As you may know, and for those of you who don’t, I am a single mom of five boys. I was married to a bully who favors coercive control. Healthline’s article on How to Recognize Coercive Control describes twelve signs of this form of domestic abuse to look out for, nine of which my ex-husband keenly displayed. For awareness purposes, please read through the list below so you can learn to recognize the signs of coercive control for yourself or someone you know and/or love.
Unfortunately, this type of abuse, in and of itself, is not considered illegal in the United States. Because of this upsetting fact, I truly felt my only option for the sake of our well-being was to uproot my children and relocate 1500 miles away from everything we knew and loved. With formidable determination, colossal sacrifices and no doubt, divine intervention, I was successful in that endeavor.
But the story doesn’t end there. Our struggles were far from over. While the immediate threat may have been subdued, the damage to my children’s (and mine) mental and emotional health had already formed scars unseen to the outside world; scars that would inevitably affect how we perceive the world and operate accordingly.
My quest at the time was to do my best in raising healthy, happy, kind young men while we still clung to our existence in survival mode. Poverty-level living in foreign territory left us with a bit of culture shock and only exacerbated the challenges we faced over the following years.
I love my children more than life itself. I wanted nothing more than to fill their buckets of self-esteem so high that they might be resilient to the unpleasant circumstances we had faced. While under the influence of their father’s mental mind games and over the emotional roller coasters we were forced to ride, I was adamant about reassuring my boys that their father’s hurtful words and actions were neither an exhibition of love nor a demonstration of appropriate discipline. There wasn’t much more I could do outside of that other than set myself up to be able to leave and leave for good.
I had given up so much. I had done everything short of laying down my life, and yet, no matter how fervently I prayed, no matter how hard I tried, no matter how much I sacrificed, there was nothing I could do to undo the damage that was already done.
The fact of the matter is, there is no amount of love you can give to another human being to take away pain already inflicted upon them.
Doesn’t that literally go against the job description of motherhood? To kiss the booboos away. To hug our children and make everything all better. What a world-class mission impossible role! And this awareness, as I witnessed it firsthand, crushed my soul.
Here I am, a decade later. We have come so far, my boys and me. And yet, I unsuspectingly came across this parenting quote online and it felt like the dagger that I didn’t realize was still piercing my gut was being twisted all over again reminding me of its presence.
At this point, you may be wondering who Alvin Price is. I sure was. By furthering my online search, I learned that he is the author of the book, Discipline 101 Alternatives to Nagging, Spanking and Yelling. If you can’t tell by the main title that the book is a little dated (or if the child on the cover didn’t give it away with his early 80’s haircut and attire), the subtitle sure will, Ways to STOP HURTING Your Kids and START HELPING Them! Those caps do not reflect emphasis from me. This is how the title of the book is written.
Ouch! Let’s take a minute to regroup. Breathe with me: one- two- deep- four- hold! And release- two- three- four…
After reading the reviews on Goodreads, readers found that the book offers good advice on effective parenting techniques. If you care—or dare to give it a read, Dr Price along with co-author, Jay A. Parry, offer methods based on love. They could’ve just used some sensitivity training when deciding on the title.
With this said, the way his quote hit me seems to make a little more sense.
I absolutely agree with the philosophy that parents should use so much love in their language that it figuratively overflows their children’s self-esteem buckets. But just as it is important for parents to set realistic expectations for their children, they also need to set realistic expectations for themselves and their ability to shield their children from mental and emotional hurt inflicted from others. It is impossible to fill up their buckets to the point of rendering them invincible in that regard.
And for all of you moms faced with the heartbreaking and daunting challenges of picking up the pieces of your child’s suffering due to any sort of abuse or neglect from their other parent, I feel your plight.
Give yourself grace. Accept that you are not the almighty powerful. Your power lies in supporting your children on their healing journey. Having faith in their individual power and ability to heal themselves empowers them.
The law may not be on your side, but God is, and so am I and the countless other moms in the same boat. So, believe that You Are Enough and hug them through all their sadness. Kiss all their emotional and mental booboos. Be mindful in choosing your own loving words so that you can do all you can to promote a mindset of ‘being enough’ within them, too.