With Christmas trees up in a lot of our homes, stress can be higher than normal. People trying to please other people, attempting to give the perfect gift, organizing get togethers, and all of the usual tasks that the season brings. May your family time be loving and peaceful and bask in the reason for the season is this bloggers wish for all. Please join me on the blog for BROKEN ORNAMENTS SIMILAR TO LIFE and share with others. #blog #holidays #life #family #Christmas #amwriting
TODAY THE WORDS are BROKEN ORNAMENTS. On this morning, my mind went to a place of remembrance of how it feels to lose something or as you will see “someone”. A lot of times in my writing, in order to put feelings in simpler terms, I use what I can replacement memories. If it is something we can relate to everyday or normal events, it is somehow easier to get a point across to others or at least it can make common sense. Most of us have our Christmas trees, or if not, we have occasions which have ornaments or displays which have a value to them and to us when we show them to the world. As a Christian, we have the decorated Christmas tree to celebrate Christmas season. For most of us, we start early collecting the ornaments, and even though the monetary worth is usually low; the emotional worth can be priceless. We unwrap them very carefully and hang them and a lot of Wow, Ooh, and Aah’s are heard as the ornaments are hung. Some have their “spots” to be hung; some even are hung in order. We add new ones each year but it is the older ones we cherish more and are so protective. My thoughts bring me to a sad thought of opening a box of ornaments, however carefully wrapped and cared for, finding one broken or even more than one and it is devastating. It doesn’t matter how many other wonderful, shiny ornaments we have; it is the loss of this one which takes our heart and crushes it. Even though the tree will still be beautiful, we know one of the best ornaments is no longer going to hang around and allow us to look at it and recall the years it has been around. This photo occurred a few days ago and it was so ironic that it would be this ornament that I had bought when my daughter’s cat became intrigued by the ornaments on the tree and decided to knock them off and push them down the stairs. After all of these years, about 20 that I have had that funny ornament, it came apart while hanging it and broke.
I see the same thing in life and now for the thought given to my heart…..Life is like the Christmas tree. We start life with a tree with some ornaments and we begin to add ornaments such as family and friends. Our tree begins with few and usually ends up with many lovely additions or “ornaments”. We, as loving people, take care of our “ornaments” by taking care of our siblings, starting our own families, and making sure our parents (the oldest ornaments and highly cherished) are cared for by wrapping them with love and care. Once in a while, one of the newer ornaments fall suddenly, without warning and are broken beyond repair and it is a tragedy. Some of the ornaments age and have to be cared for and repaired. They become fragile and we handle them carefully. When they finally break, and we can no longer have them on our tree; we feel their absence; we gaze at the tree and remember the missing ornaments while enjoying the new ornaments such as grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and new friends. It is impossible to tell when an ornament is going to break; all we can do is carefully wrap and enjoy each breathtaking moment we can share with them while we have them to enjoy. Live life; love life; and live life to the fullest by cherishing each wonderful moment and when you have a chance to say I Love You; Say It!
FEATURED BIBLE VERSE:
John 14:1-4 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”
(c) Copyright 2012-2018 Arline Lott Miller. The material here copyrighted, use only by permission. Third party material is sourced to original location if known for reference credit.
Does it seem that every subject and every discussion has become a debate or even an argument with criticism for each other’s opinion? Today on the blog, criticism is at the top of my list of concerns for all of us. Maybe it is not as critical as it seems to criticize others but if it is necessary, let’s look at constructive criticism instead of full on destructive rhetoric. Please join me on the blog and may we construct some positivity. #blog #amwriting #constructivefeedback #criticism #life #love
Sometimes, I go back and look at some posts that I have written and repost them with some enhancements and/or editing changes. While going through the posts, I found this one that apparently I wrote in 2016 after the July 4th holiday. With the current hype of everyone having opinions which are highly critical of others, I thought I would give this one another look see. I hope we can learn from each other and hopefully in a positive way.
1. Time it right.
Never criticize in the moment. Nobody wants to step down from the podium and bump into a friend who says he or she spoke too quickly, his or her points were inconclusive, and the speech went on for too long. In the moment, say something nice, and then pick a better time to give advice.
2. Check yourself.
Do you really mean what you are saying, or are you using the disguise of “constructive criticism” to mask personal baggage or issues you are having with that person?
3. Use a “straw man.”
If someone feels personally threatened by what you are saying, his or her defenses will go up and he or she won’t be able to internalize your criticism. Try to give the critique through a personal anecdote or an inspiring story of someone famous who went through the same thing. It’s so much easier to swallow when it’s not straight out about “you” and “your” mistakes.
4. Focus on actions, not the person.
The person is not lazy, his or her paper was just sloppy. The person is not incompetent, the editing process was just incomplete. Make sure not to focus on the person him or herself, rather on what he or she did.
5. Don’t share feedback until you need to.
If someone is about to finish a big project or speech, this is not the time to start telling him or her everything that could have been done better. Rather, wait until he or she is about to do it again. Then you can jump in with your critique, keeping in mind the previous four steps, of course.
Remember, criticism, used wrongly, can offend and threaten those around us. But used wisely, constructive criticism can be a catapult for growth and improvement.
(C) Copyright 2012-2018 Arline Miller with all rights and privileges reserved. 3rd Party reference material sourced to original location if known..
HARSH WORDS, THE BULLETS OF LIFE is a good post that takes on the usage of words that are used to harm, inflict hurt, or criticize. Sometimes we use words that we may mean them in a harmless way, but they shoot straight to the heart and can even destroy people’s lives. Take a few minutes and read this one, ponder it, and consider thinking before we speak. #blog #bullying #positivity #selfesteem #life #conversation
HARSH WORDS, THE BULLETS OF LIFE are penetrating and leave holes in the hearts of those who hear. The other day I wrote a piece of not using excuses and being real. I may have given the wrong idea of how I feel about communication. I have strong feelings about what I believe in and I don’t hesitate to express how I feel BUT, wait a minute, I don’t mean that every thought should came spitting out of our mouths either.
May I move this thought a little farther, and I don’t think she will mind me using something that was used in a post for a good example of this unintentional oversight of using a phrase or descriptive term without realizing how strong words are received and perceived. As she was describing how God desires us to be steadfast in our actions daily and not on and off, she compared this on and off not to be “bipolar nuts”. I know this lady and I think it was nothing but a way to describe an attitude and not poking fun at a very serious health condition. It happened that a dear person, close to me, had recently been diagnosed with the same condition. I admire this person to the highest level and know the heartbreak of living with bipolar and I felt the use of this term in a nonchalant manner was in poor taste. Without intention, a message that was profound and on point, turned into a sensitive, unnerving distraction.
I did not use this example to criticize anyone but at the same time, in our world today, I hear similar comparison and the ones I hear are intentional, not like the previous example so imagine if I thought this person meant it intentionally. How many times do we use descriptive harsh words about others, even people we do not know? Have you ever seen someone you haven’t seen in a while and you haphazardly say, “Boy, you have put on a lot of weight!” or “man, you have changed a lot since I saw you”? Let’s look at widely misused words that may do as much damage as a bullet to the heart.
Stop using “fat” in a way that shames others — or even yourself. Sure, fat is something we all have and need to survive. But being concerned about “looking fat” in a dress is a way to shame people who might not fit the conventional beauty standards of our society. It’s a way to verbally value thinner people over others.
Allies, feel free to reclaim fat as an empowering identity (here’s looking at you, #fatspo). But if you’re going to pull a Facebook and say you’re “feeling fat” today, refrain. Fat is not a feeling. Fat is not a put-down, nor is it shameful. Fat is a part of your body.
Carlton’s protesting against “the R word” today pic.twitter.com/F3i5oX2pAd
— Puddin’ (@Puddoug) April 25, 2015
We all really need to relinquish the R-word. To catch you up to speed, the term “mental retardation” is a stale, clinical term once used to label what we now call intellectual disabilities. Using the term to mean “stupid” devalues those with intellectual disabilities, which should make you question your word choice.
While adults are guilty of using the term to describe something annoying or unappealing, the word is especially a problem among youth. Stop using it and replace it with more colorful words. And don’t forget to politely correct the person, whether grown man or child, who still thinks this term is perfectly fine. It’s not.
Sure, this is an older term that doesn’t lurk in our language all too often, but it’s definitely not just a vocab issue for out-of-touch, elder generations. Actor Benedict Cumberbatch was rightfully criticized earlier this year for using the term “colored” while advocating for diversity in film during an interview. (No, the irony is not lost.)
The term Cumberbatch (and you) should be using is “people of color,” which is a widely accepted umbrella term that includes any non-white person.
“Colored” is outdated. Let’s reframe.
When you have your desk all nice and tidy, you might be tempted to proclaim yourself “soOCD.” But obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mental illness that means so much more than a knack for organization. It means having a lack of control over certain thoughts or activities, so much so that they inhibit daily life.
Though you may think you’re just describing your affinity for Windex, there’s a whole population of people who don’t appreciate you trivializing a major daily obstacle. Try using “particular,” “clean” or “organized” instead.
If you’re using the term “crazy” countless times a day, you’re probably in the norm. But that doesn’t mean it’s OK. Terms like “crazy” — or “insane,” for that matter — make light of mental illness in a way no ally wants to support.
Your boss isn’t “crazy” for her serious, intense demeanor; she’s stern. Your friend isn’t “crazy” for dating her ex; she’s a little misguided. Your cashier wasn’t “crazy” for putting your bread and laundry detergent together in the same bag; he just sucks at bagging.
Other words are always going to be available, not to mention more inclusive. Use them.
(Some Excerpts from12 words you need to ban from your vocabulary)
You can read the entire list by clicking on the link above, but this was to get us started thinking about words, and these are not the worst ones that are thrown around like water and it will be wise to stop and think before using these. I want to think I am a kinder person but I realized years ago, people pay more attention when I use constructive, positive verbiage to get a point across. I can be blunt as that is my nature but I don’t have to be mean, right?
I thought I would dive in to a side line and on this portion of the post, I am guilty, literally. I find it amazing and awesome that basically I use these words really a lot.
- literally: Originally meant “in a literal or strict sense,” but is used as a more general intensifier for things that are not strictly true. Because of this, “in a figurative sense,” the exact opposite of the original meaning, has now been added to the dictionary as a definition for literally.
- unique: Originally meant “unlike anything else,” but is used to mean “different, to some degree, from the standard or the norm.”
- awesome: Originally meant “causing feelings of fear or wonder,” but is used as a general, positive descriptor like “great” or “cool.”
- amazing: Originally meant “causing overwhelming surprise or astonishment,” but is used as a general, positive descriptor like “great” or “cool.”
- totally: Originally meant “completely, in every part,” but is now used as a general intensifier, much like “really.”
- basically: Originally meant “essentially” or “fundamentally,” but is now used as general verbal filler.
- incredible: Originally meant “impossible to believe,” but is now used as a general, positive descriptor like “great” or “cool.”
- really: Originally meant “actually true,” but is now used frequently as a general intensifier.
- very: Meaning “to a high degree,” we all just need to stop using it in every other sentence.
- honestly: Originally meant “in an honest and genuine manner,” but is now often used as general verbal filler.
- absolutely: Originally meant “in a complete and total manner,” but is now used as a general intensifier.
- unbelievable: Originally meant “impossible to believe,” but is now used as a general, positive descriptor.
I keep this picture of Mother Theresa and I can’t remember where I saw it first but it keeps me in check about the meaning of true love. Also I have learned about respect for fellow human beings from her. If you have never read her background, google her story and it will astonish you of her dedication to serving others. I thought about the word respect and thought I would share some of my feelings about respect with all of you.
I come from a different generation than most of my readers but not all so some of you will remember having some of the same memories. I am not advocating a return to the world I grew up in but a few of those life philosophies could be revived to create a better world of respect and harmony. Before I visit my childhood, I found an excerpt about Respect for the Parent which is based on Respect for Themselves.
When you earn your children’s respect, they also learn to respect themselves. Respect is so important because, without it, children can’t value themselves or others. Children who don’t respect themselves are more likely to drink alcohol, take drugs, have sex, and treat others badly. Children who lack self-respect simply don’t care about themselves or anyone else.
Children who have self-respect treat themselves well. They’re less likely to do harmful things, they make good choices, and they tend to act in ways that are in their own best interests. The benefits of teaching the value of respect early include children who:
- Are happier, more successful, and have healthier relationships.
- Are unselfish, considerate, caring, and generous.
- Respect you and other influential adults.
- Honor reasonable boundaries placed on them.
- Are more likely to trust you and abide by your directives.
Contrary to the assertions of popular culture, when you act like parents you engender healthy respect, encourage caring relationships, and foster their positive development.
Be the Parent
Popular culture tells you that to be a good parent, you should be friends with your children. You should hang out with them, tell them anything, and treat them as equals. But when you’re friends with your children, you actually detract from the strength of your relationship and surrender your influence over them. When you become friends with your children, you give up your unique relationship with them because they have many friends, but they have only two (hopefully) parents.
Now, back to the good ole days which were filled with fun and laughter, tears and fears, but also with a lot of respect to parents, family, neighbors, friends, traditions and conditions. Oh yes, there was discipline if disrespect was shown. It was usually quick and probably without much thought given. It worked off the theory, that it only takes one time if you put your hand on a hot stove to teach you not to touch it again. No, our parents didn’t stick our hands on hot stove but they worked up some heat on our rear ends. You, as a parent, can make the decision whether or not you will use discipline or not…..not my circus! What I can say, is whatever you say as a response to disrespect will forever implant the future actions of your children. If it is nothing but a verbal reprimand or time out or however you deem “respectful” of your child’s action, mean it and claim it. Do not be indecisive; be firm but respectful.
I have made it a practice as I am sure many of you have practiced the same thing; I do not call a child stupid or even an adult. They may, and I may, do stupid things but to say someone is stupid is an insult to those mentally challenged and their actions out of their control. The person or even yourself can control our actions, words, and/or responses. We have the mental capacity to exercise R-E-S-P-E-C-T when interacting with others, both children and adults.
To prevent hate is not to exercise hate. Who do we ever think we are in life that we can exercise disrespect for another human being? If someone is down on their luck, unhappy, unhealthy, or any other state of life, show respect and compassion. Count your blessings that you have been spared of this discomfort. In other words, Put A Little Love in Your Heart as the song says.
LET’S SPRING THE HUMAN TRAP is a version of a post I wrote in 2013 and I wanted to share some additional thoughts on how we can spring the trap we humans find ourselves caught in and seemingly no way to escape. You may find it is easier to escape from those traps and thoughts which can keep us from living a free and wonderful life. Here is the original posts.
TODAY THE WORD is TRAPS. This morning, I had the thought of how trappers set traps to catch the animals. These traps are usually cruel entrapment and a lot of suffering occurs before death. I am not speaking this morning for animal rights (protective advocates are actively seeking protection for this practice).
I want to talk about a different kind of trap…..the human trap we set for ourselves. Bear with me, as you know I am a positive person and my thoughts will lead us there in a few minutes. So many young girls set a trap for themselves by allowing peers to put the bait on the trap and encourage the others to follow. Indeed too much pressure to look a certain way, weigh a certain amount, dress a certain way and act a certain way. Once the trap is sprung, the girls have to be molded and therefore a life style is set. Let me say this for the young girls being tempted to go this route and this has been an observation over many years; the girls in high school that usually are the most prettiest, most popular, and the most petite find out that once in the real adult world, they will need more than just looks. Sometimes, the girls who don’t blossom as early, seem to take on a radiance later in life. Once in a while, you will see some that spring the trap and release themselves from a life of being a diva and that is inspiring. The trick is not to get “trapped” in life and to realize how special each one of us is to Our Maker, our families and our friends.
Anyone who critiques another may be a little jealous as it is not always just looks people measure others by. A great sense of humor; great talents; great athletic ability; ability to communicate easily; and other abilities that shine may be a threat to those who depend solely on looks. The life trap with its bait of popularity is intriguing to most young people; it is deadly if other traits and abilities are not added to a person’s life. External beauty usually fades and the methods some use to try to stay young sometimes come back to haunt the person. Internal beauty radiates stronger as the source of the glow ages.
The Thinking Trap | Psychology Today https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/do-something-different/201505/the-thinking-trap
An excerpt from this article has great information on how to avoid The Thinking Trap. The entire article can be read from the link above.
The implications of the Thinking Trap are considerable and include:
– We should be very careful when taking any notice of what people say in any context. The chance of this being true is relatively small.
– We are likely to think that much education, training and development are useful when they are not.
– Governments and official agencies should not shape public policy according to what people say.
– People will have illusions of competence (or incompetence). Sometimes these will be damaging and sometimes dangerous.
– Any evidence is unlikely to be free from bias.
– When faced with clearly contradictory evidence people are likely to reshape their biases, not reject them.
– It is unlikely that health information and education will be effective to get people to change their lifestyle for the better (as discussed in my previous blogs and in a paper I published last year1)
– What we do has much greater importance than what we think. And to change thoughts, changing a related behavior will have much more power than putting effort into thinking differently.
Every one of us is caught in the Thinking Trap. And the harder we try to get out, the firmer its grip. We can minimize the problems associated with the Thinking Trap if we are always aware that it is operating on us. Instead of staying with the thoughts, why not give what you do a chance to define your self-concept?
Now for the deeper thought……It is deep……Life is to embrace our uniqueness as that is from what we grow and illuminate the world. Here is my example of what I am embracing: All of us have seen pictures of Mother Theresa, a plain looking women, who came from abundant and affluent heritage and who gave up all to serve. Is she not beautiful to view? Look at her picture and see how her internal beauty radiates and allows you to see past the wrinkles and the plain attire. She sprung her trap and with that freedom, has found her place among a semblance of saint. Today, release yourself from the trap and feel the freedom to be yourself. (Reprint of original post in 2013 Sipping Cups of Inspiration)
TODAY THE WORDS are COLORS OF LAW. Where can I go with this topic, you may ask. In courts, we have heard over and over, the law is clear, and it is either black or white. It is defined by the letter of the law. We have used the terminology to express some event or thinking as black or white. Judges speak out after the media hyped cases they had to make their rulings, decisions, or what evidence was entered based on the way the law reads and not their personal beliefs. This is truly stating the black or white description of the law.
However, when did moral “laws” become gray? In today’s world, we see a blurring of the moral codes in so many fashions. When children dress so inappropriately, pierce, or tattoo themselves to the point of embarrassment, it seems society has decided these are gray areas and use the terms, “they are just expressing themselves”. I realize, as I can imagine so many of the readers are reacting to my statements as judgmental. I would apologize but I go back to my upbringing which was a strict life, but a good life. My parents would not have allowed me or my sister to have gone out of the house with inappropriate dress or makeup. They would not have allowed language I hear children using which is not flattering to them. For the life of me, I don’t even have a clue as to what they would have thought of body piercing except for “freaky”. I understand I am stepping on toes, but here is the point, not my point, but an observation. If you expect your children to respect you as a parent, have you thought if they don’t see black and white they get confused on what is acceptable or not. Children look to their parents and yes, they are influenced by celebrities but that isn’t to be used as okay, as all of you can remember we had celebrities too. Thank goodness, most of them kept their clothes on.
The gray area is where children get confused and I think parents do too. The point of grayness is controversial and it is still up to the individual parent to voice their approval or disapproval. Why are parents so hesitant about guiding their children or is it a lack of interest? Have parents become distracted from being true parents? Are they occupied with their interests and let the children loose? Have you thought they may be trying to get your attention with their actions? I may be sounding harsh, but my thoughts are some of the actions may go away with age but it is our job as parents to nourish our children and not only with food. Love will become more important if a child feels respected, loved, cherished, and honored. If they respect you; they will follow “most” of your values. Parents earn this respect and have to maintain a black and white rule of developing moral values in their children. Live life, love life, and live life to the fullest with a clear set of moral values and displayed with love.
1 Avoid disrespectful body language when your parents are talking to you. Show your parents that you care by being attentive when they talk to you. Stand straight with your arms relaxed at your sides. If your parents think you are not listening, then they are more likely to get angry and assume you do not care. Examples of body language that signal a disrespectful attitude are:
Crossing your arms and looking the other way.
Tapping your foot impatiently while they are talking.
Rolling your eyes when you disagree with something.
Staring at them aggressively, or glaring at them.
2 Avoid interrupting your parents while they are talking. Let your parents say what they need to say before you respond. Don’t interrupt them in the middle of a sentence if you disagree with something they have said. Instead, wait until they have finished speaking.Once they are finished talking, ask, “May I say something, please?”
3 Ask for clarification. It is ok if you don’t understand what your parents are trying to tell you. If you find yourself in this situation, repeat back in your own words what they said to you for clarification purposes. This way, both you and your parents will be on the same page, and miscommunication is less likely to occur.
Say, for example, “What I heard is that you want me to finish my homework and chores before I hang out with my friends. Is that correct?
These suggestions are the Method 1 of this informative article. To read the entire article in three methods of talking to your parents with respect, please click on the title and it will take you to the entire article.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
(C) Copyright 2012-2017 Arline Miller with all rights and privileges reserved. Third party material is sourced to the original location if known for credit reference. Photos may not be the property of Sipping Cups.
As the first post in the new series of TURNING A CORNER, this post from a dear friend of mine is a remarkably transparent and honest message of the adult repercussions of child abuse/sexual abuse. I found it reflective in the comparison between a prepared soldier going into battle versus a child who is unprepared for the life long struggle of dealing with the lingering effects of abuse. This is a hard corner to turn and Lynn exemplifies the need for the only true weapon to fight the enemy. Please read this message and feel free to comment and/or share your experiences and how you or someone you know who has suffered due to child abuse or abuse of any kind. A special thanks to Lynn Polk who is the brave author.
Our Guest Blogger Lynn Polk (her link is available by clicking on her name below):
WHEN DARKNESS SURROUNDS YOU
2 Corinthians 4: 6 says: “For it is the God who commands light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the Face of Jesus.”
I am a Adult Survivor of Child Abuse. I’m writing this series while going through a deep valley where darkness attempts to hold me captive to painful memories I have already overcome through Christ Jesus.
I do believe this series is foundational because Christ is our foundation. Individuals who have experienced ongoing trauma in their developmental years focused on surviving rather than thriving. Therefore, as adults, they may lack general skills. Many times, they will lack self-soothing skills that can help them regulate and deal with difficult emotions. Understand that the abuse occurred within interpersonal relationships; so, there was no opportunity for them to experience help when they were overwhelmed. There was no help available for them. This can set them up later in life for addictions as they try to numb or escape difficult emotions. Their feelings about the abuse can include fear, shame, rage, self-hatred, and confusion. At the most basic level, when children are afraid they know they can turn to mom, dad, or another authority figure for help. But what happens when they are afraid of the caregiver? What if their terror comes from the same place they were supposed to receive comfort? This can leave the child not only struggling to deal with the outward circumstances but also their emotional and psychological system is aroused and they do not know how to calm themselves. As adults, they carry the same mental images and beliefs of themselves, others, and of the LORD that were constructed in the abusive environment. And they may not know how to express their need for help, or they may believe the abuse did not affect them, yet they remain captive to the lies of the enemy. The scriptures are full of examples where individuals were overwhelmed and they turned to the LORD, but if an individual has never experienced a safe place, it will be difficult to believe an invisible God could love them. The whole purpose of Christ coming was revealing the Father’s heart to us that He is a safe place; that although He is all powerful, there is never an abuse of His power. Christ dying on the cross for us was the example of the stronger absorbing what the weaker deserved, providing rather than taking, covering rather than exposing; these are the attributes of the Father. It may take time and repeatedly reviewing the same scriptures to have our minds renewed by His Spirit and Word. But know this: the LORD is passionate about you and “wants not to take from you; rather, He has already given His best for your healing and freedom. He sets the captive free.
Additionally, I would like to address something I have seen in the Body of Christ that can be extremely confusing and hurtful to individuals dealing with the long lasting effects of abuse. It seems the church views emotional and mental suffering differently than physical suffering. Although they may not mean to be hurtful, it is their lack of understanding that is at the root. The human brain is an organ just like the heart. If the arteries in a person’s heart are damaged in some manner, it will take time and maybe a skilled surgeon to help the organ recover. When exposed to repeated trauma the brain under goes biological changes. Much like a computer processing information the brain will set up different folders to store information. And just like a computer, when something that can harm the internal systems enters, the computer takes steps to mitigate the damage or shuts down. So it is in the brain of a child when overwhelmed with situations that are perceived as threatening; the brain begins to use defenses in order to protect the child.
In order to gain understanding, let’s compare a soldier in battle and a child in an abusive home; both are war zones. First, the soldier is taken to basic training where her personality is stripped of “me” thinking so she can work with her fellow soldiers as a team; so that whatever danger they may face, they will work together to help everyone survive. She is trained in the use of weapons and to wear her protective armor. Additionally, she is given exercises to further her experience by practicing her skills so when she faces the enemy, she will know how to respond. She has comrades in arms. She is not in the war alone. She has a commander over the team. Generally, the commander will have more experience and knows how to take the troops in and out of dangerous situations. Also, she will have peers that have been through the same training and so they are able to support each other. Now, assume the soldier makes it through all of her training and she is taken and dropped in a war zone. She is dropped into a very dangerous area, but she is not alone. She has a commander, her peers, her training, and if raised in good enough home, where abuse was not present and she was supported and loved, she is also going into the war zone with a brain that has developed physically and emotionally throughout her life; a brain that has not been flooded with stress. And even with all these things going for her, she may experience such terrible things, whether through watching the death of her comrades from road side bombs, or any other tragedies, that even your most skilled solider will not come home without collateral damage.
Now, let’s look at another soldier but one that has never been trained. One that did not realize she was being dropped into a war zone; rather she was born in one. She is a young child; her brain and body are still developing. The commanders of the soldier in the first example are experienced, they are there to protect and guide the soldier through the challenges. But the commanders of the second soldier, a child, has been left with are self-absorbed and lost in their own war; escaping their pain possibly through drug or alcohol abuse. There is no one really watching over the child, in fact they may be the ones who are abusing the child. When the first soldier was faced with challenges, she could use the tools and weapons she had been provided with to protect herself. She had been taught strategy to keep herself safe when harm was surrounding her. The child has not been given any of those tools; rather, what will happen is the child will rely on defense mechanisms such as denying her reality and repressing memories to keep them from interfering with her everyday life. In this combat zone, the child is not able to focus on learning and exploring her world; often she may be doing her best not to be heard or seen, as this is the only way to remain safe. If the child is being physically or sexually abused, she may disconnect from herself. In the time when a child’s personality and self-concept should be developing, she is focusing on how to survive.
When children are raised in homes with violence and abuse, they often will try to be good, believing this will give them some type of control over their environment. The child’s mental software concerning themselves, others, and relationships is being hard wired.
Some of the lessons they may be learning is that rather than protect, authority takes; rather than nurture and ensure the child’s needs are being met, the authority uses the child to meet their needs. Their understanding of themselves may become skewed with shame, believing they are bad; shame becomes the toxic element in their personality development, followed by fear of intimacy. They believe there is something evil about them, and that if they are ever truly open with anyone, they will be rejected. The child tries to keep people at a distance, further isolating themselves, remaining without healthy human connection for comfort. God created us to be in a relationship, and when children are left without a safe place and without comfort as they grow, they may become involved with drugs or alcohol to numb their reality.
Additionally, they may become self-injurious in an attempt to escape emotions that are overwhelming. All of these issues can be traced back to their inability to self-soothe or regulate emotions which can be directly related to the lack of nurturing that occurred in their chaotic young life. The child’s world is not safe or nurturing, and often they keep secrets they will carry into adulthood. When soldiers come home from war that have been injured physically or psychologically, we often view them with the understanding they have seen things that we have not. They probably have seen horrific violence and experienced losses in the theater of war. I understand when they have nightmares and flashbacks.
I encourage them to seek help even beyond the church doors in order for them to process and work through their experiences.
But this is not the case for abuse survivors. Adult survivors may be viewed as “not forgetting those things which are behind,” a verse often taken out of context; Paul is clearly talking about his own righteous acts in an attempt to gain righteousness before the Lord. But there is little understanding that these combatants were shoved out of the plane into dangerous territory without training, armor, or an experienced commander.
Just as one may bear scars from being deployed, these troopers have scars on the inside and because they are not visible they may be ignored, or chalked up to a “lack of faith,” or not having a deep enough relationship with Jesus. I am not minimizing the trauma that our military members experience. I am attempting to shine light on warriors who have fought in battles long before they were old enough to serve in the armed forces. Desolation and destruction may seem to surround an individual’s life, but I can say from experience that “Jesus is a restorer and healer,” and He has been my portion for almost 60 years, especially when time are
Adult survivors are abuse conquerors; I say that not because it is churchlike, but because of Romans 8: 37 “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” It is about God’s love for us; that alone will strengthen us and restore life to the broken areas of our heart.
Beloved of the Master, know that Jesus is intimately aware of your struggles and that He is drawing near to heal and comfort you. Use the experience of pastors, counselors who not only know Jesus but also have training and experience in working with trauma survivors. Use medication when advised to by a doctor; trauma changes the brain and there is no shame in that.
I offer two nuggets with which to end this introduction. First, Hebrews 11: 27b: “For he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.” The scripture is talking about Moses and how he endured the wrath of Pharaoh as he led the Children of Israel of out Egypt. As you learn to walk towards freedom, and away from the lies the enemy has told you about yourself and God, focus on Jesus because the Pharaoh will attempt to tell you that freedom is not for you.
This devotion is written to help you see the One who is invisible; ask Jesus to open your eyes.
Next, Genesis 50: 22: “Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a well; his branches run over the wall, the archers have bitterly grieved him, shot at him and hated him. But his bow, remained in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob.” The scripture records the words concerning Joseph from his father, after Joseph had been a captive. It declares Joseph was a fruitful bough that is by a well, and that his branches went over the wall that was there to hold him back. So it is with abuse conquerors; because of Jesus, we break out of the prison that tries to hold us back and we are fruitful in our life. Even though others abused us, our hands are now strengthened by hands that were pierced for our freedom.
Take some time to share your thoughts and heart with the LORD. What is He saying to you through these promises? What do you want to share with Him?
Understanding child abuse and neglect
Child abuse is more than bruises or broken bones. While physical abuse is shocking due to the scars it leaves, not all child abuse is as obvious. Ignoring children’s needs, putting them in unsupervised, dangerous situations, or making a child feel worthless or stupid are also child abuse. Regardless of the type of child abuse, the result is serious emotional harm.
|Myths and facts about child abuse and neglect|
|Myth: It’s only abuse if it’s violent.
Fact: Physical abuse is just one type of child abuse. Neglect and emotional abuse can be just as damaging, and since they are more subtle, others are less likely to intervene.
|Myth: Only bad people abuse their children.
Fact: While it’s easy to say that only “bad people” abuse their children, it’s not always so black and white. Not all abusers are intentionally harming their children. Many have been victims of abuse themselves, and don’t know any other way to parent. Others may be struggling with mental health issues or a substance abuse problem.
|Myth: Child abuse doesn’t happen in “good” families.
Fact: Child abuse doesn’t only happen in poor families or bad neighborhoods. It crosses all racial, economic, and cultural lines. Sometimes, families who seem to have it all from the outside are hiding a different story behind closed doors.
|Myth: Most child abusers are strangers.
Fact: While abuse by strangers does happen, most abusers are family members or others close to the family.
|Myth: Abused children always grow up to be abusers.
Fact: It is true that abused children are more likely to repeat the cycle as adults, unconsciously repeating what they experienced as children. On the other hand, many adult survivors of child abuse have a strong motivation to protect their children against what they went through and become excellent parents.
Child Abuse Hotlines:
- US or Canada: 1-800-422-4453 (Childhelp)
- UK: 0800 1111 (NSPCC Childline)
- Australia: 1800 688 009 (CAPS)
- New Zealand: 0800-543-754 (Kidsline)
- Other international helplines: Child Helpline International
Effects of child abuse and neglect
All types of child abuse and neglect leave lasting scars. Some of these scars might be physical, but emotional scarring has long lasting effects throughout life, damaging a child’s sense of self, ability to have healthy relationships, and ability to function at home, at work and at school. Some effects include:
Lack of trust and relationship difficulties. If you can’t trust your parents, who can you trust? Abuse by a primary caregiver damages the most fundamental relationship as a child—that you will safely, reliably get your physical and emotional needs met by the person who is responsible for your care. Without this base, it is very difficult to learn to trust people or know who is trustworthy. This can lead to difficulty maintaining relationships due to fear of being controlled or abused. It can also lead to unhealthy relationships because the adult doesn’t know what a good relationship is.
Core feelings of being “worthless” or “damaged.” If you’ve been told over and over again as a child that you are stupid or no good, it is very difficult to overcome these core feelings. You may experience them as reality. Adults may not strive for more education, or settle for a job that may not pay enough, because they don’t believe they can do it or are worth more. Sexual abuse survivors, with the stigma and shame surrounding the abuse, often especially struggle with a feeling of being damaged.
Trouble regulating emotions. Abused children cannot express emotions safely. As a result, the emotions get stuffed down, coming out in unexpected ways. Adult survivors of child abuse can struggle with unexplained anxiety, depression, or anger. They may turn to alcohol or drugs to numb out the painful feelings.
Recognizing the different types of child abuse
Abusive behavior comes in many forms, but the common denominator is the emotional effect on the child. Children need predictability, structure, clear boundaries, and the knowledge that their parents are looking out for their safety. Abused children cannot predict how their parents will act. Their world is an unpredictable, frightening place with no rules. Whether the abuse is a slap, a harsh comment, stony silence, or not knowing if there will be dinner on the table tonight, the end result is a child that feel unsafe, uncared for, and alone.
Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me? Contrary to this old saying, emotional abuse can severely damage a child’s mental health or social development. Examples of emotional child abuse include:
- Constant belittling, shaming, and humiliating a child
- Calling names and making negative comparisons to others
- Telling a child he or she is “no good,” “worthless,” “bad,” or “a mistake”
- Frequent yelling, threatening, or bullying
- Ignoring or rejecting a child as punishment, giving him or her the silent treatment
- Limited physical contact with the child—no hugs, kisses, or other signs of affection
- Exposing the child to violence or the abuse of others, whether it be the abuse of a parent, a sibling, or even a pet
Child neglect—a very common type of child abuse—is a pattern of failing to provide for a child’s basic needs, whether it be adequate food, clothing, hygiene, or supervision. Child neglect is not always easy to spot. Sometimes, a parent might become physically or mentally unable to care for a child, such as with a serious injury, untreated depression, or anxiety. Other times, alcohol or drug abuse may seriously impair judgment and the ability to keep a child safe.
Older children might not show outward signs of neglect, becoming used to presenting a competent face to the outside world, and even taking on the role of the parent. But at the end of the day, neglected children are not getting their physical and emotional needs met.
Physical abuse involves physical harm or injury to the child. It may be the result of a deliberate attempt to hurt the child, but not always. It can also result from severe discipline, such as using a belt on a child, or physical punishment that is inappropriate to the child’s age or physical condition.
Many physically abusive parents and caregivers insist that their actions are simply forms of discipline—ways to make children learn to behave. But there is a big difference between using physical punishment to discipline and physical abuse. The point of disciplining children is to teach them right from wrong, not to make them live in fear.
The difference between discipline and physical abuse
In physical abuse, unlike physical forms of discipline, the following elements are present:
Unpredictability. The child never knows what is going to set the parent off. There are no clear boundaries or rules. The child is constantly walking on eggshells, never sure what behavior will trigger a physical assault.
Lashing out in anger. Physically abusive parents act out of anger and the desire to assert control, not the motivation to lovingly teach the child. The angrier the parent, the more intense the abuse.
Using fear to control behavior. Parents who are physically abusive may believe that their children need to fear them in order to behave, so they use physical abuse to “keep their child in line.” However, what children are really learning is how to avoid being hit, not how to behave or grow as individuals.
Sexual abuse: A hidden type of child abuse
Child sexual abuse is an especially complicated form of abuse because of its layers of guilt and shame. It’s important to recognize that sexual abuse doesn’t always involve body contact. Exposing a child to sexual situations or material is sexually abusive, whether or not touching is involved.
While news stories of sexual predators are scary, what is even more frightening is that sexual abuse usually occurs at the hands of someone the child knows and should be able to trust—most often close relatives. And contrary to what many believe, it’s not just girls who are at risk. Boys and girls both suffer from sexual abuse. In fact, sexual abuse of boys may be underreported due to shame and stigma.
The problem of shame and guilt in child sexual abuse
Aside from the physical damage that sexual abuse can cause, the emotional component is powerful and far-reaching. Sexually abused children are tormented by shame and guilt. They may feel that they are responsible for the abuse or somehow brought it upon themselves. This can lead to self-loathing and sexual problems as they grow older—often either excessive promiscuity or an inability to have intimate relations.
The shame of sexual abuse makes it very difficult for children to come forward. They may worry that others won’t believe them, will be angry with them, or that it will split their family apart. Because of these difficulties, false accusations of sexual abuse are not common, so if a child confides in you, take him or her seriously. Don’t turn a blind eye!
Help for child sexual abuse:
1-888-PREVENT (1-888-773-8368) – Stop It Now
1-800-656-HOPE – Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)
Or visit ChiWorld.org for a list of other international child helplines.
Warning signs of child abuse and neglect
Child abuse is not always obvious. But by learning some of the common warning signs of abuse and neglect, you can catch the problem as early as possible and get both the child and the abuser the help that they need.
Of course, just because you spot a red flag doesn’t automatically mean a child is being abused. It’s important to dig deeper, looking for a pattern of abusive behavior and warning signs, if you notice something off.
Warning signs of emotional abuse in children
- Excessively withdrawn, fearful, or anxious about doing something wrong
- Shows extremes in behavior (extremely compliant or extremely demanding; extremely passive or extremely aggressive)
- Doesn’t seem to be attached to the parent or caregiver
- Acts either inappropriately adult (taking care of other children) or inappropriately infantile (rocking, thumb-sucking, throwing tantrums)
Warning signs of physical abuse in children
- Frequent injuries or unexplained bruises, welts, or cuts
- Is always watchful and “on alert,” as if waiting for something bad to happen
- Injuries appear to have a pattern such as marks from a hand or belt
- Shies away from touch, flinches at sudden movements, or seems afraid to go home
- Wears inappropriate clothing to cover up injuries, such as long-sleeved shirts on hot days
Warning signs of neglect in children
- Clothes are ill-fitting, filthy, or inappropriate for the weather.
- Hygiene is consistently bad (unbathed, matted and unwashed hair, noticeable body odor).
- Untreated illnesses and physical injuries.
- Is frequently unsupervised or left alone or allowed to play in unsafe situations and environments.
- Is frequently late or missing from school.
Warning signs of sexual abuse in children
- Trouble walking or sitting
- Displays knowledge or interest in sexual acts inappropriate to his or her age, or even seductive behavior
- Makes strong efforts to avoid a specific person, without an obvious reason
- Doesn’t want to change clothes in front of others or participate in physical activities
- An STD or pregnancy, especially under the age of 14
- Runs away from home
Child abuse and reactive attachment disorder
Severe abuse early in life can lead to reactive attachment disorder. Children with this disorder are so disrupted that they have extreme difficulty establishing normal relationships and attaining normal developmental milestones. They need special treatment and support. See: Attachment Issues and Reactive Attachment Disorder.
Risk factors for child abuse and neglect
While child abuse and neglect occurs in all types of families—even in those that look happy from the outside—children are at a much greater risk in certain situations.
Domestic violence. Witnessing domestic violence is terrifying to children and emotionally abusive. Even if the mother does her best to protect her children and keeps them from being physically abused, the situation is still extremely damaging. If you or a loved one is in an abusive relationship, getting out is the best thing for protecting the children.
Alcohol and drug abuse. Living with an alcoholic or addict is very difficult for children and can easily lead to abuse and neglect. Parents who are drunk or high are unable to care for their children, make good parenting decisions, and control often-dangerous impulses. Substance abuse also commonly leads to physical abuse.
Untreated mental illness. Parents who are suffering from depression, an anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, or another mental illness have trouble taking care of themselves, much less their children. A mentally ill or traumatized parent may be distant and withdrawn from his or her children, or quick to anger without understanding why. Treatment for the caregiver means better care for the children.
Lack of parenting skills. Some caregivers never learned the skills necessary for good parenting. Teen parents, for example, might have unrealistic expectations about how much care babies and small children need. Or parents who were themselves victims of child abuse may only know how to raise their children the way they were raised. In such cases, parenting classes, therapy, and caregiver support groups are great resources for learning better parenting skills.
Stress and lack of support. Parenting can be a very time-intensive, difficult job, especially if you’re raising children without support from family, friends, or the community or you’re dealing with relationship problems or financial difficulties. Caring for a child with a disability, special needs, or difficult behaviors is also a challenge. It’s important to get the support you need, so you are emotionally and physically able to support your child.
The above articles are found: Child Abuse and Neglect
Blog note from Arline Miller, Sipping Cups of Inspiration blogger and author: All of us may seem normal and secure but if we are willing to share our thoughts and feelings with others, we can overcome many hidden fears and weaknesses. A child is innocent and is not given to us by Our God to abuse in any fashion. If you are a parent and/or caregiver, and you feel like you have to abuse a child in any way, seek help immediately. The child you save may be your own.
(c) Copyright 2012-2017 Arline Miller with all rights and privileges. All third party material sourced to original location for reference credit. Photos may not be property of blog unless specified.