Child abuse is rampant in this country and probably in other countries as well. We each have the power to intervene, in ways that are everyday but that I believe are huge for the kids. When you see a parent being mean or abusive to her/his child, say something.
The parent may (probably will) continue being the same to the child, but the child will have experienced a contradiction – a critical challenge to the behavior of the parent. You have no idea how transformational that little seed can be. A child can hang onto the experience for a lifetime.
I believe that health is not just a personal matter but also a societal matter. There is a kind of osmosis between the personal and the communal. So even from a health perspective, I think it’s critical to raise our voices and help move the world towards a more loving paradigm.
Tonight I was at Walgreen’s, picking up a Rx. I was in line behind a woman and her two kids, maybe four and seven years old. The woman’s energy was very harsh, and she kept telling her kids don’t do this, don’t do that, in a very unkind tone. She was super controlling, too – things that were totally harmless, like the kid asking a question or doing anything other than standing totally still and quiet like a statue got a reprimand.
The kids were clearly unhappy and bottled up – I mean, who wouldn’t be? I got the sense that they probably got whacked around at home. When the woman’s turn came up, and she was picking up her meds, she made her umpteenth scolding comment at her older son, apparently named Sergio. “Do you ever say anything nice to him?” I asked.
I don’t know if she didn’t hear me or if she ignored me, but that question got Sergio’s full attention. He kept looking at me after that, with a light that suddenly had come to life in his eyes. Plus the little son, sitting in the shopping cart with a dead expression on his face, suddenly had lighter energy and began to be responsive to my friendly interaction with him. The kids had been smelling some scratch-and-sniff coupons, so I made conversation with both of them (one-way verbally, but they were responsive in body language) about how much fun it is to have cool scented stuff.
Then, after another scold or two directed at the older son, the woman turned to walk away. “Please be kinder to your son,” I said gently. Again, I got Sergio’s full attention. The woman turned to look at me briefly then continued away, stammering something to the effect of, “Don’t you worry about how I treat my son…” I tuned her out after that. My intended audience, her son, had heard me loud and clear. He had an advocate.
When I finished with the Rx purchase, I turned to walk away. I heard the voices of the mom and her two sons (she was still busy scolding the older one), so as I walked away, I looked in their direction to send some love to the kids. Sergio was watching me. I smiled at him and waved, then left the store.