Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Lifelines: Hitting Streak

It’s the truth. I hit my kids. But my worst fear was that I would lose my children, so I was afraid to tell anyone how out-of-control I became

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

 Mishpacha image

OLD PATTERNS If I didn’t make the effort to overcome my anger, I’d slip right back into my old patterns of physical abuse. The difference was that now, I could choose to overcome my natural tendencies

I was talking to my therapist about the issues in my marriage, when I decided to open up to her and tell her about a different problem that was bothering me.

“When I get angry,” I began hesitantly, “I sometimes hit my kids.”

The therapist stiffened. “You realize that I have to report this to child services,” she said. I started to cry. “Please don’t report me!” I begged her. I tried to backtrack, explaining that it wasn’t really such a big deal.

Apparently, she didn’t report me, because I never heard from child services. I never went back to her, either.

My husband was difficult and abusive, and in the end, our marriage fell apart. We were Americans living in Israel, and my ex-husband opted to move back to America, where he remarried shortly afterward. I considered moving to America as well, but I didn’t want to further traumatize my two children by transplanting them and moving across the world. They were doing well in school, I had a decent job, and we were comfortable in our community. So I remained in Israel, far away from my entire family, and retained full custody over the children.

As a single mother, my worst fear was that I would lose my children, so I was afraid to tell anyone how out-of-control I became when my kids misbehaved. With my family living so far away, I felt that I had to constantly reassure them that I was managing just fine. Besides, I was too embarrassed to tell my parents that I was smacking my kids left and right. There hadn’t been any corporal punishment in our home when I was growing up, and I knew my parents would be horrified.

I myself didn’t understand why I hit the kids. I knew it was wrong, and I never actively decided to hit them. It was just that when they would make me angry, I would immediately react with physical force — not just hitting them, but also shoving them, dragging them by the arm, and gripping them too tightly.

Being a fun-loving, outgoing, capable person, I was able to put up a good front to the rest of the world. My kids looked put-together and well-cared-for, and nobody realized that I was handling them too roughly.

Once, I admitted to a friend that I had hit my daughter the night before because she wouldn’t go to bed.

“I did that once, too,” she commiserated. “It feels horrible afterward, I know. But don’t worry — you’ll feel so bad about it that it won’t happen again.”

I was too ashamed to tell her that it happened practically every other day, notwithstanding how bad I felt about it.

Another time, I confided to a different friend that I was really concerned about my anger problem. “Sometimes I just let loose on the kids,” I said. “I know it’s not okay, but I can’t stop myself.”

Related Stories

Lifelines: Thanking the Doctor

C. Saphir

Doctors aren’t prophets. They have permission to heal, but not to make predictions. But only several...

Scrounging for Scraps in Aleppo

Tzippy Yarom

An English Teacher Shares His Secret of Survival

Dismantling Online Terror

Ariel Ben Solomon

Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Microsoft announce plans to create a common, shared database to root...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
Weekly Struggle
Shoshana Friedman Cover text: promise big and deliver what we promise
Only Through You
Rabbi Moshe Grylak A response to last week’s letter, “Waiting in Passaic”
Are You Making a Kiddush Hashem?
Yonoson Rosenblum In communal affairs, “one bad apple…” often applies
Chance of a Lifetime
Eytan Kobre I identify with the urge to shout, “No, don’t do it!”
Work / Life Solutions with Bunim Laskin
Moe Mernick "You only get every day once"
Seeking a Truly Meaningful Blessing
Dovid Zaidman We want to get married. Help us want to date
Shivah Meditations
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Equivalence between two such polar opposites is puzzling
Magnet Moment
Jacob L. Freedman Everyone’s fighting a battle we know nothing about
Secrets and Surprises
Riki Goldstein Top-secret suits Eli Gerstner just fine
Blasts of Warmth
Riki Goldstein Keeping the chuppah music upbeat in low temperatures
Behind the Scenes
Faigy Peritzman The intrinsic value of each mitzvah
Good Vision
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Good or bad, nice or not? What you see is what you get
Day of Peace
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz On Shabbos we celebrate peace within and without