Why Do Parents Abuse Their Children?

Nati Shaked by Nati Shaked

why do parents abuse their children

My 14 years old daughter is a normal teen.

By “normal”, I mean that she doesn’t talk to her mom (myself) a lot.

Here’s a typical mother-daughter talk:

1. I’m asking her something, she mumbles back.

2. I’m trying to understand what she just said.

3. She gets angry and swears that she’ll never speak to me again.

4. She turns her back and storms away, end of conversation.

5. I’m completely and utterly puzzled as to what just happened.

From time to time though, no prior notice, she opens up to me and we share those special moments in which I get a short glimpse of what’s really going on in her world.

The first time that I became aware to my tween’s scary world was when I learned about cutting going on in her peer group. It was when she witnessed an online suicide attempt. (the Girl in discussion is alive, thank god).

I wrote about it here, in a post that became viral (see hundreds of comments and discussions below).

Yesterday we had another one of those rare mother – daughter moments.

“You know mom” she said, “Laurie’s dad abuses her”.

I waited. She already predicts my reaction, so she continued: “But it’s ok, it was taken care of by the school”.

Laurie’s been adopted in Russia, a tall blond blue-eyed stunning girl, always walking with her head down. Her family seems very nice, mindful and caring.

Laurie, it appears, is sometimes sending pictures of her “cuts”to her WhatUp friends.

When I was first exposed to that, 2 years ago, I talked to her mom and she said that Laurie is ok, not cutting at all, and that she’s known for her tendency for drama and for doing anything and everything to attract attention.

I was not sure back then if she’s cutting or not, but I’ve learned that people who cut themselves usually hide it, and don’t go around sending pictures of their cuts.

“She’s drinking at parties” my teen continued. “She fainted several times at the party last Tuesday” she said.

She paused between sentences and looked at me, waiting for my reaction.

“You know mom, when she starts acting like this, nobody wants to be responsible for her”. “Responsible”, that was the word she chose. “Even her best friends don’t want to take care of her”, she continued “The kids started passing her around, each asking someone else to care for her. No one wanted to do that”

“So, how did you solve this?” I asked her.

“She fainted again, we called an ambulance and she was hospitalized” she said.

“Why do you think she’s acting this way? It’s clear that she’s suffering. Do you have any idea why”?

“No, but her dad is very strict, and I remember him throwing shoes at her when I was there. You know mom, when her parents were abroad, many kids went to someone’s house, and she went out to the street with only her underwear on. Everybody saw her, the neighbours called her parents”.

“Does she still send pictures of her cuts?” I asked.

“Yes, the other day we had a fight, and she sent me photos saying she cut herself because of the fight. But I could see that it wasn’t real cuts”.

Are you sure her dad abuses her? I asked.

Mom!!! (That’s when I know the conversation is coming to an end soon) she wouldn’t color her face deliberately !!

Yes, but have you SEEN her face with bruises?  I asked.

I couldn’t really figure out her reply, because at this point she started to get furious at me.

“I’m proud of you, because it seems that  you clearly understand right from wrong. I’m very sad for Laurie, because she is acting in a way that will cause her harm. Can you imagine her fainting in a party without her friends around to call an ambulance? Do you understand what can happen to her? Laurie should get help” I said.

“Mom, I already told you that school took care of it!!!!!” She replied furiously. Then she disappeared.

I’m thinking a lot about Laurie and her parents.

They adopted a beautiful baby who has gone through god knows what as a baby.

Today they are clearly going through some kind of hell with her. What came first?

Is her dad abusing her, and she’s getting back at him?

Or – is she so difficult to handle that he loses control, when he hears that she’s naked in the street for example, and the conflict ends in abuse?

Or is it another way to get back at her parents, telling school staff that she’s abused, just like the faked cutting pictures?

Why do parents abuse their children? It rarely happens that I’m losing control and shouting at the top of my lungs, but hitting? I can’t even imagine hitting my kids. Or anyone else…

But people do that.

Why do parents abuse their children? 

I started Googling but first I wanted to check the definition of “abuse”.

It was interesting to discover many articles called – “5 types of abuse”, “6 types of abuse”, “12 types of abuse…”clearly it’s not agreed how many types of abuse there are…

These types make sense to me:

1. Emotional abuse: Insulting, shaming, embarrassing in public, not respecting, being possessive and controlling…

2. Physical abuse: Grabbing, kicking, slapping, throwing things, pulling hair etc.

3. Financial abuse: Withholding money, Preventing you from getting an education or working, etc.

4. Verbal abuse: Yelling, shouting, name calling, using abusive language, threatening.

5. Sexual abuse: Rape, pressure for sex, forcing you to participate in have sex with someone else, forcing sex in ways you don’t want etc.

6. Mental abuse: Lying, manipulating, blaming you for things they did, distorting reality, twisting everything around etc.

Who is being abused in domestic abuse?

Both men and women commit physical abuse, emotional abuse and neglect.

I learned that child abuse usually takes place in the home with someone who the child knows, rather than with strangers.

What are the causes of child abuse?

Abuse is usually a result of a combination of risk factors.

Abuse and neglect occur most often in families who are under pressure and lack support.

Most abuse (other than sexual abuse) occurs in families to which some, of the following apply:

Poverty  | Marital problems | Lack of support from the extended family | social isolation | Unemployment | Parent that has been abused as a child | Lack of parenting skills | Low self-esteem | Depression | Economical pressures

And then, there are all these parents we personally know; Those that do not fall under the above risk factors.

Those highly educated parents who seem perfect, and nobody knows what’s really going on inside their house.

Why do parents abuse their children?

You know, no matter how much I Google, I think I can’t really understand that.

Please share your thoughts with me.

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  • Katrina P

    Regardless of whether or not it can be determined that Laurie is ‘actually cutting’ or ‘actually being abused,’ my instinctual reaction is that she is clearly suffering in some way. Even if it is just cries for attention, she’s not asking for attention for no reason. There is something driving her to act out, and acknowledging that ‘something’ as a legitimate issue and worthy of attention, no matter how trifle it may seem, is a powerful first step in helping her.

  • Tracy

    Because they’re damaged. Not saying that is an excuse, but it is usually the truth. I often think about this subject, too, wondering if they feel guilty or bad? I only have to be especially grumpy or shout at my kids and I feel so much mummy guilt!

  • Greg

    I think parents abuse kids when they’ve been abused themselves. But I’m not sure that this girl is abused, sounds like she’s a kind of a drama queen?

  • Hannah

    Parents abuse children because they’re mad, that’s why!