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Narcissists, Players, Charlatans, Why do we believe them?

Forty years ago, hundreds of people went to their death in a country called Guyana. Back in 1978, I was a teenage girl in high school and two years later wrote my first paper on the topic of “Religious Cults” which would transform my life. On May of 2011, I published “The Child of the Narcissist,” on my blog post and began working with survivors of narcissism in my practice. There are different phases that I see. One is the denial phase which is when the person has not yet let the person go. Second, is the acceptance phase which is when they are in realization stage and feel angry, frustrated, duped, taken, had, and wonder “How could I have been so stupid?” Or the child of a narcissist will say “Can they be helped?,” or “Am I destined to become this way?” Thirdly, I see the healing stage when they begin to set boundaries and take back their power and their life. The third stage is a place that they will be in the rest of their life because you must always be conscious, mindful and awake when you meet someone that seems to have certain qualities.

The people of Jonestown are no different than a woman who meets up with some guy who is playing her. People who fall for a narcissistic type are vulnerable, desperate and yearn to be loved and accepted. These type of people – narcissists/players/charlatans (parents are a different category because you aren’t choosing them, though this could be argued from a metaphysical perspective), are very aware of their power over men and women. They have learned – from the cradle – that they are entitled in some way. This can be from a self-imposed entitlement to protect themselves (by self-soothing) or an entitlement given to them by a parent. I have known and learned of parents who say their child is perfect and will do whatever it takes to protect them. This takes away from a child learning when they make a mistake. It takes away from a child growing and evolving over time. A friend’s father was a criminal attorney in Los Angeles and he once told me that mother’s would take second mortgages out on their homes, sell their cars, jewelry, whatever assets they could give up to pay his fees and get their kids off. My mother told us that if we went to jail we would rot.  When I watched the movie “Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones,” I remember noting that he was engaged in animal cruelty as a boy.

When you read a little of Jim Jones biography online, you learn he was reading about leaders at a very young age such as Hitler and Stalin, all the bad guys who believed in creating what they believed was a utopia and that many people fell prey too. Jim Jones would no doubt have had many more followers today with our liberal movement – in a polarized society – because he was very big on racial equality that was not quite so popular in the 60’s and 70’s.  He adopted kids and called them a “rainbow family,” he hung out in the ghettos of the inner city where he embellished them with empathy and support. He was very much into inclusion vs. segregation. Today’s society would be worshipping a guy like him. Social Media takes advantage of people but it also worships people and generally, it is the one who seems to have the most “likes” for fame or infamy. We don’t care who it is, as long as they seem to “do the right thing.” We are more gullible now than we were then because people were much more suspicious at that time. However, those who were desperate and needy and wanting to be loved and accepted would take what they were offered. They were offered a man calling himself a Reverend. At that time, there were many charlatans on Television, though most preyed on White victims who were gullible. I remember watching a glimpse of these things while flipping channels and thinking to myself how dumb these people were.

Players or Narcissists or Sociopaths that women fall prey to are generally just local yokels that have an allure about them. Most people will think Narcissist and talk about CEO’s or Presidents or World Leaders but the vast majority are just everyday people. Many have no money at all. They just talk a good game. I have seen them on the streets of Oakland and I am not just talking about pimps and drug dealers. I have met a couple in my personal life. Now, I just hear about them in my office. Women give up their money, their families, but most of all; their sense of self. These guys are handsome but not necessarily, the woman feels that there is chemistry, often he “blows up their phone,” which makes the woman think he cares.

First, the guy comes on to them like a shy but clever puppy dog. He seems to lap up their words and embellish them with praises or just appear to be listening. He picks up on certain words or sentences that, at first, seem to show he gets them but later it becomes a weapon. How does this guy have such a great memory? Some of these players will wine and dine at first or at least until the check comes and they realized they have forgotten their wallet and make a feeble attempt for an excuse. A very liberal guy I dated once, waited till the bill came to make me aware he had no chivalry because he believed in women’s liberation. There will be jokey texts that are the beginnings of sarcasm but it seems cute and funny at first “Oh, that is just his personality,” they will tell me. Then the guy begins to push away and this is when the game begins. He is playing this game of cat and mouse, building more and more power with the person. I’ve watched my own cats play with a spider (a hopeless tiny thing) until they finally just kill it and then they walk away – they don’t even eat it.

The woman is really trapped when she tries to play his game. She begins to think she understands him. She spends her waking life thinking about him and wondering how she can get him back. In therapy, I hear long stories about how much she knows him, how two can play that game. It is sad to sit with a victim who is clueless. It is sad to listen to them talk for hours and hours about this person and wonder when they are going to get it (don’t think I just sit there though, it takes time to help a person who is in the throes of a player). I will say to them, “Do you think he is in therapy now talking about you?” or “Do you feel he spends this much time thinking about you all day?”

Stonewalling: when the player has given you way more space than you bargained for and you begin to think you are over him yet you spend every moment wondering. This is the crucial part where I try to talk to women about blocking him and moving forward in their life. It is just a hint to them at first, when they pretend they are ready to move forward. In reality, I know they are not going to block him because every day is a possibility. He knows this too. Especially when the woman needs to share something they found online – just a cute little note “That I know he would like.” This lack of impulse control shows they are now capable of ruining their own lives. They share it; get some snarky comment and the woman takes the bait. Now she is being punished and begins to enjoy it in an unconscious way. She will try harder the next time to say something more meaningful. I wrote email after email trying to profess how liberal I was becoming for a guy once. He continued to tell me I wasn’t liberal enough and wasn’t doing enough.

When you try to hint to a woman that “I hope your spouse doesn’t find these messages, [to the other guy/gal]” and they don’t seem to care this is when it is clear that they are going to get hurt. I had a woman who spent years chasing a guy who spent those same years ganging up on her till she ended up with nothing. She was dumped in another state with no transportation or money to get home, not once but twice. When women are trying to heal or become a survivor the anger is now transferred onto the guy. “How could he do something like that when he knew [x,y or z.” It is not part of a “good person’s” mindset to bring harm to someone. Hence the confusion on the victim’s part.

Jim Jones received accolades before he went to Guyana. In 1960, he was appointed to the Indianapolis Human Rights Commission. He was speaking out on radio and Television interviews. By 1977, he received the Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian award. The NAACP and the Urban League lapped up his praises; especially when he used their own words to play them. At that time, he was a savior to the inner city, just as Hitler had been for the Germans or Stalin and Marx had been for those seeking a philosophy that seemed to indicate a better life than what they had. Still today, people seek out the wisdom of Hitler, Stalin and Marx and many other people.  No matter what travesties these people caused in history there are still some people who continue to argue why they were right. Jim Jones had a collection of people by the time he got them on a plane and shipped them over to a little known county. And this was all before social media. Imagine what he could do now.

Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, it isn’t. There is a difference though between your ego and your instincts. One is a gut feeling and the other is YOU. If it is all happening to soon, too quick, too fast, stall and step away. Don’t think about him, think about your life and what is important to you. If this person’s story doesn’t add up, it won’t – no matter how hard you are trying to make it total. When you are spending too much time trying to protect someone from others, you know they are wrong for you. A person who is right for you will just fit easily into your life. You won’t have to explain anything. No matter how alone you are it is much better to wake up by yourself and know the day is yours than to wake up to a text message that gives you a stomach ache for the rest of the day. Being alone and having a life that is yours is much better than having a life of constant agony. Being able to choose what you will do today is better than having someone choose it for you.

When I wrote my paper on Religious Cults, back in 1980, I was 17 years old. I was about to become pregnant and married to an abusive man. I had lived in a narcissistic household that was both emotionally and physically abusive so, I began as an adult with severe PTSD. I spent years in and out of relationships, some I see were narcissistic, some were good men that I wasn’t ready for and some were just not a good fit. In the meantime, I was in years of therapy. I spent years in college and then university. I went to many self-help teachers and absorbed their lectures. It wasn’t until 2012 when my very good friend and spiritual teacher died that I was forced to grow up and face reality; truly on my own for the first time. I had to be my own teacher with no one to depend on. This is when life took on a new meaning for me. This is when I finally got it. I understood integrity to self; more than ever before. I understood boundaries and my responsibility in making the choices I made. It didn’t mean my life became easy, far from it, but it meant that I no longer settled. It meant that I made choices on my own and didn’t fall prey to others wishes or demands. It means that I am alone and without many friends because integrity can be a lonely life – until you meet people of like minds or those who respect you for who you are. But went I look back at the life I have lived before, I wouldn’t choose that one over this, “a lone” life, for anything in the world. Yes, I wish I had figured this out sooner, so I would have had a different life but I didn’t and I accept that this is where I am meant to be. I accept that the people I am here to teach are those who made choices like me (you can’t con someone who has been conned).

The balance of power weighs heavily on my mind, as it has since I got into the field of psychology. I owe a debt of gratitude to John F. Kennedy University for teaching me about countertransference and transference issues that one would face in the professional world. I also owe a debt of gratitude to all the teachers and therapists who helped guide me along the way. The victims of Jim Jones massacre began an eye-opening experience, to myself as a young girl out on a farm in Ohio, that have continued to remain in the back of my mind as I grow and have evolved into the person I am today.

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Growing Up With a Narcissist

Remember back when you were young. Did you often feel as if you were to blame for everything? Was one sibling revered over you (usually this might be the male child)? Did you try to assert your opinions only to see them turned aside with a phrase similar to “What do you know anyway?” Or at times you might hear “It’s always about you isn’t it?” Did you then and do you now feel as if you are desperately trying to get your parents approval for the decisions you make in life, yet never seem to do anything right? It is very possible that you grew up with a Narcissistic Parent.

My original blog article, The Child of the Narcissist was published in 2011 and today has more than 10,000 readers from around the world – and still counting. I published a part two about a month ago and then just recently put together a CD: The Child of the Narcissist – Guided Meditations for Healing. This CD is available on CreateSpace for only $10.99 a great deal for someone looking for something to utilize as an adjunct to therapy.

CD Cover

A Narcissistic Parent robs a young person of their childhood and then makes life difficult when they try to become a parent themselves. It is emotional abuse that you will suffer your entire life until you take your power back, as an adult. A child of a narcissist has a difficult time individuating from the parent and growing up into an adult. How can you when they are continuously keeping you down? If you also suffered physical and sexual trauma from this parent, it is even more difficult to go out into the world and try your best to be a successful person. The tragedy is that as a child of a narcissist, as long as they hold you emotionally hostage, you continue to seek their approval which you will never get.  How do I know all these things? I am not just a psychotherapist but a survivor as well. I took my power back and write about this now on my website jkvegh.com

The Meditations which I recently published on CD through CreateSpace (and soon to come on Amazon) came about as I began to search for a different way to approach clients in the healing process. I am a great believer in  meditation  and will share this with clients. Then one day I sat down and wrote a script for different meditations that might help a person who was a victim of parental narcissism. Having meditated myself for over 30 years, I used my knowledge of guided meditations from Jon Kabat-Zinn and Shakti Gawain and thought about what someone might need to hear as a child of a narcissist.

This is meant to be an adjunct to therapy because, as a professional, I know doing the CD alone will not be enough. You can’t just self-heal with a series of meditations.  Your voice has been blocked and you need to talk and be validated. Make sure you have a therapist whom you are beginning to do work with and have discussed your mother or father with. Of course this might also include other family members too. Whomever you were raised by and considered a parent.

After you listen and participate in the meditations, make sure you have pen/pencil and paper available to do stream of consciousness writing. This is so beneficial to the process as well. A lot will come up for you and you want to jot this down and then share it with your therapist.

Many things are written about Narcissism and there are even many wonderful movies which highlight this topic as well. These are great resources to utilize. However, the most powerful process in healing from Narcissism is transforming from child to adult in therapy. Now I am offering you this really great CD which has different tracks focusing first on the mind – holistic, than on the body – somatic, and finally, on the spirit – transpersonal.  Taking your power back from the perpetrator will allow you to have the life you have been holding yourself back from all these years. You deserve it!

Forensic Files: Attorney

The last article focused on social services specifically. This one will focus on dealing with an attorney. The same would apply for any situation, not just social services.

The court room is quite a fascinating place to be in if you are a professional and know what you are doing. The first time I walked into family law court I faced a judge with a horrible reputation and I was sick for about an hour before I had to see her. While I was not the reason for being in that court room, social workers were frequently attacked by this person and I had heard horror stories. You weren’t allowed to wear certain colors in her room. She made inappropriate comments about herself and her history with abuse. She attacked social workers for their reports. Bracing myself for this type of attention, I was surprised to hear her compliment me on reflection of the case being presented. At another hearing, an attorney had to get brash with me in regards to a case. She was appearing for the parent, who was an idiot. I was quite surprised by the questions because it was quite evident that this person had been a social worker’s nightmare. Outside the court room she came up to me and said “Don’t take any of that stuff seriously in there. We are just doing our job and it isn’t personal.” I ended up liking this woman. Between the interaction with the judge and this attorney I learned several things. If you are a competent social worker, communicate with the attorneys ahead of time, let them know what you are planning in your report and what you will be requesting, you will gain their respect. I also made sure I never left any stone unturned in my reports. There was an answer for everything so that there were never any questions in the court room. As a result I learned to love the court and gain high praise for writing some of the best reports. In that room, I was seen as one of the better social workers. I generally got what I wanted for my families. This is because we all worked together as respected professionals.

The same can occur with families facing attorneys. You have to be respectful to the attorney first and follow their advice. If you don’t like it, get another one. If you are paying for their services, you are their employer. However, you still have to respect them. It is not advisable to go in with an attitude and expect them to win the case for you. Even with public defenders you can request a different attorney. In California it required facing the judge (I don’t recall the actual summons you have to submit) and no one was allowed in the room but your attorney, you, the judge and the stenographer.

At the same time I have seen some really ridiculous scenes in the court room by families. Parents coming in dressed like they are about to walk the streets. Parents who are obviously on drugs. Parents getting angry and having security walk them out of the room. I am not quite sure what they were thinking when they appeared that day or why they would assume they would garner respect in a courtroom for acting like a fool. Interestingly enough, what I rarely saw was someone in tears knowing they have lost thier child to the courts. Mostly I saw anger, drugs, alcohol and people who were incarcerated.

If you need to appear before a judge on behalf of your children – or for any reason, you need to dress like a professional. You don’t come in dressed like a rapper or gang member when you have law enforcement in the room. You also don’t dress like a prostitute or a woman about to get laid. These are people who are making very important decisions about your life and your family. The room is high with suspicion about every parent who walks through the door. Even if they are representing you, there is an element of distrust. They will do their job but will wonder.  When I used to see my kids at juvenile hall, they were extra extra kind to me and gave me a song about how they were ready to turn their life around. I knew it was bull shit and I told them to cut the crap. At the same time they weren’t interested in doing their school work, were trying to figure out how to smuggle in drugs and were sizing up the gangs in the cell block.

So when you come into the court room, you have to understand that they have heard it all and it is hard to see the truth even if you are not guilty. This is why you must have an attorney and a good one. It is also why you need to focus on how you represent yourself in the court room. You aren’t facing the head of the Crips but the head of a legal system. Acting tough and cool makes you look guilty. Putting on a pimped up show and looking like you have a line of girls under you, doesn’t go over well either. If you aren’t sure how to behave off the streets, ask your attorney.

Respect goes a long way. Watch the video “To Sir, With Love,” with Sidney Poitier. It has a lot to teach.

When parents show up looking like decent people and behaving in this manner, they are taken more seriously. It doesn’t mean you will get what you want – if you are guilty, but at least you have made an attempt to respect the room. You might not be treated quite as severely as you normally would have been.

Forensic Files: Social Services

The next three articles I am writing have to do with forensic issues: Social Services, Attorneys and the Press. The reason I am writing this series is due to the extensive background I have working with forensic cases through Children’s Protective Services or as a psychotherapist taking on clients who are involved with the court on some level.

Forensic means court action involved in a situation. It does not mean murder or rape (solely) as most people think when they hear this word. Therefore if you are involved with the court on some level, some criminal action is taking place, you have a forensic case. Blood and guts do not have to play a part. Juvenile Forensic work is Children’s Protective Services (aka social services in some states), juvenile hall and psychiatric facilities (sometimes court is involved in continuing the stay at the hospital). Adult Forensic work might include people involved in accounting, real estate, finances, but also a case facing prison or jail time and again psychiatric facilities.

Now that I have explained this lets discuss Social Services. If you are involved with a case, your kids have been removed or someone in your family has been, or you are thinking about being involved as a foster parent, relative caregiver, or opening up a group home or other congregate care facility, then you need to read further to get some understanding of what you will be facing.

Social Services have the same federal laws that they have to follow in every state. A child can only be removed for abuse or neglect. How each state interprets these laws is dependent on the that region, the body of laws they  have put together to effect these laws and from what I can see the culture of the state’s people. Therefore, each state will behave differently based on the policies and procedures put together interpreting how they will run their county agency. To clarify, abuse means physical, sexual, or emotional (the latter is difficult to prove unless it is heinous) and neglect means medical, financial and basic needs, also not always easy to determine.

Having explained the above you will surprised to know that having a dirty house does not mean children should be removed. However, if there is no food in the house and the children are not attending school and do not have plumbing – basic needs not being met – this is a different story. Also, because the parents are using drugs, this is not a reason to remove. If they are using drugs and beating their kids or sexually abusing them or the kids are starving, this is a reason to remove their kids. Even domestic violence alone is not a reason to remove unless of course the children have been put in danger. This sounds very strange but acts of domestic violence do not always involve the children.

My background with social services was in California. All of us who worked as Child Welfare Workers (in our agency) had master’s degrees which meant we had clinical expertise. Social workers with undergraduate degrees do NOT have clinical expertise and have only experiential knowledge dependent on how many years they have been with the agency. This is a huge difference understanding why a family is behaving as they are vs. using judgement based on what you have seen and learned. California is an exceptional state because there were strict decisions adhered to with regard to “What is in the best interests of the child.” What I have seen in other states (for example Ohio where I am now) is much more loose and concerning.

If children have been removed from you or a family member and you are now involved with the court, here is what you need to know. These are the facts and maybe it sucks to hear this and it seems unfair but this is the way the laws are enacted and until something is done to change this, it is best that you listen. Not just read but listen! If you don’t, than you have no excuse for losing your child or family member. These are the facts. YOUR CHILDREN SHOULD COME FIRST NOT YOU. KEEP THIS IN MIND AS YOU READ.

1. You should have a right to an attorney – I hope all states at least allow this. Some states offer attorney’s for each child (CA). Whether you get a public defender or have to pay for one will be determined by your financial status. If this is your child that has been removed and you don’t have an attorney, you will be taken advantage of by the court and social services and there is nothing you can do about it. Get an attorney.

2. Judges only listen to attorneys in the court room. Social Services are generally not allowed to speak unless requested by the judge or asking the court supervisor to be allowed to speak. The same goes for parents who have no attorneys. If you have one, do not speak without your attorney’s permission. Do not make a scene in the court room. This will only make you look stupid and it does not influence the judge in a positive way.

3. Whatever has been charged against you as a parent, allow your attorney to deal with this and explain to them what actually happened. If you do not show up for court or your attorney does not win the case, the decision has been made. Do not expect that social services can do anything about it. Once the charge against you has been set in court, it will not change for the duration of your case. Wasting your time arguing with your social worker about this, is a waste of your time and theirs. Take responsibility for what has happened and go on to the next step of your case. Do you want your kids back or do  you want to waste people’s time? You had your chance and that time is over now.

4. Haven’t heard from your social worker? Time is precious, so don’t sit around waiting – ever. Don’t blame the system either. Often times we get the wrong phone number because someone is wasted at removal, or scared, or some other circumstance. Maybe your phone has been shut off. Take responsibility for your case. If your kids have been removed and it has been a day or two, call your local county social services number or go down there and don’t leave or hang up until you know who you should talk to.

5. Family Reunification. Once the court has removed your children and made them a dependent of the court, you will go into family reunification. If you want to get your kids back you have between 6-12 months to do so, depending on the age of the child and how many kids you have already lost to the system. If you are almost there at 12 months you often have an additional six months that you can request. This is the most valuable time you have to get your children back. If you waste it arguing about why they were removed, then you miss precious time focusing on yourself. There is a case plan, that you should be involved in and sign which details what you need to do to get your children back. Some states are not as formal with this process, which is very sad. Make sure you ask to see your case plan or ask your social worker “What do I need to do during family reunification to get my kids back? Do whatever they say. Yes that sounds harsh but they are professionals and it has been determined what you need to do to get your kids back. If you weren’t drunk that night and you weren’t in court to deal with this, than you need to go to AA. You didn’t abuse your child and you have to be in a parenting class and therapy, then you show up for that class and that therapist. Your boyfriend/girlfriend at fault – get rid of them and put your children first. Even if they are not guilty in your eyes, you need to focus on your children. You haven’t heard from your social worker, than follow step four and take responsibility.

6. Very small percentages of people get their children returned in the 6-12 months period. This seems to be the same odds in every state. The reason being is people do not take responsibility for why their children were removed. They want to argue the entire 6 months. They resist following through on services requested. They don’t show up for court. They continue to spiral out of control and keep behaving as if nothing happened. The public always wants to believe it is the fault of social services – sometimes it is, professionals make mistakes. But more often than not, it is the fault of the family. There are some damn good social workers out there. Even though I am horrified at what I have seen in other states, this does not mean that the professionals are any less concerned about the children they work with. It means their hands are tied by ignorant legislators and old-fashioned thought processes.

7. Adoption and Legal Guardianship – Adoption means your PARENTAL RIGHTS ARE REMOVED. Your child’s name is changed and their birth certificates are changed. Legally you can hire an attorney in the future – once you have turned your life around and try to get them back but don’t get your hopes up. Also, think about what you are doing to your children and to their life. But the longer you wait, the more you make this miserable for them. Legal Guardianship means you still have your parental rights but the Legal Guardian determines whether or not you get to visit your children. They have this right until they turn 18. So if you show up wasted don’t expect to visit. If you make lots of promises and then only show up 1 out of 10 times, don’t expect to get the visit. It is easier to get your child back than adoption but consider whether this is the best thing for your child. Get an attorney and don’t waste people’s time with this until you have turned your life around. Turning your life around doesn’t mean you are in rehab for the sixth time or even the first time. This means you have been clean for at least a year or have been in therapy for this amount of time or have a decent home and have taken parenting classes – whatever you were meant to do on your case plan, you have done it and have been consistent for a certain amount of time. This also doesn’t mean that you have a new boyfriend and he is going to take care of things. You have to take responsibility. The more games you play with social services – before you are ready, the more you make life difficult for your children.

8. Visitation with your children – Do not show up with candy and toys. Do NOT show up wasted. Do come with home cooked meals from your culture. If they have already eaten don’t show your sadness. You should spend this time loving your children with your food, attention, and ears for listening to them. Play with them and hug them appropriately. Do not grill them about where they live. Do not give them false promises. In fact do not promise anything. Behave like a mature responsible parent. If this is supervised visitation try to ignore the professional in the room and focus on your children. It is awkward for both you and the professional, however, if it is supervised, than there is a reason for this. Take responsibility for the situation.

9. Return all phone calls. If ever you get a phone call from your social worker, you return the call promptly. If the police show up your house for a “health and safety visit” because you have refused to follow through, don’t act surprised. No matter how much you hate your social worker, you have to follow through. They have the power to keep or return your child.

10. Problems with your social worker – If your county does not have an ombudsperson or someone who is assigned to objectively deal with problems with your social worker, ask for a supervisor and talk to them about the situation. Stick to the facts rather than bad mouthing your social worker about how you didn’t get your kids back. This person wants to hear about the problems you are facing with your worker. They don’t want to have to go over your issues with social services that you are taking out on the caseworker.

11. Document everything that happens on your case from the moment your children are removed. If you want to convince anyone of anything, you must have your own facts to back up the case. Give dates and times and don’t write this all down the night before you go to court.

12. If you are wasted, don’t expect anyone to take you seriously. If you don’t show up for hearings the same thing applies. Don’t give excuses either. Communicate with your social worker while you are clean and sober. If there is an issue getting to court, ask your attorney to get you an extension – sometimes it is possible.

There are probably other things I am forgetting here but feel free to ask. Don’t leave comments about a kid you didn’t get back though. Hire a family law attorney and have that conversation with them. I cannot comment on a state or county or isolated situation when I really don’t know all the details. Even if you think you are right, there are always multiple sides to the story (facts) that will be unknown to me. An attorney knows your state laws and your rights with regards to family law. Whatever has happened in your family is very sad and I empathize with your situation but I can not change it. Only you can through the correct channels.

Spanking the Kids

“Spare the rod, spoil the child.” Ancient Calvinist methodology that I grew up with. So did most of our generations prior to the eighties. How many times must I hear, “But I turned out just fine.” If this is the case then why do we continue to see single parenting on the rise but also abuse and domestic violence continuing to flow every seven seconds? Why are adults more eager than ever to talk to psychotherapists about their childhoods when corporal punishment was so “effective?” Why have the generations that followed raised the entitlement generation if their parents did such a great job? Why have parents lost that skill in teaching right from wrong, setting limits, and teaching good work ethics? Why are children no longer involved with their grandparents religious teachings?

Let’s take the issue of Children’s Protective Services (aka social services in some states) out of the picture. Don’t blame an agency for your thinking process. CPS does not look down on parents who set limits, teach right from wrong, or good work ethics. They do not look down on parents who take their children to worship. CPS is not responsible for the fact that parents use drugs or alcohol in higher numbers than your own parents did. They are not responsible for the fact that you are a single parent either and have been displaced from your birth place so that there are no family members nearby to help in bringing up the child. You are responsible for your child.

Spanking the Kids and the Debate over Spanking

The issue of spanking kids, as you will read in the article above, takes on polar opposites. Either you are pro or against. Like with any other political agenda these days, there is no in between. What people are hoping to accomplish is often the reverse of what happens. It did not happen for you and it won’t happen with your kids. We are also living in a society now that is much different from what you or I were raised in. In my opinion, limits need to be set with kids immediately before they even know what a computer is. When I hear parents say “I have no control over my child, now that there is an Internet,” I wonder what happened long ago when their child was conceived. When did they first start allowing their children to get away with things?

When you first learned that you were pregnant, did you engage in a healthy lifestyle? Meaning were you conscious of not smoking, doing drugs, or alcohol? Did you see your OB/GYN as requested by them? Did you focus on a healthy diet that included organic foods, vitamins, and limited the caffeine intake? Were you working at a job with lots of stress or did you cut back in order to focus on the pregnancy? All of these items of concern have had an impact on the child you brought into this world.

How quickly did you put your child in front of the television and then the computer to use as a babysitter? This has an impact on the way your child views the world. Or did you have your child with you at all times when you were at home, bonding with them. Were you a parent who spent time out in nature talking with your kids and teaching them about life?

Were your children raised in a two parent household? Do you and your spouse believe in team parenting? This means you put the children first above your egos. It means that you come to an agreement on the values you will teach your children. It is not easy to do when you can’t stand the person you divorced. That is why you divorced them. Nonetheless, the children come first.

So now when you talk about spanking your children, who really needs the spanking? How can we expect our children to behave when we have put them on their own for so long? When we have given them whatever they want, whenever they want it, to massage our own guilt feelings about what we did not have as kids. When we have focused on keeping up with the Jones’ rather than developing family autonomy. Have we taught our children to fear us or to make us their best friend? Neither works by the way.

Our children need to learn from day one that we love them and are there for them no matter what. They need us to sit down at the end of the day and read to them. They need us to spend time with them and talk to them about life as they grow. They need to see us being good role models. They need to meet and know their extended family, on both sides, and have a relationship with them. Even if it is Skype and vacations. They need to know what their limits are from day one. This means when you say no, you mean no. If you and their other parent don’t agree you need to sit down and have a talk with your child and explain why your rules are different (without damning the other parent). Remember, they love both their parents, even if the other is screwed up. This talk needs to continue each time they ask about it. You don’t ever stop being a parent. Being their friend is going to have adverse effects because they won’t respect authority or elders. They will learn too easily how to get away with things. They will expect the world will be their friend and this is not the case. Your boss is not your friend. Your landlord is not your friend. Your doctor is not your friend. Your lawyer is not your friend. Your accountant is not your friend.  So don’t teach your children to be your friend. You are an adult and a parent. Teach them to respect you and your values and then respect them as individuals, as they grow. Give them a voice but show them that they have limitations. Let them express themselves creatively but explain what you like and don’t like about what they are interested in.

If from day one you have raised your children, consistently, in a good and healthy atmosphere, taking heed to what has been said above, you won’t need to spank them. Believe it or not, children who have been raised in these environments and were not spanked, live much better lives than children raised in households with belts, spoons, whips, rulers and extension cords. No one raised with corporal punishment has a good sense of self without lots of psychological support. Spankings never stopped there and never occurred when someone was thinking logically. Generally there was emotional abuse and sometimes even sexual abuse. It was humiliating and degrading to the human psyche. We have grown as human beings and have realized that there are more mature ways of raising children.  Let us open our minds and step out of the box of what we once knew and hated.