Being a parent is extremely rewarding but it is also difficult – especially for parents with children that have been sexually abused. It is common for parents in this situation to feel overwhelmed and question their ability to give their child what they need to heal and overcome obstacles that can be present with child sexual abuse. While often we look for grand ways to help our children we often overlook the fact that healing can come in a simple way. As parents, we can’t mimize the power and effect the words we speak directly to our children can have on their life. We must remember that children are growing each and every day and so each and everyday we should foster that growth and development. No day should pass without a parent of an abused child, or any parent, saying at least one of the following messages to their hurting child:
1. I love you. Please look directly into your child’s eyes when you slowly say this. Try to smile as well. Touch them gently too.
2. I’m glad you are part of my life. Children need to know that they matter to you. No one likes to feel invisible and ignored. The world can be cruel – every child should know that they have at least one person is this world that loves them unconditionally.
3. You can get through this! When we hear these words directly from someone we admire and respect we tend to truly believe we can make it.
4. You are beautiful and wonderful. Kids at school tend to be cruel. Many children are bullied. After a long day at school which can sometimes include negative messages it feels good to hear these words from Mommy or Daddy!
5. How are you doing? Adults and children want to feel that at least some one really cares about what is happening in their daily life. It feels awful when we feel that someone we love, admire and respect is too busy to care about them by asking a simple question like this. Please when you ask this question – stand still, be quiet, make eye contact and listen.
6. Everything is going to be ok. Say this and mean it. If you are a Christian believe this in your heart. Explain that God is in control, He loves us and wants nothing more to be a part of our lives so that He can take care of us.
7. Your life has purpose. Its easy for survivors to be confused about the purpose of life when they have been introduced to pain so early on. Use bible verses to explain that God has a plan for each of our lives.
8. It’s not your fault. Child abuse is never the child’s fault. Be clear and direct.
9. We will get through this together. No one wants to feel alone and that they have to face life challenges alone. That’s a bit overwhelming.
10. Anything positive. Be creative. Be loving. Be thoughtful. Be positive. Communicate. Please don’t ignore your child. Talk to them. Tell them you care. Touch them gently. Hug them. Show them you love them. Smile at them. There is no way that your child will know that you matter to them unless you speak directly to them and tell them. You are important to your child – they look up to you. Remember, it means the world when someone that you think is remarkable, extraordinary and wonderful feels the same way about you! Its empowering and that’s love!