The Eighth and Final Square

with courage face the thing you fear so the pawn becomes the queen

I wish I hadn’t done a lot of things, and wish I could change other things, but basically, I have one regret in my life. One thing that I wish I had done differently. One thing that still angers me to think about, because of the cruelty.

Today, thanks to a friend of mine who posted the link on facebook, I read an article titled “First time obedience, really?” First-time obedience is something that is extremely important in my family. It pretty much goes along with formula parenting. The example my dad would always use as to the merits of first-time obedience is if one of his very small children ran out into the street (which wouldn’t happen anyway), and a car came, he would say “Stop!” or “Come back!” and they would do it immediately, unlike (again, his example) “your cousins”. (Sorry, uncles and aunts. Don’t feel bad, though…at least your kids still have brains that aren’t being controlled!)

So while seeing the downside to it (which I will elaborate on in a minute), I was also warring inside myself. It would save someone from death, right? So it’s good? But on the other hand, I saw what happened, and it was most certainly not good.

Two years old. Rebellious. Self-willed. Wicked. Too young to like or dislike anything. Too young to have opinions.

Wait…what?!?

Uhh yeah, that’s my parents for you. They don’t believe in the “terrible twos”…they believe in “terrible hearts”. You know, the verse in Proverbs that says foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child but the rod of correction will drive it from him. And the verse that the heart is wicked and who can know it. So the first problem is, they don’t come to parenting with the view that these are people. They come to parenting with the view that these are wicked little sinners who need a radical change, whose thoughts and feelings and opinions and likes and dislikes don’t matter because it is all selfish willfulness.

Cue the dinner table. There’s a very small child in the high chair, whom dad is feeding. This child is a baby, really…crawling, maybe walking; can’t even say real words yet.

“Open up!” dad says, moving the spoon towards her.

She accepts that bite, but doesn’t like the food, and spits it back out.

“No, you eat it,” dad says, scooping it back up and attempting to give it to her again.

She makes a disgusted face and turns her head. We all laugh at the cute little shudder she makes.

“Don’t laugh, it encourages her,” dad says, still trying to force the bite with the slightly more stern command “Open”. He presses the spoon against her soft mouth, trying to force it open.

When she continues resisting, he moves her head to face him and commands sternly, “Open.”

She may open her mouth at that point, or she may not; in which case he takes the tray off the chair and gives her a few loud swats, sets her back down, and resumes with the “open” stuff.

Meanwhile the rest of us try to ignore it and eat our dinners.

If she still doesn’t open her mouth, again with the swats, and she sits there crying, looking at him with terror in her eyes, her nose running all over the place. If her mouth is open from crying, he shoves it in. If she tries to spit it out, he doesn’t let her, and she accepts that she has to keep it in her mouth.

Then comes the battle to get her to swallow.

What one- or two-year-old do you know who knows the meaning of the word “swallow”, let alone “open”? Most one- and two-year-olds are lucky to know the word “no”.

I’m sitting there, dying inside, longing to take her in my arms, wipe her tears, blow her nose, and cuddle her safe in my arms.

Nobody, not even mom, was allowed to give her any comfort. Not even dad did, until she did whatever he wanted. And if he got tired of spanking her, he sent her to bed…and when she got up she had to eat the same thing she disliked. Because her likes and dislikes didn’t matter. Nothing mattered except that she obeyed the first time, every time.

My only regret is that I didn’t stick up for her, for them, every time it happened with I don’t know how many of them, probably all, at one time or another.

The last time it happened when I was there, I was so close to exploding that had he spanked her one more time, I would have done something. I just wish I had…that I had stood up long before.

And that is my regret.

***

I just want to say that this is the one thing in my life I regret, but that I also don’t let it get me down. I don’t focus on it and am not absorbed by it…it’s just another fact of my screwed-up life. :)

Phoenix On March - 6 - 2011

19 Responses so far.

  1. Manda says:

    *wipes tears* yah me too… there were a few times I said something about their “disciplines” but I wish I had made it known… its scares me now and hurts so much to think everything I saw while at home is still going on… *sigh* ='(

    • quicksilverqueen says:

      I know!!! I doubt this exact scenario still goes on…she’s a little older now…at least I hope it doesn’t!!!…but I sure hope they have no more kids!!!!!!!

  2. Wondering says:

    Were your parents calvinists? I did some research on the “evil infant” theology that underlies much reformed doctrine and, I believe, influences much reformed parenting. But honey, I am so very sorry. I know exactly how you feel on this and so many other things. Hugs….

    • quicksilverqueen says:

      No, they aren’t Calvinists or Armenians for that matter…they didn’t ascribe to any denomination or anything. They say everything they believe they get from the Bible.

  3. Nancy says:

    Anne,
    This is horrible treatment!! Im so glad I’ve never raised my girls in that manner. My parents didn’t either. I’m so sorry you’re going through so much suffering now. It’s healing but I know how hard it must be for you. Please take care of yourself and you and Scottie love each other and be happy.

    Nancy

  4. Nancy says:

    That treatment is NOT Biblical and they are sorely mistaken and twisting God’s Word.

  5. Fran says:

    I do understand we should teach our children at an early age to listen to us when we tell them something. I remember a friend of mine yelling at her daughter more then once while the little girl ran into the street. The car or cars would have to stop while we all ran for her thanking God she was not killed. She never would listen to her mom or dad. Thank goodness she grew out of that or that she didn’t get killed. I saw alot of that with people’s children. So yea, it can happen. But, I would NEVER teach it to my children the way you dad did. Maybe my children weren’t the young adults your dad expect us to raise. But I don’t care. I would NOT do that. And in the end, my grown son is still in our lives. There are a lot of regrets on our part with our children. Most of them were because we listen to you dad on some things. He always acted like he knew better then anyone how to raise children. Everyone else was wrong. I mean really, look at his obedient children. Who were we to question him? Little did I know the pain inside most all of you. I’m thankful I didn’t listen to everything he said. We have some mending to do with Steven. The difference is, we know when we are wrong and are willing to correct it.
    Bottom line, do teach your children obedience. But do it with love. Not regret’s. Not all obedient children are mindless robots believe it our not.

  6. meripng says:

    I lost a good friend because I told her that her parenting habits were too difficult for me to handle. She slammed me for not believing the best in her, like it says in I Cor. 13. All I know is I did my best before the Lord. I think she did listen to me a little I am not sure. If it saved her children from too much pain and suffering than I am grateful, although I miss her. She did seem slightly repentant, asking for prayer that she would love her children more.

  7. Pippi says:

    You shouldn’t feel so much regret. You were a child too, just as manipulated and controlled as she was. It takes adulthood and experience outside of the home environment to look back and see how things should have been. I’m sorry you went through that. I guess it’s kind of a trend among oldest daughters in those Fundamentalist families.

    • quicksilverqueen says:

      It’s just the one thing I wish I had stood up to my dad about. Nobody in my house stood up to my dad about anything. When he did this to my littlest siblings I ALMOST ALMOST ALMOST said something but it would have been “disrespectful” and stuff so I didn’t…

      • Lisa Fretwell says:

        quicksilverqueen,

        You say, “When he did this to my littlest siblings I ALMOST ALMOST ALMOST said something..”

        My reply,

        I know what that FEELS like inside. There is still a sinking feeling in my gut when I remember it. I can’t tell you how many times, I stood in the hall, on the other side of the bedroom door, weeping with rage, as I listened to my younger siblings being ‘spanked’ behind the closed door. I would become flushed and short of breath from the adrenaline running through my veins. I wanted to rush in there and STOP it. But, I couldn’t. All I could do was listen, helplessly. The rage I felt had to be suppressed.

        The long term effects of this are: at the age of 48, I still have the adrenaline filled rage rush through me when I hear of or see an adult spank a child. I came close to grabbing a frying pan and hitting my boss over the head with it, after I witnessed him man handle his daughter. I was in my late 20’s then. I haven’t done social work for children. I haven’t stood up for them, because, I’m afraid. I’m afraid that one day I will grab the frying pan and beat someone to death with it.

        I’m glad that you have a blog on the subject. :)

        • QuicksilverQueen says:

          Fortunately, since leaving my parents’ house, I haven’t had the chance to be around a child who was being spanked or hit. I don’t know what I would do either!

  8. rowena says:

    This is heart breaking and deeply disturbing. It dishonors God and causes a stumbling block for many children raised so harshly.Matthew 18:6

  9. Emmie says:

    I know these words can’t make you feel better, but I will put them out there anyway: there is nothing you could have done. It does not sound like your father was open to parenting advice from you.

    Foolishness is bound up in the hearts of children–foolishness as in sweet, playful ignorance of harsh realities. The rod of correction is used with sheep not to beat them, but to nudge them along a safe path and teach them how to move safely through a dangerous world. I do believe that children need guidance, but never beatings.

    Again, I am so sorry. I think it would be harder for me to see a child hurt than to even be hurt myself.

    • QuicksilverQueen says:

      It was definitely harder to see them hurt than myself!! Intense fear is the reason I never stood up to my dad…I didn’t know what he’d do, kick me out? beat me up (not the same as a regular spanking)? spank me too?

  10. […] your child physical pain is acceptable at all, where do you stop? I’ve heard dozens of personal stories of children who were so stubborn or strong-willed that they were literally willing to let their […]

  11. Christian says:

    Thanks for sharing. My Dad would eventually backhand me, knocking a six-year old into the next room. that is when my mom left him & that life. Today I am s School Psychologist, helping kids that suffer abuse. You CAN do something, every day of you life:)

    • QuicksilverQueen says:

      That is neat, that you’re a school psychologist now!! I bet you’re really great at it, especially since you can really identify with them.

  12. *WHEW* I remember the same things. I was terrified to stand up to the abuse in my home. I only did once or twice, when I was terrified of there being serious bodily harm or is the parent was completely out of control. It still haunts me to this day. Most of my siblings still live at home, and though I think it’s a little better, I know they get spanked many times a day. It’s obviously not working.

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