Compassion vs. Hatred

I can’t get this news story out of my mind. A little girl, three years old, was left by her mother with a male friend. First the mother told reporters she had left the child with the friend for a month but would visit once a week. The mother’s family had been told the little girl and her mother were staying with friends in another city, and that they were fine. We don’t know where the mom really was.

Police found the child sitting in a large trash bag, feet, hands and mouth duct taped “because she was too noisy.” She was covered in feces.

There were other details reported too horrific to print. Neighbors of the man who was supposed to be taking care of the little girl were shocked. They said things like, “That’s a shame.” “That’s too bad.” “A child should never have to go through something like that.” To me, those responses sound cold, just an automatic, expected response.

I must admit, my first response was not at all Christ-like. I ranted and raged against the evil mother who cared so little for her child’s welfare. I wanted to punch the guy that was supposed to be taking care of her.

The reporter was talking to a professional counselor, asking how anyone could be so evil to a child. The reporter’s answer put me back on the right way of thinking. The counselor said many times, through counseling, people like this can change. They usually treat children this way because it is how they have been treated. It is their sense of normal. When they receive counseling and realize that this is not normal, nor is it right, they realize they didn’t like being treated that way when they were children, and don’t want to continue the pattern.

I read a poster many years ago that said, “Children learn what they live.” It is true. I don’t think any parent wants to be abusive. When you are raised with anger and bitterness, it becomes a part of you. If you don’t know you can change, you won’t. Unless someone shows you how to be a better parent, you are doomed to repeat what you’ve grown up with.

I am thankful that Jesus saved my soul, and through His love and the teaching and preaching of His word, I learned not to be an abusive parent. These people who mistreated this little girl, and all who mistreat their children, need the Lord’s help to change the pattern. They need help, guidance, compassion, and forgiveness.

How to Help a Grieving Child

This is going to be a short article because I’m not sure of the legalities of me just pasting an article I found online. I don’t want to infringe on anyone’s rights. But children go through grief cycles too, and as adults we often downplay their grief because it is not a situation that would cause us grief.

Sometimes, when a child hurts, the pain and heartache get shoved down and ignored. The child may not feel comfortable talking about his/her feelings or what’s bothering them so they internalize and take their grief, anger, frustration, etc. out on others. It can cause physical symptoms. It may even spiral out of control.

If you have a child who complains of severe physical pain, or is mean-spirited, snide, negative, or bullying, there may be something serious bothering that child and they don’t know how to talk about it, or what to do with the feelings, or how to cope with the situation. It is VITAL that someone find a way to get that child to open up. It would need to be someone that child trusts, is comfortable with, and who would have the wisdom to be able to help.

I found the article by searching: How to counsel a grieving child.

Here is a list of professional people who wrote the article that I am not at liberty to copy.

Baker, J.E. & Sedney, M.A. (1966). How Bereaved Children Cope with Loss: An Overview. In Corr, C. & Corr (Eds.), Handbook of Childhood Death and Bereavement. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Christ, G.H. (2000). Healing Children’s Grief: Surviving a Parent’s Death from Cancer. New York: Oxford University Press.

Fogarty, J. (2000). The Magical Thoughts of Grieving Children: Treating Children with Complicated Mourning and Advice for Parents. Amityville, New York: Baywood Publishing Company.

Garber, B. (1966). Construction and Reconstruction in a Case of Parent Loss. In Altschul, S. (Ed.) Childhood Bereavement and its Aftermath. Madison, Ct.: International Universities Press.

Worden, W. (1996). Children and Grief: When a Parent Dies. New York: Guildford Press.

© Copyright 2009 by Beth Patterson, MA, LPC, therapist in Denver, Colorado. All Rights Reserved.