I NEED SOMEONE TO PROTECT ME
but there’s no one around to do that!
READ: ACAs ACOAs ACODF Blog, re. the effects of childhood abuse on the brain
ABUSE STYLES (cont)
INCONSISTENCY (Extreme &/or Persistent)
DEF: Parents not having a stable, dependable character, nor rational standard of behavior, such as rules that are not consistent with actions. It includes changing things frequently so daily life is not predictable.
a. Deliberate: (good) Intentional inconsistency shows that a specific exception “proves the rule” by letting kids know in advance when something in their routine is different – because of a special circumstance (illness, returning from vacation, moving, a recent emotional stressor….).
While they don’t have to do something usual this time (chores, homework, practice, church….), things will go back to normal shortly.
Intentional exceptions reinforce normal expectations
✶ A consistent parent gives the child a gift of knowing what to expect – as much as possible – which makes their world safe.
b. Accidental:(bad) when parents are too tired, too busy or have forgotten to follow up on a plan, supervise children’s chores or keep a promise…. It sets a bad example by giving kids the message that promises don’t count & rules aren’t hard & fast, so they have ‘permission’ to ignore them too. This undermines normal expectations
c. Dysfunctional: (terrible) This type is caused by the parent having unpredictable mood swings & outrageous or shameful behaviors – that are never explained & often irrational – which are not related to an obvious circumstance that can be understood or predicted.
This includes alcohol / drug abuse, mental illness, illegal activities…. It leaves kids never knowing what to expect next, what is expected of them or when they’ll be abused for doing something ‘normal’ (just walking past the parent – sometimes the child is ignored, sometimes hit, sometimes cursed out or threatened….) “Sometimes they yell when I’m playing & sometimes they give me toys to play with”
📌 Parental inconsistencies include:
• unstable emotional states (one time a parent says they love/ need you…. the next they can’t be bothered or can’t stand you -‘come here, go away’).
• terrorizing child by yelling or raging – alternating with periods of self-centered, needy attention / fake warmth
• changing house rules – confusing demands & expectations of the child
• unpredictable, extreme & dangerous responses to child’s behaviors
• not keeping promises – which they never meant to keep anyway or given while drunk / in a blackout so they don’t remember what they said
• being hypocritical in their own actions (kid punished for lying but parent lies all the time….)
▶︎ Dysfunctional unpredictability creates anxiety in children, with a lack of trust in the adults – not knowing the right way to function & live in the world. Without stable rules to base choices on, it’s hard for children to trust their own judgment & decision-making, having internalized chaos & uncertainly. This affects all areas of learning & hamper or destroy normal social interactions, creating social phobias, isolation, no risk-taking…
DEF: To morally contaminate, to ruin utterly in character or quality, change the original form of, destroy or subvert the integrity of…
✶ From the Canadian Criminal Code: (S.C. 1953-54, c. 51, s. 157)
“In the home of a child, everyone who participates in sexual immortality, or indulges in habitual drunkenness or any other form of vice – thereby endangering the morals of the child, or renders the home an unfit place for the child to be in – is guilty of an indictable offense & is liable to imprisonment for two years.”
Children will grow up unfit for normal, healthy social interaction – when parents model for, teach or force children to engage in antisocial behavior harmful to themselves & others, such as:
• ignore or reward child for substance abuse
• supply child with any form of illegal substance
• reinforce inappropriate sexual activity; force or promote prostitution
• reward child for bullying and harassing behavior
• teach “Win at all costs”; encourage violence in sporting activities
• encourage & reward child for lying, cheating and stealing
• encourage or allow criminal activities
• teach hatred, racism, ethnic or religious bias
NEXT: Abuse of Children (Part 3)