Folks — Just got this stirring letter from a mom named Cathy. She was responding to a comment on the Free-Range For or Against forum by another mom, Heather, whose father was an abuser. Heather believes that an adult who doesn’t want to constantly supervise his/her kids is not only putting them in danger, but has “issues” and needs psychological help. – L.
@ Heather-I am so sorry for the pain and trauma and immense fear you obviously still carry around with you. I hope you are in treatment.
I am a survivor of physical abuse at the hands of my bio parents, sexual abuse at the hands of a very trusted religious leader, and rape by 3 different men during my teens and young adulthood. It took me years of treatment to be able to let go of my paranoia that everyone was out to hurt me. Becoming a mother brought back those fears some, especially since I am the mother of 2, soon to be 3, little girls!
Thankfully, my therapy worked and unlike many survivors I do not live in fear for my kids. I am watchful, yes. I am careful about who i trust them with. But i certainly don’t fear every stranger on the street or every man who might smile at my kids. In my years of treatment and using online forums I have only once or twice come across someone who was sexually abused or raped by someone they didn’t know. The idea that strangers are dangerous is what is silly. the number of people hurt by strangers is very low.
I will give my kids freedom to play and be confident to be out without me by their side 24/7 because it’s what is best for them. Because truth is even if I try to smother them with my presence and “protect” them 24/7…it can still happen. My own (adoptive) parents were pretty overprotective of me. But that didn’t protect me. Fact is, you can’t stop bad things from happening by living in fear and paranoia of all the “what ifs” ….and i refuse to put my kids in a bubble and destroy their childhood because something *might* happen. I will teach them to be safe, teach them to trust me and come to me if anyone ever makes them uncomfortable or does anything improper. The biggest problem with children being sexually abused is that parents never want to believe it, the kids fear they won’t be believed and often aren’t… because it’s very very rarely some random old man at the park wanting to luck out with some kid they’ve never seen before. That old man is gonna go for the easier target of his grandkids, not waste time hoping to catch a kid alone at the park.
I hope very much my girls never have to experience anything like I have. I will do my best to make sure that never happens. but I will not do that by making them grow up in fear of being alone. I will teach them to be safe, not keep them oblivious and wrongfully think I can be there 24/7 to protect them. It’s impossible to be there all the time. We’ve gotta teach them to be confident, free, and knowledgeable and able to protect themselves. – Cathy