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Regarding A Brief Survey of Parent-Child Conflicts

Op/Ed By Wallace Mabry –


Wallace Mabry

Wallace Mabry

News flash:  Mother and child engage in a punching altercation at school over the child’s reported misbehavior.

It is no revelation in today’s social environment to learn of parents who engage in such violent physical altercations with their children in schools and in other public forums. What is alarming about the number of cases where it has happened and it continues is not only that they do not often vary in terms of the reason for their occurrences, but they have a similar background of cause.

The questions that arise are critical ones, and are not limited to the following: What is so irrevocable about a child’s behavior that only a violent altercation is the solution? What is the contributing factor parents have in the development of the child’s behavior?  Of course we can rightly or not argue widespread drug and alcohol use which can cause, in many cases, mind altering or cerebral changes on both sides of the issue.

Parents often speak of pent up frustrations with a child’s behaviors, and how those behaviors negatively affect the lives of everyone in the home. They point to the pleasantry of character and attitude of other children in the home as opposed to the difficulties of the identified child. What is seldom exposed in the narratives are the style and manner of communication practiced in the home, and what other issues associated with the family’s background that may have played or that plays a major part in the child’s social development.

What resonates from many of these children is that parents are not holding up to their responsibilities as parents. They point to a list of examples many of which fall far short of a substantial cause for their actions. For example, a biological mother or a biological father has a friend with whom he spends more time and family resources with, hence satisfying the friend’s needs and leaving the child’s needs unmet. When a child is born out of the relationship between the parent and the parent’s friend, that child becomes the center of attention of the parent, leaving the identified child with the feeling of being pushed aside and resulting in a disconnection between the child and the biological parent.

Households also differ in terms of how family members communicate with each other. In far more households today than one would imagine, communication between parent and child is laced with profanity and name-calling most would associate and attribute to street usage. Prevalent in many households the use of the “B” word, “MF,” and other derogatory words inundate the language and conversations of household members from the parent to the child, and from the child to the parent. An example of a household note found to post on a refrigerator read: “Don’t open this f*cking refrigerator!”

To some degree, in many households that is an acceptable means of communication. Why it occurs is left to the speculations of the readers. There is no attempt herein to unjustly stigmatize families or to lump families into a category. There are simply those family qualities, if you will, that stand out among the others.

Single family homes and homes where both parents are in attendance, and where the parent(s) have expectations that a child will have inculcated positive values from positive family interactions also find themselves confronted with a child whose behavior is off the chart of controllability. Parents in these homes may attempt to dismantle a child’s room, or in some cases where physical control of the child’s behavior is attempted, throw the child to the floor or bed, straddle the child, and in moments of extreme stress and anger due in part to the child’s continuing curses and struggles to free himself, attempt to silence the child by other means.

Psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals are frequently brought to the task of meeting with children, sorting out causes and effects, assigning diagnosis, and prescribing medications. Even then not every parent is satisfied with what he learns from such professional encounters. Few, in fact, care to have their child on medications. Others who follow medication orders and see no real results, or at least the results they expect, will seek further resolutions.

The pressures of parenting are such that many parents are throwing up their hands, surrendering to the proposition that they may well lack whatever it takes to maintain their child in the home. The search for therapeutic solutions, placement, or whatever other assistance can be offered to corral their child’s behaviors becomes their fixation and their added frustration when those solutions are not readily available to them.

What is heart rendering in cases and scenarios liken to those is that children are the recipients of abusive neglect, and quite often that results in dire circumstances for their future possibilities.

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