Last night, my local news teased their 11:00pm broadcast with a video of a man whipping his child with belt while the reporter asked “did he go too far?”
When I was an early teenager, I lived in a house where abuse like this took place behind closed bedroom doors. Cries to stop, yelling, screaming, and the hitting of hands on flesh feel now like they were normal occurrences. Thankfully, I was never the target. Though, when I saw that teaser video last night, I felt a fire and a fear rise up in my chest that brought me back to those late afternoon bouts. I would sit in the family room, watching the television and ignore what was happening in the bedroom down the hall.
The woman delivering the blows was my former step-mother (she and my dad divorced nearly twenty years ago) and the subject was her son. Now, her son was no angel but did he deserve a beat down from his mother? And what kind of parent purposely lays hands on their child in an effort to inflict pain?
I’ve been watching Oprah’s Life Class on OWN and a recent class was about acknowledging a person or making them feel like they matter. In this episode, Toni Morrison, asked “when a kid walks into a room, does your face light up?” Think about that for a second. When your child comes into your space do you validate their presence? Do you make them feel like they are your greatest gift? Or are their needs and wants – or simply their presence – disregarded because work or *ahem* Twitter takes precedence?
We all want to feel like we matter. It feels good to be acknowledged – even if it’s just eye contact or a smile. Hell, there are probably volumes of psychological studies on the significance of acknowledgement and how it can benefit or handicap a person. Oprah said “the worst thing you can do to a person is make them feel invisible.” It amazes me to think about how the small act of “lighting up” can lift a child.
Now think about the significance of beating the crap out of your kid.
So, yeah…that man went too far.