Breaking The Generational Cycle of Child Abuse

by M Dolon Hickmon

“How do you approach parenting in order to not replicate the abusive patterns of your past?”

This question was most recently posed to me by philosopher and Patheos blogger Dan Fincke, but as a father, who is also a survivor of- and an outspoken campaigner against religiously motivated child maltreatment, it’s a question that I am often asked. Or, rather, it’s the question that polite people should ask. Unfortunately, the sentiment is more often presented, not as an inquiry, but as a seemingly sympathetic statement: “You must feel very strongly about protecting your daughter from the horrors of your childhood.” 

The constraints of time usually prevent me from properly answering. 

I don’t want my daughter or any human being to suffer maltreatment. But the unspoken assumption that underlies such questions and statements is that survivors’ pasts exert an invisible pull that they must continually struggle against, lest they fall into the trap of behaving like their abusers. 

As a father, I have never struggled – not even a little bit – with that. 

Indoctrinate my daughter with the scary, demeaning religion of my childhood? Wouldn’t even consider it. Whip my preschooler until she pleads to heaven for mercy? Don’t even want to think about it. Allow my daughter to witness her parents verbally and physically abusing one another? Never going to happen. 

And that is why this essay is not about how I fight the undertow of my past, but rather about why I don’t have to…

Read the rest of this article by M Dolon Hickmon, Author of 13:24 – A Story of Faith and Obsession at Camels with Hammers.

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