Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Parenting vs Poverty

This morning I had coffee with some lovely mums from school.
We were chatting about this and that and one of them mentioned a debate
that they watched on TV last week on a program called The Voice.

Apparently last week it was about child abuse 
and whether it was cause by poverty or parenting.
The consensus seemed to be bad parenting, because why would anyone
want to hit their child.

Twenty years ago I when I became a parent
I was a broken person, who became a broken parent.

I think that a combination of loneliness and isolation,
coupled with long-term hardship and poor role models
mean that people do things they never intend to do.

Nobody means to hurt a child, 
a whole lot of bad things come together
and the child bears the brunt.

It's heart breaking and terrible,
and its also terribly hard to ask for help.

I made lots of mistakes and I have deep regrets,
but I'm also truly grateful that I asked for help when my first child was tiny
and that over the years as I have journeyed towards being a whole person
I have also learned to be a good mum.

Wild accusations will help nobody,
but understanding and honesty will every time.


  1. It takes a village to raise a child and that statement could not be more true when it comes to abuse. Yes, there are jerks out there but I think a lot of abuse comes from parents who are totally overwhelmed and haven't the support that is needed to be a parent.

  2. Wow, that was honest!
    I'm not a mum and I will never be a mum but I see child abuse as being a mix of a whole lot of things. Poverty, hardship, stress, poor or no parenting models, noone to reach out to to ask for help.... but it isn't just one single thing - a rich mum can abuse a child too.
    I'm glad you reached out and became the person you are today.

  3. Hey Deb, GORGEOUS photo of your four - what a handsome bunch!

    I saw that debate on the telly too, and was frustrated at the polarisation and extremism of both sides of the argument.
    It's really not one or the other, but a combination of BOTH (poverty/dire circumstances added to lack of skills and general brokenness). I heard a quote on the great new program "Call the Midwife" the other night which summed it up for me.
    One of the characters was shocked at living conditions (in the East End, 1950s) and was bemoaning the poverty; a wise older person who'd been round for a while said, "Now dear that's bad enough but true poverty is not having anyone to believe in you or show you kindness or let you know you're of any value..."
    And I thought, there right there, with that definition of poverty, I would be firmly on the "Poverty" side of the argument.
    We can lack "THINGS" but that's not poverty. It's lacking of love and care and VALUE as a person that is the true poverty.

    Sorry for waffling!

  4. So good to read this... I think 'child abuse' is such a tricky tricky topic... thanks for your thought-provoking post, love you! xx

  5. Poverty V's parenting, is just a catch phrase in my humble opinion. Abuse comes in many, many forms and some abuse never shows up in bruises.
    The fact that you were wise and caring enough to seek help, the fact that you chose to overcome what had come before shows your strength. Sadly there are others who don't have that strength or insight and children suffer.
    We dont need to judge or come up with catch phrases, what we need is a complete maternal health system that stops these situations from developing further.
    Poverty in the material sense has nothing to do with it, but the stress of no money to pay bills will be a stress that no parents need.
    Your example only goes to prove that we are all capable of feeling weakened we all need to help each other.

  6. This goes without saying that this is an amazingly honest post. Your strength and faith is a testament to the woman and mother you are. I commend you.

  7. I was certainly a very different parent to my youngest son than I was to my oldest. In some ways better as I was firmer and more consistent - in other ways I learned not to sweat the small stuff and relaxed a lot. My youngest son never got physically punished - with two more children between these sons, I learned new techniques, mainly because i hated resorting to smacking and the fear I would hit too hard when the "rope snapped". I am sure many people remember that ad on NZ television.
    I was comforted that all parents want to throw their children out of a window at some stage - but good parents mange to resist the temptation.

    Single mothers ( or fathers) face the challenge of 24hr care and worry - a helping hand can go a long way.
    Today, I watched a young mother of three boys at the supermarket. She told them that if she could she would take them round and they could choose anything they wanted and one day she would have enough money to do it. But meanwhile, she couldn't afford more than the basics. I landed up at the check out with her at the same time. They were behaving so well and I stopped and gave her $10 because she was doing such a great job and they reminded me of my own children. I hope the praise of her parenting meant as much to her as the money....

  8. child abuse has nothing to do with money ... it might just change from physical to psychological abuse with the increase of money..
    No child reacts the same to parenting .. you can't say what works for the one will work for the others.


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