The Primary Result of Abuse Is Dependence
When kids are abused, they become more dependent on adults. And as adults, they tend to remain dependent on other adults.
I have yet to see a case of dependence, whether it be on drugs, handouts or an unhealthy dependence on people, that didn’t involve some form of child abuse. I believe that this relationship between abuse and dependence stems from one simple principle: Abuse does not teach autonomy.
This isn’t to say that everyone who has ever been abuse fails to build a life of independence. Or that they fail to build a happy life, either. It is simply to say that when people are being abused, they are not learning the skills required to take care of themselves. They are not learning the skills needed to identify their needs, articulate them, and ask for help getting them met until they know how to meet their own needs. Those skills are not taught by abusers, for people who abuse others do so for control. They want control. And a very popular way to control others is through abuse.
When I read the news and see the stories of people doing awful things to each other, I see one person seeking to exert control over another. I see one group of people seeking to exert control over another. I see power struggles. Those who don’t want to be controlled will rebel. Those who want to control others will use ever greater amounts of force to impose their will upon others until control is achieved.
When I look at the history of African Americans, I see an apparent paradox. I see how they have been abused just for their skin color as if somehow they deserved it. As if that were their fate intended by God, a notion pretended to be true by those we call, “racist”. When I read of or watched historical accounts of slavery in popular culture (12 Years A Slave comes to mind), I was astonished by the extent of and the justification for the punishment imposed upon the slaves of history.
I also see a sort of dependency that grew out of the “solutions” that white Americans had imposed upon African Americans. By denying them the skills to read and write, white Americans imposed a life of dependency upon African Americans when they were slaves. Even after Emancipation, white Americans still continued to abuse African Americans, not really understanding that they were creating a class of people that will remain dependent on the government for assistance because of that abuse.
The same is true for all children. To the extent that children are abused, they are not learning survival skills. They are not learning healthy social skills. They are not learning the skills they need to function as adults. When children are abused by their parents or caregivers, they are learning to live a life of dependence. For that life of dependence is required by the parent for control of the child.
When kids are abused, their needs are denied in exchange for obedience. It is only when they acquiesce that the abusive parent gives the child what is needed if they’re lucky. That is how dependence is created.
When kids who are abused later become adults, they will tend to substitute their needs. They engage in addictive behavior to soothe their pain. They engage in counterproductive behavior because they lack the skills they need to identify some of their needs and articulate a request for help meeting those needs. This is why some people become addicted to drugs. They have a need, cannot articulate that need to someone as a request for help, and then turn to drugs or some other addiction to fill the hole in their souls.
This is why I am not interested in controlling my children. I understand that control is an illusion. Contol extends my responsibility for someone else. Control of another person requires that person to be dependent upon me for direction. In order for me to control another person, that person must be dependent upon me. And the most popular way for people to exert control over others is to abuse them. I’m not even sure there is a choice in how to control others without abuse. I think that in order to control another person, abuse is a requirement. Abuse of others is required for control of them because we’re not made to be controlled.
So when I look upon modern conservatives and how they rail against the welfare state, I see them taking an entirely symptomatic approach to the problem of dependence upon government. The solutions they offer, cutting taxes and cutting government benefits dare not look at the source of all dependence in American adults. The root cause of adult dependence is child abuse.
I see authoritarian messaging in a conservative culture and I see an apparent paradox. On the one hand, they don’t want Americans to be dependent on the government for a handout. On the other, they are unwilling to look at their attitudes towards kids. One look at how kids have died in the Trump Administration’s handling of immigration policy should be instructive. They seem unwilling to notice and act upon the relationship between child abuse and dependence upon government.
A similar paradox is apparent with liberals, too. They think that giving us money is going to solve the problem. They think that redistributing money is going to solve the problem. No matter how the laws are fashioned, people who have been abused will find a way to abuse others, and that that abuse creates dependence in the abused. They seem unaware of the relationship between child abuse and dependence upon the government.
Neither major political party is willing to discuss, as a matter of public policy, why more than 70% of Americans still believe it is appropriate to hit a child, much less change the trend.
I think that the cause of all human suffering that is imposed on one human by another is child abuse. I think that child abuse leads to unhealthy dependence of people upon other people, or upon the government. So how do we raise our kids without abuse?
We learn to raise human beings. The best book I have ever read on childrearing is Raising Human Beings, by Dr. Ross W. Greene, Ph.D. This is a book from a man who has worked directly with kids for 40 years. He has tried behavior modification and found that it doesn’t work. In his book, he lays out a plan for raising human beings, people who grow up to know how to meet their own needs without abusing others.
Challenging behavior occurs when the demands of the environment exceed a kid’s capacity to respond adaptively.
Our job as parents is not to control the child through abuse. Abusing a child in a meltdown is like pouring gasoline on a fire, and that is a sure way to teach dependence. Our job is to teach the kids the skills they need to respond to the challenges in their lives.
When we teach our kids how to respond to the demands in their environment, they learn to be independent. They learn how to get their needs met without abusing others, or themselves later as adults. They learn how to ask for help, and if they’re not being abused, they’re not afraid to ask for help.
Kids will only ask for help as long as they need it. I know from personal experience how this works. First I show them. Then they imitate me. Then they push my hand away when I offer help and say, “I got this, Dad!” Raising kids to be adults who are independent and know how to meet their own needs, or ask for help in doing can be done without abuse. It’s possible. I’ve seen it.