As I rushed into the bathroom and locked the door, I stood against the wall with my heart pounding, my cheeks flushed and wet with tears, and feelings of frustration and anger coursing through my veins.
Here I am -- a trained social worker and mental health clinician -- and I have just locked myself away from my two screaming, out-of-control pre-schoolers because I know I need to calm down and collect myself before I re-emerge as a competent parent. I love my children, I worship my children, and yet we all have our limits – especially when we are exhausted and overwhelmed.
Parenting is a joyful, rewarding blessing – and yet at times it also feels like an endless challenge, riddled with futility and frustration. The art of disciplining children is a challenge for all parents and caregivers; for those who have hit their breaking point, or who have a particularly “strong-willed child”, the task can seem insurmountable.
And, for a parent who drinks heavily, or struggles with anger or self-control, the risk of abuse rises dramatically. Every year, approximately 800,000 cases of child abuse are confirmed nationally, with about 11,000 of those in our own state. With the economic challenges of the last few years, many believe that child abuse is reaching epidemic proportion.
April is national Child Abuse Prevention Month – and it is fitting for the month of blooming flowers and trees, of growth and rebirth, should also remind us of our role in tending to the growth of the next generation.
Child abuse comes in many forms: physical abuse (slapping, punching, hitting), emotional abuse (name calling, belittling), sexual abuse (touching, exposure, assault), or neglect of basic needs (withholding medical care or love/affection).
Child abuse also occurs at every socioeconomic level, across all ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions, and at all levels of parental education. So, while many us are thinking about gardening or our summer vacation plans, I ask you to take a moment to think about your role in tending to the children in your lives.
What can you do to be a part of the solution?
The following links are for organizations and resources right here in Colorado that provide valuable services and resources to help prevent and treat child abuse and strengthen families and communities.
Remember, it only takes one person to make a difference in the life of a child. And it definitely takes a village to raise children!
The Kempe Center- http://www.kempe.org/
Tennyson Center for Children- http://www.childabuse.org/
American Humane Association- http://www.americanhumane.org/
Parenting Safe Children- http://www.parentingsafechildren.com/
Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network- http://www.admhn.org/Education/Classes.aspx