A couple of quick notes on things that I have seen today while, as usual, sucked into the Web when I’m supposed to be doing other things:
Elizabeth T. Gershoff writes an opinion piece, The era of spanking is finally over, based on the announcement yesterday by the American Academy of Pediatrics that
recommends that adults caring for children use “healthy forms of discipline” — such as positive reinforcement of appropriate behaviors, setting limits and setting expectations — and not use spanking, hitting, slapping, threatening, insulting, humiliating or shaming.
…”In the 20 years since that policy was first published, there’s been a great deal of additional research, and we’re now much stronger in saying that parents should never hit their child and never use verbal insults that would humiliate or shame the child,” said Dr. Robert Sege, first author of the policy statement and a pediatrician at the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.
…The statement goes on to describe how several studies have found associations between spanking and aggressive child behavior, depressive symptoms in adolescence and less gray matter in children’s brains, among other outcomes.
Gershoff hopes that the new statement will finally cause massive change in how parents discipline children, and notes changes that have already been made over the years.
There are practical reasons to stop spanking. The main one is that it does not work. Some parents may say, “But it does for my child.” A child may cry and stop what she is doing in the moment, but numerous studies involving hundreds of thousands of children show that spanking does not make children better behaved in the long run, and in fact makes their behavior worse.It is hard for parents to see this in their day-to-day interactions, but the research is clear: We consistently find that the more a child is spanked, the more aggressive he or she will be in the future.Spanking also teaches children that it is acceptable to use physical force to get what you want. It is thus no surprise that the more children are spanked, the more likely they are to be aggressive or to engage in delinquent behaviors like stealing.…The majority of us who were spanked by our parents think we “turned out OK.” Perhaps we did. But maybe we were lucky that our parents did other things, like talking with us about what behaviors they wanted to see us do in the future, that helped us develop self-control and make good behavior choices.
Of course, I see so many people say “I was spanked and I turned out okay” that I doubt the change will happen so fast.
It’s especially ludicrous to hear, on one hand, “They don’t let you spank these days and the kids are out of control,” but on the other hand read studies that say MOST parents still spank their kids. Okay, so it’s more likely the kids who are out of control actually ARE spanked. I’ve seen this for myself, a family where the kids were spanked and shamed and slapped over the back of their heads, but the kids still were out of control.
And well, I don’t actually see kids being any worse now than they were when I was a child. Because yes, I still remember how we were. I think people of my generation and older often have rose-colored glasses of how we acted. But we were not angels, despite spanking at home and paddles in our principals’ desk drawers.
Just remember, back when harsh discipline was considered normal, what we had in the world: torture, Nazis, employers ordering troops to fire on their own striking Greek employees, burning or hanging people for being witches or heretics, racism, lynching, sexism, slavery, wars, military brutality (such as whipping for infractions), rape, murder, stealing, lying, piracy, etc. etc. etc.
Obviously, spanking children did not stop them from doing horrible things as adults. These things did not suddenly appear in a world where spanking was banished. And you can bet that the people performing these acts were spanked or otherwise hit as children.
Filmed in German and released as Das Weisse Band, Eine Deutsche Kindergeschichte, or The White Ribbon: A German Children’s Story, the film deals with a group of children who will become adults around the time of the rise of the Third Reich. This ‘children’s story’ seeks to discover what it was in German children’s background which may have caused them to support and assist the Nazi party when the time came – much the same questions, and conclusions, once offered by the late child psychologist Alice Miller, who drew a controversial connection between harsh child rearing methods and a tendency toward violence and the acceptance of tyranny. –Monica Reid, Twin Fascist Fables: The White Ribbon and The Childhood of a Leader
And also remember, today’s narcissists were probably spanked as children. I know several of them who certainly were. Sure didn’t drive the narcissism out of ’em.
And speaking of narcissists, more news on abusive ex Phil:
To recap, in the summer, I discovered that his own sister temporarily filed a restraining order against him. I’ve also learned that she and his mother were involved in a lawsuit with him last year, with him as the plaintiff, though the details are not online.
From his Facebook profile, I learned that he was engaged. His profile has been quiet ever since, and he did not respond to a question from me (simply “how are you”), though I know he saw it. But from hers I’ve learned all sorts of things:
She is around the same age as his controlling mother–whom, by the way, she writes that he finally broke free of about a year or two ago. (Makes me wonder if she was a kind of replacement for his mother.)
She identifies as an empath. (I don’t know if that’s a real thing or pseudoscience, but narc blogs commonly say that empaths attract narcissists.) She believes in Christ, but also in various New Age things like astral projection.
(I’ve noted that Phil tends to have girlfriends who believe in New Age: One ex channeled a spirit in the middle of a makeout session. I believed in Charismatic sign gifts and other psychic phenomena in those days. Persephone is a Wiccan who’s written spell books, though in those days she told everyone she was Methodist. Phil showed no sign of believing in such things himself, so I believe he looks for this in girlfriends as a sign of gullibility so they can be manipulated. He manipulated my psychic beliefs severely, weaving a web of deception that lasted for many months.)
The engagement ended over the summer when she learned that he was diagnosed with Bipolar II and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (though Disorder is more likely, because he’s neither deformed nor retarded).
It was a mutual decision, because he hadn’t been taking his medication so his brain was heavily damaged; and under the influence of the disorder, he had turned manipulative and probably worse. He has been in and out of a mental hospital on suicide watch for months.
She didn’t want to leave him, but neither did she want to be abused. She was still supposed to stay in his life and support him–but then he cut her off.
She has been in a terrible state since then, very familiar as I was once there myself. She has blamed it all on the diagnoses; sounds like there are several, though she only named two. She has said that the real him wouldn’t hurt a fly, and that the disorder causes the bad behavior.
But there’s been a change recently. She speaks of being blind, duped, used, of learning truths she didn’t know before he got sick. (She’s also been posting memes and videos about narcissists.) She talks as if she was more in love than he was, despite all the flowery words he told her once upon a time. Flowery words which, by the way, he said to me some 24 years ago. I can even tell you when, and what we were doing, because it’s in my memoir. And her, she has a Facebook post which he wrote saying all those things.
I’m sad and hurt for her. I’m angry at him. I see it all happening all over again. I remember my friends telling me what it was like seeing my relationship happen all over again with the girl he ended up legally marrying (1996-2007).
For a time, I thought he would change. I thought this woman could do it.
I wondered if everything he did could be pinned on the FAS, if the real him was truly not responsible for the abuse, if he was truly Dr. Jekyll while Mr. Hyde was an illness beyond his control–but that could be eradicated by doctors.
I thought that because of the diagnoses and care of the doctors, which none of Phil’s exes ever had (he was diagnosed in 2010), Phil would finally turn away from his abusive behaviors.
But no. Take this as a lesson to you: They simply don’t change. They aren’t “different” with the next girlfriend. She won’t “save” him.
And it isn’t your fault. The abuse is not your fault.
It’s all his.
This is a lesson I, too, have been learning, trying to take it into my head and abolish all the lingering doubts, put there back when Phil insisted I was to blame for it all.
This knowledge is helping me to heal. Hopefully it will help her as well. She’s a sweet person who deserves much better than this.