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Exir
01-11-2010, 03:43 PM
In my current work-in-progress, I'm touching on the issue of domestic abuse. I have a seven-year-old boy whose foster parents are alternatively hurtful and affectionate at different times. It's because the boy reminds them of the son they lost in an accident that they were partly responsible for. They are affectionate towards him because whenever they see him, they see their son, but when he is unable to live up to the image they want him to be, they hurt him.

My question is: is that realistic? Also, what are some additional "triggers" that would cause them to behave that way?

Thanks in advance!

emilycross
01-11-2010, 04:19 PM
Well i think it is realistic, but in regards to triggers (well these would be very individual things) - for example i suppose if the late son was good at maths but their current son isn't, well this might be a source of tension and disappointment. I think little things like that would create the atmosphere you want as a writer.

Small things like how the late son would kiss his mam goodnight, but the other boy doesn't or vice versa

Exir
01-11-2010, 05:39 PM
The situation is severe enough that the parents would occasionally beat the child. What could cause such a strong reaction?

And in terms of "triggers", I didn't mean situations (I'd have to decide within the story how far things would go), but the psychology and dynamics of the parents in general. I mean, merely losing a child wouldn't warrant such a strong reaction -- there should be some other reasons to make them act like that. What could they be?

backslashbaby
01-11-2010, 07:06 PM
Being abused themselves growing up. And a great deal of abuse is pretty irrational anyway. It's very good that you aren't familiar with it :)

Ex: Mom left the orange juice out too long, and that leads to a major blowout. The child could be beaten for it.

More understandable to folks: child spills his milk on the carpet.

Good luck :)

ETA: alcoholism or drug abuse is pretty common, as well.

TabithaTodd
01-11-2010, 07:41 PM
Being abused themselves growing up. And a great deal of abuse is pretty irrational anyway. It's very good that you aren't familiar with it :)

Ex: Mom left the orange juice out too long, and that leads to a major blowout. The child could be beaten for it.

More understandable to folks: child spills his milk on the carpet.

Good luck :)

ETA: alcoholism or drug abuse is pretty common, as well.


I don't necessarily agree with the bold part. Not all abused people abuse (I'm speaking from experience here, personal experience).

Abuse is never rational. It doesn't matter what the trigger is, it could be a spill of juice on a floor, knocking over an empty glass, making a face (rolling the eyes, a sarcastic sigh), staring at the "parent" while they ask the child to do something - with a blank stare as if they didn't hear it. Playing in a cupboard when they are not suppose to, squeezing all the tooth paste into the sink..leaving clothes out on the floor or ripping up the room and making a mess...could be just even breathing loudly...

There are no rational triggers for parental abuse of a child, the triggers can be small or large ones, can be random or not...there are no real set triggers at all.

backslashbaby
01-11-2010, 07:48 PM
Oh! I definitely agree that abuse doesn't lead one to be an abuser! But I think abusers being victims of abuse is their most common trait.

TabithaTodd
01-11-2010, 08:13 PM
This comes in line with the questions being posed:

http://www.fixcas.com/

Loads of information there on both parental and foster care abuse (system abuse as well).

They have some links to studies for abuse and parental alienation as well as the foster and adoption industries. I don't know if it will help with answering any questions but it's worth a try. It's Canadian but it applies across the board.

Exir
01-11-2010, 08:35 PM
I see. Hmmm... yeah, I totally understand how abuse is very irrational.

These parents are outwardly respectable folk -- they keep a good appearance, both to hide what they do and perhaps even in part because of their guilt, both for the loss of their child and for how they treat the foster child. They make up for their losses of temper by pampering the child for the rest of the time. It's a kind of systematic irrationality, if that makes any sense.

backslashbaby
01-11-2010, 09:02 PM
It does make sense, I think. Certainly there are strange motivations in families, too. For instance, sometimes just one child is abused badly. I believe your premise can be done very well. Just remember all the craziness and anger and rage that is usually there. Often a ton of control issues.

It can absolutely happen in a family that looks 'upstanding'. It can be a 'letting loose' while alone with the family, or it can be that the adults are aware that their behavior looks bad in public, or both.

Wiskel
01-12-2010, 02:59 PM
Your ideas are sound.

If your foster carers are going to beat the child then you also need to think about how they rationalise this afterwards, not just what the trigger might be.

The trigger is simple. It only has to be something that stresses them to a point where their normal coping skills go out the window. when people don't have a good way of dealing with stress they either turn it inwards or outwards. Those who turn it outwards slam doors, kick the cat, punch walls, put their fists through windows and may even hit people. Those who turn it inwards might hurt themselves.

The aftermath is more interesting. they've just hit a child. How do they deal with it?

There are two of them. If both believe that hitting a child for a small misdemeanor is appropriate then that tells you a lot about their character. If one disagrees then you've got a trigger for family arguements that might be seen as started by the child because they'll be argueing about their treatment of him but that's easily turned into argueing about him.

If they know that what they did is wrong then they need to rationalise it. They did it for his own good. He deserved it. His transgression was really serious. It's to stop him doing it again. Nothing else works so they had no choice. It wasn't the transgression it was his attitude afterwards. He's a bad kid and someone needs to sort him out. If he isn't taught right from wrong he'll end up just like the awful parents who put him into foster care. He'll thank us in the end when we turn this kid who isn't good enough into one who is.

None of these need to be the real reason, that can be linked to their son as you said, but they need to find a way to forgive themselves for doing it. if they can't then they have to face the fact they did something wrong. That should lead to guilty "never again" feelings and possibly lead to them pampering him until the next time....you get a really nice cycle of guilt going if this is the case that leads to some pretty poor parenting.

Craig

Exir
01-12-2010, 06:24 PM
Wiskel: Thanks for your help! You've answered some psychology questions of mine before, and the answers were always informative.

Thanks all who answered!