Parental Violence Quiz
- By Barrington H. Brennen, May 4, 2005
Are you a violent parent? If your children
would choose just one word to describe you as a parent, what word would that
be? Bossy, bully, grumpy, bigotty,” rough, mean, kind, gentle, sweet, or
loving. Too many parents are not kind and gentle with their children. They
believe that to get the maximum results from their children, they must
scream, shout, push, and call them shaming names. Some parents are not even
aware how they are damaging their children’s lives. Their loud, boisterous,
shouts just seem to come naturally to them. This is why it is important that
you answer the “Parental Violent Quiz” below.
It is my opinion that parents' behavior toward their children is the reason
for the violence in our country today. For generations we have used negative
parenting styles that have reaped havoc in the lives of our children. The
authoritarian, military type parenting style, where the child is shamed more
than praised and “should be seen and not heard” has caused great damage to
our families and the society. This is obvious today in the seemingly
uncontrollable, angry behavior of our teenagers and young adults. Show me an
angry, uncontrollable, always-getting-in-to-trouble teenager, and I will
show you a rigid, inflexible, delinquent parent. Show me a habitually
violent teenager and I will show you a violent parent. Is it the teenager we
must focus on to change his/her maladaptive behavior, or is it the parent
with the non-productive parenting style?
Experience, wisdom, and research indicate that the variable we can change
now is parenting styles. It is easier and cost effective to change parenting
styles than to reformat the maladaptive behavior of teenagers. That is the
only hope for the country. This does not mean that programs and institutions
cannot be used to help reform troubled youth. They must be used. However, it
does mean that the success we will have in transforming maladaptive behavior
will be determined by the attitude of and behavior of parents themselves.
Are you a violent parent? As I explained in the previous article, “Intimate
Partner Violence Quiz,” the word violent can be replaced with the word
“abuse.” Violence can be physical (hitting, slapping, pushing, pinching,
etc.) or non-physical (verbal, emotional, intimidation, etc.). The
questionnaire below will help you to detect whether you are a violent or a
non-violent parent. Remember, the questionnaire is not intended to replace
professional assessment or treatment. It is only designed to help you think
about your behavior as a parent towards your child. The first part of the
questionnaire, Parental Attitude, is so you can think about your attitudes
and feelings toward your child. It is upon this backdrop that you respond
physically or verbally in a violent manner. Respond to the statements below
with an open mind.
- I resent my child.
- My child gets on my nerves.
- I wish I did not have a child.
- I hate my child.
- I feel very angry toward my child.
- I feel ashamed of my child.
- My child irritates me.
- I have very little tolerance for my child’s
- I have very little patience.
- I frequently get drunk or high on drugs.
- I usually refuse to help my child when she
- I think my child is a dummy.
- I believe that beating a child is the only and
best way for effective correction of wrong doing.
- While growing up, my parent(s) called me names
and often beat me, leaving cuts and bruises on my skin.
- While growing up my parents seldom or never
hugged, kissed, or said encouraging words to me.
If you answered yes to at least three of these
statements, you might be an emotionally violent parent and have a greater
risk of becoming physically violent. It is important that you seek further
assessment and treatment from a professional.
- I scream and shout at my child.
- I usually call my child names like “stupid” or
“dummy” when I am not satisfied with his behavior or emotional or academic
- I tell my child “you will never make it in
- I tell my child “you are just like your
no-good father” or similar statements.
- I very seldom hug and kiss my child.
- I have difficulty commending my child for the
good things she does around the house.
- I ignore my child’s feelings when he is
hurting. Instead I often say, “you will get over it.”
- I physically punish my child each time he
- I use a piece of wood, tree branch, or belt
buckle to beat my child.
- When beating my child, I am usually very
- I often slap my child in the face when I feel
she has embarrassed me.
- I force my child to eat when he refuses to eat
- I use the words, “I will kill you,” when my
child makes me angry.
- I push and shove my child in harsh ways.
- I lock my child in a room for long periods at
a time refusing to provide food or listen to her side of the story.
- When my child cries because of my beating her,
I continue to beat demanding that the crying ceases.
- I make my child wash his mouth with bleach
when he lies to saying mean things.
- I physically punish my child if he does not
make good grades in school.
- I have forced or seduced my child into having
sex with me.
- I play with my child's genitals for my
If you answered yes to any of these statements, you might be a violent
parent and should seek further assessment and treatment from a professional.
PARENTS ARE OUR ONLY HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
It is imperative that parents realize that they hold the key to a
non-violent society. The angry outbursts and violent behavior that have been
occurring on our school campuses and communities are a direct result of
angry or lazy parents who refuse to honor and respect their own children.
Violent behavior first starts with the tongue. Parents need to learn how to
talk so their children will listen, and listen so their children will talk.
Angry parental outbursts can often be described by these words of a hurting
child: “Mom and Dad you’re talking so loudly, I cannot hear you.” Far too
many parents ignore how violent their tongues are, causing severe emotional
laceration and permanent wounds. Psalms 52:4 says: “The tongue deviseth
mischief, like a sharp razor working deceitfully.” Parents who consider
themselves Christians are often the most violent towards their erring
children. They speak words of discouragement and shame when their child
disobeys. James 1:26 states: “If anyone considers himself religious and yet
does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his
religion is worthless.” Ephesians 6:4 (New Living Translation) makes it even
clearer: ‟And now a word to you fathers (and mothers): Don’t make your
children angry by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the
discipline and instruction approved by the Lord.”
Child rearing does not come naturally to anyone. You are not a great parent
by default. It calls for diligent study, wisdom, and knowledge. Take the
time to think about what has been written in this article. You might be the
nucleus for the beginning of a non-violent community. To have a non-violent
nation, we must first have non-violent parents. Let it begin with you.
Barrington H. Brennen is a marriage and family therapist. I would really
like to hear from you. Send your questions or comments to P.O. Box N-896,
Nassau, The Bahamas; or call 242-323-8772, or email