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About children and families in crisis

Why would someone abuse a child? What kind of person abuses a child? Not all child abuse is deliberate or intended. Several factors in a person’s life may combine to cause them to abuse a child:

  • Stress, including the stress of caring for children, or the stress of caring for a child with a disability, special needs, or difficult behaviors.
  • Lack of nurturing qualities necessary for caring for a child.
  • Difficulty controlling anger.
  • Personal history of being abused.
  • Isolation from the family or community.
  • Physical or mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety.
  • Alcohol or drug abuse.
  • Personal problems such as marital conflict, unemployment, or financial difficulties.

No one has been able to predict exactly which of these factors will cause someone to abuse a child. A significant factor is that abuse tends to be intergenerational – those who were abused as children are more likely to repeat the act when they become parents or caretakers. Rainbow House provides an 8 week parenting class that focuses on some of the above mentioned risk factors leading to child abuse. In these classes, we often notice that many of the participants have experienced abuse during their own childhood and are struggling to break negative patterns of corporal punishment as well as poor anger and stress management skills. We frequently see abuse patterns that are intergenerational and, consequently, it can be more difficult to break these harmful patterns.
Additionally, many forms of child abuse arise from ignorance, isolation, or benign neglect. Sometimes a cultural tradition leads to abuse. For example, the following beliefs and ways of thinking can have a negative impact on a parent’s ability to effectively care for their children.

  • “This child belongs to me and no one can tell me how to raise him/her”
  • “Parents (especially males) have the right to control their children in any way they wish”
  • “Children need to be toughened up to face the hardships of life”
  • “My child is already messed up and there is nothing I can do to make it better”
  • “Children are ‘bad’ or ‘just like their mother/father’ and there is nothing anyone can do to change that”

No matter what your belief system or life history is, parenting can be a difficult and challenging journey. Whether it is getting a teething infant to sleep or a defiant teen to come home on time, there are many stressful moments in raising a child. Noted as one of the primary factors in physical and emotional abuse of children, stress can be very real and difficult to handle for many caregivers. At Rainbow House, we provide 12 days of Crisis Care wherein we assist stressed families who are dealing with a crisis. Our goal is to help decrease stress in a parent’s life so that potentially abusive situations are less likely to occur. Finding ways to de-stress is essential to becoming an effective parent.

Aside from calling Rainbow House's Crisis Care program, or enlisting the help of our Clinical Program, here are a few suggestions to relieve stress in your life and home:

1. Take a time out for yourself. Lock yourself in the bathroom for a few minutes - after making sure younger children are safe, of course.

2. Don't pick up or touch your child when angry – take a deep breath or count to 10 or more.

3. Walk away when feeling the urge to strike out or boil over. Take a time out and then return to the situation once you are calm.

4. Call a friend. Share your frustration.

5. Go to a neighbor or family member and ask for reinforcement or a short break.

6. Look to your church or spiritual organization for help when feeling overwhelmed with parenting.

7. Look for a parent's day out program at your local school or community center.

8. Take time to be a kid again. Go to the park with your children and run around. Let go of all adult responsibility for an hour or so. Take a mental break.

9. Another great way to take a mental break is to read, listen to relaxing music, or enjoy a good movie. Enjoy a hobby or interest that gives you a break, provides peace, or makes you happy. Find healthy ways to “escape” rather than using or abusing tobacco, alcohol, or drugs.

10. Look into parenting programs or workshops. Perhaps learning a few new techniques will help.

11. Bind together with others who are struggling for strength and assurance. Talk openly with each other about stress and problems.

12. If you are in a two-parent household or have a friend to share the responsibilities, take turns watching the children so that you can have time to break down, cry, reflect, or begin the rebuilding process in times of crisis.

13. See a therapist regarding your issues at home, especially if you are having a difficult time walking away from your children when angry or have began to be abusive in any way. Remember that stress and depression can overwhelm the best of parents. These things can't improve until we are honest with our limitations and seek help.

14. Seek inner peace through prayer and meditation. Examine and reflect on whatever beliefs you hold that bring you peace and comfort.

Above suggestions taken from: http://adoption.about.com/od/parenting/a/avoidabuse.htm