Charmed & Dangerous

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Parenting and effects on children

Your parenting may have changed over time as a result of the abuse. In difficult and traumatic situations our behaviour and the way we connect with people can change without us realising. Spend this time to think about what is important to you as a parent and develop some steps to assist you in being the woman and the parent you would like to be.

Some parenting tips that may be useful for you at this time include:

  • Talk to your children about the situation: what is happening and will happen
  • Be honest about your feelings and let them know you love them. Let them know they are safe
  • Maintain consistency in your parenting
  • Establish a normal routine
  • Develop and maintain support networks such as grandparents, teachers, youth workers, professional counselling
  • Take time to do fun things as a family
  • What you can do:
  • Teach children that abuse is unacceptable
  • Role model non-violent problem-solving techniques
  • Talk to your children about their experiences and listen to their concerns
  • Promote independence and acknowledge children’s right to have their own feelings, friends, activities and opinions.
  • Provide a safe environment with a stable routine
  • Design a safety plan with your child.
  • Be present, listen to their concerns, keep the communication channels open.

Nurturing Children Wheel

Charmed and Dangerous, Legal Aid 

 

LOVE AND CARE FOR YOUR CHILDREN – NURTURING CHILDREN

TRUST AND RESPECT

  • Acknowledge children’s right to have own feelings, friends, activities and opinions
  • Promote independence
  • Allow for privacy
  • Respect feelings for others
  • Believe your children

PROMOTE EMOTIONAL SECURITY

  • Talk and act so children feel safe and comfortable expressing themselves
  • Be gentle
  • Be dependable.

CARE FOR YOURSELF

  • Give yourself personal time
  • Keep yourself healthy
  • Maintain friendships
  • Accept love

GIVE AFFECTION

  • Express verbal and physical affection
  • Be affectionate when your children are physically or emotionally hurt

PROVIDE PHYSICAL SECURITY

  • Provide food, shelter, clothing
  • Teach personal hygiene and nutrition
  • Monitor safety
  • Maintain a family routine
  • Attend to wounds

PROVIDE DISCIPLINE

  • Be consistent
  • Ensure rules are appropriate to age and development of child
  • Be clear about limits and expectations
  • Use discipline to give instruction, not punish

ENCOURAGEMENT AND SUPPORT

  • Be affirming
  • Encourage children to follow their interest
  • Let children disagree with you
  • Recognise improvement
  • Teach new skills
  • Let them make mistakes

GIVE TIME

  • Participate in your children’s lives: activities, school, sports, special events and days, celebrations, friends
  • Include your children in your activities
  • Reveal who you are to your children

The effects of domestic abuse on children

The effects of domestic and family violence are experienced by all family members. Living with violence can have as much of an impact on children as the victims themselves. Children who witness abuse or live in a violent household experience the same fear, intimidation and threat to safety that you experience.

Children need a safe and supportive environment to develop their emotional, social, intellectual and physical wellbeing and to grow up to be healthy and well-adjusted. Children learn by what they see and are influenced by what they experience in the home. Often children will take on the role of protector and peacekeeper; this places the child at considerable emotional and physical risk and can result in long term emotionally damaging behaviours.

Studies show that children who have witnessed domestic violence are more likely to:

  • display aggressive and/or socially inappropriate behaviours
  • adopt unhealthy relationship dynamics
  • have diminished self-esteem and self-worth
  • have poor academic performance, problem solving skills and concentration
  • show emotional distress, phobias, anxiety or depression
  • have physical health impacts

Children’s Domestic Abuse Wheel 

Charmed and Dangerous, Legal Aid. 

How Violence Affects Children

ISOLATION

  • Inability to develop social skills
  • Can’t have friends over because of the need to hide the violence
  • Keeping harmful “secrets”
  • Not trusting of adults

EMOTIONAL ABUSE

  • Doubting reality
  • Fear of doing wrong
  • Inconsistent limits and expectations by caregiver
  • Fear of expressing feelings
  • Inability to learn at school
  • Low self-esteem

PHYSICAL & MENTAL EFFECTS

  • Children may feel guilt & shame and think it’s their fault
  • May regress to early stages of development
  • Demanding & withdrawn
  • Crave / need attention

INTIMIDATION

  • Putting children in fear by: using looks, loud actions, loud gestures, loud voice, smashing things, destroying property
  • Fear of physical safety

GENDERED STEREOTYPES

  • Copy abuser’s dominant & abusive behaviour
  • Copy victimised passive and submissive behaviour
  • Unable to express feelings or who they are

SEXUAL ABUSE

  • Shame of body
  • Feeling threatened & fearful of their sexuality
  • Learning inappropriate sexual talk and behaviour
  • Children having access to pornographic magazines & movies

THREATS

  • Learn to manipulate because of their own safety issues due to effect of violence in family
  • Expressing anger in a way that is violent, abusive, or not expressing anger at all because of their own fear

USING CHILDREN

  • Being put in the middle of fights
  • Children may take on roles & responsibilities of parents and give up being children
  • Children seen & not heard
  • Children being used to solve conflicts, asking them to take sides

The above content is adapted from the Charmed and Dangerous: A Womens Guide to Reclaiming a Healthy Relationship, has been developed for women by women. This booklet was the initiative of the Tweed Shire Women Services Inc.