PO Box 550170 Waltham MA 02452

  • Name Thomas Idiculla, PhD

  • Designation President

  • Posted On 03-05-2009

Marriage & Parenting

Director, Mental Health Evaluation Dept & eBASIS, McLean Hospital; Instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School Greater Boston Area Hospital & Health Care

Parental Abuse May Damage Children's Brain
  • Parental Abuse May Scar Young brains Thomas

    Over 900,000 children in US are victims of parental abuse every year. The scars of the child abuse can be deep and long-lasting, often leading to future child abuse. Abuse generally falls into one or more of the following categories: physical, sexual, emotional or psychological abuse, and generally escalates over a period of time. Verbal abuse falls into many categories, including: abusive anger: criticizing, name-calling, threatening, blaming, using words to shame, yelling, swearing and screaming, and using threats to intimidate feelings. Physical abuse can include striking a child with the foot or burning, shaking, pushing, or throwing a child; or biting the child, pulling a child by the hair or cutting off a child’s air. Another form of child abuse involving babies is shaken baby syndrome, in which a frustrated parent shakes a baby roughly to make the baby stop crying, causing brain damage that often leads to severe neurological problems and even death. Parental verbal abuse often wound children so deeply that the effects remain apparent into young adulthood. Furthermore, it is noted that verbal abuse contributes towards more serious psychological complexities greater than that caused by physical abuse. Parental verbal abuse during childhood can scar brain deeply. A new research study headed by Martin Teicher, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Developmental Biopsychiatry Research Program at McLean Hospital, affiliated with Harvard Medical School found that verbally abusive parents could cause lasting damage to brain pathways that regulate emotions and process language in their children. This is the first evidence of the potential injurious effect of ridicule, humiliation, and disdain on brain connectivity. This discovery was published in the February 1 issue of Biological Psychiatry. The findings illustrate the need for taking a positive step toward healthy parenting. Abusive parents say that their behaviors are often simple forms of discipline, ways to make children learn to meet their expectations or behave properly. But there’s a big difference between a swat on the child and twisting the child’s arm until it breaks. There are many confounding factors that lead to child abuse. The major risk factors for child abuse include: 1) our own history of childhood abuse - the patterns we learn in childhood are often what we use as parents. Without admitting this problem and insight, sadly, the cycle of child abuse often continues to generations; 2) Stress and lack of support - parenting can be a very time intensive, difficult job. Parents caring for children without support from family, friends or the community can be under much stress. Many adults often struggle with their own maturity and patience required to effectively parent.

  • What can be done towards healthy effective parenting?

    Verbal abuse is a difficult emotional problem, but there is hope if the abuser is willing to confront his or her sin and get help. Do you have a bad and unpredictable temper? Do you hurt or threaten or harm your children? Do you destroy your belongings? If you are an abusive parent, a support and educational help and seminars for parents and churches are available from Agape Partners and other Christian support and counseling organizations. Christian parenting is the building of lives by teaching the children to know God and His will and act responsibly, and to think independently and critically. First, know that God loves you. However you must admit your problem or weakness or bad temper and ask God for forgiveness and deliverance. Here are some key biblical principles. The Bible warns us about the dangers of an angry person. Proverbs 22:24 says, "Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man." Proverbs 29:22 says, "An angry man stirs up strife, and a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression." Second, I would recommend that you seek help from a pastor or counselor. However, I would also advice that you gather godly men and women together who can lovingly help you to be free from this behavior. A Christian counselor could guide you and lovingly restore you with a spirit of gentleness. Third, the Bible also instructs us, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6); “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord “(Ephesians 6:4); “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged “(Colossians 3:21); “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie done and when you get up “(Deuteronomy 11:19). If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn. If children live with hostility, they learn to fight. If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive. If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves. If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy. If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy. If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty. If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence. If children live with tolerance, they learn patience. If children live with praise, they learn appreciation. If children live with acceptance, they learn to love. If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves. If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal. If children live with sharing, they learn generosity. If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness. If children live with fairness, they learn justice. If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect. If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them. If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live. (Author unknown) Bible verses taken from NIV

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