I recently read online about a mother who starved her disabled daughter for years. When the fifteen-year old was eventually saved by social services, she had the weight of an eight-year old and measured 3 and half feet. The day before reading the story some friends and I were discussing mothers. We were sort of sharing war stories.
I heard the tale of a mother who deliberately slashed her child with a razor blade she had specifically bought for the occasion. The kid had dared to open a packet of biscuit a kindly neighbour had given him without showing it to his mother first. His “long-throat” therefore warranted him a permanent scar which still looks ugly to this day.
“At least she used a new one,” someone joked. But what if she had hit an artery and the child had bled to death? What lesson would she have taught him then?
Some people say it is easier to hurt other people’s kids than your own. One time, I read the story of a woman who beat her maid within an inch of her life with an iron rod. The eight-year old had overslept and did not boil water early enough for her kids’ morning bath.
But I also know a mother who never discriminated against any “weapon” when disciplining her own children. Belts, whips, pestle – whatever her hand caught in the period of her anger, she used. And then when she did not have a weapon, she would deliberately hit their heads against a wall or on the floor.
And that’s just physical abuse. What of the emotional abuse?
My friend who started the whole discussion that day had been talking about a fight she had with her mother. It was not a one-off thing. It was regular fights over something that happened years ago and had brought the girl so much pain that most times when she thought about she was moved to kill herself. Her mother knew of her pain and you would think that she would console her. But each time she was going through this private hell and shared it with her mom, the woman would rail against her and then even egg her on the suicidal path.
“Go ahead and kill yourself!”
Seriously? How can you say that to a child who is obviously in a fragile mental state? And you are her mother who is supposed to protect her from all hurt. I know a mom who calls her own children “bastards”- she is married to their father. And when she is really frustrated, she would curse them, telling them that they will never amount to anything good. And years later, you wonder why your kid is unemployed and not taking care of you the way other “good children” take care of theirs.
I have once heard it said that a mother’s love runs much deeper than that of a lover. But apparently this does not apply to all mothers. Having never had kids of my own and having grown up with a mom who loathed using negative language against and is maximum show of wrath was spanking us infrequently with a cane, I frankly do not understand how a mother can be cruel to her own children (or anybody else’s child for that matter.)
What kind of discipline is it pouring hot oil on a child because she stole a piece of dodo? Or whipping your boy with a machete because he cheated in his exam?
Some people have heart o! Seriously, what kind of lesson do you teach with cruelty?
I would dread being a mother if I know that I have been programmed to harm a child I carried for months in my womb through weeks of nausea and months of back pain; a child I suffered hours of labour to push out into the world or for whom I endured a tear to my stomach during caesarean section. After all this wahala, would I then willing go ahead to destroy either physically, emotionally or mentally to destroy that which I suffered to create? When these extreme mothers cause these hurts to their kids, is it as a revenge for the pain of childbirth? I really need to understand. Please enlighten me with some psychological or social theory if you can or at least share your own stories.