Category: spanking

More success raising our boy without spanking/hitting/slapping

We never did slap our kid around or anything like that, but I had originally planned on no spanking at all.  Then my son hit toddler age, and I had trouble getting him to behave.  My ex-friend Richard convinced me to spank, and to do it as hard as I could, and unfortunately, I listened.

It didn’t do one bit of good.  The only thing that ever really worked with my son was to take away things he most wanted if he misbehaved.

After breaking off relations with Richard and his wife (for psychologically abusing me and constantly causing drama), we also stopped spanking, period.  That was about three years ago.

If you read the comments on pretty much every Internet article/blog post about modern discipline, you’d think that parents not spanking/slapping their kids are causing the downfall of society.  That kids run wild because nobody spanks/belts/slaps them anymore.

But I’ve seen kids who are constantly spanked/slapped/screamed at, running wild anyway (Richard’s kids).  I’ve seen well-behaved kids who are raised without harshness.

And the older generations complained about MY generation (X) when we were young, too–even though most of us got spanked or even belted as kids.  In those days, it was still okay to use a paddle or a wooden spoon!

Nowadays in America, according to statistics, most parents do still spank their kids.  So–If most of the kids are getting spanked, then where are all the non-spanked kids who are supposedly running wild?  It must be the spanked-kids who are running wild, then!

Or maybe it’s all imaginary–the same complaints older generations have made about younger generations since the dawn of time–and kids behave no worse than they always have!

Also, violence breeds violence: If you abuse a child, you teach that child to abuse, or to find a spouse who abuses.  Why is it assault to smack your wife upside the head, but okay to smack a child (whose head is much smaller and brain much more vulnerable) upside the head?

Abused kids of today often become the criminals of tomorrow, whom society must then deal with, so it is indeed society’s business when kids are abused.  It is indeed your business if your next-door neighbor is smacking his kid around.

While I hesitate to call a short, quick spank on the well-padded butt “abuse,” especially since most parents still do it, I do intend to raise my child without violence of any kind.  I believe I have apologized to my son for spanking him in the past and following Richard’s bad advice.

He is high-spirited at home.  What brings quick compliance?  “No computer tomorrow!”  The thought of spending a whole long day without playing Minecraft or Roblox, brings him upstairs quick.  But I read that children often push the boundaries with their parents because they’re more comfortable with them.  The real test is how the child behaves for teachers and other authority figures.

Another thing you hear is, “Teachers have trouble controlling their classrooms because parents don’t spank anymore.”  Well, they DO still spank, so it must be some other reason.

And my kid sure isn’t the one causing the problem.  Every year, we hear what a wonderful boy we have, how good he is in class.  Every year, the teacher says, “He’s such a nice boy!”  “He’s a nice kid!”  “He befriended a girl who has trouble making friends.”  “He’s brilliant!”  “His test scores are far above average.”  On Thursday, during parent-teacher conferences, we heard it all again.

He also takes after me: He’s quiet, though he talks all the time with his best friends.  He has also naturally matured since second grade (he’s in fourth grade): He works well in groups, works hard, focuses (he used to be easily distracted), LOVES math (does math problems for fun!), loves to read, reads all the time.

I got paddled, and went to an elementary school where I once heard teachers paddling some poor kid, but I sure didn’t work that hard in school in 4th grade, or do my homework!

And I was a well-behaved kid otherwise, so I didn’t get paddled in school, but just having to put my name on the board was humiliating enough.

(Everybody got spanked or paddled, yet most of my classmates got in trouble more often than I did, and even gasped when I had to put my name on the board, so don’t say the paddling made me well-behaved.  No, it was natural temperament.)

At the beginning of the year, my son had some trouble remembering to do/bring in his homework.  So I gave him some tips, and told him that I would have to take 50 cents off his allowance every time he brought home another late slip.  We also had to tell him because of a problem last year, $1 off his allowance every time he gets to school late.

Guess what?  Ever since then, we’ve had no trouble with forgotten homework or tardiness.  🙂  [Update 12/23/14: So far in fifth grade, he has been remembering homework with no trouble, and his tardiness has also sharply dropped off.]

No violence, but still “hitting” him where it hurts: his allowance.  We do not have to threaten violence to get him to study.  We do not have to threaten violence to get compliance in other areas.

And it’s paying off.

 

Parents, DON’T beat your children!

I just had to unfriend somebody for posting on Facebook that we should beat our children.  Dang it, people, in this day and age—!!!!!

Fortunately, she was an acquaintance, nothing closer than that.

But after the crap I went through with Richard and Tracy and how they beat/choked their children, and reporting them to CPS, and then getting stalked by them for a year for speaking up about it, I don’t want to go through this crap again with somebody else!!!!

I was already wary of this person after I heard her cuss at her kid one day.  But this confirmed it.  😛  If she had said “spank,” I would’ve let it pass.  But she used the word “beat.”  😛

I quietly unfriended her shortly after reading her post, and did not take a screen print.  But as near as I can recall her post, it was:

Parents, you should beat your children.  You need to be their parent, not their f**king friend.

Um….There’s a HUGE middle ground between beating/abusing children and being too lax.  😛

[Update 12/6/14:]  In early 2014, I saw her at a checkers tournament.  Hubby and I both were appalled when, during a discussion on child abuse, she justified grabbing her little boy’s ears, saying it didn’t hurt him, etc.

She may have said other things as well.  But this confirmed my decision to unfriend her.  Well, that and some abusive things she said about Hubby later on, which caused me to block her as well.  I also saw her smack the boy in the mouth once for using the same language she herself does.

 

Spanking, Discipline and Physical Abuse: ie, Spanking Does Not Work

 

From Dr. Misty Hook, PhD, Spanking, Discipline and Physical Abuse:

Hundreds of studies on spanking spanning at least 75 years failed to provide evidence for the assertion that physical punishment improves children’s behavior in the long term (Gershoff 2008). Children who are spanked do not tend to internalize the value their parents want them to get (via the spanking) but instead are merely more likely to understand that they should not get caught.

Thus, the corrective outcome of spanking is short term at best (Larzelere 2000). In fact, one research study that followed children with serious behavior problems found that the children’s behavior actually improved after parents stopped spanking (Webster-Stratton 1990).

Moreover, the research shows that spanking is bad for kids. Spanking makes it more likely that children will be more defiant and aggressive (Taylor et al 2010), that they’ll be at risk for negative outcomes including mental health troubles (Strassberg et al 1994) and that they’re at greater risk for serious injury and physical abuse (Straus et al 1997).

I’ve heard spanking proponents dismiss this research stating that spanking is incredibly difficult to quantify and evaluate. This is definitely true, but even if you don’t believe the spanking research, all you have to do is look at other behavioral research to find corroborating justification for the spanking research conclusions.

Other research has consistently found that punishment is a vastly inferior method of behavior correction and that, put simply, violence begets violence. Per social learning theory, if you see someone use violence as a way to control another’s behavior, chances are you will too (ergo, the Cycle of Violence).

That’s one reason why it’s always astonished me when people use spanking as a way to teach children that they shouldn’t hit. The logical conclusion to that technique is: only hit those who are less powerful than you.

 

Parent-Teacher Conference: Our Kid’s a “Crazy Inventor”

Just got back from a parent-teacher conference.  Geez, our kid is brilliant.  He’s in third grade now; scoring at the top at everything; behaving; getting along well with other kids; sweet; and the teacher occasionally asks him if he’ll be a crazy inventor when he grows up, because he’s inventive.

I can just see it now….With that hair always in cowlicks because he forgets to brush it, his Gen-X parents into stuff like goth, steampunk, D&D and unconventional sleep times/schedules–our little boy growing up into one of those begoggled steampunk turn-of-the-century inventors.

Like, say, Jasper Dale on Avonlea, my favorite character on that show, by the way.  Forget his social awkwardness and stutter–Jasper is smart and hot.  (Hey, look, somebody else agrees with me!)

We stopped spanking our son a few years ago, and yet he still is well-behaved for teachers and most other adults.  Every year he gets such praise from his teachers.  His parents were both social misfits (still are), yet he’s doing fine.  How did that happen?  His parents both had “issues” in school, yet he’s doing well.  How did that happen?

And yet, with how well this one’s turning out, we’ve been unable to have more children…..What a frickin’ shame.

 

How Richard and Tracy’s views on parenting are wrong

The Bowersock Family episode of Supernanny demonstrates how violence and yelling does NOT make a better-behaved child, despite all the people who claim it does.  From Anonymous on IMDB:

Jo meets the Bowersock family where parents Jenniffer and Thad are having trouble with their three kids: 7-year-old Madeline “Maddie,” 6-year-old Hayden, and 4-year-old Lily Grace.

Jenniffer’s form of discipline is smacking, spanking, yelling, and even washing her kids’ mouth out with soap which shocks Jo.

Thad works as a juvenile corrections officer and when he gets off of work, he heads to the gym leaving Jenniffer with the kids.

The Bowersock kids disrespect their parents and show Jenniffer no respect whatsoever. Jo discovers Jenniffer’s abusive childhood and teaches her how to break the cycle with her own children. Can Jo help this family?

Yet Jennifer says in the intro, “I’ve never once felt bad for the way I discipline my kids.”  And herein lies the problem: abusers not feeling bad about what they do!

Richard and Tracy are an example I have seen firsthand of a family like the Bowersocks.  For all the screaming and grabbing and hitting I saw going on, those kids still wouldn’t do as they were told.  Richard would brag that they did, but I’d see different.

Children imitate their parents: If the parent is out of control, the children will be as well.  Richard said that boys who are not screamed at, grow up not respecting women.  But how can a boy respect women if his chief example is a screaming, hitting harpy?

In the early days, when I had trouble dealing with my little boy who liked hitting, I used Richard’s advice on how to discipline.  I had first tried no spanking, only to find it didn’t seem to work on him.  Richard advised three spanks.  This was before I knew what Richard’s own household was like, so I listened.

In person, he advised to spank harder, said I was doing it too lightly.  I thought with three children he knew what he was talking about, and he seemed like a decent, gentle person, so I listened.  Of course, I still couldn’t spank very hard because I just don’t have that kind of upper body strength.  Yet it wasn’t hard enough for Richard.

But when Tracy and the children moved in, weeks passed, and I began seeing how Tracy dealt with them–I began to distrust the advice he had given.  How could I have been so naïve as to take advice from someone I had never actually seen parent?

The more I saw of their ways of doing things, I took a few things that seemed to work, but the mother Tracy was out of control–and so were the kids.

She even said they wouldn’t praise the kids for doing their chores, seemed to think I was silly for suggesting such a thing, yet their kids weren’t doing their chores, while mine does his chores every day.  Screaming at the kids wasn’t working. 

My own son, who is not being raised in such an environment, is as well-behaved as you can expect from a little boy, listens to his teacher, does well in school. He does get naughty at times, but I now follow the advice of experts that one quick, light spank will not cause lasting damage.

But I avoid even that much, looking for other ways to discipline.  Jeff and I have not been perfect parents, but we try our best to recognize when we make mistakes and look for better ways.

But we got the strong impression that while Richard did recognize his mistakes as abuse once in a while, Tracy just kept justifying her harshness and thinking she’d done nothing wrong.

Once, Richard said Jeff was spoiling our son, that the problem was that Jeff didn’t want to make our son fear him.  He said maybe Jeff had been afraid of his dad and didn’t want the same thing to happen to his son.  Which was true–but the trouble was, Richard said Jeff should make our son fear him!  What is the point of that?  How is that good?

You’ll often find people saying that kids today don’t behave because they’re not whacked or yelled at.  But this isn’t true, because I’ve seen in Richard and Tracy’s household that kids were constantly yelled at and whacked, and yet the kids still kept acting up in various ways all the time.  

Don’t you see they’re imitating the parents?  That’s not being the adult and taking control, that’s acting like a child and losing control to punish the children. They pick up on that.

I remember being a child vividly: Kids want to behave for kind and gentle people, and want to misbehave for mean people.  They want boundaries, but they also want to be able to tell the difference between a kid and an adult.

You tell them don’t hit, but then beat them for not behaving.  You tell them to quiet down, but yell and scream at them.  You tell them to behave, but yell and scream at each other.  How is smacking them around going to get them to act like adults?  How is whacking the 3-year-old on the head going to teach her not to act aggressive?

Yet, especially while Richard and Tracy lived in our house, they kept complaining that my child was being spoiled, ruling the roost, not being properly disciplined–while he’s growing up to be a well-behaved boy.

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

 

Without warning or explanation, tensions build as Richard and Tracy both begin acting like lunatics

TENSION BUILDING –

  • Tension starts and steadily builds
  • Abuser starts to get angry
  • Communication breaks down
  • Victim feels the need to concede to the abuser
  • Tension becomes too much
  • Victim feels uneasy and a need to watch every move –Kim Eyer, The Cycle of Abuse

Something I read on 1/5/14 which made me go hmmmmm:

To draw you closer, the psychopath creates an aura of desirability—of being wanted and courted by many. It will become a point of vanity for you to be the preferred object of their attention, to win them away from a crowd of admirers.

They manufacture the illusion of popularity by surrounding themselves with members of the opposite sex: friends, former lovers, and your eventual replacement.

Then, they create triangles that stimulate rivalry and raise their perceived value. (Adapted from “The Art of Seduction” by Robert Greene).

Psychopaths, like most predators, seek power and control. They want to dominate their partners sexually, emotionally, and physically.

They do this by exploiting vulnerabilities. This is why they love-bomb you with attention and flattery in the beginning of the relationship—because no matter how strong or confident you are, being in “love” makes you vulnerable by default.

Psychopaths don’t need physical aggression to control you (although sometimes they do). Instead, relationships provide them with the perfect opportunity to consume you by manufacturing the illusion of love.

This is why it’s so damaging when bystanders say: “Well, why didn’t you just leave?” You never entered a relationship with the psychopath expecting to be abused, belittled, and criticized—first, you were tricked into falling in love, which is the strongest human bond in the world. Psychopaths know this.

…The psychopath’s ability to groom others is unmatched. They feel an intense euphoria when they turn people against each other, especially when it’s over a competition for them.

Psychopaths will manufacture situations to make you jealous and question their fidelity. In a normal relationship, people go out of their way to prove that they are trustworthy—but the psychopath does exactly the opposite.

They are constantly suggesting that they might be pursuing other options, or spending time with other people, so that you can never settle down into a feeling of peace. And they will always deny this, calling you crazy for bringing it up.

….The final triangulation happens when they make the decision to abandon you. This is when they’ll begin freely talking about how much this relationship is hurting them, and how they don’t know if they can deal with your behavior anymore.

They will usually mention talking to a close friend about your relationship, going into details about how they both agreed that your relationship wasn’t healthy. In the meantime, they’ve been blatantly ignoring frantic messages from you.

You’ll be sitting there wondering why they aren’t chatting with you about these concerns, considering it’s your relationship.

Well, the reason is that they’ve already made the decision to dump you—now they’re just torturing you. They only seek advice from people they know will agree with them. That “friend” they’re talking to is probably their next target. –Peace, Torture by Triangulation

Richard’s relationship with me was a platonic friendship, but the same dynamics were at work: The first couple of months he stayed with us, his cell constantly rang with all sorts of friends.

He’d ignore them to talk with me, or answer and then say he was in the middle of a conversation, and get back to me.

He’d tell me about all the women he had to fight off–not just in his single days, but after getting married.

After this love bombing phase ended, the criticism began and I was discarded for a month, I could do nothing right, and he didn’t want to spend time with me anymore.

Then he gave me bearhugs–throwing me a bone to keep me thinking that things would be as they were at first.

But after that, despite the occasional bone-throwing, he kept me off-balance.  Other friends were constantly clamoring for his time, and I became lower on the totem pole than they were.

Then a new friend, Chris, came along, and got all the attention that I used to get.  They’d go out and do things, talk, etc., and I would be the one sitting at home, or abandoned at the picnic table while they went walking along the beach.

The last part also reminds me of mid-2010, when I could feel things were going wrong, but when I tried to discuss it with him, he shut me down, made me feel paranoid.

He also told me that his political friends were messaging him on Facebook complaining about the things I posted on his Facebook threads (which is ridiculous because it’s Facebook, where you’re supposed to have fun with your friends, and that’s what I did, rather than getting all political like him).

This article also makes me wonder how much of this whole situation was Richard manipulating me to make Tracy jealous, to keep her from leaving him.  If he played each of his friends, family, spouse, the way he played me, on purpose to control us all.

In the last month or two of our friendship, after the bullying had been mostly confined to the occasional snipe, it ratcheted up all of a sudden; was it because of several comments I made on Facebook and at Tracy’s house about what constitutes child abuse?

Of course, bullies will say you deserve it.  You don’t ever deserve it.

(I just read an article about a girl who beat up another girl, kicked her in the head, caused a concussion and bleeding on the brain, and then bragged on her Facebook page that the girl she beat up, had it coming.  Despicable.  She’s been sentenced, though it’s a slap on the wrist.)

Friends are supposed to relieve your stress, not cause it.  They’re supposed to be there for you when you have problems, not cause your problems.  Imagine being forced–on pain of losing your dearest friend–to confide in someone you don’t trust because they keep bullying that friend.

I remember getting very sick at the end of April 2010, so sick that for a time I wondered if I would survive (swine flu?).

When I finally found out it was just a bad flu and then got better, Jeff drove my son and me to the grocery store.  In the car, I pondered whether my friendship with Richard was worth fighting for, and decided it was.

So things must have been going on then, too, that I don’t remember now.  Though I do remember chatting online with Chris during the winter or spring and asking him if Richard treated him the way he treated me: unreturned phone calls, suddenly dropping out of a chat without a word, things like that.

Early in the winter I had every reason to believe that my friendship with Richard was cemented, that Tracy was perfectly fine with it and we had freedom to do what he could do with his other friends, and that Richard was starting to remember just how good of friends we had been, all the jams I helped him out of, all the emotional support I gave him.

But sometime in the late winter or spring, I began feeling fed up, that he was treating me very badly.

So one day in April I figured our friendship was worth fighting for, while in early May I felt like it was all falling apart, and I had no clue why.

I had not changed; I still treasured the friendship.  I had no clue why Richard would act so differently toward me.

You may recall the incident I described before, of Tracy smacking the 3-year-old upside the head around the turn of the year, and the inner turmoil this sent me into.  Also, other abusive incidents I witnessed during 2010.

On April 15, 2010, is this blurb in an e-mail from Richard: “and cleaning and cleaning and cleaning and getting yelled at for not cleaning when I do clean.”

During these few months before July, I’d hear about “drama” in his house, and see it as well.  It seemed like things were getting worse and worse all the time, so bad that Jeff and I could even see it for ourselves, and discussed it. 

Jeff thought Tracy was bipolar.

He also thought the trouble at their house, and how they started treating me, was caused by stress and sleep apnea, and hoped that would change with treatment. 

But even if it did, it wasn’t soon enough to salvage our friendship, as their own personal drama spilled over onto Jeff and me.

On May 30, 2010, Jeff was about to drop me off at church when we saw Richard and his children in the parking lot.  Richard’s priest was gone at some conference, so he came to my church, only we then discovered that my priest was in the hospital!  (He recovered, by the way.)

So we discussed going over to this Episcopalian church which Richard liked to visit.  But when Jeff dropped me off there, I got this weird vibe off Richard.  What, he invites me but doesn’t want me there?

Still, we both seemed to enjoy the service together.  Then he took me around the church, showed me the various awesome things they had there.

People kept thinking we were married, so we had to say NO.  So I joked about it, but Richard didn’t laugh, which was weird.

But then when I asked if he could take me home–a reasonable request, I thought, especially since there was plenty of room in his van, and there was no point in making Jeff come all the way back to the church–he got this look on his face like I was being weird or annoying somehow.

It made no sense at all, and I couldn’t figure out what the heck I could’ve possibly done to deserve these reactions, especially from the guy who normally enjoyed spending time with me and liked driving me to/from church.

During this time, on May 8 or 9, 2010, at a birthday party in the park for one of the children, Richard told me about a silly dream he had.  Tracy got upset at him for this, saying, “Why didn’t you tell me about that this morning when we were laughing and bonding?”  I couldn’t tell if she was really upset or just joking, but as usual, it made me very uncomfortable.

She did that sort of thing a lot, jabbing at him in front of me with what seemed to be anger, though I wasn’t sure if it was anger or a joke.  And the possessive, jealous tinge of the “joke” also bugged me.

Simultaneously with her increased bullying of me, Jeff and I noticed their own family stress increasing and erupting into screams and jabs and spanks whenever we went over there.  

Not only did Tracy scream at the kids, but she screamed at Richard as well.  Then he’d turn around and yell at her in the kitchen for “screaming at the kids all the time.”  It made me extremely uncomfortable for them to do this with me right there in the room.

Every time we visited, they’d be bickering, worse than I had seen it, and occasionally the kids got something as well.  

I saw Richard’s face when he got yelled at, like he was seething inwardly but checking out. 

While Tracy did already occasionally yell at Richard with me in the room, I don’t recall seeing Richard yell at Tracy in front of me before this.

(Well, there was that time when he screamed at her on the phone in the basement back in November 2007….But I never saw him do it when she was actually in the room before.)

Something was stirring them up to a boiling point, and had been for weeks.  And it had nothing whatsoever to do with me.  I just became the convenient scapegoat a couple of months later, the lamb sacrificed for the peace of the household.

Probably early in June 2010, Jeff and I went over there; I forget if this is when we went to watch the kids while Richard took Tracy out on a birthday date, or when we went there to play a game of D&D.  I seem to recall her wearing a dress as if for a date, but I also recall being there with Richard and Tracy all evening, so it must have been for D&D….

Anyway, I sat on the couch, vaguely watching as two of the kids (the older ones, I believe) began dancing around and being joyful.  They did absolutely nothing wrong, and looked sweet and happy.  It was cute; they were being children.

Then all of a sudden, with no warning whatsoever, and for no reason I could possibly fathom, Tracy stormed over and went from 0 to 60 in two seconds: She flew over and began screaming and whacking fury at them. 

She screamed her head off at the kids, yanking and jerking them around by the arms, and screaming louder and louder at them as she threw spanks left and right. 

I had no idea what on earth the kids could have done wrong.  They didn’t say a word or fight back, just seemed to go limp.  Even their faces were blank.  Yet Tracy grew madder and madder, screamed louder and louder, yanked their arms around, and whacked spanks every which way.

It reminded me of the time they were living in my house and she started yelling and screaming louder and louder at Richard, even though he did not fight back and agreed with everything she said.

Helplessness: Children are inherently helpless and subordinate.  They cannot escape a dangerous situation and are easily taken advantage of.

When a child realizes they cannot protect themselves they believe they are helpless and eventually stop trying to protect themselves.

They often withdraw, go limp, or dissociate, or a way in which some children survive abuse by escaping mentally. 

While the abuse is occurring, the body and the mind seem to separate and while the body is being hurt; the child no longer feels it and is disconnected from the abuse. 

There are many ways to dissociate and each child may do it differently.  One may seem to leave the body floating overhead where the abuse is occurring or one may be able to completely withdraw or go inward and not mentally exist therefore not experiencing anything. —Source

This incident of child abuse right in front of me was frightening even for me, an adult, and also infuriated me.  

I was too frightened of her in general to do anything (she’s bigger than me, violent and nasty).  For the rest of the evening, I was very nervous and scared of her.  Unfortunately, Jeff wasn’t there to see this, having stepped out to buy some things for dinner.

Or should I say, of course he wasn’t there–she kept doing these things when he wasn’t there or wasn’t looking.  So I’d have to tell him later just what happened.

Shortly after, when things calmed down a bit, Richard started playing a song for me, a song which he had just posted about on his Facebook page.  I didn’t really know the song, had heard it maybe once or twice before (one of the times being when I clicked on his link).

It had been popular several years back, a dance song, something about a train, by a lady singer.  He had compared her to Lady Gaga, whom I also didn’t know at all, since I swore off ever-increasingly banal popular music about 10 years before.  I was surprised he knew about Lady Gaga, either, since he was a Goth fan….

Anyway, he played this song for me because it had been his earworm the past couple of days.  But then Tracy began yelling at him because he’d already played it numerous times over the past couple of days.

I’m sitting here thinking, Geez, lady, he’s a grown man and you’re not his mother!  Can’t he play it 100 times if he wants to?

I could understand being annoyed, but her yelling and screaming at him was way out of proportion, especially dealing with her husband, not a child.

He got an angry, henpecked look on his face, and told her to turn it off if she wanted to.  

(This may have been the same day when she began yelling at him for undermining her when he popped in Fifth Element for me to watch, while apparently she had just told the kids not to watch a movie.  He got the same look on his face and kept the movie running.)

More arguing….

Later in the evening, probably during dinner, he apologized, but even the apology quickly turned into an argument as they started picking at each other again.

Also during dinner, Tracy was in the kitchen asking or talking about something.  My son, who sat eating pizza beside me at the dining room table, made a comment about it.  She snapped at him for it, telling him to be quiet.  He got an angry look, and I was furious at her for yelling at my son.

Tracy started constantly ripping on me and bullying me no matter what I said or did, including on Facebook. 

It was absolutely nothing I did or said: It was something going on in her own head that I had nothing whatsoever to do with. 

It was probably her cycling again, going into an abusive phase where nobody was safe and nobody could do anything right. 

In other words, it was not my fault, but all hers, yet I was the one blamed for it in July and August, when imaginary complaints about me were brought up by both Richard and Tracy as “reasons” for her actions. 

This is what abusers do to try to justify their abuse, and Richard, as her abuser-by-proxy, went along with it–probably to keep the peace in his own house, keep the abuse away from himself.

She ripped on me on Memorial Day 2010 simply because I put bug spray, Kleenex and sunscreen in a bag and brought it with me to sit outside.

She talked as if a “normal” person would go back and forth into the house every time they wanted something.

Well, I didn’t want to bother with all that running all over the place when I could just put everything into a bag!

And what the heck difference did it make to her?!  Jeff stuck up for me, because he saw how ridiculous she was.

Richard started treating me like crap, as well:

One day, probably late winter or early spring 2010, while preparing for our latest D&D game, I saw what looked like honey on the table.

So rather than be stupid and put my books on honey, I did what any sensible person would do, and acted like any guest who wants to do for herself and not overburden her host by being a princess:

I pulled out a wipe from my purse and started wiping off the honey.

But then Richard, who was sitting right next to me, stunned me by screaming in my face for cleaning his house! 

(This was one of several WTF moments I had with him.)

Then Tracy said, “Oh, come on, you’ve always known she’s weird.”  I didn’t know whether Tracy was getting after him for yelling at me, or snarking on me again.  Or both.

They keep their house in filth most of the time, say they “clean it” before I come which makes me wonder how bad it is when I’m not coming over, and I’m the weird one for not wanting to get honey on my books?

Somebody must have made a crack about the stash of wipes in my purse (just one 15-piece travel package, not a ton), because I said, “I’m a mother.  Of course I have all sorts of things in my purse.”

(My mother had all sorts of things in her purse when I was growing up: Kleenex, gum, etc.  A married, pregnant woman, a non-traditional student, in one of my college classes whipped out a bottle of aspirin when somebody needed it, and commented that because she’s a mother, she has a well-stocked purse.  And at a Little League game in 2011, when a little girl had a nosebleed, three mothers–including me–rushed over to her parents with wipes to clean her up with.)

Then Tracy got huffy and said, “Are you saying I’m not a mother, then, because I don’t?”  Even though I hadn’t said a word about her, having no clue what was in her purse.

So…You can call me weird but I can’t say this is a motherly trait without you getting upset?  Jeff stuck up for me, saying he often wishes he had my stash with him when at his church alone with our son.

I felt like running out of the room or crying or something, but tried to be the adult and suck it up.

But oh, how it hurt (and shocked and appalled) to be yelled at out of the blue by my best and dearest friend for such a silly thing, and to be ripped on by Tracy just for being an organized mother.

The WTF moment is when the non-abusive partner, typically after weeks, months and sometimes years of love bombing, hoop jumping, guilt, manipulation, obligation, fear, self-doubt and blaming and shaming tactics, has a moment of clarity.

It’s when you finally realize, “Wait a minute. Something’s wrong here, but it isn’t me.” Shrink4Men

Jeff tells me that when they only expected him and a few other friends for D&D, they didn’t bother cleaning up much at all–so the filth I saw, got even worse when I wasn’t there.

It made Jeff feel like he wasn’t worth cleaning up for, because he was used to a clean house and didn’t appreciate the filth, either.

When Richard’s mother-in-law visited for three weeks and did some housework, Richard got mad at her, too–even though the MIL was probably just of my own mother’s school of thought, that if you stay for a few weeks, you should help with the housework or you’re a lazy bum.

(When we stayed with our in-laws for several days in 2011, I made our bed, my son made his bed, and I cleaned up after us in the bathroom.)

They didn’t clean their own house, but nobody else was allowed to, either?  How on earth could they expect her to just grin and bear living in a place so filthy without trying to clean some of it?  I couldn’t have lasted one night in that place without scrubbing down the bathroom!

And I’ve since learned that Richard also yelled at Jeff for this on nights when he went over there alone to play D&D.  Jeff said Richard yelled just as nastily as he did at me for cleaning honey off the table, and that made Jeff angry.

He went over there around 9pm, yet the kids would still be up, the house and table a mess, and they’d still be cleaning for quite some time after he got there.  So Jeff would grab a rag and start cleaning stickiness off the table before putting his books down, or do other things to help clean up, so they could get to the frickin’ game already.  And he’d get screamed at.

You’re supposed to say “thank you” when somebody helps you clean.  Yet somehow, they were the ones who felt that I didn’t know proper etiquette and behavior and had to be lectured on it by them?

I have since learned from hoarding shows that this is a common reaction when someone tries to help clean a hoarder house.

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

 

I get an inkling of Richard’s own abuse of his children

I am distressed and ashamed that I once looked to Richard as a source of childrearing advice, because he had three and I only had one.  At the time, maybe 2006, I only knew him online and on the phone, and thought he was a godly man–despite his occasional cussing rages against the atheists online.

When I said I was having trouble getting my toddler to stop hitting and such, without resorting to spanking, which I felt was abusive, he wrote that spanking was not child abuse.  He described his own system of three spanks all at once, which his own father did to him.

I listened and followed his advice for a few years after that, but spanking made no change in my son’s behavior.  Taking away privileges and toys was far more effective.

Also, when Richard lived with us, before Tracy moved in, he counseled me to spank harder because my son wasn’t taking it seriously, just laughing at us.  So I tried, but just didn’t have the upper body strength to spank as hard as he said I should.

Here I was, so caught up in this man’s ability to persuade people into anything, that I abandoned my conviction to never spank, convinced my husband to spank as well, and even tried to spank hard enough to hurt, out of the belief that only hurting my child would get him to behave.

It’s horrible to remember this now, to wonder how I was so deluded by someone whose parenting I had never even seen.

The foolishness of it all!  Because of this, my husband and I both did things we now regret, things that never would’ve happened had I not been persuaded by this person I barely knew, to change my mind about spanking.  My husband wouldn’t spank at all for a period of time because of what he found himself doing.

And no matter which of us spanked, it did no good.  As a toddler, my son laughed at it; as he got older, he hated the spankings but still did the naughty behavior.  Because of a recent study that proclaimed no harmful effects from one short, quick spank that barely even causes pain, I don’t condemn that.

But my husband and I have both moved away from spanking, period.  There are far too many studies confirming that spanking is harmful.

All this could have been avoided if I had not been exasperated from trying to figure out how to control a wild toddler without spanking, and if I had not listened to the childrearing advice of a person I had never even met.

Now I know some of what happens in his own house.  Now I know that he’s been convicted (as of 10/3/11) of deliberately choking one of his children.  And I regret and repent of ever listening to his advice on anything.

This is, after all, the same person who told me after Christmas 2008 that he and his wife yelling at each other was somehow “helping” his marriage, that if my husband started yelling I shouldn’t get upset, that men need to “vent.”

The same one who started talking as if angry rages against children or wives was somehow okay, and astonished me, because wasn’t this the same guy reading the works of Orthodox mystics, who wrote about the sins of rage (Philokalia and The Ladder of Divine Ascent)?

Wasn’t this the same guy who told me in 2007 that he was trying to suppress his angry side, not argue back when his wife picked fights, not be that person who beat another kid to a bloody pulp in his teens?

Now he was endorsing angry outbursts?  (My mother told me, “I would suggest not e-mailing your friend, he does not sound like a good person to talk to for advice.”)

I had written to him an e-mail about something that had happened that frightened me.  I will not go into more detail about what happened or who was involved.  But he did not respond, so I called him.  In that phone call, he told me all sorts of things that shocked and disturbed me:

That he didn’t respond because he was holding his tongue–He did not think the person involved did anything wrong, even though it was verbal abuse!  That he and his wife will yell at each other and their marriage is better for it.

That men need to vent and I should allow my husband to scream at me so he doesn’t have a stroke.  (I replied, “But I don’t appreciate being spoken to in that manner.”)

That I should allow him to scream at my child.  That he has friends who were not screamed at, and now they do not respect women; that the ones who were screamed at, respect women.

From the situation I described to him, it was very clear that I referred to SCREAMING, something that frightened me and not just a child, an out-of-control person, NOT firm tones or even yelling.

This conversation–and the way he gets you to believe whatever he says–so disturbed me that I spent the evening searching the Net for what I knew must exist: Orthodox writings countering everything he said, and saying that we must fight the passions (ie, anger).  I wrote to him,

I guess we’re going to have to declare a moratorium on topics such as this one.

It’s really disappointing.  I thought you said you were trying to control this passion, and you know we’re supposed to control it, not give into it, not just for our own salvation but for the well-being of everyone else–and it frightens me that you would think that not only is it okay to yell/scream at a spouse, you think [a certain person] should do MORE of it.

Screaming may be appropriate if your child is about to fall off a roof, out of a window or run into traffic, but not at other times.  There are things which you can just chalk up to differences of opinion, and normally I do that with you, but I just can’t with this one.  It just isn’t right.

BTW, I thought I’d better make clear that I’m not going to pull a Todd on you or anything like that.  I value my friendships, especially since it’s so hard for me to make and keep them.

But I do agree that feelings should be put out on the table (in a healthy, productive way), not kept inside, so I feel you should know where I stand on this issue.

But his reply was strangely dismissive of my concerns, and full of denial of the destructive nature of screaming at anyone (edited below only for certain parts which would reveal who was involved in the above incident).

I thought about summarizing and not posting this e-mail, especially since it makes the section quite long, but figured it was best to let him speak for himself, since I quoted my own e-mails.

Watch gaslighting in action–and an abusive parent justifying what he does.  My comments are in purple brackets:

There is a difference between constructive yelling and destructive yelling. I am controlling my passions for destructive outbursts versus trying to ring in a certain fear my girls need to understand.

The more they pay attention and stop the out of control behavior, the less they get chastised.  [justifying verbal abuse by blaming it on the kids, justifying using fear to control kids]

Why should it frighten you that I believe in discipline, even if it comes with a harsh tone when necessary? [Obviously you didn’t read what I wrote, because “frightening” referred to screaming/yelling at one’s spouse.] 

Its not like I am running around the house at the top of my voice at every second constantly riding their every action.

There is a time and place for when it is called upon for us to raise our tone to put our children into quick action so they can listen, be more attentive and not in control of the situation. We should never have to tell our children twice to do something we ask of them once and sometimes they learn that lesson with a harsh tone.

[Um—no!  This sounds like the destructive “discipline” I’ve found described on extremely conservative religious sites which promote child abuse to control children, which promote instilling fear to get a child to jump to your commands the first time, and teaching “lessons” with a “harsh tone.”  For a critique of such parenting, see here.]

And there was a ton of sarcasm about yelling at a spouse.  [Wait, what?  Where did he find sarcasm?  Does he even know what that word means?] 

In fact I do not remember that was even brought up.  [Um, what?  Gaslighting me again?]  

Tracy does put me into my place sometimes but not in a harsh tone. [Liar!  I’ve WITNESSED her screaming and yelling at you many times!  Here is my account of her rage episode against you.  My husband is a witness of it.  Right after I witnessed her yelling and screaming against you, you said she was being “nice” to you.  And you yourself complained of this many times, including March 2009!  I have it in writing!] 

I also have to call her when she is going too far with her opinions on some issues, asking if she really feels they are right or justified. I think that the little of the conversation which remotely was discussed about that was more playful with my wife commenting on her as a burden on my broken back, but you may not have heard that on your end of the phone. It was more amusing than anything.

[NO!  That is NOT how the conversation went!  You are gaslighting me!  You told me you yell at each other!]

As for suggesting Jeff to yell more, that is not what I said. I suggested letting him be able to loosen up before he explodes. This translates into allowing him to speak his mind more and maybe tighten up his reins on your son when your son needs it, mostly so you do not have to deal with…waiting til the last second of counting with him so he will get up and do what you requested him to do more than once.

[He’s 4 years old and still learning what happens when you get done counting.  Don’t diss the counting method: It works!  You just need to have patience, and don’t use fear to control the child.]

….Jeff seems to get frustrated at times and if he holds it in he is going to explode someday, but these are only my observations. When I have witnessed these similar situations it starts with high blood pressure and eventually turns into a heart attack.

[No, you said I should let him scream at my son, yell at me…. He already would vent his frustrations, and didn’t just “hold it in,” so I don’t know where Richard got that from.  I probably should’ve started recording our conversations so Richard couldn’t do this to me!  My ex Shawn pulled the same crap with me, telling me something then saying he never said it.]

Quelling the passions… Yes I have been quelling my anger issues. I am nowhere near as angry as I have been and I am still undergoing that burden.

Telling my kids to cut it out or they will get in trouble when they are supposed to be cleaning up and not playing is not anger, its making them pay attention to the words I am saying and to adhere to them.

So its said loud. This is not something I need to quell; its called raising my children to respect and obey my wishes. If I never said anything or tried to be calm and peaceful with all three of my girls, two out of my three would be walking all over me daily and I would be living in a worse disaster area than I do already.

[I NEVER objected to a parent using firm tones to get a child to listen.  I objected to SCREAMING at a child.  He said repeatedly that SCREAMING at a child is not only okay but necessary.  A firm tone is proper discipline.  SCREAMING is ABUSE!  He told me over the phone that the situation that frightened me, which was a  screaming fit, was perfectly fine!]

And please take no offense to any of this. It should not disappoint you nor should I be disappointed. We grew up in different houses and we witnessed certain things work and certain things which probably put us in fear on how we see how to raise a child, or three, soon four… pray for me! :O

Also, his claims in this e-mail of temperance need to be taken with a grain of salt because he was later convicted of choking one of his children in September 2010.

People who are in control of themselves, who never abuse, do not suddenly snap one day and choke a 9-year-old child.

I didn’t see it so much, but Jeff witnessed him yelling and screaming at the kids while gaming with him, and Jeff–who also has trouble controlling his temper at times–found it excessive.  Jeff says that yelling like this does not work to get kids to listen to you.

Also, as I describe later, on June 10, 2010, he posted on Facebook for suggestions on how to get the kids to clean without “beating them into bloody submission” which only gets them flinching when he raises a hand and gets them working far less than they already were.

At the time, I thought he was just joking with hyperbole.  Now, I’m not so sure.  Jeff said when I mentioned this post to him, “So: he’s finally learning…?  Yelling at them just makes things worse, and should only be a last resort.”

Also, as I described earlier, Richard had admitted to putting the kids in the closet once (and planning to do it again), and said his dad abused him, he deserved it, and it made him a better person.

To quote my e-mails to my mother, the “male friend” being Richard, and note that by “screaming” I mean screeching and raging, not “raising your voice”:

A male friend of mine says…that men need to vent, that if Jeff doesn’t scream at [my son] on occasion then [my son] will grow up into someone who doesn’t respect his mother and gets put in jail, etc.

But of course, this friend of mine is a guy who’s had a fierce temper of his own, and his wife seems very capable of standing up to anything and has a fierce temper herself, so maybe he doesn’t realize what it’s like for more sensitive females to deal with this.  I don’t think this kind of behavior is right…

I said on the phone today that I seem to have misunderstood what my guy friend told me.  Well, I partially misunderstood.

I could’ve sworn he was telling me that it’s okay for wives and husbands to yell at each other as a means of “getting things out,” that he and his wife do things that way and are much happier for it.

I could’ve sworn he was saying that I should let Jeff yell at me more often to “vent” or he’ll have a stroke.

But he insists that’s not what he said, that he didn’t say Jeff should yell at me more often, that he was just talking about disciplining children.

I’m not sure what to make of this, because what he claims to have said, and what I remember him saying, are entirely different things.

I distinctly remember him saying that he and his wife would yell at each other, that it got things out in the open, and their marriage was better for it.  If that’s not what he said, then why was I so appalled as he said it?

When he said I should let Jeff yell, we were NOT talking about children at the time, but marriage, so that’s why I said, “I don’t appreciate being spoken to in that manner” (i.e., my husband yelling at me).  If we were talking about children, I would not have said that!

He also greatly downplayed what he said about Jeff needing to yell, whoever it was at.

Here is where he and I part ways, however.  He has a very authoritarian view of disciplining children, and seems to think we’re too light on [my son].

I want to minimize the yelling; he thinks we should do more of it.  He’s always telling me things like, “[Your son] rules the roost.”

But no, we’re teaching [our son] that WE rule the roost, not him, and when he disobeys, there are consequences.  When a spank is threatened, he holds his butt because he knows what’s coming.

But I don’t agree with my friend that good discipline means we have to yell all the time and force things.

I agreed with him that screaming may be appropriate if safety is at stake: a child is on a roof, about to fall through a window, running into traffic, reaching for an outlet.

But I don’t agree that it’s right to scream at a child for being disobedient.  I sure don’t remember being screamed at as a child.  Yelled at on occasion, yes, but not screamed at.

Here in this e-mail, you see an example of Richard criticizing us for not being harsh enough with our child.  You see the all-or-nothing attitude, that if you’re not screaming at your kids, then you’re letting them run wild.

There’s a huge middle ground in there, where many parents are able to raise kind, respectful children–without screaming, slapping or even spanking.  Every year, my son’s teachers tell us how well-behaved he is, how nice to the other children, even befriending ones who others push aside.

Also, even as long ago as the 50s, people were moving past the idea that kids should fear you and do things the first time you ask–OR ELSE:

In 2013, I saw an episode of Donna Reed in which the dad told Jeff Stone he should do what he’s told the first time he’s told.  And Jeff said, The kids I know who do that, are afraid of their parents; do you really want that?

In another episode, the dad tells Jeff that when he was a kid, his dad would have taken a razor strap to him; he obviously does not want to raise Jeff that way.

In Dobie Gillis, we soon learn that the dad was raised with more anger and violence, but Dobie’s mother refused to allow Dobie to be raised like that.

So if, as long ago as the 50s, people looked on razor straps, violence and screaming as barbaric, why should we of the 21st century even consider such things “good parenting”?  Especially now that studies show such parenting does more harm than good?

Richard criticized Jeff for not wanting to make our son fear him!  Back in January 2008, he said with concern (as if Jeff were making a terrible mistake–ie, tsk tsk), maybe he was afraid of his dad and didn’t want our son to feel the same.  What, do you really think fear is any way to raise a child?

And despite Richard’s claims that his kids did what he wanted the first time he said so, how can that be when they kept misbehaving and he kept yelling?  If that were true, then after a short time, they should have learned to obey without being screamed at. 

And why did he post on Facebook in 2010 asking for ways to get the kids to clean when asked, if putting fear into children works so well?

Why is it so much easier to get my own son to clean, without making him fear us?  Why do his teachers–year after year after year–tell us how well-behaved and nice he is?

If screaming and putting fear into children is so effective, then why did you choke your daughter for not listening to you, Richard?

Fear is no way to raise a child–unless you don’t mind that your child will not love or respect you, but only fear and hate you.  You want that child to behave because she loves you and wants to please you and do what’s right, not because she fears you, because the moment you’re gone, she’ll do it again.

It’s the same principle for religion: If you want truly righteous believers, they need to obey out of love for God, not because they fear Hell.  As soon as the threat is gone, the “believers,” or children, will rebel.  Just look at all the kids who sneak out of the house to party, or who go off to college and start engaging in all sorts of self-destructive behavior.

My parents weren’t perfect, and did yell, did use a paddle when I was little (because it was the 70s and this was still considered okay).  But they did not scream, did not belittle, did not slap, got furious with my brother for hitting my head one day. 

And I did not rebel as a teenager, not for fear of punishment, but because it was wrong.  The “worst” I did was to carry a Walkman in my backpack, to use when walking to/from school.  (You weren’t supposed to have a Walkman at school.)

In college, the “worst” I did was sexual behavior with a couple of guys I loved–no drinking, no weed, no promiscuity.  Not for fear of punishment, but because I wanted to do the right thing and please God.

An old school friend has borderline personality disorder, but she is not narcissistic, and does not use it as an excuse to bully children.  On the contrary, she is trained in child care, and a fierce advocate against any form of intimidation or abuse of children.  She knows how to get a child to listen to you and obey because the child wants to.  She has already helped raise a few children to adulthood–and from what I hear, they have turned out well.

I remember being a kid: Kids start to tune you out if you lose control and scream at them all the time.  They don’t respect screamers and hitters: They respect people who are firm but stay in control, who show them love rather than violence in discipline, and they want to listen to them.

Richard could really benefit from a few episodes of Supernanny.  Also, here is a much more gracious view of getting kids to obey you the first time.  Another perspective:

Wanting to avoid punishment, we learned to swallow our emotions and just obey, plastering on a smile or at the very least making sure to avoid frowning. But that didn’t mean we didn’t still feel or rage inside.

Even though my parents believed they had broken each of our wills, I think what they had really done is made us so frightened of the consequences of disobeying that we negotiated our circumstances as best we could using what coping mechanisms we had available.

A child raised on the Pearl’s method may be instantly obedient and appear outwardly cheerful, but that tells nothing about what is actually going on inside the child.

…This is actually one thing I’ve seen Christian bloggers who oppose the Pearls’ child training teachings point to as a warning sign. Michael is talking primarily about breaking children and turning them into mindless obedient robots, not about teaching children to love Jesus and love their neighbors. –Libby Anne, Definitional Discussions and Pavlov’s Dog

Here’s a good description of why screaming does not work:

Tone– This is probably one the most important and most overlooked skill. Keeping the right tone with your child is paramount to disciplining successfully. Too light of a tone just tells your kids that you are a pushover. That what you say is not what you mean, or that your authority is weak at best.

Too strong of a tone is either disciplining by fear, which will not work in the long run, or it’s yelling to relieve your own tension, which does not help to scale back the tension. Especially as your children hit the teenage years.

Want a rebellious teenager? Using fear, and only fear, as your primary discipline technique will grant that request very quickly. Yelling in reaction to your own anger or frustration will only result in a daily screaming match.

Your tone should be authoritative. It should tell them that you are the parent, and they will do as you say. It should not be light and airy, or filled with pleas to behave.

Nor should it be screaming. Both of these tones says that you have no control in the situation. A controlled and serious voice resonates with children more than yelling or pleas. –Kerry Chafin, Why Your Discipline May Not be Working

There are several ways we can “make” children behave. One is by using force. Another is by using fear. Still another is by punishment. Unfortunately, these three methods imply that the caregiver is superior and should overpower the child.

Rather than leading to a child with inner control, they make the child angry, resentful, fearful and dependent upon force.

There is another way to discipline children. Though it may not appear to get the immediate results we might like, it is safer, more natural and humanistic.

It is based on the assumption that children are by nature good, fair, and honest and ultimately capable of responding to that which is good, fair and honest within us.

This method is to treat the child with respect. It is treating the child as if he is as important a human being as you are. It is treating him with the same respect with which you wish for him to treat others, you, and himself. –Katharine C. Kersey, How to Discipline Your Child

Fear and discipline only confuse the young child therefore; first look for the real world consequences.  When adults want to teach a child something, explain to them the reasoning in words that they can comprehend.

I have discussed a few ways adults can teach children how to learn and follow rules and do not want ignore the hundreds of other techniques.   However the purpose of this article is to discuss fear and discipline.

Scaring and hitting a child are two different behaviors, but they are both abusive and unnatural.  Remember frightened children will become the frightened adults who have great difficulty trusting others because they are in fear and waiting for the attack.

Do not use fear and discipline as a tool to get them to do what you want them to do because at this point you are being the bully, and severely damaging the ones we love.

This is the relationship between fear and discipline. Children will learn the lessons required to move into adulthood as long as we are there to offer our guidance. –Dr. Cheryl MacDonald, Does health psychology relate to fear and discipline?

Emotional abuse is a form of assault that is deliberate and manipulative and used as a method of control. The abuser uses intimidation, fear, guilt, and/or threats to frighten and belittle the victim.

…Parents or caregivers who emotionally abuse their children also use similar controlling tactics to gain power over the child.

Children who experience emotional abuse may feel that they are responsible for the behavior of their parents and that if only they were more polite, better students, or better children, then their parents would be more loving.

Abuse is often defined as any behavior that is designed to control and subjugate another human being through the use of fear, humiliation, intimidation, guilt, coercion, or manipulation. —Emotional-abuse

The goal of effective discipline is to foster acceptable and appropriate behaviour in the child and to raise emotionally mature adults. A disciplined person is able to postpone pleasure, is considerate of the needs of others, is assertive without being aggressive or hostile, and can tolerate discomfort when necessary.

The foundation of effective discipline is respect. The child should be able to respect the parent’s authority and also the rights of others. Inconsistency in applying discipline will not help a child respect his or her parents.

Harsh discipline such as humiliation (verbal abuse, shouting, name-calling) will also make it hard for the child to respect and trust the parent. –Canadian Pediatric Society, Effective discipline for children

Also see:
Can slapping a toddler in the head be anything but unacceptable!?

Here, smacking on the head is called assault:
Husband slapped my daughter

Well I was there and I saw what you did, 
I saw it with my own two eyes 
So you can wipe off that grin, I know where you’ve been 
It’s all been a pack of lies 
–Phil Collins, “In the Air Tonight”

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

 

More details of Tracy’s abuse of her children

I’ve described the squalor they lived in.  This is no way for kids to live.

Shortly before April 15, 2009, she and Richard spent the afternoon in the state capitol, getting the TEA Party started.  Richard didn’t tell me what they were doing right away, just hinted about possibly doing something “illegal” or getting arrested.  But nobody was arrested.

Anyway, they left the kids with me.  When they returned and picked them up, just minutes later, Tracy screamed at her children at the top of her lungs!

I’m not talking about run-of-the-mill yelling, but Exorcist-like screaming! 

It was so loud and hysterical that I heard her from my door as they pulled out of the parking lot!

And this was just minutes after picking up the children!  After an afternoon of being separated from them!  How on earth could anyone get so flustered so fast by even the naughtiest of children?

This was shortly after I received the e-mail in the above section, so I heard for myself what Richard complained about.  I felt bad for the kids, and wondered what the neighbors must think.

Early in 2010, I saw Tracy–right in front of me–pop her tiny three-year-old in the back of the head so hard the girl’s tongue flew out.  I go into more detail about this below.

In June 2010, I sat on the couch watching the two oldest girls dancing in the living room.  They did absolutely nothing wrong, and looked sweet and happy.

But all of a sudden, Tracy went from 0 to 60 in 2 seconds, flew over, and began screaming and whacking fury at them.  

I had no idea what on earth the kids could have done wrong.

They didn’t say a word or fight back, just seemed to go limp.  Even their faces were blank.

Yet Tracy grew madder and madder, screamed louder and louder, yanked their arms around, and whacked spanks every which way! 

Like a human tornado, striking without reason or cause or humane feeling.

It wasn’t even at me, yet it left me nervous and scared of her for the rest of the evening!  I go into more detail about this and Tracy’s various other abuses that evening, in chapter 7.

I felt gaslit because if Richard told me she was abusing the kids or him a certain way, or that she was screaming at them all the time, he’d acknowledge it as abuse.

But if I saw with my own eyes what she was doing to him and the kids, he’d tell me everything was fine and she was being nice to him and slapping your kid on the back of the head is fine and screaming keeps them from being spoiled etc. etc.

Another way I felt gaslit: Tracy did these things right in front of me, as if daring me to call Child Protective Services.  It was truly bizarre.

Since Jeff wasn’t around or wasn’t looking, I began to wonder if it was on purpose, so I wouldn’t have a witness to back me up.

But when we visited, Jeff did hate walking into yelling.  He says our son was afraid of her, and that always ticked him off.

I heard her picking fights, and screaming at Richard (in my house) in louder and louder tones, while not listening to a word he said, while he tried very hard not to argue back.  

I saw her smack him on the arm in fury and give him intimidating looks.  

I heard her pick at her kids for petty things and make them feel like idiots, sometimes screaming at and belittling them for little things.

Several times, I heard her belittling and humiliating the eldest child.  One time I remember was in 2010, when she started ridiculing the poor girl one evening.  I remember feeling indignant, that it was blatant verbal abuse.  She called the girl stupid!

Around that same time, when the third child was 3 or maybe 4, Jeff and I saw her sucking her thumb.  We thought it was cute and smiled; Jeff said, “Did you get that from [our son]?”

Then Tracy started screaming her head off at the poor toddler, saying, “Are you a baby?” and not to do that.  It was so ferocious and belittling that the girl began to cry.  It infuriated me.

When the middle child was 3 and potty training while living in my house, Tracy threatened to spank her if she peed her pants!  I believe the child had only just started potty training in the past couple of months, yet Tracy accused her of doing it on purpose!

It’s only natural for young children to have accidents.  Even my son’s 4K teacher requested every child bring a spare pair of underpants to school, because it is so common.

I recall Tracy chewing out the oldest for sulking for “not getting her way”; are you so sure the sulking wasn’t actually anger over being treated like crap by her mother?

Proper discipline requires the parent to act like an adult and be in control of herself, not act like a child!  If the girl sulks, ignore her!  When the girls are good, praise them!  They do what brings them attention, whether good or bad attention.

Once, in 2010, Tracy started tickling the middle child–not ordinarily an abusive act–but she kept going and going despite the child’s screams to stop.

Everyone kept laughing–except me: I heard fear and pain in the girl’s voice. 

When Tracy stopped, the poor child ran into the bathroom to cry.  

But somehow, I was the only one in the house who saw this as wrong, while everybody else laughed.

This horrified me, so the next morning as I walked my son to school, I reminded him of what happened, and told him to never laugh at someone like that.

How on earth can you like a woman who constantly verbally abuses little children right in front of you?  How on earth can you get beyond simple pleasantries and become besties?

Was I supposed to become a fake, two-faced friend?  Would that please her?

(My college friend Catherine has her own version of a Tracy, whom she tolerates because she’s friends with her “Tracy’s” husband.  But her friend apologizes to Catherine for his wife’s behavior!  Wouldn’t that have been nice from Richard, instead of constantly looking the other way when she pulled crap, and treating me like the problem was all mine!)

She chewed out her husband in front of me time and again for little things–I don’t want to see your domestic disputes!

It was so bad that Richard often joked, “I love her, but wanna kill her!”  I knew he didn’t mean it literally, but it wasn’t funny: It was a symptom of how bad things were.  She also joked that she’d never divorce him: She’d kill him instead (making him not want to drink the coffee she just made for him).

Richard said he needed to be around to protect the children from Tracy’s rages, to keep the abuse under control.  This article echoes him:

Some men stay because they believe they’re protecting their children from abuse or acting as an ‘abuse buffer.’

According to state law, he is obligated to stop the abuse or be subject to prosecution himself, to remove the children from his abusing spouse and notify authorities.

I keep hoping he will do just that, because there’s only so much I myself can do, especially since they didn’t listen to me and I’m no longer around them.  I have no way of finding out what CPS might have done about it[This section was written before July 2011, when I discovered Richard was also dangerous to his children.]

Richard also said that the middle child was very sensitive, and would try to comfort the others.

This article sounds like Tracy, from various sources: what I witnessed, what Richard told me, what others told me.  She did these things with me, with him, with others.

One form of “isolating behavior” listed here is to argue in front of others to make them uncomfortable around the two of you–which she did with Richard right in front of me, many times.

Because I saw Tracy–a large and tall woman–smack a tiny three-year-old girl–small for her age–on the back of her head…because I was shocked and appalled to find people on the Internet say that it’s not abuse to do that…

When researching this behavior, I specifically looked for information on the effects of smacking small children on the back of the head, or anywhere else on the head for that matter, such as the face.

(You have to be careful in research like this because “smack” means “spank” in many countries, and I’m not concerned about light, quick spanks to the well-padded butt.)

I’m less concerned about the effects on older children or teenagers (though I don’t condone that, either) because their heads are more developed and teenagers are practically fully-grown.

But smacking small children is especially risky because of their lack of physical development, small size, and the risk of sending them into a table, TV or other piece of furniture.  Toddlers have been killed this way (I found articles about this, but forgot to link them, and couldn’t find them again).

Here is an article about a toddler whose mother “slapped the child, causing him to fall and hit his head on the coffee table,” which then caused the child to suffer severe head injuries and permanent brain damage.

Here is an article about a man who slapped his toddler against a high chair repeatedly, killing her with traumatic brain injury.  Also see my blog posts on the subject:

Hitting kids upside the head is ABUSE (my 6th most popular post)
Child Abuse
Examples of child abuse
…Because slapping kids on the head is ABUSE!  STOP THE VIOLENCE!
Slapping kids upside the head causes traumatic brain injury (my 2nd most popular post)

Tracy and Richard also thought it wrong to even notice and praise a child for doing a chore, as if it would somehow spoil her (then wondered why they couldn’t get their kids to do chores).

I don’t want to describe what the children did on the Web, but a couple of incidents sounded like classic “acting out” behavior, which abused children often do.

Children act out what they see; their demonstration of violent behavior can be a manifestation of their exposure to domestic violence (The Silent Victims of Domestic Violence). –Jessie Brown, April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

Acting-out behavior can also include bullying, drugs, risky sexual behavior, or shoplifting.

When children observe their HAP parent acting in an anti-social and aggressive manner over an extended period of time they often pick up on a number of these behaviours and over time, consider them to be socially acceptable.

Children are a product of their environment and do learn what they live. Children living under the influence of a hostile-aggressive parent may become themselves, selfish, self centred and have growing anger management difficulties as years pass on.

Children who are being physically abused or yelled at constantly by a HAP parent will begin to deal with their own problems in the same manner, often lashing verbally and physically at siblings or schoolmates.

Many of these negative behaviours are often observable at the child’s school. HAP behaviours picked up by a child from the HAP parent will, in many cases, seriously affect a child’s development and interfere with their ability to lead a normal and balanced life.

Some professionals may misdiagnose the child as having a conduct disorder and prescribe medication but, in reality, these professionals fail to realize that the child’s own parent is instilling these types of negative and anti-social behaviours into the child. —Hostile Aggressive Parenting

Tracy thought that if her children were happy, loved her, etc., she wasn’t abusing them.  But this isn’t a proper gauge:

In many cases, it is not unusual for a child to exhibit signs of affection and love towards a HAP parent at some times which can be very confusing to the occasional or untrained observer who may see the child showing affection to the HAP parent at some particular time.

Psychologists have recognized for years that even children living under the care of abusive caregivers, often will have deep seated loyalties to those who may be physically and emotionally abusing them.

Most children often long for the love and approval from their caregivers so it is not uncommon for a child who is being abused by an HAP parent to be seen showing affection at some times to their HAP parents. —Hostile Aggressive Parenting

Richard wasn’t blameless, however.  He had repented of past abuses, but didn’t acknowledge that he still condoned abusive behaviors.

Like for example, he refused to believe that screaming at children all the time was abusive.

He even told me you should let a husband lose his temper once in a while, that he and Tracy had been blurting things out and yelling at each other and it was somehow “good” for their marriage.  (More on this later.)

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing