Featured Editorial

Generational Abuse is a Major Issue

I'm always excited for a time to celebrate special days of the year, however, this isn't the time or the place. Here is where raising awareness is most important. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and I am honored to have has a moment to get some great parenting advice from Jay Scott Fitter, author of "Respect Your Children: A Practical Guide to Effective Parenting" and also known online as Family Answer Man. Jay Scott Fitter MFT has two decades' experience as a licensed marriage and family therapist, and is a popular parenting workshop leader.
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Generational Abuse is a Major Issue

Mr. Fitter offers families pertinent information about some of the issues, causes and effects of domestic violence and generational violence in response to recent high profile cases such as the Adrian Peterson case. Parenting expert and author Jay Scott Fitter MFT says parents who hurt their children were usually themselves victims of child abuse. Peterson himself suffered repeated "whippings" as a boy (read more here). However, the generational pattern of child abuse can be stopped, and Fitter himself is proof of this. 
How would you describe the cycle of generational abuse to the everyday parent?

JSF- "As children, whatever way we observe our parents reacting to a situation, seems normal to us. They are our point of reference, so it's only natural that that when we are faced with similar situations, we will respond in kind. It's not uncommon for husbands who abuse their wives to have grown up in an environment where they observed their father being abusive to their mother. Most people who publicly came to the defense of Adrian Peterson also spoke of how they were treated the same way as a child, and didn't see a problem with it. As parents we must differentiate between the positive and negative role modeling we received, and then make a conscious decision to change the negative and learn healthier ways to be parents." 
Do you personally believe that physical discipline is ever justified under any circumstances?

JSF- "In extremely rare circumstances. For instance, a young child attempts to put a wire hanger in an electrical outlet. A swat could be used  to deter future potential life threatening behavior. Unfortunately, many parents use physical discipline as a catchall response to venting their own frustration over their child's behavior. Once again we are role modeling that using physical force is an acceptable way of getting others to do what we want. It is very common to find children who bully other children at school have been physically abused in their own home."

This is a two part question. What does research indicate to be some of the most effective methods of behavior modification within families? How do we as concerned parents best discipline our children without resorting to the use of physical punishment?
JSF- "The most effective methods of behavior modification are ones that are specifically tailored to your child. Many times it involves positive reinforcement for appropriate behavior, instead of just waiting for the child to do something wrong and receive a consequence. Children in general thrive on attention, whether it's negative or positive. This is a problem in many schools where teachers ignore the children who are doing well and give all the attention to the child exhibiting negative behavior. We need to catch our children "being good" and reward that behavior which in turn will encourage it to continue. This is the part of behavior modification that seems to be lost in most families."
"It is very important that the consequences be directly tied to the behavior. For example, losing cell phone privileges for abusing the cell phone rules, as opposed to being grounded. Basically making it clear to our children what the expectations are, and the rewards for the appropriate behavior as well as the consequences for violating the rules."
 How can families keep in contact with you for more information about ways to break the cycle of abuse in families and other informative resources?
JSF- "People can find me at Family Answer Man on Facebook. This is where they can read various articles I've written on a variety of parenting and relationship topics. They can also submit questions for me to respond to. They can also find me on the web at familyanswerman.com  where there are direct links to- Respect Your Children: A Practical Guide to Effective Parenting.

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