Parents fighting behind unhappy child.

Parental Connectedness: Violence and Home Atmosphere

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Parents fighting behind unhappy child.This is the sixth in a series of blogs about the benefits of parents and children connecting with each other.

There is an abundance of research on conditions at home that relate to violent behavior. They include early aggression and witnessing violence in homes and neighborhoods. Once children are victims of violence they may become perpetrators of violence.

When conditions at home undermine connectedness, such as harsh discipline, lack of parental involvement, family conflict, parent criminality, rejection, child abuse and/or neglect, a climate is created where, according to some, children may “literally trained to be aggressive during episodes of conflict with family members”.

Youngsters who are “trapped in abusive families are doubly or even triply jeopardized. Not only are they at risk as potential victims themselves, but witnessing violence creates its own chain of adverse events – including irritability, immature behavior, sleep disturbances, emotional distress, fear of being alone, difficulty concentrating in school, aggression, depression, anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress disorder. Finally, the protective factor that would help most – a strong relationship with a competent, caring, positive adult, preferably a parent – may not be available if the parent is either the perpetrator of the violence or another victim.”

There is no strategy that can universally provide excellent parenting to all children. So, consider whether there are struggling kids from troubled homes whom you could bond with, bringing in the strength of a caring adult into their lives? Why not be that person who demonstrates compassion and kindness? You may change the direction of someone’s life.

Author

Gary L. Hopkins, MD, DrPH, MPH is currently an associate research professor at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan where he is also associate director of the Institute for Prevention of Addictions, Director of the Center for Prevention Research and Director of the Center for Media Impact Research.