Psychology Babble #1: Violence and Children.

Hello there 🌿

I’ve found it quite hard to study lately, but not for the reason you might think. I am very interested in what I am studying right now, so when I have time, it doesn’t take much motivation for me to sit and do the work that needs doing. What’s particularly difficult at the moment is the content of which I’m studying in relation to the way it makes me feel.

I am currently studying the effects that violence has on children and although the studies vary in their conclusions, the facts and theories I am learning makes me think about my own childhood and the ways in which I have been let down. I then, naturally, think about my own parenting and my own child and I hope that I can use this knowledge to parent just a bit better than I might have done.

Facebook is the biggest culprit for what I am about to complain about; people who post things along the lines of “I got smacked, never did me any harm!” and also the “kids have no respect these days!” and there’s some wistful story about what childhood’s used to be before “we went soft”.

First of all, if you think there is nothing wrong with hitting kids but you wouldn’t hit your spouse, your work colleague, or your dog – then yeah, I’m sorry to break it to you, but it obviously did do you some harm because you will be harbouring resentment dressed up as respect. You’ve got to ask yourself; why is it okay to hit your child but not your spouse when they do something wrong?

People have literally said to me when I said I am not hitting my own child, that I am, and I quote “just gonna let him get away with it then”. And for a moment, I was stunned in the ignorance but then I at least attempted to defend my beliefs.

Because without examining my own childhood too closely, which is something I am not prepared to do publicly online, did being hit cause me any significant damage?

Yes, it fucking did.

It had long term lasting effects on my mental wellbeing that followed me into my adult relationships and caused even more long term lasting effects on my mental health; hence the complex (or chronic) post traumatic stress disorder. Because sure, it’s okay if they hurt you as long as they love you, right? That’s healthy, right? Wrong! It’s not okay at all.

Now there’s two ways that I think a child turns out after being abused, and I haven’t studied this, this is purely what I think… I think a child either turns out quite aggressive and quite likely to use violence in order to get what they want or they become aggressive when they cannot deal with their emotions and are quick to fits of rage – these children are often quite tough, don’t cry easily and grow up like that. Then, on the flip side, there are the children who are soft, cry easy, struggle to defend themselves and tend to be quite passive so avoid the anger of the person who is walking all over them (or worse).

Guess which one I am? I am now, if I’m honest, since having a baby quite angry and this isn’t just the whole mama bear thing, it’s the child within who’s really upset that she couldn’t be loved and protected like I love my own. You see, I will remain timid unless I feel my child is in any danger, or I’m being disrespected as a mother, and then I find that an aggressive side of me does reveal itself and yes, that’s the mama bear side of things.

Anyway, I have no data of any sort to back up my own theory on how children tend to turn out but I’m sure there are studies out there which will either support or disparage my claim. All I’m saying is, I’ve literally seen the way children grow up when they have been victims of child abuse.

Now, what I’m studying hasn’t even delved into child abuse and the effects it has. It’s touched upon it when studying the authoritarian personality and I’ve read about it in the criticisms of studies on how violence in the media effects children (and I’m not sure I can reference any of these studies without giving full references of where I found the information so I won’t elaborate on those studies) and I’m just so worried.

You know, I have always been the kind who won’t put anything remotely violent or upsetting on the TV if my son is awake – and that’s been since birth pretty much – and people have literally laughed at me for this. For me, I didn’t want him to see anything traumatising which might give him nightmares, but I also didn’t want him to see anything that promotes aggressive behaviour. I also would rather not see gore and violence, but it does mean I can only watch The Originals when Reuben is sleeping or is away at his Dad’s. But on with my point, I’ve now got some supporting evidence for what I’ve been “soft” about. I mean, is it really so bad that I am actively monitoring what Reuben sees on TV? No, I don’t think so. But if you’re wondering, there is evidence to suggest that seeing media violence can traumatise a child but too much of it can desensitize a child – and honestly, I don’t know which one’s worse!

Either way, my son is only 1, so right now it’s just about me holding off on that kind of media for as long as possible. I had no problem with letting him watch baby programmes and animated movies and PG tv shows and films… I mean let me clarify I know media isn’t bad for children, it can actually be a very positive thing, and anything you can find online, for example, you can also find in the real world – I think it’s more about trusting your child will come to you if they find anything upsetting. Kids are resilient when they are supported, that’s something I think we all know.

But deep down, I know I’m sensitive to what I’m studying because I don’t want my child to turn out like me. Although I have good qualities, I am still a troubled person. It’s not just failed relationships that have made me feel like I’ve got a broken heart, my life has done that. Sometimes I can’t quite accept how many people have let me down in such a way that I struggle to look anybody in the eye. I feel like they can see what’s wrong with me if they do. I’m scared I make everyone uncomfortable because of my mental health because I’m not any fun to be around, I’m on edge all day every day most days of my life. And yes, I know there’s no real reason to be on edge but my brain at this point, is constantly expecting something to happen no matter what. It’s exhausting. Writing this paragraph has brought tears to my eyes, and I am little afraid of exposing my own vulnerabilities like this, but on the off chance it might help someone else feel a little less alone, I’ll post it anyway.

I am determined to study my degree as hard as I possibly can because it’s not just about gaining the qualification, it’s about truly understanding the mind, because if I have understanding there is a chance that I can change other people’s lives… and possibly my own. I’m still in recovery myself but I think by the time I’ve done my degree, as long as I keep myself safe and keep doing what I’m doing, I should be a much stronger person by the time I’m done. I *think* after I’ve done my degree in psychology, I will have to do a further course to practice as a therapist but I am going to seek advice to make sure I can’t do that during this degree when picking modules to study each year.

But make no mistake, studying psychology takes its’ toll sometimes because you start to understand and notice patterns and problems in your own life and lives of those you care about. A lot of things you see people write and do become frustrating because you’re not so ignorant any more, and you know if you try to tell people something that you’ve learnt because you know it will help, you’ll just come across as patronising and lecturing, and do you know what? I could do without being seen like that.

So I’ve decided to do a little series of blog posts that are directly related to what I’m learning about and how I’m finding that it’s affecting me. I thought it would be quite good to write about what I am learning too. I don’t know if it’ll be interesting to anyone but I’m going to do it anyway 🙂

Thank you for reading my post,

With love, Rebecca ♡

P.s. If you know that I should be referencing what I’m learning about, please let me know. I am worried about plagurism and also I am worried that by not referencing the psychologists that I might be also committing an offence. So please, get in touch using the contact page on this website.

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