About Adoptee Rage

Statistics Identify large populations of Adoptees in prisons, mental hospitals and committed suicide.
Fifty years of scientific studies on child adoption resulting in psychological harm to the child and
poor outcomes for a child's future.
Medical and psychological attempts to heal the broken bonds of adoption, promote reunions of biological parents and adult children. The other half of attempting to repair a severed Identity is counselling therapy to rebuild the self.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Adopted Child Abuse Profile the Abusive Parent



Understanding and Profiling the Abusive Parent

The researchers have developed a system which allows them to record the effectiveness of parenting skills. They are particularly interested in disciplinary strategies because abuse most commonly occurs when the parent wants the child to comply. "It's a question of trying to determine which type of parent produces which type of child or which type of child elicits which type of parental behaviour," explains Oldershaw. As a result of their work, Walters and Oldershaw have identified distinct categories of abusive parents and their children. 

#1 'Harsh/intrusive' mothers are excessively harsh and constantly badger their child to behave. Despite the fact that these mothers humiliate and disapprove of their child, there are times when they hug, kiss or speak to them warmly. This type of mothering produces an aggressive, disobedient child. 

#2.  A 'covert/hostile' mother shows no positive feelings towards her child. She makes blatant attacks on the child's self-worth and denies him affection or attention. For his part, the child tries to engage his mother's attention and win her approval. An 'emotionally detached' mother has very little involvement with her child. She appears depressed and uninterested in the child's activities. The child of this type of mother displays no characteristics which set him apart from other children. 

In order to put together a parenting profile, the two researchers examine the mother/child interaction and their perception and feelings. For instance, Walters and Oldershaw take into account the mother's sense of herself as a parent and her impression of her child. The researchers also try to determine the child's perception of himself or herself and of the parent. Abusive parents are often believed to have inadequate parenting skills and are referred to programs to improve these skills. These programs are particularly appropriate for parents who, themselves, were raised by abusive parents and as a result are ignorant of any other behavior toward her child. 

One of the goals of the psychologists is to provide information to therapists which will help tailor therapy to the individual needs of the abusive parents. "Recidivism rates for abusive care-givers are high," says Walters. "To a large extent, abusive parents which require a variety of treatment. " Their research is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

ADOPTED CHILD ABUSE & MALTREATMENT: The EVIDENCE Found the Mother Perpetrator's Physiological Responding


Adopted Child Abuse & Maltreatment 

The Abuse Evidence Found In the Physiology of 
the Perpetrator Mother's Biological Responding   __________________________________________

UO researcher finds abusive parenting may have a biological basis

EUGENE, Ore. — (Oct. 7, 2013) — Parents who physically abuse their children appear to have a physiological response that subsequently triggers more harsh parenting when they attempt parenting in warm, positive ways, according to new research.
Reporting in the quarterly journal Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, a five-member team, led by Elizabeth A. Skowron, a professor in theDepartment of Counseling Psychology and Human Services in the University of Oregon College of Education, documented connections between the nervous system's ability to calm heart rate — via electrocardiogram (ECG) measures of parasympathetic activation — and the type of parenting mothers displayed during a laboratory interaction with their preschool child.
Studies of child maltreatment have consistently found that parents who physically abuse their children tend to parent in more hostile, critical and controlling ways. Skowron's team appears to have found evidence of a physiological basis for those patterns of aversive parenting — the use of hostile actions such as grabbing an arm or hand or using negative verbal cues in guiding a child's behavior — in a sample of families involved with Child Protective Services.

For the experiment, mothers and children were monitored to record changes in heart rate while playing together in the lab. Parenting behavior was scored to capture positive parenting and strict, hostile control using a standard coding system.

What emerged, Skowron said, 
Were clear distinctions between abusive, neglectful and non-maltreating mothers in their physiological responses during parenting. When abusive mothers were more warm and nurturing, they began to experience more difficulty regulating their heart rate and staying calm. This physiological-based stress response then led the abusive mothers to become more hostile and controlling toward their child a short time later in the interaction.
1) Skowron on main finding, 20 seconds
2) Skowron on the challenges of intervention, 66 seconds
The same was not the case for mothers who had been previously identified as being physically neglectful or for mothers with no history of neglectful or abusive parenting.

Participants in the National Institutes of Health-funded study were 141 mothers — 94 percent Caucasian with a high school degree or less and incomes at or below $30,000 — and their children, ranged in age from 3 to 5 years old. The research focuses on tracking the effects of physiology on parenting in real time.

"Abusive mothers who try to warmly support their child when the child faced a moderate challenge displayed a physiological response that suggested they're stressed, on alert and preparing to defend against a threat of some kind," said Skowron, a researcher at the Child and Family Center/Prevention Science Institute at the UO. "This kind of physiological response then led to a shift in an abusive mother becoming more hostile, strict, and controlling ways with her young child, regardless of how her child was behaving."

The findings, she added, suggest that when physically abusive mothers experience being a nurturing parent they find it to be hard work. "It appears to quickly wear them out, perhaps because it challenges them in ways that lower-risk mothers don't experience," she said. "An abusive mother appears caught: When she does a good job with her child, it costs her physiologically, and it negatively affects her because it leads to more aversive parenting."

The team's findings help to explain why abusive parenting is so resistant to most interventions, Skowron said. "Most parents who struggle with child maltreatment really love their children and want help improving their parenting skills. Our findings suggest that many are experiencing a biological response during parenting that actively interferes with their efforts to parent in warm and nurturing ways."

The next step, she said, is exploring how to translate the new discovery into interventions specifically designed for parents struggling with child abusive. “We have to figure out how to help these high-risk parents calm themselves down more effectively and enjoy the experience of supporting their children in warm, positive ways. First, she noted, it will be important for other researchers to replicate the findings.

"Researchers at the University of Oregon continue to yield critical insights that result in more effective prevention strategies," said Kimberly Andrews Espy, vice president for research and innovation and dean of the UO Graduate School. "This research by Dr. Skowron revealing a potential neurobiological trigger involved in abusive parenting may lead to new interventions that could help to improve the lives of children."

Co-authors with Skowron were Elizabeth Cipriano-Essel and Aaron L. Pincus, both of Pennsylvania State University where Skowron conducted this research, Lorna Smith Benjamin of the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute, and Mark J. Van Ryzin, research associate in the UO Child and Family Center and researcher at the Eugene-based Oregon Social Learning Center.

NIH grant RO1 MH079328 to Skowron supported the research through the National Institute of Mental Health. Additional funding was provided by the Administration for Children and Families, through its Children's Bureau of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, as part of the Federal Child Neglect Research Consortium.

About the University of Oregon
The University of Oregon is among the 108 institutions chosen from 4,633 U.S. universities for top-tier designation of "Very High Research Activity" in the 2010 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The UO also is one of two Pacific Northwest members of the Association of American Universities.

Media Contact: Jim Barlow, director of science and research communications, 541-346-3481, jebarlow@uoregon.edu

Child Abuse of Non-Biological Child the Cinderella Effect & Complex


The Cinderella Effect and Complex
Supporting Abuse of Non-Biological Offspring

The Cinderella complex was first described by Colette Dowling, who wrote a book on women's fear of independence, as an unconscious desire to be taken care of by others. The complex is said to become more apparent as a person grows older.
Dowling attempts to define women as being motivated by an unconscious desire to be taken care of as a fear of independence termed "Cinderella complex". An important aspect of the work can be defined as identifying an aspect of a larger phenomenon as to why women choose to stay in dysfunctional relationships.
This phenomenon can be defined as a syndrome characterized by a series of specific motivations or causes. Dowling identifies only one motivation, while the syndrome is in fact is a combination of many motivations, which are in themselves characteristics that make up a complex.
The term syndrome has been largely used to define conditions apparent in medicine. However, in recent decades the term has been used outside of medicine to refer to a combination of phenomena seen in association.


The Cinderella Effect

In evolutionary psychology, the Cinderella effect is the alleged higher incidence of different forms of child-abuse and mistreatment by step and adoptive parents than by biological parents. It takes its name from the fairy tale character Cinderella Evolutionary psychologists describe the effect as a remnant of an adaptive reproductive strategy among primates where males frequently kill the offspring of other males in order to bring their mothers into estrus, and give the male a chance to fertilize her himself. There is both supporting evidence for this theory and criticisms against it.


In the early 1970s, a theory arose on the connection between step and adoptive parents and child maltreatment "In 1973, forensic psychiatrist P. D. Scott summarized information on a sample of "fatal battered-baby cases" perpetrated in anger (…) 15 of the 29 killers – 52% – were step and adoptive fathers. Although initially there was no analysis of this raw data, empirical evidence has since been collected on what is now called the Cinderella effect through official records, reports, and census.
For over 30 years, data has been collected regarding the validity of the Cinderella effect, with a wealth of evidence indicating a direct relationship between non-biological relationships and abuse. This evidence of child abuse and homicide comes from a variety of sources including official reports of child abuse, clinical data, victim reports, and official homicide data. Studies have concluded that "non-biological children in Canada, Great Britain and the United States indeed incur greatly elevated risk of child maltreatment of various sorts, especially lethal beatings". Studies have found that not biologically related parents are up to a hundred times more likely to kill a child than biological parents.
Powerful evidence in support of the Cinderella effect comes from the finding that when abusive parents have both step, adopted and genetic children, they generally spare their genetic children. In such families, non-biological children were exclusively targeted 9 out of 10 times in one study and in 19 of 22 in another. In addition to displaying higher rates of negative behaviors (e.g., abuse) toward non-biological children, step and adoptive parents display fewer positive behaviors toward non-biological children than do the genetic parents. For example, on average, stepparents invest less in education, play with stepchildren less, take stepchildren to the doctor less, etc. This discrimination against non-biological children is unusual compared to abuse statistics involving the overall population given "the following additional facts: (1) when child abuse is detected, it is often found that all the children in the home have been victimized; and (2) non-biological children are almost always the eldest children in the home, whereas the general (…) tendency in families of uniform parentage is for the youngest to be most frequent victims.

Evolutionary psychology theory

Evolutionary Psychologists Martin Daily and Margo Wilson propose that the Cinderella effect is a direct consequence of the modern evolutionary theory theory of Inclusive fitness, especially parental investment theory. They argue that human child rearing is so prolonged and costly that "a parental psychology shaped by natural selection is unlikely to be indiscriminate". According to them, "research concerning animal social behavior provide a rationale for expecting parents to be discriminative in their care and affection, and more specifically, to discriminate in favor of their own young".

Daly and Wilson research

The most abundant data on stepchild mistreatment has been collected and interpreted by psychologists Martin Daly and Margo Wilson, who study with an emphasis in Neuroscience and Behavior at Mc Master University. Their first measure of the validity of the Cinderella effect was based on data from the American Humane Association (AHA), an archive of child abuse reports in the United States holding over twenty thousand reports. These records led Wilson and Daly to conclude that "a child under three years of age who lived with one genetic parent and one non-biological parent in the United States in 1976 was about seven times more likely to become a validated child-abuse case in the records than one who dwelt with two genetic parents". Their overall findings demonstrate that children residing with non-biological parents have a higher risk of abuse even when other factors are considered.


All organisms face trade-offs as to how to invest their time, energy, risk, and other resources, so investment in one domain (e.g., parental investment) generally takes away from their ability to invest in other domains (e.g. mating effort, growth, or investment in other offspring).
Investment in non-genetic children therefore reduces an individual's ability to invest in itself or its genetic children, without directly bringing reproductive benefits. Thus, from an evolutionary biology perspective, one would not expect organisms to regularly and deliberately care for unrelated offspring.
Daly and Wilson point out that infantcide is an extreme form of biasing parental investment that is widely practiced in the animal world. For example, when an immigrant male lion enters a pride, it is not uncommon for him to kill the cubs fathered by other males. Since the pride can only provide support for a limited number of cubs to survive to adulthood, the killing of the cubs in competition with the new male’s potential offspring increases the chances of his progeny surviving to maturity. In addition, the act of infanticide speeds the return to sexual receptivity in the females, allowing for the male to father his own offspring in a timelier manner. These observations indicate that in the animal world, males employ certain measures in order to ensure that parental investment is geared specifically toward their own offspring.
Unlike the lion, however, humans in a non-biological parenting situation face a more complicated tradeoff since they cannot completely disown their partner’s offspring from a previous relationship, as they would risk losing sexual access to their partner and any chance of producing potential offspring. Thus, according to Daly and Wilson, non-biological parental investment can be viewed as mating effort to ensure the possibility of future reproduction with the parent of their non-biological child. This mating effort hypothesis suggests that humans will tend to invest more in their genetic offspring and invest just enough in their stepchildren. It is from this theoretical framework that Daly and Wilson argue that instances of child abuse towards non-biological offspring should be more frequent than towards biological offspring.
One would therefore expect greater parental responsiveness towards one's own offspring than towards unrelated children, and this will result in more positive outcomes and fewer negative outcomes towards one's own children than towards other children in which one is expected to invest (i.e., stepchildren). "If child abuse is a behavioral response influenced by natural selection, then it is more likely to occur when there are reduced inclusive fitness payoffs owing to uncertain or low relatedness". Owing to these adaptations from natural selection, child abuse is more likely to be committed by step and adoptive parents than genetic parents—both are expected to invest heavily in the children, but genetic parents will have greater child-specific parental love that promotes positive caretaking and inhibits maltreatment.
Daly and Wilson report that this parental love can explain why genetic offspring are more immune to lashing out by parents.  They assert that, "Child-specific parental love is the emotional mechanism that permits people to tolerate –even to rejoice in – those long years of expensive, unreciprocated parental investment". They point to a study comparing natural father and step and adoptive father families as support for the notion that non-biological parents do not view their non-biological the same as their biological children, and likewise, children do not view their step or adoptive parents the same as their biological parents. This study, based on a series of questionnaires which were then subjected to statistical analyses, reports that children are less likely to go to their step or adoptive fathers for guidance and that step and adoptive fathers rate their non-biological children less positively than do natural fathers.
Daly and Wilson’s reports on the overrepresentation of stepparents and adoptive parents in child homocide and abuse statistics support the evolutionary principle of maximizing one’s inclusive fitness, formalized under Hamilton's Rule, which helps to explain why humans will preferentially invest in close kin. Adoption statistics also substantiate this principle, in that non-kin adoptions represent a minority of worldwide adoptions. Research into the high adoption rates of Oceana shows that childlessness is the most common reason for adopting, and that in the eleven populations for which data was available, a large majority of adoptions involved a relative with a coefficient of relatedness, greater than or equal to 0.125 (e.g., genetic cousins). It is also observed that parents with both biological and adopted children bias the partitioning of their estates in favor of the biological children, demonstrating again that parental behavior corresponds to the principles of kin selection.


In their 1985 Canadian sample, Daly and Wilson classify the frequencies of different living arrangements (two natural parents, one natural parent, one natural parent with one stepparent, or adoptive parent) according to child age. This was accomplished by administering a randomized telephone survey.
Records of child abuse from children’s aid organizations as well as police reports on runaways and juvenile offenders were then used to determine whether children from non-biological parental living situations were overrepresented as abuse victims when compared to the demographic data gathered from the telephone survey data. The results indicate that the only living situation that has a significant correlation to increased child abuse is one natural parent and one non-biological parent in the same household. While rates of running away and crime were comparable for children living with non-biological parents and children of single-parents, abuse rates for children living with non-biological parents were much higher.
Daly and Wilson examined several potentially confounding variables in their research, including socioeconomic status, family size, and maternal age at childbirth, however only minor differences between natural-parent and non-biological families with respect to these factors were found, indicating that none of these are major contributing factors to the observed Cinderella effect.

Attachment theory

Evolutionary psychologists have also suggested that one of the causes of adopted and stepchild abuse may be the lack of a parental attachment bond that the mother would normally form with her own child. This attachment bond must be formed before the age of two in order to become a secure bond, and adoption can often disrupt the development of this bond. An infant must be fed by the primary parental figure, usually the mother, and must have the mother present during severely physically painful events in order for a parental attachment bond to form, and either a consistent omission of the mother from this process or an alteration between two people (the original mother and the adoptive mother) can cause either an insecure attachment or disorganized attachment from the parent to the child. As a result, it is highly recommended by most psychologists that the adoptive mother be present very early in the infants life, preferably immediately after its birth, in order to avoid attachment disruptions and attachment disorders, but is not a guarantee.


It is sometimes argued that this evolutionary psychological account does not explain why the majority of stepparents do not abuse their partners' children, or why a significant minority of genetic parents do abuse their own offspring. However, their argument is based on a misunderstanding: the evolutionary psychological account is that (all else equal) parents will love their own children more than other people's children – it does not argue that stepparents will "want" to abuse their partner's children, or that genetic parenthood is absolute proof against abuse. Under this account, step and adoptive parental care is seen as "mating effort" towards the genetic parent, such that most interactions between non-genetic parent and non-genetic children will be generally positive or at least neutral, just usually not as positive as interactions between the genetic parent and the child would be.

Supportive evidence

Strong support for the Cinderella effect as described by Daly and Wilson comes from a study of unintentional childhood fatal injuries in Australlia. Tooley et al. follow the argument of Daly and Wilson to extend the Cinderella effect from cases of abuse to incidences of unintentional fat Children are not only vulnerable to abuse by their parents, but they are also dependent on their parents for supervision and protection from a variety of other harms. Given that parental supervision is fundamentally correlated to incidences of unintentional childhood injury as shown by Wadsworth et al. and Peterson & Stern, Tooley et al. posit that selective pressures would favor an inclination towards parental vigilance against threats to offspring well-being. Tooley et al. further argue that parental vigilance is not as highly engaged in adoptive and stepparents as genetic parents, therefore placing step and adopted children at greater risk for unintentional injury.
Based on data gathered from the Australia National Coroners’ Information System, step and adopted children under five years of age are two to fifteen times more likely to experience an unintentional fatal injury, especially drowning, than genetic children. Additionally, the study finds that the risks of unintentional fatal injury are not significantly higher for genetic children in single parent homes versus two-parent homes. This difference suggests that removing one biological parent from the home does not significantly increase risk to the children, but that adding a nonbiological parent to the home results in a drastic increase in the risk of unintentional fatal injury. Despite the fact that adding a step or adoptive parent to the home increases the available resources in terms of supervision in comparison to a single-parent home, risk of unintentional fatal injury still significantly rises. This higher risk of injury for adopted and stepchildren can be attributed to the fact that step and adoptive parents occupy the same supervisory role as a genetic parent, yet they have a lower intrinsic commitment to protecting the child and therefore are less likely to be adequately vigilant. The authors conclude that the Cinderella effect applies not only to purposeful abuse by step and adoptive parents, but is also relevant to explaining increased rates of accidental fatalities among adopted and stepchildren.
Furthermore, a study of parental investment behaviors among American men living in Albuquerque, New Mexico reveals a trend of increasing financial expenditures on genetic offspring in comparison to step-offspring, which also suggests that parents are less inclined to preserve the well-being of stepchildren. The study assesses paternal investment based on four measures: the probability that a child attends college, the probability that the child receives money for college, the total money spent on children, and the amount of time per week spent with children. Four different classifications of father-child relationships are examined and compared, including fathers living with their genetic children and fathers living with the adopted and stepchildren of their current mates.  Though the study finds a clear trend of increasing investment in genetic children, the data also shows that fathers do still invest substantially in adopted and stepchildren. The authors explain the parental investment exhibited by fathers towards adopted and stepchildren as possibly motivated by the potential to improve the quality or increase the duration of the man’s relationship with the step and adopted children’s mother. This studied corroborates the findings of Lynn White, that stepparents in general provide less social support to step or adopted children than their genetic children.
Though the general trend of the data from this study supports the Cinderella effect, Anderson and colleagues note that the observed differences between parental investment in genetic children, adopted and stepchildren might be slightly reduced by a few confounding factors. For example, the authors point out that step and adoptive parenting is a self-selected process, and that when all else is equal, men who bond with unrelated children are more likely to become step or adoptive fathers, a factor that is likely to be a confounding variable in efforts to study the Cinderella effect. Anderson and colleagues also conducted a similar study of Xhosa students in South Africa that analyzes the same four classifications of paternal-child relationships, and this study offers similar results to those observed among fathers in Albuquerque.
Additionally, a study of Hazda foragers in Tanzania by Marlowe also finds evidence of decreased care provided by fathers to adopted and stepchildren when compared with genetic children. The author uses the tests to evaluate most of the observed differences in care exhibited towards genetic, adopted and stepchildren, and finds that Hadza men spend less time with (U=96), communicate less with (U=94.5), nurture less, and never play with their adopted or stepchildren.  
Marlowe further argues that any care that is provided towards adopted and stepchildren is likely attributable to the man’s mating efforts and not parental interest in the well-being of the adopted and stepchildren.
In further support of the Cinderella effect as elaborated by Daly and Wilson, a study conducted in a rural village in Trinidad demonstrates that in households containing both genetic children, adopted and stepchildren, fathers devote approximately twice as much time to interaction with genetic offspring in comparison to adopted and stepchildren.   
 Additionally, this study finds that the duration of the relationship between the stepfather adopted father and step and adopted children is negatively correlated with the relative proportion of interaction time and positively correlated with the relative proportion of antagonistic interactions between the two. As a proportion of total time spent interacting with genetic, adopted and stepchildren, fathers are shown to have approximately 75 percent more antagonistic interactions with step and adopted children. In this study, antagonistic interactions are defined as involving physical or verbal combat or an expression of injury. This includes, for example, spanking, screaming, crying, and arguing. The duration of the relationship between genetic fathers and children shows a positive correlation with both relative proportion of interaction time and antagonistic interaction. The author argues that these results show that in terms of time invested, fathers favor genetic children over stepchildren, and this preference is not attributable to the duration of the father-child relationship, a factor which is sometimes believed to be a confounding variable in the Cinderella effect. Though this study does claim a significant increase in antagonistic behavior between stepparents, adoptive parents and step and adopted children and therefore supports the Cinderella effect, it also notes that only six percent of all the observed parent-child interactions were considered antagonistic, and that the researchers never noticed any blatant physical child abuse.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Adoptive Infant's Stress Caused By Adoptive Parent's Marital Problems


"Adopted Infant's Stress
                          Caused By Adoptive Parent Marital Problems"

University of Oregon Study

.....A Side Note: Wasn't the decision to Adopt A Baby supposed to
                           "Save the Marriage?"
Couples having marital difficulties may have infants who are losing sleep, according to a new study – and that may have a continuing impact on the children.
Specifically, researchers found that marital instability when the child was nine months old was related to child sleep problems at 18 months, including difficulties falling asleep and staying asleep, according to Anne Mannering, an Oregon State University faculty member in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences.
“If sleep problems persist, this can correlate with problems in school, inattention and behavioral issues,” Mannering said. “Parents should be aware that stress in the marriage can potentially impact their child even at a very young age.”
The findings of the research, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, appear in the journalChild Development. Mannering was at the Oregon Social Learning Center when she and her collaborators conducted the research.
According to Mannering, this is the first study done on the link between marital issues and infant sleep that unambiguously eliminated the role of shared genes between parents and children. Researchers interviewed more than 350 families with adopted infants in order to eliminate the possibility that these shared genes influence the relationship between marital instability and child sleep problems.
“Our findings suggest that the association between marital instability and children’s subsequent sleep problems emerges earlier in development than has been demonstrated previously,” she said.
Baby Losing SleepThe researchers found that marital instability when children were nine months old predicted increases in sleep problems when they were 18 months old. Even after taking into account factors such as birth order, parents’ anxiety and difficult infant temperament, the findings still held.
Interestingly, the researchers did not find the reverse to be true: children’s sleep problems did not predict marital instability.
Marital instability was ranked using a standard four-point research measure, with couples independently answering questions such as “Has the thought of separating or getting a divorce crossed your mind?”
Mannering said the couples were predominately middle class, white and fairly educated and all had adopted their child within the first three months of birth.
The research team is now investigating whether the relationship between marital instability and child sleep problems persists after age two, and the role that the parent-child relationship might play in these associations.
Researchers from the Oregon Social Learning Center, University of Leicester, Cardiff University, University of Pittsburgh, University of California at Davis, The Pennsylvania State University, University of New Orleans and Yale Child Study Center contributed to this study.
The study was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health.


WEDNESDAY, Feb. 22 (HealthDay News) --Toddlers are more likely to become easily upset and act out if their parents anger quickly and overreact to their children's behavior, according to a new study.
Researchers looked at the behavior of adopted children aged 9 months, 18 months and 27 months and their adoptive parents in 361 families in 10 states. Researchers also analyzed genetic data from the children and their birth parents.
The study found that adoptive parents who had a tendency to overreact were quick to anger when toddlers made mistakes or tested age-appropriate limits. The children of these parents acted out or had more temper tantrums than normal for their age.
Children who had the greatest increases in these types of negative emotions as they grew from infants to toddlers (from 9 months to 27 months of age) also had the highest levels of problem behaviors at 24 months. This suggests that negative emotions may have their own development process that impacts children's later behaviors, according to lead author Shannon Lipscomb, an assistant professor of human development and family sciences at Oregon State University, and her colleagues.
They also found that genetics plays a role, particularly in children who inherited a genetic risk of negative emotionality from their birth mothers but were raised in a low-stress or less reactive family environment.
The findings, published in the latest issue of the journal Development and Psychopathology, help improve understanding of the complex link between genetics and home environment, according to the researchers.
"Parents' ability to regulate themselves and to remain firm, confident and not overreact is a key way they can help their children to modify their behavior," Lipscomb said in a university news release. "You set the example as a parent in your own emotions and reactions."

Recent STUDY, The Intolerant Adoptive Parent Creates the Forever Behavior Problem In the Adopted Child


Recent Study
The Intolerant Adoptive Parent Creates the Forever Behavior Problems In their Adoptive Child

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 22 (HealthDay News) --

Toddlers are more likely to become easily upset and act out if their parents anger quickly and overreact to their children's behavior, according to a new study.

Researchers looked at the behavior of adopted children aged 9 months, 18 months and 27 months and their adoptive parents in 361 families in 10 states. 
Researchers also analyzed genetic data from the children and their birth parents.
The study found that adoptive parents who had a tendency to overreact were quick to anger when toddlers made mistakes or tested age-appropriate limits. The children of these parents acted out or had more temper tantrums than normal for their age.
Children who had the greatest increases in these types of negative emotions as they grew from infants to toddlers (from 9 months to 27 months of age) also had the highest levels of problem behaviors at 24 months. 
This suggests that negative emotions may have their own development process that impacts children's later behaviors, according to lead author Shannon Lipscomb, an assistant professor of human development and family sciences at Oregon State University, and her colleagues.
They also found that genetics plays a role, particularly in children who inherited a genetic risk of negative emotionality from their birth mothers but were raised in a low-stress or less reactive family environment.
The findings, published in the latest issue of the journal Development and Psychopathology, help improve understanding of the complex link between genetics and home environment, according to the researchers.
"Parents' ability to regulate themselves and to remain firm, confident and not overreact is a key way they can help their children to modify their behavior," Lipscomb said in a university news release. "You set the example as a parent in your own emotions and reactions."

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Adopted Child Abuse"Punitive Punishment" by Alfie Kohn


Category: Adopted Child Abuse

Article "Punitive Damages" By Author Alfie Kohn

Written About Why Child Punishment Fails. 

Punitive Damages
By Alfie Kohn

… To punish kids, very simply, is to make something unpleasant happen to them -- or prevent them from experiencing something pleasant – usually with the goal of changing their future behavior.  The punisher makes them suffer, in other words, to teach them a lesson.[1]
Fundamental questions about the wisdom of this approach may suggest themselves even before we look at the results of scientific investigations.  For example, it may occur to us to ask How likely is it that intentionally making children unhappy would prove beneficial in the long run?  And:  If punishment is so effective, how come I have to keep doing it to my child over and over?
The available research does nothing to allay such doubts.  The results of a classic parenting study, published in 1957, seemed to catch even the authors by surprise.  After reviewing all the data from their investigation of kindergarteners and their mothers, they reported that “the unhappy effects of punishment have run like a dismal thread through our findings.”  Punishment proved to be counterproductive regardless of whether the parents were using it to stop aggression, excessive dependence, bed-wetting, or something else.  The researchers consistently found that punishment was “ineffectual over the long term as a technique for eliminating the kind of behavior toward which it is directed.”[2]  Newer and better-designed studies have only served to strengthen this conclusion, finding, for example, that parents who “punish[ed] rule-breaking behavior in their children at home often had children who demonstrated higher levels of rule-breaking when away from home.”[3]
By now there is an especially impressive collection of research demonstrating the destructive effects of corporal punishment in particular -- that is, the practice of spanking, slapping, or otherwise causing physical pain as a form of discipline.  The data overwhelmingly show that corporal punishment makes children more aggressive and leads to a variety of other damaging consequences.  (It’s not even clear that it succeeds at getting temporary compliance.)[4]  Hitting children clearly “teaches them a lesson” – and the lesson is that you can get your way with people who are weaker than you are by hurting them. 
I believe the research supports a zero-tolerance policy for spanking, given that it’s unnecessary, unproductive, and potentially very harmful.  But this, too, may be a case where data are not absolutely necessary.  Fundamental values may be enough to justify our opposition.  As sickening as it is that some men hit their wives or girlfriends, it’s arguably even worse for adults to hit children – in any manner and for any reason.
Still, just as the problems with control are not limited to punishment, so the problems with punishment are not limited to the physical kind.   The late sociologist Joan McCord put it well:
If parents and teachers were to substitute non-physical punishments for physical ones, they might avoid teaching children to hit, punch, and kick; yet, they would nevertheless perpetuate the idea that giving pain is a legitimate way to exercise power. . . . The consequences could be no less undermining of compassion and social interests.[5]
The problem, in other words, rests with the idea of forcing children to undergo something unpleasant.  The unpleasantness can consist of physical assault, deprivation of affection or attention, humiliation, isolation, or anything else.
This is worth emphasizing, first of all, because even some writers who firmly oppose corporal punishment seem to take on faith that other sorts of punishment are harmless or even necessary.  (Three shining exceptions, who have written eloquently on the problems with the very idea of punishment, are Thomas Gordon, Haim Ginott, and William Glasser.) 
A number of consultants, meanwhile, have responded to the understandable reluctance of many parents to use punitive tactics by repackaging them as “consequences.”  In some cases, the change is purely semantic, the implication being that a friendlier name will make the same practices less offensive.  But sometimes we’re told that if the punishments are less severe, or “logically” related to the misbehavior, or clearly spelled out in advance, then they’re OK to use – and, indeed, shouldn’t be considered punishments at all. 
I don’t buy it.  More important, I don’t think kids buy it.  While it’s certainly true that a bad thing can be made worse by adding such elements as unpredictability or lack of clarity – or by really overdoing it or being excessively nasty -- these aren’t the main reasons that punishment has the effects it does. 
Announcing how we plan to punish children (“Remember:  if you do x, then I’ll do yto you”) may salve our conscience because we gave them fair warning, but all we’ve really done is threaten them.  We’ve told them in advance exactly how we’ll make them suffer if they fail to obey.  This communicates a message of distrust (“I don’t think you’ll do the right thing without the fear of punishment”), leads kids to think of themselves as complying for extrinsic reasons, and emphasizes their powerlessness.  All the destructive effects predicted by logic, experience, and research are likely to follow regardless of these minor modifications – and regardless of whether we call punishment by a different name.[6]
Sometimes parents are advised to use a time-out instead of spanking their kids -- as though these were the only two options available.  The reality, as we saw in an earlier chapter, is that both of these tactics are punitive.  They differ only with respect to whether children will be made to suffer by physical or emotional means.  If we were forced to choose one over the other, then, sure, time-outs are preferable to spankings.  For that matter, spanking kids is preferable to shooting them, but that’s not much of an argument for spanking.
Another version of what might be called Punishment Lite is known as “natural consequences,” in which parents are invited to discipline by inaction – that is, by refusing to help.  If a child is late for dinner, we’re supposed to let her go hungry.  If she leaves her raincoat at school, we’re supposed to let her get wet the following day.  This is said to teach her to be more punctual, or less forgetful, or whatever.  But the far more powerful lesson that she’s likely to take away is that we could have helped -- but didn’t.  “When you stand by and let bad things happen, your child experiences the twin disappointments that something went wrong and you did not seem to care enough about her to lift a finger to help prevent the mishap.  The ‘natural consequences’ approach is really a form of punishment.”[7]
One of the most striking features of punishment -- any punishment -- is the way it creates a vicious circle for all concerned, very much like what we find with love withdrawal and positive reinforcement.  No matter how many times we’ve watched as the child being punished lashes out in anger or pain, no matter how many times a punitive intervention fails to bring about any improvement (and, more likely, actually makes things worse), we may assume that the only possible response is to punish again – perhaps even upping the ante.  Interestingly, research finds the worst effects aren’t due to the parent’s initial intervention but rather to the use of punishment afterthe child fails to comply with the first request.  It’s the reactive use of punishment, the choice to employ it once we’ve already locked horns with the child, that proves most worrisome.  Therefore, it’s most important to refrain from punishing precisely when we’re most angry or frustrated.[8]
The more important vicious circle, however, takes place not at the time we confront a child, but over time -- that is, as events play out over many years.  Repeatedly punishing a young child may help to turn him into a defiant adolescent, yet we’re advised to continue, and even intensify, the punishing:  ground the disobedient teenager, cut off his allowance, use our power to make him act responsibly.  The more this strategy fails, the more we assume the problem is with the child, rather than with the strategy itself.  And if we do stop to reconsider what we’re doing, we assume we’ve just been implementing it ineffectively – as opposed to realizing the trouble is with the whole idea of making children suffer to teach them a lesson.  Ginott was absolutely right:  “Misbehavior and punishment are not opposites that cancel each other; on the contrary, they breed and reinforce each other.”[9]
Why Punishment Fails
That punishing kids doesn’t work is very difficult to deny in light of all the available evidence.  Why it doesn’t work is harder to say with certainty.  Nevertheless, we can hazard some guesses.
It makes people mad.  Like other forms of control, the use of punitive consequences often enrages whoever is on the receiving end, and the experience is doubly painful because he or she is powerless to do anything about it.  What history teaches us about nations echoes what psychology teaches us about individuals:  Given a chance, those who feel like victims may eventually become victimizers.
It teaches power.  The example that corporal punishment sets for children is violence – that is, the use of force to solve problems.  In fact, though, all punishment teaches something similar.  Children may or may not learn the lesson we had in mind when we punished them (“Don’t do x again”).  But they’ll surely learn that when the most important people in their lives, their role models, have a problem, they try to solve it by using power to make the other person unhappy so he or she will be forced to capitulate.  Punishment not only makes a child angry; it “simultaneously provides him with a model for expressing that hostility outwardly.”[10]  In other words, it teaches that might makes right.
It eventually loses its effectiveness.   As kids grow older, it becomes harder and harder to find things to do to them that will be sufficiently unpleasant.  (By the same token, it becomes increasingly difficult to find rewards that are sufficiently appealing.)  At some point, your threats begin to sound hollow and your kids just shrug off “You’re grounded!” or  “No allowance for you this week!”  This doesn’t prove that kids are tough or obstinate, nor does it mean that you need help devising more diabolical ways to make them suffer.  Rather, what it suggests is that trying to help kids become good people by punishing them for doing bad things may have been a foolish strategy from the beginning.
Think about it this way:  When young children wonder why they should be nice or resist certain temptations, parents have a choice.  They can draw upon the respect and trust they’ve cultivated by loving their kids unconditionally, using reason and persuasion to explain how doing this thing rather than that thing is likely to affect other people.  Or they can just appeal to naked power:  “If you don’t cut that out, you’ll be punished.” 
The problem with the latter approach is that once your power begins to ebb – and it will -- you’ve got nothing left.  As Thomas Gordon pointed out, “The inevitable result of consistently employing power to control [your] kids when they are young is that [you] never learn how to influence.”  The more you rely on punishment, therefore, “the less real influence you’ll have on their lives.”[11]
*  It erodes our relationships with our kids.  When we punish, we make it very hard for our children to regard us as caring allies, which is vital for healthy development.  Instead, we become (in their eyes) enforcers to be avoided.  Very young children begin to wrap their minds around the fact that their parents, those huge all-powerful people on whom they are totally dependent, occasionally make them miserable on purpose.  Those giants who hold me and rock me and feed me and kiss away my tears sometimes go out of their way to take away things I like, or make me feel unworthy, or hit me on the backside (even though they keep telling meI’m always supposed to “use my words”).  They tell me they’re acting this way because of something or other that I did, but all I know is now I’m not sure I can trust them or feel completely safe with them.  I’d be pretty stupid to admit to them that I’m angry, or that I did something bad, because I’ve learned that I might be given a time-out or talked to in a voice that has all the love drained out of it or even smacked.  I’d better keep my distance.
It distracts kids from the important issues.  Suppose a child is told that, because he just punched his brother, he has to go to his room and miss his favorite TV program.  Let’s peek in on him, sitting on his bed.  What do you imagine is going through his mind?  If your guess is that he’s been reflecting on his actions, perhaps saying to himself thoughtfully, “Y’know, now I see that hurting people is wrong” – then, by all means, keep sending your kids to their rooms whenever they misbehave.
If, however, like anyone who has ever spent time with a real child (or has ever been one, for that matter) you find that scenario laughably improbable, then why would you ever impose this – or any other – punishment?  The idea that time-outs are an acceptable form of discipline because they give kids time to think things over is based on an absurdly unrealistic premise.  More generally, punishment doesn’t lead children to focus on what they’ve done, much less on why they did it or what they should have done instead.  Rather, it leads them to think about how mean their parents are and maybe how they’re going to get their revenge (on the kid who got them into trouble).
Above all, they’re likely to focus on the punishment itself:  how unfair it was and how to avoid it next time.  Punishing kids – with the threat that you’ll do so again if they displease you in the future -- is an excellent way to hone their skills at escaping detection.  Tell a child:  “I don’t want to catch you doing that again,” and the child will think, “OK.  Next time you won’t catch me.”  It also sets up a strong incentive to lie.  (By contrast, children who aren’t punished are less afraid of owning up to what they’ve done.)  Yet punitive parents, faced with the predictable dishonesty that accompanies traditional discipline – “I didn’t do it!  It was already broken!” – are likely to respond to this not by questioning their use of punishment but by punishing the child again, this time for lying.
* It makes kids more self-centered.   The word consequences is tossed around a lot, not only as a euphemism for punishment but also as a justification for it – as in “Kids need to learn that there are consequences for their actions.”  But consequences to whom?  The answer given by all punishment is:  to yourself.  A child’s attention is firmly directed to how she personally will be affected by breaking a rule or defying an adult – that is, what consequence she will face if she’s caught. 
When we punish, in other words, we lead children to ask, “What do they (the grown-ups with the power) want me to do, and what will happen to me if I don’t do it?”  Notice that this is a mirror image of the question evoked in a home or classroom in which children are promised a reward for being good:  “What do they want me to do, and what will I get for doing it?”  Both questions are entirely about self-interest.  And both are completely different from what we’d like kids to ask themselves – for example, “What kind of person do I want to be?”
No wonder a pair of researchers, after discovering that punishing children interferes with their moral development, made sense of that finding by pointing out that punishments “direct the child to the consequences of his behavior for the actor, that is, for the child himself.”[12]  The more we rely on punitive consequences, including time-out -- or rewards, including praise -- the less likely children are to consider how their actions affect other people.  (They may, however, become more likely to perform a cost-benefit analysis – that is, to weigh the risks of being caught and punished against the pleasures of doing whatever it is they’re not supposed to do.)
These responses – calculating the risks, figuring out how not to get caught, lying to protect themselves -- make sense from the child’s perspective.  They’re perfectly rational.  What they’re not is moral, and that’s because punishment – all punishment, by its very nature -- impedes moral thinking.  Thus, when defenders of traditional discipline insist that kids are going to face consequences for their behavior when they’re out in the “real world,” the reasonable response would be to ask what sort of adult out there in the real world is dissuaded from unethical behavior only when he, himself, will pay the price (if he’s caught).  Our answer would have to be:  the sort of adult most of us hope our children won’t become.
The argument I’ve been making is largely a practical one.  By any meaningful criteria, punishment simply doesn’t work very well, and it’s not realistic to expect that more punishment (or a different kind) will turn things around.  But how are we to respond to parents who contend that explaining, reasoning, empathizing, and so on can’t have more than a limited impact, so we need to “put some teeth into” what we’re telling kids and “get their attention” by imposing a consequence, too?
To begin with, notice that this claim is based on the assumption that without the addition of some coercive enforcement mechanism children will ignore the most important people in their world.  That’s a hard case to make.  Sure, kids sometimes ignore specific things we tell them, demonstrating a remarkable case of selective hearing when we call them to dinner or ask them to clean up, but that doesn’t mean they’re oblivious to our words and actions.  On the contrary, even the words of the gentlest parent – or perhaps I should say especially of the gentlest parent – carry enormous clout just because of who’s saying them.
Still, could someone argue that threats and punishments command children’s attention in a different way?  Yes, but the way they do so is terribly counterproductive.  The very features of punishment that make it impossible to ignore also make it almost impossible for any good to come out of it.  What’s getting the kids’ attention here is pain, along with the fact that someone on whom they’re dependent has caused that pain.  This is hardly likely to produce the effect that most of us are looking for.  In fact, the effect of punishment is such that it can underminethe benefits of good parenting if the two approaches are combined.[13] 
Some parents rationalize the use of punishment by insisting that they really, truly love their kids.  No doubt this is true.  But it creates a deeply confusing situation for children.  It’s hard for them to sort out why someone who clearly cares for them also makes them suffer from time to time.  It creates the warped idea, which children may carry with them throughout their lives, that causing people pain is part of what it means to love them.  Or else it may simply teach that love is necessarily conditional, that it lasts only for as long as people do exactly what you want.
Another rationalization is that punishment isn’t destructive as long as it’s imposed for a good reason and as long as that reason is explained to the child.  The truth is that explanation doesn’t minimize the bad effects of punishment so much as punishment minimizes the good effects of explanation[14].  Suppose you explain things to your child and try to help her focus on how her actions have made someone else feel.  You say:  “Annie, when you grabbed the Legos away from Jeffrey, you made him sad because now he can’t play with them.”  But what if you’re also in the habit of punishing her for certain offenses?  The benefits of your explanation may well be wiped out.  If Annie knows from experience that you might send her to the time-out chair or do something else unpleasant to her, she’s not thinking about Jeffrey.  She’s just worried about what this will mean for her.  The more anxious she’s learned to become about the possibility of punishment, the less chance that meaningful moral learning will take place.
If you combine everything in this chapter with the discussion in chapter 2, then a larger pattern begins to emerge.  What I’ve described as a “doing to” approach, which encompasses conditional parenting, actually exists on a continuum, with “harsh corporal punishment” on one side, then “milder spankings,” then “other punishments,” then “tangible rewards,” and finally, on the other end, “verbal rewards.” I don’t mean to say that hitting your child and saying “Good job!” are morally equivalent.  But they are conceptually connected.  My concern is with all of these techniques as well as with the assumptions that link them.  In my experience, many parents [and teachers] are less likely to explore the “working with” alternative as long as they think it’s enough just to pick one of the “doing to” options on the right side of this diagram.  That’s why I’ve been spending so much time emphasizing how important it is to reject the whole model.
In effect, I’ve also been challenging a view that might be called “the more, the merrier.”  This is the tendency to dismiss arguments that any specific parenting practice is bad news and ought to be replaced by another.  “Why not do both?” some people ask.  “No reason to throw anything out of your toolbox.  Use everything that works.”
To begin with, we should respond once again:  “Works to do what – and at what cost?”  But the real problem is that different strategies sometimes work at cross purposes.  One may wipe out the positive effects of the other.  You may recall the bit of folk wisdom, confirmed by generations of farmers and grocers, warning that a rotten apple placed in a barrel full of good apples can spoil them.  It would be pushing things to postulate a kind of psychological ethylene released by traditional discipline, analogous to the gas given off by bad fruit.  But it does seem that the quest for optimal results may require us to abandon certain practices rather than simply piling other, better practices on top of them.  We have to eliminate the bad stuff, like punishment and rewards, in order for the good stuff to work.[15]

(Please see Unconditional Parenting for the complete citations)
1.  In some cases, children – and, even more commonly, adults – may be punished without regard to whether the intervention is effective.  The point may be not to change future behavior but to exact retribution.  This evidently motivates some teachers to punish their students (Reyna and Weiner); it’s unclear how many parents resort to punishment with the goal of changing how their children act and how many see punishment as a moral imperative.
2. Sears et al., p. 484.
3. Toner, p. 31.  Likewise, “punitive discipline emerged as a common or shared predictor of all the dimensions of child disruptive behaviors,” reported the multi-university Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group in 2000 (Stormshak et al.; quotation on p. 24).  And from another study, conducted in the Midwest:  Punishment of various sorts “contributed more unique variance to predicting problem-behavior ratings than all demographic predictors combined” (Brenner and Fox; quotation on p. 253.)   Of course, the discovery that punishment is associated with children’s misbehavior could be explained by the possibility that parents with tough kids are more likely to punish them; in other words, punishment may be “pulled” by the child’s actions rather than causing those actions.  Undoubtedly it’s true that the causal arrows point in more than one direction, but by now there’s enough evidence, from studies designed specifically to test this hypothesis, to justify the conclusion that punishment is a cause more than an effect.  For example, see Hoffman 1960, p. 141; Kandel and Wu, p. 112; Cohen and Brook, p. 162; and, for the causative role played by corporal punishment in particular, Straus 2001, chap. 12.  Similarly, while parents may respond more harshly to a toddler who is unusually aggressive, that response is driven in large part by the parent’s pre-existing attitudes about child rearing (Hastings and Rubin; see also Grusec and Mammone).
4. At this writing, the most ambitious summary of the existing research on corporal punishment is a monograph published by Gershoff in 2002.  Of the studies she reviewed that looked at the effects on short-term compliance, three found a positive effect and two did not (p. 547).  (Even those three didn’t prove that corporal punishment was more effective than other methods.)  More important, her metaanalysis of a whopping 88 studies discovered that corporal punishment by parents is associated with “decreased moral internalization, increased child aggression, increased child delinquent and antisocial behavior, decreased quality of relationship between parent and child, decreased child mental health, increased risk of being a victim of physical abuse, increased adult aggression, increased adult criminal and antisocial behavior, decreased adult mental health, and increased risk of abusing own child or spouse” (p. 544).  Also see the work of Murray Straus.
5. McCord 1991, pp. 175-6.
6. I offer a critique of some of the “New Discipline” programs, including “Discipline with Dignity,” “Cooperative Discipline,” “Discipline with Love and Logic,” and the recommendations offered by Rudolf Dreikurs and his followers, in my 1996 book for teachers, Beyond Discipline.  See especially chapter 4:  “Punishment Lite: ‘Consequences’ and Pseudochoice.”
7. Pieper and Pieper, p. 208.  This is not to say that there is no such thing as a true natural consequence.  If we stay up late, we’ll likely be tired in the morning.  If we don’t go shopping, we’ll eventually run out of food.  But these scenarios are very different from, say, a parent’s refusal to heat up dinner for a child who comes home late.  Call that whatever you like:  It’s still a punishment, and one that feels particularly humiliating, at that.  (An accompanying “I told you so” or “It serves you right” or “I hope you’ve learned your lesson” will only serve to make the child feel even worse.)
8. Hoffman 1960.  Needless to say, this is hard to do.  Research (e.g., Ritchie) confirms that parents are more likely to respond punitively during a conflict in which they and their children are locked in a battle of wills than after a single act of noncompliance.
9. Ginott, p. 151.
10. Hoffman 1970a, p. 114.
11. Gordon 1989, pp. 74, 7.
12. Hoffman and Saltzstein, p. 54.
13. For evidence that this is true of love withdrawal, see Hoffman 1970a, pp. 109, 115.
14. For example, see Hoffman 1970a, p. 109.  Straus 2001 (p. 101) makes the additional point that parents who spank but explain why they’re doing so are “teaching the child just what to do and what to say when he or she hits another child.”
15. This same phenomenon shows up in schools with regard to better and worse forms of teaching, as I argued in an article called “Education’s Rotten Apples” (Kohn 2002).

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