Alice Miller, child abuse and mistreatment

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How to make up for mistakes?
Friday May 30, 2008

Dear Ms Miller,
Thank you very much for all your work, I've read a lot of it and it helped me much. I am really very grateful for all your wisdom and courage. However I have a question I haven't found the answer for. I would be really grateful I you could write me a short answer.
I'm a mother of a two years old boy, A. Now, gaining awareness and being in therapy myself, I've grown to understand that I have already done a lot of things wrong as a parent - it was lack of patience, not giving him enough attention, raising my voice, using too much force and expressing anger with daily routine activities he protested against (giving him medicines, dressing, feeding with some types of meals) and hitting his hand a few times. I know I have already repeated some of the ways my family mistreated me in the past.

In most of these situation I told him I was sorry - however I don't know if it could be of any help.

I am finding out more and more about my past - and about things I had to deny to cope with. I know I can help myself to deal with my problems now. But what about my little boy? How can I help him? He is only two, I can't go to therapy with him together, I can't sit with him and talk seriously and ask his forgiveness.
I know one of the best things I can do is to heal my own emotions - in the hope it will help me not to repeat these mistakes and be a better
mother. However I know it is not enough, because the harm has already been done.
Is there anything else I can do for him now?
With best regards
M. from Poland

AM: The best you can do (also for your child) is working on YOUR past, so that you come to understand where your anger comes from. You can tell your child that you are very sorry that you have spanked him; you didn't know THEN that a mother should NEVER do this. Now, since you know that hitting children is wrong and dangerous, you promise him that you will never do it again. Don't ask him for forgiveness, it would be a new burden. You should only inform him that you know now better, that you know of his suffering and regret what you have done. This is important and you will see how positively it will work for both of you.


Dear Ms Miller,

Thank you very much for your answer. I has helped me a lot. I am very grateful you have done it so fast

With best regards

M

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