( Wuxi, Jiangsu, China)
Child Abuse Story From Bigdaveinchina:
This account is based on my observation only, not on any therapeutic participation. Years ago, when I was in my prime as an English teacher in Canada, I was given a class of gifted bilingual students. One boy seemed not to belong and seldom produced any work that I was inclined to praise. He had the aura of defeat around him, his shoulders struggling under a weight that always seemed to be there.
Parent/teacher night found his parents sitting across from me. The father, a respected principal in the community, appeared prematurely worn and lacking in confidence. One look at the mother and things became clear. However successful the man might have been in his career, his strength of mind had been eroded years ago. He was now in the process of wrestling with his wife's double emasculation. What she had killed in him he was now witnessing again as his son had no defense against this emotional powerhouse.
She conducted herself with borderline civility, expecting me to be apologetic for her son's lack of excellence. Instinct told me that polite compromise and deference weren't going to have much effect. The father and I shared a look which said, 'This ought to have happened years ago'. He knew this look was telling him to save his son.
My impatience and distaste for this bullying, well-meaning, and absolutely wrong-headed woman came to a head. I suggested she leave her son alone and let him grow at his own rate without breathing down his neck.
She threatened to speak to my superiors about my insensitivity, and I pointed out our school's principal to her. Probably for the first time in years the father stood up, announced that she was going to speak to no one, accompanied a handshake with the words "thank you" and dragged her off to inflict her female wisdom on the next unsuspecting teacher.
The next day the principal mentioned, in confidence, that she had very influential friends. He also mentioned that her husband had stood up for me most enthusiastically.
To be honest, I don't know if this anecdote has a happy ending or not. This kind of abuse is difficult to counter and teachers often resort to conciliation rather than confrontation. Many men, as well, don't carry around the same degree of lethalness.
As a last thought or two, I'd argue that boys need strong men to emulate; without these, they're being shortchanged. I'd argue that the flipside of nurturing is abuse. When the nurturing produces a feeling of suffocation, you know something is very wrong. Abuse, after all, is forcing someone to be what they don't want to be—a sex toy, an intellectual giant, a social butterfly, a gifted pianist, etc. It's the invisible, debilitating effects of abuse that are less sensational, can be marked with an asterisk, and just as enduring as the unforgettable breath of physical violators.
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