Emotional Child Abuse: Mother and Little Girl

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In a previous post, I told you a story about a little girl I once knew. Although most of this ongoing story is about the little girl, I want to introduce you to Mother. Maybe a small part of Mother’s story can help explain how the little girl found herself in such a terrible predicament within her family. I’ll have to warn you. I’m not terribly sympathetic to Mother though I am trying to develop a little understanding.

When I came to know Mother, the little girl was five years old and Mother was 35. An older mother to a child that young back in those days, to be sure. Mother had tried for a long time to have a baby. She was almost 30 when she succeeded. Mother’s pregnancy was difficult. The little girl found out later that she bore the scars of that difficult pregnancy. So, probably, did Mother.

Mother visited the town’s only doctor a lot. He was an excellent doctor but only had the knowledge of those times. But, he was wise beyond those years. Mother had a number of physical ailments that she was diagnosed with when she was between 35-40. Those, however, did not start plaguing her until a few years later.

Mother’s problems during her late 30s were less of a physical nature and more of an emotional nature. Mother had a problem with Daddy. At that time, I didn’t know what  that problem was as I was only a friend. I do know that, as a few years passed, the problem seemed to grow more severe.

The problem with Daddy was not the only source of emotional distress for Mother. Mother had come from a background that was emotionally difficult. Her mother, Grandmother, was a high-strung, temperamental woman who was cold and not particularly loving. Grandmother, to be honest, was mean. Though Mother would never have said so, Mother grew up in a family where the parents were not demonstrative with any sort of loving behavior. Grandfather was a kind, generous man but probably not outwardly emotional. Mother may never have learned how to love. That is what the little girl told me when she became a grown-up woman. She also said that Mother, as she grew up, was much like Grandmother – mean, temperamental, and cold.

Here was Mother – problems with Daddy and a little girl who needed her. A raft of physical problems and an even bigger load of emotional ones that she probably did not understand. No one to help but an old family doctor who tried his best and a sister next door who also tried her best. No one seemed to know what to do. So they did what so many families do. They hid and denied the problem, except among themselves.

Mother only looked outward for help. She looked to Daddy, the doctor, her sister, and even little girl. She failed to look inward and she did not try to help herself. Perhaps she couldn’t. Perhaps her problems were too severe. There is no way to know. The grown-up woman little girl became told me that, before Mother died, her emotional problems had only gotten worse, not better.

But, back to the story. Little girl wasn’t very old when Mother realized something. She realized that little girl was a great deal like Daddy as her personality developed. Mother and Daddy had never resolved their problems and, in Mother’s eyes, the worst thing that could happen was for little girl to grow up and be anything like her Daddy. She was supposed to grow up and be like Mother and her family. Fate has a way of playing tricks on us and that was not happening.

Since Mother could only punish Daddy to a point, wasn’t little girl a good substitute? Wasn’t she just like her Daddy? Wasn’t she like his family and not like Mother’s? That’s what Mother told me. Not that little girl was a substitute, but how much she was disgusted by the way she was just like Daddy. It was years later, when little girl was a grown-up, that she told me this one day.

Not only was Mother a cold, temperamental and unemotional woman, but she had a child much like a man she had grown to hate. On top of this, she had emotional, even perhaps mental, problems and no real help available. When I look back, I realize this was a recipe for disaster for that family.

So began the problems for little girl. Emotional child abuse. A form of child abuse just as damaging as physical or sexual abuse. It just doesn’t leave bruises or any physical scars, though Mother engaged in physical abuse more than once. Emotional abuse involves degrading the child, making the child feel that he or she is not good enough, expecting the impossible of the child, not being affectionate toward the child, and much more. It is not usually obvious to people outside the immediate family. Often, they think the child is acting out when they react to the abuse. But, children who are victims of emotional abuse are not acting out. They are reacting to what amounts to betrayal by their parent.

Child abuse of any type is the ultimate betrayal between a child and the parent. Little girl suffered that betrayal at the hands of Mother even though there were reasons that Mother acted the way she did. There is no reason for child abuse.

Follow this blog for the continuing story of little girl.

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