Children and Domestic Violence: Part 2 – Consequences and Prevention

Consequences of Domestic Violence on Children

violenceA child witnessing relentless, unkind behaviour, intolerance, exchange of harsh words, sarcasm, mistrust, offensive gestures, unpleasant treatment and/or indifference between his/her parents is most likely going to have an unbalanced and blemished personality with multiple problems to cope up with, such as:

Lack of Religious Growth: Children from a disturbed household hardly become religious, unless someone consciously channels them. Since they rarely see their parents ever turn to their Rabb (Sustainer) and exercise patience in times of distress, they cannot relate to this concept.

Absence of Spiritual Connection: When children witness their parents trying to find peace through other means and relying on those means besides Allah (swt), they automatically relate to seeking peace and relying on ways and means other than the true source of Khair (goodness), their Creator.

Loss of Self Confidence: Such children lose their confidence, because they have been devoid of the kind of emotional support required to boost their ego and individuality.

Low Self Esteem: The loss of dignity between parents or such a behavior pattern established by one of the parents gives birth to low self-esteem in their child’s character, resulting in a feeling of worthlessness.

Insecurity: When children witness ill treatment between their parents or by any one parent towards the other, they feel insecure about their relationship with them and dread being the victim either directly or indirectly. They also feel worried about their parents or their siblings and feel powerless.

Anxiety: A child observing domestic disorder whether emotional, verbal or physical is always on guard, watching and waiting for the next event to occur. He/she never knows what will trigger the abuse and therefore they never feel safe.

Self-doubt: When a child’s tender mind is not able to explain why his/her parents hardly get along, they sometimes start blaming themselves; that if they hadn’t done such and such thing, the argument wouldn’t have started. Or if they are unable to explain the reason for a fight, they remain doubtful about the occurrence of it which leaves them confused and frustrated. The feeling of self-doubt makes them feel humiliated and embarrassed.

Resentment: Children experiencing a chaotic household become resentful towards either their siblings or one of the parents who they think is responsible for triggering an argument. They can possibly become enraged, short tempered and abusive as adults themselves.

Suppression: Children experiencing domestic issues are always engrossed in coping with the stress at home. They are expected to keep the conflicts at home a secret. Consequently, this can turn them into inexpressive and suppressed beings.

Intimidation: On the contrary, sometimes children who witness one of their parents (most likely their mother) being the victim at home, learn to grow up to be intimidating individuals themselves to get their way in an intimate relationship, because children have a natural tendency to identify with strength.

Controlling Behaviour: Knowing their strength, children from disturbed homes are prone to becoming controlling as spouse themselves. They have been brought up to feel anxious about relationships; therefore are desperate to take charge in order to preserve a relationship from disintegration. They feel that their controlling would help keep it intact.

Vulnerability: These children feel isolated and vulnerable. They crave for attention, validation and company. As both parents are consumed in their own survival, they are hardly emotionally available for the child. Therefore, the child is most likely to look for the emotional dependency elsewhere.

The above are only few of the many setbacks that a child from a disordered home goes through. The question is: Do we want our children to experience this? The expected answer in all cases would hopefully be no.

Then what are we, as parents, doing to prevent them from such experiences? Having said this, I do not intend to include the unique situation, where a spouse has a psychological disorder and the other spouse is expected to put up with them.

Realistically speaking, how many of us face the above mentioned condition where we have zero control over our respective relationship? Truthfully, the genuine reason isn’t that we can’t avoid drastically damaging scenarios, but usually we choose not to prevent them; as every dispute has a history of negative, unresolved events trailing behind it accompanied by insensitive, tactless and careless actions between the parents.

Generally speaking, we are selfish individuals that are primarily concerned with catering first to our personal, emotional and psychological needs. While in a conflict, we are either immersed in self-pity and depression, or are trapped amidst the battle of egos. Thus, we neglect the little hearts from being repeatedly aggrieved and wounded.

Emotionally and physically drained, frustrated and exhausted from having to keep up with the relationship with our spouse, we become oblivious to the damaging impact our indifference towards each other might have on our child’s personality.

Prevention is Better than Cure

However, we must remind ourselves that our children are dependent on us in every single way, for each little thing; and realize the gravity and responsibility that parenthood holds. We cannot help the reaction of our spouse, but what we can control is our attitude towards them or towards an unpleasant situation or experience.

Obviously, it is not as simple as this statement and requires counseling and perhaps, a series of articles to get into the intricacies of a relationship and its dos and don’ts. Nonetheless, the focus of this article is to highlight the traumatic conditions that children who experience domestic violence go through and its consequences.

A child is similar to a soft lump of dough and we can mold it as we wish, it goes through what we make it go through. A lump of dough, when handled with love, care and wisdom can be beneficial for you, but if it is handled roughly and carelessly, it can prove to be just the opposite.

Our children are an Amanah (trust) from Allah (swt). They have been sent to us so that we can nurture them with love, respect, care and concern. We leave our impressions on them. We either leave our child with a well-nurtured body and soul, or we leave them with a scarred soul and a wounded heart. The choice, of course, is ours!


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Children and Domestic Violence: Part 1 – Behind the Closed Doors

violenceA sudden, dreadful crying and screaming woke Zainab up. She laid on her bed, burying her face into the pillow, trying hard to block out the growing noise coming from the other room.

It had hardly been two hours since she had cried herself to sleep. Her tender heart started pounding against her chest at the thought of what would follow this pattern. It was the norm; after her father would come home, her mother would scream at him, he would yell back and then it would get worse until she, being the eldest child, would intervene, crying and begging her parents to stop the awful fight, the reason for which those little children could never understand.

Zainab had secretly prayed to Allah (swt) many times to take her back to Him. She somehow felt responsible for what was happening between her parents. Often she felt that even Allah (swt) was not happy with her, for her Duas were not being accepted. The only thing she ever wanted was to see her parents happy together. Whenever they were happy, she would hope the time would freeze, so she could preserve every bit of it. But unfortunately, the happy moments would not last for very long; a simple disagreement would turn into a heated argument leading towards a terrible dispute.

What really wounded her heart was when either of her parents held grudges against each other and complained to others about each other. Or when other people would gossip about her parents, while disregarding her presence, as she was a mere child, supposedly devoid of feelings or a sense of understanding. This infuriated her and she started to accumulate hatred and resentment within herself.

Her fear and anxiety grew, as she could overhear the increasingly enraged arguments coming from the other room. “Stop! Please, stop!” Zainab screamed in her mind, tightly clamping her hands around her throbbing head, which felt like it would burst. Despite being huddled up in a warm and soft quilt, she could feel her feet getting cold. Tears of anger, rage and distress were rolling down from the sides of her eyes, fading away in the darkness, while she lay there in the emptiness of her room hoping that the yelling from outside too would soon fade away.

Does this sound familiar? Have you, as a child, felt the way Zainab was feeling? Or even worse, could your children be going through what Zainab was experiencing? Catastrophically, the innocent victim of such a battle is always a child, who has no role to play in a conflict between adults, except to helplessly watch and get destroyed.

Whatever excuses parents might have to justify their perpetual conflicts, ill temper or regular tantrums, whether towards each other or directed towards their children as a result of being frustrated in a mutual relationship, such situations are completely unacceptable and unjustifiable.

Since they, as adults, have been given the responsibility of raising a human being, they are liable for and therefore must be mindful of not only the physical upbringing of their child but also the psychological development, including the spiritual growth and emotional enrichment of this little individual.

Parenting in Violent Times – Teach Your Kids the Lesson of Peace

Islam-Peace-ReligionIf you ask any teacher involved in mentoring teenage kids in schools and colleges about the general character of their pupils, ‘Churlish’ is most probably going to be their unanimous rejoin. This churlishness is well replicated in our overall social conduct and no area in our societal landscape is empty from this churlishness. Whether it is religion, politics or culture, the violence has spread its wings all over the place. Sometimes, as a society we try to fool ourselves by branding it as “Foreign Propaganda “, but unfortunately, the approach of “putting a curtain” has badly intensified this malady and it has now gone fatal for our social and religious fabric. Where we can blame our state and politicians for their bad policies, on the other hand, we cannot also ignore the heedlessness of parents in protecting their kids from this social and ethical illness. Our strong family system is indeed a matter of pride for all of us and it provides us with a matchless tool to modify our social tendencies. The outcome will solely depend on how effectively and smartly we utilize this tool to get the desired results. Parents happen to be on the driving seat of a ‘’family car’’ and can easily steer the whole family either towards the ‘’danger zones’’ of violence or could drive them towards “lush gardens’’ of peace. Following are some proposed ways on how parents can train their kids to be peaceful and modest individuals:

  1.  Remote control your kids: Traditionally in a family, the TV remote control is kept with the Dad during prime time hours when all the family members gather before a television in their living room to enjoy some family entertainment. If you feed your young ones with violent Hollywood action flicks and Bombay Underworld based Bollywood movies on a daily basis, it will not be a surprise if your kids eventually distance themselves from Quran and Sunnah and learn the violent customs depicted in those movies. Do research and find appropriate channels and programs that can infest them with peace and love.
  2.  Give dialogue a chance: In my opinion, the violence in our society is mainly rooted in the fact that we do not want any difference of opinion and have forgotten to co-exist with different schools of thought. A society tends to have differences and will only sustain if it learns to bear it unreservedly. As a parent, you can teach your kid on how to deal with differences in a peaceful manner by engaging yourself in a dialogue with them on matters in which they differ with you. Like, for instance, if your son wants to study commerce and in your judgement engineering will suit him instead, rather than imposing your opinion on him try to explain the basis of your judgement and listen to him if he has stronger reasons. This dialogue will not only help your son to become peaceful but will also bring affability to your house.
  3. Do not shout, be kind: Mothers are extremely possessive and passionate about their kids and therefore lose calm as soon as anything goes slightly astray. Houses in the country rock with ‘Mama’s’ loud and powerful shouts that can be heard by every kid in the neighbourhood. Sometimes it also gets physical which has worse implications on the mental development of a kid. Mothers need to learn gentle ways to control their kids so that the kids grow up as more confident and serene. If this motherly aggression is not controlled, resultantly our clerics and politicians will continue to be aggressive in their speeches and conduct.
  4. Serve them peace, use a dining table: Keeping in view the contemporary hectic lifestyle in which parents do not have the luxury to spend a lot of time with their kids, dinner is the only time when you can pull a healthy conversation with your kids. Inspire them by reflecting on the life of our Prophet (sa); expand on his compassion and forgiveness. Teach them how dialogue averts devastation and wars open doors to chaos and mayhem. In return of their favourite deserts, ask them to contribute towards the conversation and share their ideals of peace and love.
  5. The kitchen strategy: Many studies have indicated the affects of food on personality building. The excess of meat makes a person more violent and aggressive while the use of vegetables bends a person towards docility and modesty. Follow a proper diet plan that should comprise different sources i.e. fish, mutton, beef, chicken, and vegetables distributed equally. Keeping in view the economic and health benefits, use vegetables more often than meat. It will not only improve the physical health of your kids but will also help in boosting calm in them.
  6. Nip the violence in the bud: The early years of a kid are the most important in his personal development and are the high time when parents need to play their role. They need to be attentive of any growing inclination in them towards a violent way of life. Analyse, where they go wrong and mentor them duly. Talk to the school teachers and get their feedback on kid’s personality. Your hard work will reward the whole society with peace and prosperity.

The existence of human civilization and its progress is hidden behind our ability to remain peaceful and modest. Deviance will bring with it lethal implications for our societies and cultures. It is extremely important to keep our cultures and religions unpolluted from violence and extremism. Keeping in view the milieu of Pakistani Society, family is the basic unit and is normally governed by parents. Therefore parents need to act as role models of peace and gentleness and teach their kids to be peaceful and tolerant. This will help the society to change its current character of aggression and can restore itself to its original fabric of harmony and co-existence.