Adam Schechter’s remarks “Rant About Parenting” on his blog Thoughts and Ramblings touched me ever so deeply. He writes about a mother who was horrific in her dealings with her approximately 7-year old child.
It is not because I was abused as a child that Schechter’s remarks touched me so deeply. No, I am ever so lucky. To this very day, I bask in the majesty of parental love, although both of my parents have been dead for many years. Rather, it is the very fact that today this day I bask in the majesty of parental love that points to why Schechter’s remarks moved me so deeply. There are something in life for which we do not get a second chance. And raising a child is unmistakably one of them. And there is an affirmation in a child’s life that only that child’s parents can provide. No parent should ever lose sight of that reality.
I have had some truly wonderful (and quite respectful) bonds with college students. Yet, an ever so simple truth is that as majestic and as wonderful as such a bond might be, it will never take the place of the affirmation that a student receives from her or his parents. So it is even though we are typically talking about a young person somewhere between 18 and 21 years old. Needless to say, this point holds all the more so for a 7-year old child.
One does not need a degree in child psychology to grasp the significance and importance of parental affirmation in a 7-year old child’s life. And that truth is at the heart of my explanation for referring to the venomous parental punishment abuse of young children as an unspeakable evil. So it is whether we are talking about physical abuse or psychological abuse.
The joy that every infant expresses in being the object of parental love is as clear an indicator as any parent should need regarding the immutable significance of parental affirmation. Likewise, no degree is necessary in order for a parent to see the horrendous psychological pain that a child is caused when that child is treated in a venomous manner by her or his parent(s). And any parent who is indifferent to causing her or his child such deep, deep psychological pain is quite simply an evil parent. That might seem like sheer hyperbole. Not so, however.
It is psychologically impossible—or very close to that—to be raised by parents and not come away with an ever so clear sense of what good parenting involves. So it is whether one had good parents or one had bad parents. If one had good parents, then one had an ever so majestic role model of how to parent. By contrast, if one had horrendous parents, then one has been given a very clear role model of how not to parent. And this last point speaks to why I regarding horrendous parenting as a form of unspeakable evil.
If one is psychologically healthy, then following in the footsteps of wonderful persons should be rather like a marvelous moral magnet: One naturally moves in that direction. On the other hand, if one is psychologically healthy and one had horrific parents, then it should surely be one of one’s foremost aims not in any way to treat one’s child in the horrific manner in which one was treated by one’s own parents. In either case, what follows is that there can be no excuse at all—absolutely none—for any parent treating her or his child in a horrific manner.
Without at all justifying such anger, I can make sense of how some wrongdoings on the part of one adult occasion horrific anger on the part of the adult’s companion. For example, there is the issue of deep betrayal, which can occasion an absolutely horrific measure anger. Indeed, the absence of deep anger almost requires an explanation in and of itself. But no 7-year old child has the psychological wherewithal to be anywhere near capable of that level of betrayal. And it is that immutable reality that gets me to the conclusion that the abusive treatment of a 7-year old by parent(s) constitutes a form of unspeakable evil. For it is not possible to be a minimally decent human being and suppose that it is appropriate to be horrific either psychologically or physically in the treatment and punishment of a child. Nor is it possible to be a minimally decent human being and be mistaken about what counts as such horrific behavior.
Without meaning to sound blasphemous, it is seems to me virtually impossible that an omniscient and omnipotent human being could have made it so very, very, very easy for human beings to bring children into this world.
© 2014 Laurence Thomas