, and I love making him feel good about himself. And it's not as though I'm making those things up. He really is a sweet, loving, funny, wonderful-in-so-many-ways little boy.

Awww, sounds like you have an awesome kid. It's really great to hear that there are great parents out there like you, you make the world a better place. :)

I'm sorry, BellaVita, that you went through your younger years dealing with abuse and, it sounds like, not feeling the acceptance you surely should have. Every child deserves that. Wish I could give you a hug and make any remaining hurt go away.

Again, thank you for the response. I will make sure to continue praises and look into medication for myself.

Thank you. I have accepted the fact that I will never be able to change my childhood and what I went through, all I can do now is go through the slow process of healing. Your kind words mean so much.

DJ Bill
02-07-16, 10:46 AM
Don't forget to hug him (if he lets you) a bunch... I went through my childhood just hoping someone other than old smelly Aunt Ruby would hug me once in a while and say they loved me. Resulted in me not really being able to handle it (Physical affection)as an adult.

Abuse stinks, as does childhood trauma. Those of us affected need to find ways to work out those issues or it messes up our entire lives and those around us. (Not that I have handled my issues effectively yet myself, but I am working on them. )

Best of luck, Give your little Tiger a hug for me.

Gryphonfyre
02-07-16, 05:03 PM
Don't forget to hug him (if he lets you) a bunch... I went through my childhood just hoping someone other than old smelly Aunt Ruby would hug me once in a while and say they loved me. Resulted in me not really being able to handle it (Physical affection)as an adult.

Abuse stinks, as does childhood trauma. Those of us affected need to find ways to work out those issues or it messes up our entire lives and those around us. (Not that I have handled my issues effectively yet myself, but I am working on them. )

Best of luck, Give your little Tiger a hug for me.

Thank you for your response, DJ Bill. I'm so sorry about your childhood of craving physical affection and not getting it. My heart hurts for you. =(( Thank you for sharing. Keep up the fight, bud, as will I.

I give my little man hugs anytime he lets me. He's not really into hugging, but as he's gotten older he allows me to a lot more often, and I do so every chance I get. Kisses, though, are another story. He's good with a kiss on the hair so that he doesn't feel the "wet." Can't say that I blame him. I have issues with being touched on the face, for example. I can't stand it, and it sends me into a panic. I'm thankful for that, though, because it's helped me understand and defend his boundaries. Anyway, I'll give him hugs from DJ Bill.

Awww, sounds like you have an awesome kid. It's really great to hear that there are great parents out there like you, you make the world a better place. :).

He really is. Love him so much.

All is not lost. Your awareness speaks volumes. From now on, you have the power to share your human-ness with your son. If you find that you are unable to get a handle on this though, try a parenting support group. You are not defective and you are not alone.

Thank you, sarahsweets, for this. I hadn't thought of a support group of some sort.

Any books I should read that would help me with ensuring that I'm helping him build upon his self-esteem? I want him to feel as on top of the world and capable as possible.

Caco3girl
02-08-16, 11:45 AM
Whisperwhillow, I have to say you sound a lot like my ex husband. It wasn't that he didn't love his son, or never said anything nice to him...on the contrary he made it a point to hug him and tell him he was doing great....at least when he was 6. The major issue my ex had with our son was the 0-90mph mood flip in 1 second.

The dad was fine, even smiling, then saw one thing wrong (maybe it was a sock on the floor, or that the kid hadn't brushed his teeth yet) and BOOM psycho yelling dad. It really was like a switch was flipped. For awhile while my ex was willing to try he went on some mild anti-depressants and said they helped give him a 2 second delay from his brain to his mouth. Those two seconds were vital to see if he really had something to be upset about or just needed to shut up and realize the kid was 6 and not perfect.

Our son is now 13 and to be blunt he doesn't know which way is up with his dad. He doesn't talk to him much because as he puts it "I never know what's going to set him off, or what he is going to harp on me about." It has put a great strain on their relationship because instead of having a close bond the 13 year old kind of circles his dad, guard up, never really letting him in. He was just diagnosed with ADHD and now dad says it's fake and the kid just needs to focus and care. I hope you are never like that with your son.

Realizing it isn't the kid is a great first step, but now it may be time to work on you before you end up in a circling relationship like my son and his dad.

Gryphonfyre
02-08-16, 04:43 PM
Great input, Caco3girl. Thank you. I'm sorry their relationship is strained. That's sad that there are walls up for your son to feel able to communicate with his dad, and I definitely don't want that to happen with my son. That was the reason for the post even -- hoping that it's not too late to fix any damage to my son and/or our relationship that I may have caused.

Might I ask, did you ex stop taking the medication? If so, do you think that if he had continued, then they would have a better relationship?

So, based on what I think you're saying, medication would be key to have that lapse of time between thought and action in order to react appropriately; is that right? I have an appointment in about a week, so hopefully I can make some headway in that area.

Again, thank you for responding.

Caco3girl
02-09-16, 10:09 AM
Great input, Caco3girl. Thank you. I'm sorry their relationship is strained. That's sad that there are walls up for your son to feel able to communicate with his dad, and I definitely don't want that to happen with my son. That was the reason for the post even -- hoping that it's not too late to fix any damage to my son and/or our relationship that I may have caused.

Might I ask, did you ex stop taking the medication? If so, do you think that if he had continued, then they would have a better relationship?

So, based on what I think you're saying, medication would be key to have that lapse of time between thought and action in order to react appropriately; is that right? I have an appointment in about a week, so hopefully I can make some headway in that area.

Again, thank you for responding.

On the medication my ex was a mellower person and our son made several comments to that effect. He even felt free to joke when my ex would take a moment to collect his thoughts before he spoke "Whew, glad you are on the meds dad".

I think with the medication they would have had a better relationship, unfortunately, my ex was impatient. The first medicine made him worse, the second medicine he tried made him very sleepy and lazy and the third one that seemed to work the best gave him dry mouth that aggravated him to the point that he wouldn't continue after a few months. He was also struggling with an alcohol addiction during that time and in a general downward spiral...hence the "EX" part.

Everyone has their own issues but your background sounds very similar to his. He never took therapy seriously, he went to whatever was court ordered but didn't really invest in the process and if you don't actually let someone in to try to help it won't do anything. Now he's actually in a program and trying and what he has been told is that he has almost zero coping mechanisms. He will lash out, like a toddler, because he has no filters in his brain that allow him to deal with things that upset him. There was no internal dialogue like "on a level of 1-10 how angry does this make me", it was he was fine and then he was at a 10.

The key phrase lately has been "Your response is not proportional to the trigger". A child leaving a cup on the wood table, without a coaster, should not illicit the same red faced anger response as someone purposely crashing into his truck. There are levels of appropriate responses and he doesn't have them. This probably has a great deal to do with his past. This may not describe you, but if it does you should explore that at your appointment.

Gryphonfyre
02-09-16, 12:00 PM
I don't consider myself a loose cannon, per se. Nor do I see myself as going off unpredictably -- one time the glass on a coffee table without a coaster is okay, the next time I'm spitting fire. Additionally, as a general rule, I don't see myself as having disproportionate anger. I've seen that in my husband a lot, so when he's around it's like walking on eggshells because we don't know if the tuna water from the can is going to warrant ripping his shirt off or if he's going to laugh it off.

Basically, what my issue is this: If I've told my son to go brush his teeth a few times and, instead of listening to me, he is running around the house playing tag with the dog, I yell at him. I remember my mom yelling at me to the point of getting in my face, spitting on me; and while I've never done that to my son, after I've asked for compliance on something a few times, yelling is where I end up. I don't want to yell. I don't like yelling.

Does that make sense? I'll have to go back to my original post to see if I was unclear -- that happens a lot -- when I have more time, but I just wanted to put this out there in case I had confused anyone.

Thank you!

Caco3girl
02-09-16, 02:24 PM
My son is six right now, and with all of the clashing we have had over the years based upon me coming from the school of thought where you do what you're told when you're told


Apologies whisperwhillow, from this sentence here...well it was just something I identified as seeing in my ex.

Then again you also said "one time the glass on a coffee table without a coaster is okay, the next time I'm spitting fire"...and..."I don't see myself as having disproportionate anger"....

We all yell at our kids, and ALL children loose focus while doing a task such as going to brush their teeth. If it makes you feel any better, if the child was actually afraid of you, as in really becoming damaged, he would do it the first time you asked.

Gryphonfyre
02-09-16, 04:19 PM
Apologies whisperwhillow, from this sentence here...well it was just something I identified as seeing in my ex.

No need to apologize at all, Caco3girl! I asked for help, and I'm thankful for you taking the time to respond! ;)

Then again you also said "one time the glass on a coffee table without a coaster is okay, the next time I'm spitting fire"...and..."I don't see myself as having disproportionate anger"

I have never done this. In an attempt to explain what I do not do, I mentioned the coffee table analogy because of this:

A child leaving a cup on the wood table, without a coaster, should not illicit the same red faced anger response as someone purposely crashing into his truck.

We all yell at our kids, and ALL children loose focus while doing a task such as going to brush their teeth. If it makes you feel any better, if the child was actually afraid of you, as in really becoming damaged, he would do it the first time you asked.

That's a very good point -- like I did when I was a kid. Thank you for that perspective.

BellaVita
02-09-16, 07:05 PM
Apologies whisperwhillow, from this sentence here...well it was just something I identified as seeing in my ex.

Then again you also said "one time the glass on a coffee table without a coaster is okay, the next time I'm spitting fire"...and..."I don't see myself as having disproportionate anger"....

We all yell at our kids, and ALL children loose focus while doing a task such as going to brush their teeth. If it makes you feel any better, if the child was actually afraid of you, as in really becoming damaged, he would do it the first time you asked.

To the bolded part - I have to disagree with that.

I was badly abused growing up - I was also "disliked" compared to my brother - one reason being that I didn't do something I was told right away.

It got so bad that I was taken to a psychologist, he did lots of "tests" on me and hooked things up to my head...he said that at times I literally can not HEAR that I'm being told to do something. He said it was called a "gauze head" as if I had gauze wrapped tightly around my head.

So I would often miss my name being called, missed getting told to do things, and of course this resulted in punishment. Of course, since my parents were abusive, they didn't care that I couldn't hear things some times. They didn't care about the cause.

Even when I *did* hear something, I would often get distracted in 0.2 seconds and forget what it was I had to do.

Didn't matter that I knew I'd get abused if I screwed up. It didn't matter that I was terrified of my parents. It was because my brain was different and didn't work how it was supposed to.

Gryphonfyre
02-09-16, 09:02 PM
Wow, BellaVita, that's awful that there was any kind of favoritism and so sad that you were treated with disregard. I'm so sorry.

I wonder if that's what's going on with my little guy and, if so, what it is that's tuning out any auditory input, or selective, or otherwise.

BellaVita
02-09-16, 09:19 PM
Wow, BellaVita, that's awful that there was any kind of favoritism and so sad that you were treated with disregard. I'm so sorry.

I wonder if that's what's going on with my little guy and, if so, what it is that's tuning out any auditory input, or selective, or otherwise.

Thanks. It's okay, I'm not back there anymore, just got lots of healing to do. :)

Maybe so. For me, I think autism+ADHD is what caused it. But I'm sure there could potentially be other causes. (Hearing problems, auditory processing disorder, etc.)

HeatherJeans
02-17-16, 06:53 AM
I am so sorry to hear about what you have gone through, I know its not your fault but try to calm yourself by going for therapy sessions. Because in order to develop your son, its very important that you become more stronger, also try sending him to various play schools, or activity groups where they teach different social skills.I am sure this will definitely help him.

Linkiloo
02-18-16, 04:17 AM
In ym view it is never too late to change and do the right thing. I'm not sure how "bad" your anger situation is but for myself I freely admit to loosing my temper somethimes with my 8 year old son.

It is tough repeating instructions a million times and his apparently "ignoring them", even if I know he can't really help it.

I'm human too and I get angry.

My hubby and I play a kind of tag. When I'm reaching my limits, I back away and hubby takes over and vice versa. That helps.

And on the few occassions when I was really unfair, I apologise as soon as I notice it (which is very soon thereafter because I really do understand his condition). He is so generous then and looks me in the eye and says he knows how it feels when a person does something they wish they hadn't. Even these moments are part of life and grow us and our relationship. He is so kind, my boy.

ginniebean
02-19-16, 08:59 PM
Catch him being good and praise praise praise. The times he does things, make a big deal out of it. Praise is an amazing motivator. Talk to him, apologise for when you lose it, let him know it's your fault you're losing your cool. You do not need to share why with him just let him know you're working hard too and it's not easy because you have a temper.

You're both working hard to do the right things and letting him know you want to work together with him. Kids understand way more than we credit them.

Don't forget, catch him being good, and praise the living daylights out of him. Praising him for things he does means he does more of the things to get the praise, praising him for who he is is ok, but he needs more. He needs action praise.

Hope that helps, and thanks for being so brave with your story.

HeatherJeans
03-01-16, 06:46 AM
Its no fault of yours that you had a bad past, but thats also not the reason that you should behave rudely with your son, the best you can do is send him to some play groups or preschool, I know hes a bit old for this but I think it will be definitely beneficial for him,even I had my outbursts and was worried as how it will effect my son, but ever since he started his program, he has been normal more social than before!