Parents, teach your children

By CATHY THOMAS BROWNFIELD

Family Recovery Center publicist

Someone said, “A child’s job is to be loved.”

As we near the end of Child Abuse Awareness Month, it seems like a good time to talk about ACEs, otherwise known as Adverse Childhood Experiences.

“We at Family Recovery Center use the ACE Survey to find out who and what issues will need to be addressed during the assessment process and thereafter,” advises Eloise Traina, Chief Executive Officer of FRC.

All of the traumatic events that occur in a child’s life will never be eliminated because we don’t live in a perfect world. But we can arm children with knowledge and a strong life skills tool box so they can come out on the other side of adversity – difficulties, misfortune — strong and resilient, able to negotiate the bad things that will come along throughout their lifetimes.

Says the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), “The number of ACEs are significantly related to the negative outcomes on reaching adulthood.” The negative outcomes lead to poor physical and mental health, risky behaviors, and/or substance abuse.

“The presence of ACEs doesn’t mean a child will experience poor outcomes … positive experiences or protective factors can prevent them experiencing adversity and protect them from the negative health and life outcomes even after adversity has occurred.”

The Mayo Clinic defines child abuse as “intentional harm or mistreatment of a child under age 18.” A child who has been abused may feel guilty, ashamed, confused. And the child may be afraid to tell anyone about the abuse that involves a parent, another family member or a friend of the family.

Physical abuse is hurting a child on purpose, or permitting someone else to harm the child. Sexual abuse is any sexual activity with a child from fondling to pornography. Emotional abuse is a verbal or emotional treatment that attacks the child’s self-esteem, their well-being, things like making them feel small and worthless, forcing them into isolation, ignoring the child and the child’s needs, or even rejecting the child. It is the harm done by making them feel worthless and unworthy of being loved.

Medical abuse is when a parent or caregiver gives untrue information about an illness that requires a doctor’s care and puts the child through medical tests they don’t need because they do not have the illness.

Neglect is when the basic needs go unattended: shelter, food, supervision, affection, education, medical and dental care.

“Some children overcome the physical and psychological effects of child abuse, particularly those with strong social support and resiliency skills who can adapt and cope with bad experiences. For many others, however, child abuse may result in physical, behavioral, emotional or mental health issues – even years later,” advises the CDC.

Parents need resilience, too. This means being able to step up, even when you are afraid, and bouncing back from the difficult challenges and obstacles that test you. Resilience is nurtured when you take quiet time for yourself, to be mindful of the true you. A good workout helps deal with frustrations and finding perspective. Sharing your feelings with a friend you trust also helps.

You help your children build resilience when you, their role model, are positive. Your involvement in their lives should help them to build confidence, be connected to others. Teach them to set goals, to have dreams, reasons for living. They need to see challenges as opportunities to learn, explore and grow. In helping others, we find ourselves. Very young children begin learning by mimicking the grown-ups in their lives. One of those lessons is self-care: self-control, making their own choices when they have considered their consequences.

Parenting is not for the faint of heart, that is certain.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded in part by Columbiana County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board.

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