Single Parents and Child Abuse
Today is brought to you by the letter “D”. For depressing. The theme of my day today was child abuse.
At 8am I had a lecture on child abuse, because dentists are mandated reporters of suspected cases. I’ve had the lecture before, in dental school, so I knew how it would go. Basically the lecturer shows a bunch of graphic pictures while I look anywhere but at the screen, and then feel guilty for not looking at the screen because I am supposed to be learning to help these kids, so then I look at the screen and feel sick and look away, and rinse and repeat.
In these lectures, they always discuss the populations most at risk for child abuse, and one of them is children of single parents and divorce. The reason is obvious, of course– the parent gets frustrated with the child, doesn’t have any help or support, loses their temper, and lashes out.
Then, of course, there was the Casey Anthony verdict this afternoon. She is a young single mom, about my age. I won’t say that I “get” her, because I truly believe that the evidence indicates that she killed her daughter and so I think she is vile. I will never understand what she did and I certainly don’t mean to make any excuses for her. I will say that I see it– I recognize the danger and the increased risk to children whose parents are single, young, and have no support.
Think about it. Even if you’re not a single mom, haven’t there been times when you’ve been alone with your baby or young child for extended periods of time, and you start to lose it? The baby cries, and cries, and you try everything to make her feel better, but she’s still crying, and you don’t know how to make her stop and her screaming frays each and every one of your nerves and makes every hair on your body stand on end. There is no one to help you and you haven’t slept in days and you would give anything, anything, to just have one single second of peace. I get it. I remember it.
But hopefully you step away from the child and regain your composure, count to ten, and jump back in.
Some parents don’t.
Having been both a married and then a single parent, I am of the opinion that for single parents, feelings are magnified. The fierce love and devotion and protectiveness you have toward your child are stronger, sure, but so too are the feelings of frustration, resentment, and yes, even rage.
It is a frightening and sickening thought, but it is a reality and the danger exists. It is the reason why reaching out to single parents you might know, offering them help, offering them company and support, might mean more than you know– not only to the single parent, but also to their child.Add a Comment