Parenting’s Troubled History

This excerpt from The Bullying Antidote was recently published on ACEsConnection:

As we learned from the CDC-Kaiser Permanente ACE Study, negative childhood experiences are often kept secret, downplayed, or repressed because ofthe_belt our powerful desire to put such things behind us. Unfortunately, our minds and our brains don’t work that way. Patterns can play out automatically, no matter how hard we try to be original and create our own realities.Just as it is important to know family medical history (e.g., diabetes or tuberculosis) it is equally important to know about our social inheritance.What is your ancestry? What destructive patterns did your parents and grandparents overcome? Think back to your childhood, to how you were disciplined. What were the consequences in the short term? In the long term? There is a chilling quote from Time magazine essayist Lance Morrow, from his ACES-informed book, Heart: “Generations are boxes within boxes; inside my mother’s violence you find another box, which contains my grandfather’s violence, and inside that box (I suspect but do not know) you would find another box with some such black secret energy—stories within stories, receding in time.”

Punishment and Fear-Based Leadership

Authoritarian or autocratic leadership, the very strict style predominant in early 20th century European countries, was also the predominant style in the U.S. before the 1960s. Many families and subcultures in America still abide by this style. The primary goal of authoritarian parents is obedience; their tools are blame, shame, guilt, threats, force, and abuse. Their goal is to control, and their greatest tool is punishment.

Keep reading at: Parenting’s Troubled History | ACEsConnection

Discussion Questions: Chapter Three

Problematic Childrearing Practices

DOWNLOAD 3. Problematic Childrearing Practices (Available for a limited time only)

This chapter discusses how the harm done by our parents can harm our own children, why this happens unintentionally, and what we can do. This chapter may be the most difficult to discuss in the entire book—but it will open up an understanding between group members for later dialogue. Be sure to review the guidelines in the Facilitator’s Guide.

Childhood damage begins a negative trajectory for life and harms many others in an outward spiral.

Q. What are the two most negative things a parent can do, according to this chapter, and the three rules of positive parenting to avoid them?

The surprising results [of the ACEs study] demonstrate the connection between traumatic childhood experiences and medical problems, mental health issues, and addictions throughout a person’s lifetime. 

Q. Were you surprised to learn that ACEs are a national health crisis? What did the sample survey questions on p. 31 reveal to you? (Here is a link to the full questionnaire.)

Just as it is important to know family medical history (e.g., diabetes or tuberculosis), it is equally important to know about our social inheritance. 

Q. What is your social inheritance? What destructive patterns did your parents and grandparents overcome? Think back to your childhood, to how you were disciplined. What were the consequences of this disciplinary action in the short term? In the long term?

Many parents still rely on punishment, holding beliefs such as “my parents used it and I turned out okay;” or “you have to beat your own kid or the world/the police/others will beat him/her.” 

Q. Did your parents punish you “for your own good?”  Did their parents? Is punishment a legacy in your family?

Every country has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child except two: Somalia and the United States. Somalia had a good reason: it didn’t have a government.

Q. Were you surprised to learn about the CRC? Do you think the U.S. should ratify? Why or why not?

Hit them back;” “Don’t be a tattletale;” “My little princess;” “Boys will be boys.”

Q. Do you ever find phrases like this coming out of your mouth? Do you really believe them? Or are they just what you heard your parents/friends say?

Casual rudeness and “cute nastiness” are unfortunate parts of a permissive and open society, one that allows and welcomes comedy that is often at someone else’s expense.

Q. How do you view rudeness in your family? How do you define it? How do you respond to it? How do you talk about it?

No parent is doomed to transmit damaging patterns to the children he or she loves. Anyone at any age can change attitudes, behaviors, and habits. Anyone can make new choices that begin to change the family trajectory.

Q. Have you made any decisions to change your inherited patterns?

This question is always a good one, too:

Q: What sentence, paragraph, or idea popped out at you, or stuck with you after reading?

Reply in the Comments, below!

Homework:

  • Get your ACEs Score at www.acestoohigh.org. Since the publication of this book, they have created a Resilience Score… scroll down and take that, too!
  • Plan to see the movie Resilience!

Looking for resource links? Click here.

<< Chapter 2 | Chapter  4 >>

Cosmic Citizen Radio on The Big Picture of Bullying

Please listen to this wonderful two-hour interview with Kristen Caven about bullying from a spiritual perspective. Paula Thompson, Andre Radatus, and Christilyn Biek-Larson, the hosts of Cosmic Citizen Radio provide space and time for a wide-ranging conversation about every angle of this social problem.

It is a two-hour interview, but if you would like to drop in and listen for a few minutes, here is a guide to the key moments:

  • 5:30 Interview begins
  • 6:45 Kristen explains why bullying is NOT a subject near and dear to her heart.
  • 10:00 What The Bullying Antidote is and how the book is structured – 3 parts
  • 11:30 What bullying is and how we can understand it: bullying defined, the bullying dynamic.
  • 14:50 Zorgos!
  • 17:30 Racism, Terrorism… how we justify bullying with fear and confusion.
  • 18:45 What’s in the news: “average citizen” shooter in Chattanooga has an abusive family; random racial beating by college students; Boko Haram uses child bombers; what bullying turns into.
  • 22:00 What do we tolerate and what do we nurture? How the extreme fundamentalist, autocratic parenting style has swung to permissive style. Cultural support for and normalcy of bullying.
  • 25:00 Three mainstream parenting practices that unknowingly nurture bullying dynamics.
  • 27:30 ACES study
  • 30:00 Long-term research on punishment in Sweden – the story of how one country changed its story, and how the US rates in UNICEF study.
  • 34:00 Brain Science – we are wired for negativity and need to consciously work on positivity
  • 35:00 No-spank laws and the Declaration on the Rights of the Child
  • 39:00 How the US ranks nationally for childhood wellness
  • 41:30 The great work being done in the US, in schools, to diminish bullying
  • 43:45 Pre-school is key to protecting society from bullying & crime
  • 44:30 How cooperative preschools create good culture; what to look for in schools in terms of bullying
  • 47:00 <an enthusiastic plug for Pixar’s Inside Out!
  • 48:00 My Vision for World Domination…?
  • 50:00 (How this book can help heal adult love relationships as well!)
  • 53:00 Bullying is being mean! If we are compassionate to ourselves, we won’t hurt others/our kids. 
  • 54:00 Gandalf’s intention: “You! Shall! Not! Pass!” Great example of how to stand up against bullies.
  • 56:00 How Paula’s daughter was bullied (note about handout at bottom of this page: https://zorgos.wordpress.com/discussion/)
  • 1:03 Kristen’s response…pecking orders… when bullying begins… how schools respond…what bullying isn’t…testing…
  • 1:08:30 How Kristen was a bully, and what her teacher did.
  • 1:09:30 Christilyn on Halt and Catch Fire “faggot” locker scene – how sexual difference is a “protected” area for bullies
  • 1:13 Kristen compares culture of gay bullying before legal Gay Marriage struggle to Nazi and Slavery propaganda that made killing Jews, enslaving blacks culturally/economically correct. Bringing injustice to light eliminates systemic discrimination.
  • 1:16 good school rules – respect, no labeling
  • 1:18 Dennis Leary quote: “My kid hates one thing: naps.” How racism and hatred are perpetuated.
  • 1:19:45 Chrystilin on how teaching kids how to be obedient teaches them to accept social bullying
  • 1:20:30 Fight, Flight, or Freeze question
  • 1:21: Nazi generation victims of terrible parenting in Weimar Republic – children as “poison containers” – this mindset happening now. How a child’s brain chooses whether to develop survival- or growth- oriented neurons. Feminine perspective is “tend and befriend.” Kids learn there are other options to conflict.
  • 1:28:30 The power of upstanders! Great stories about people with Zorgos who say “knock it off.” (bully guards, mean stinks, pink shirt day)
  • 1:34 How one parent turned her child bully’s life around 
  • 1:36 Caller: a schoolteacher who sees systemic bullying. Thoughts on anti-bullying policies.
  • 1:42 How to look at school bullying programs & policies
  • 1:46 (shout-out to Oakland), and the importance of parents in supporting schools
  • 1:50:30 Bullying is a human rights issue.
  • 1:52:30 Don’t read The Bullying Antidote alone! The work of changing a culture cannot be done alone.
  • 1:53 Quick look at Part 3 of the book – things you can learn.
  • 1:57 parents are more powerful than we know! Parents could turn bullying around in one generation by teaching our kids Zorgos!