By: Lisa M. Hayes – Confluence Daily is your daily news source for women in the know.
CHILDREN HAVE X-RAY VISION
Karen was understandably upset when Shelby, her 14-year-old daughter came home from school with the right side of her face badly bruised. She was even more upset when Shelby admitted colin, her boyfriend had pushed and she’d fallen against a pillar in the hallway. Initially, Shelby claimed they were “horsing around”. However, upon further inquiry, Karen learned he was angry with her because she hadn’t come to his practice the day before.
Teenage girls are the fastest growing demographic of domestic violence victims. Karen wasn’t sure Shelby was a “victim” but she was sure she wanted someone to talk Shelby into breaking up with her boyfriend. So, they scheduled an appointment to talk to me.
To be honest I was surprised how cooperative and open Shelby was. I expected her to be pretty resentful and angry. She wasn’t. Shelby talked freely about her relationship with Colin. It was clear she had a lot of 14-year-old feelings for her boyfriend. It was also clear she didn’t like to make him mad. Shelby admitted he’d pushed her many times before and he’d held her down a couple of times. She wasn’t exactly afraid of him, but she was highly aware there were consequences for crossing the line.
As Shelby talked you could see the blood drain out of Karen’s face. It was obviously worse than Karen had thought. “Why are you staying with this boy? What’s going on? I don’t understand.” Karen asked, trying to hold back the tears.
Shelby looked legitimately confused. “Mom, it’s not that bad. Really. He treats me really good most of the time. Colin really likes me. I don’t see what the big deal is. It’s not like he hits me the way Dad hits you.”
You could have heard a pin drop.
“Your father does not hit me.”
“Yes, he does.”
“You’ve never seen your father hit me.”
“Yes, I have.”
Daniel did hit Karen. Not often. Rarely. However, it had happened many times over the course of their 17-year marriage. Karen quit loving Daniel many years ago and in her heart of hearts wanted nothing more than to start over without him. However, she never allowed herself to think about divorce. Ever. She was staying for her kids.
Everyone knows you stay for the kids.
Children develop a framework that will last their whole lives about what is right, normal, appropriate, and “not that bad” in relationships based on what you do, not what you say.
If you’re wondering how healthy your relationship is, ask yourself if you have the kind of life you want for your children when they’re grown? Would it be ok to get hit occasionally? Would a little bit of infidelity be alright for your little one? Is “not that bad” good enough for your children in their future marriage?
I doubt it. But if you’re living it, you are making it much more likely that’s exactly what will happen.
Children have x-ray vision. They see what’s going on behind closed doors. If you’re staying in a relationship for the kids, make it one worth modeling, or get out. Period.
* This story was shared with permission and names changed to protect the privacy of the families involved.