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AIBU to feel uncomfortable with my dad's new job?

(23 Posts)
AgeingArtemis Wed 07-Oct-15 15:38:12

My parents, especially my dad, used to hit and to some extent emotionally abuse me and my siblings.

They aren’t monsters, and in many other ways we have a good relationship (!) but I can’t forget what they did, I just try and pretend that the bad bits of my childhood never happened because the last few years have been a huge improvement- ie although furious my dad didn’t even try to hit my brother for drinking when he was 14. So, yeah.

My dad, who is a teacher, has been promoted to a role with more pastoral responsibility, including “child protection”. This makes me feel uneasy. I don’t doubt that he will do his job well, but I don’t think someone who thinks hitting children is an appropriate punishment should be in such a role. Aibu?

Because he DOES seem to think it’s normal. He is probably ashamed of the times when it went too far but he JOKES about giving kids a smack and doesn’t understand that it makes me upset.
Also, should I bring up to my parents the way I feel about my childhood? I mainly want to let sleeping dogs lie, but I am quietly seething that they don’t realise how my childhood has affected me. My dad (when emotional ) apologises for being too busy at work to spend time with us when we were growing up. That was the LEAST of our problems and it shocks me that he doesn’t realise (or is he in denial?)

PurpleWithRed Wed 07-Oct-15 15:42:51

Your dad's a teacher in a pastoral role who thinks smacking is OK?

laffymeal Wed 07-Oct-15 15:49:11

If he hits a child in his current role (or any for that matter) he'll be sacked and face criminal charges. It's unlikely he'd be that stupid.

The feelings you have about your childhood are a different issue. What do you think raising it would achieve? Are you ready to be told you are "imagining it" or somesuch if you say your DF is "in denial".

It might be better to talk this over with a counsellor.

thelittleredhen Wed 07-Oct-15 16:03:06

Yep, I know of a Head who did nothing about a parent using the wooden spoon on their children because they did it and saw nothing wrong with it.

WhyCantIuseTheNameIWant Wed 07-Oct-15 16:09:53

Is there a "time difference" between these events?

Slapping a naughty child was more 'acceptable' in the 60s/70s.

Do you think he has 'grown up' or 'moved on'?

Also, I know it shouldn't make a difference, but other kids are different to your own. And a job is different to a family.

Can we have a bit more background?

Arsicles Wed 07-Oct-15 16:11:37

But don't forget the huge changes in parenting in recent years. My DPs smacked me often, but didn't smack my youngest sibling because by then it already wasn't ok. Now they would be furious if anyone smacked a child. Your dad will probably carry out his new role perfectly well. He'll put his "teacher" head on and just do it.

DoJo Wed 07-Oct-15 16:13:03

If he hits a child in his current role (or any for that matter) he'll be sacked and face criminal charges. It's unlikely he'd be that stupid.

I don't think the OP is concerned that he might hit a child himself, so much that he may not report an incident in which a child tells him that their parents hit them, which is a concern and a significant one for someone in a safeguarding role. If he still thinks that what he did was appropriate and that some children do 'need a smack' then he is possibly not what that kind of role needs.

Arsicles Wed 07-Oct-15 16:16:51

Whatever his own views, I think he would know to act on a child reporting being hit. No teacher nowadays would brush that aside. I'm a teacher. Dunno, maybe I'm naïve.

Sighing Wed 07-Oct-15 16:35:32

YANBU I think I'd question his ability to objectively question/ flag informatiom about a child's experiences of violence. He (has been) an advocate of a form of punishment that suggests losing control (hitting someone small and vulnerable) is ever acceptable.

IsabellaofFrance Wed 07-Oct-15 16:47:39


My Mum often shares NSPCC-type posts on FB, completely forgetting she abused both my sister and I as children (hitting us with canes, clogs, hairpulling, etc).

Even if he would carry out his duty, the fact that he may secretly feel that the person is in the right would be awful.

IssyStark Wed 07-Oct-15 16:56:24

I agree with WhyCant, attitudes have changed immensely from when I was growing up when hitting was acceptable and people who were campaigning for hitting children to be outlawed were seen as weirdos and extremists and the 'loony left' (but then so people who called for gay rights let alone gay marriage).

HPsauciness Wed 07-Oct-15 16:57:46

YANBU but norms around smacking children or indeed hitting them with belts/spoons have changed enormously in my own lifetime and I'm only early forties. Of my friends, nearly all were hit in ways we would now consider abusive, so repeatedly smacked hard, sometimes not with clothes on, hit with belts, smacked in the face. My mum was anti-smacking and was very much out of step with what people felt was ok in the 1970's- even my school caned children when I was there which made me feel sick with dread even though I knew my mum would never allow it.

I don't know where this leaves you except angry and perhaps worried that children in your dad's care may not get the best protection, I don't think arguing with him personally will have much effect on his work life though, as he clearly thinks it was all ok anyway. Presumably he has been on more recent courses and knows that these norms have changed, and smacking of course (though not face/with implement) is still legal.

SevenSeconds Wed 07-Oct-15 16:59:58

Agree with WhyCant, in my opinion it depends how long ago your childhood was. I was a 70s child, my mum hit me on occasion and also worked in a caring profession. I've never seen this as an issue.

SolidGoldBrass Wed 07-Oct-15 17:37:41

The fact that your dad didn't hit your brother for drinking does suggest that your dad has learned at some point that it is no longer acceptable for children to be hit as a method of discipline, and is therefore safe to take this job. Are you sure you are not motivated by revenge rather than concern for other people's children? It sounds like you want your dad publicly shamed for what happened in your childhood. This isn't going to make you feel better: all it will do is wreck what you now say is a pleasant enough relationship with him.

shovetheholly Wed 07-Oct-15 17:38:44

OP - when you say he jokes about smacking, are you talking about this happening in the present? Do you feel that he would minimise such behaviour now?

As a fellow adult who was 'smacked' as a child - and with similar memories of it going far too far and ending up with fists or objects being used - I know how angry this can make you feel, even thinking about it in retrospect. You need to think about whether now is really the right moment for you to raise this. I know I would feel incredibly emotional and would really struggle with some of those memories (though you may be better at coping than I am) - there is a world of hurt now that is being compartmentalised, and it's important that you open it up when you feel ready and have appropriate support and not to someone else's timetable.

You also say that you're in a kind of place now where you're not sure whether you want to cause a family row by exposing this - I think that needs some careful thought too! I'm not saying this to protect your family, but with your wellbeing at heart. It's easy for emotions to just boil over and for everything to come out in a very uncontrolled way that will damage you and your ongoing relationships. That doesn't mean it's the wrong thing to do - just that there are potentially huge consequences that are difficult to deal with either way, and that careful musing may be needed to determine the best way forward for you.

Have you had counselling for any of this? It could really help.

Mistigri Wed 07-Oct-15 17:44:38

The OP makes it sound like this was relatively recent though?

Hitting kids was more common in the 60s and 70s, though it depends on your background - I am 50 and it was already unacceptable in the middle class media luvvies type circle my parents moved in. But by the 80s, and most definitely by the 90s, I think it would have been much more out of line with what people generally considered OK.

I don't think I'd be terribly comfortable with the idea of someone being responsible for child protection who was still hitting his own kids as recently as the 1990s. I think it raises the question of whether his judgement is good.

AgeingArtemis Wed 07-Oct-15 17:47:59

Thanks everyone for your replies. I'm not actually planning on "doing anything", I was just wondering if I was justified in feeling a bit odd about it.

laffymeal there's absolutely no way he would hit a child in his job, and I'm sure that some of the stuff he used to do he would definitely report! But it just seems weird to me that someone in that role should be pro-smacking, even if legal. I'm almost certain that he would be ashamed of some of the things he did if he could remember, but he still seems to be pro "mild" physical punishment.
I am confident that it won't stop him doing his job, I just feel odd about it.

*Whycant" I'm 19, and the oldest child, so it wasn't many years ago! I don't think he hit me as a teen, but the threat was always there, I just didn't do anything bad enough, and by that stage he'd mostly stopped.

I agree that standards have changed.
My mum used to smack us and shout a lot when she was really angry and I don't resent her anymore. My dad lost his temper less, but was a lot more calculated, a lot more brutal. For example, the summer i was 10 I used to say "like" a lot in conversation (which is really irritating grin ) and to stop me saying it he would hit me round the head every time.

For what it's worth, I totally empathise with parents who lose their temper and give their child a smack, and then feel awful about it, but routinely and ritually physically hurting a child (even gentle smacks) is pretty twisted imo.

ahbollocks Wed 07-Oct-15 17:48:42

Same, to a certain extent OP. My mum walloped the beeeees out of my older sister and I, but not my younger siblings.
She ended up working in child protection as a social worker.

I can't marry the two in my head tbh but I think she does regret it. My dad never hit us, and would stop my mum if he ever witnessed it go further than one smack, which wasn't often. She isn't a monster but was a functioning alcoholic and still in her early twenties so I do forgive her a little bit.

Totally get your unease though

Mistigri Wed 07-Oct-15 17:51:28

I think hitting a child repeatedly for saying "like" would have been considered unacceptable in most households in 1970 let alone in 2006 :-/

scarlets Wed 07-Oct-15 17:57:35

At 19, you are a very "recent" adult which suggests he was striking you not so long ago. I very much hope his better behaviour with your brother indicates that he's genuinely changed over the last ten years, and not just that your brother is big and strong enough to retaliate physically, unlike you.

AgeingArtemis Wed 07-Oct-15 17:58:08

solidgoldbrass I'm absolutely not planning on taking any action re: his job!! Or even mentioning it to him- I might, one day, talk to him about his parentlng, but tbh probably not, as it's not worth the hurt it would cause. And that would be totally separate to his job.

Shove yes, he recently makes jokes about smacking or a "clip round the ear" but not about actual child abuse.
I don't think I want counselling, and I agree with what you said, and I'm pretty sure I'm not going to talk to him about it. It's not worth it.

TooTypical Wed 07-Oct-15 18:01:15

I can see why you feel uncomfortable about the new job. I imagine it is laid out very clearly indeed what his responsibilities are. As long as he carries them out 'to the letter, his past behaviour as a parent - and the dodgy 'jokes' he might make away from work, aren't relevant to the rest of the world. (Though very significant to you.)

I have parents who were violent, abusive and neglectful. They see themselves as 'good' parents who did not deserve to have a 'bad' daughter. All sorts of ordinary behaviour was seen by them as deviant, and deserving of parents. My father is dead and although I'd like to settle old scores with my mother, I don't think she really wants to face any uncomfortable truths.

Perhaps the important thing is holding onto your own truth, having people who love and support you in the present, and not repeating your parents' mistakes in your own life.

Releaseasongbird Wed 07-Oct-15 18:02:35

I have a variety of personal views that would be at odds with my role in a school if I wasn't able to separate the two, but I am.

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