How ACF’s Non-Violence Parenting Program: Skills to Acquiring Mastery of Parenting (STAMP), Raising Safe Kids & Supportive Housing have helped my family.
As a mom, I will never forget the look of terror in my small children’s eyes as they stood in their pajamas in their bedroom doorway crying, as I lay on the floor beaten until my eardrum was ruptured. Years later, that image is as vivid for me as it must be for my children.
Housing allowed us to flee our abuser, my children’s father, and not live in constant fear day and night. However, even in our safe new apartment, it wasn’t long before it was clear we still lived out the same patterns of behavior. I knew I needed to do something, so I signed up for STAMP parenting class with a group of other parents. The parenting class helped me learn good techniques and nonviolent responses to deal with my children’s behavior. It also helped me understand why my children behaved the way they did, as their response had a lot to do with the past abusive experiences. I saw how my understanding of their actions and responding to them in a loving consistent positive manner began to make a difference.
The Road To Success
Success didn’t happen overnight, or even after a few sessions, I continue to work on being better every single day, as I parent. Having a STAMP instructor who had similar life experiences and is a single mom makes me feel like she understands. It also helps to have support of other STAMP parents who offered to me suggestions and support outside of the sessions.
Learning to raise children to be nonviolent means teaching my children not to be violent, but also not to tolerate violence from others. Because of the parenting class, I learned violence doesn’t always occur in a home. I learned it was happening with bullying at school, in music, in social media, in video gamming, and on television. So, I taught my children that it wasn’t ok for someone to bully them in or out of school and how to report any instance of violence to me and school officials. I did the same for cyber bullying that may occur on Facebook. I taught them to never tolerate bullying, even if it meant we had to file a police report. It showed my children that reporting violence was a way to stop the violence, and that we have no tolerance for anyone to treat us with acts or threats of violence again!
My Advice to Others
I would like to tell anyone in a violent relationship to leave. There is help out there. But just leaving doesn’t undo the harm you or your children have experienced. It takes a lot of work to deprogram and not fall back into the same bad habits that either enabled the violence or poor responses to the trauma my children would play out in their behavior. However, it is all worth it for my children to learn what a loving, caring, and safe family life is like for them now and for their entire future.
What I wish I knew then that I learned from STAMP:
- My children are not misbehaving for attention or trying to hurt me. Their behavior is a “symptom” of the repeated violence they were exposed to.
- Just because the children didn’t receive the physical violence, witnessing or overhearing their mom being abused was just as harmful.
- Establishing consequences for my children’s misbehavior helps them learn a lesson about why the behavior is wrong, and how to prevent it from continuing to happen in the future.
- Take all threats seriously.
- Having an awareness of victimization and role model teaches my children how to avoid the risk of re-victimization in the future.
- Violence is NOT normal. We live in a world that is over tolerant of violence and I don’t want my children to think it is “ok” or normal to live in violence or fear. Take every opportunity to talk about why it is not.