Abuse or discipline?

I know there are conflicting feelings about physical discipline, i myself was raised being spanked, but when I got to a certain age that stopped. Yesterday my friend and I were getting ready for homecoming and I noticed a small red mark above her eye. When I asked about it she said she must have run into something, not uncommon, she does a lot of physical stuff so I let it slide. But then on the way to the dance she asked me if it was visible, I asked her why it was such a big deal. She told me she got it from her father and that she didn't want her crush to notice because he was aware of her father's type of "dicipline" and was less than happy with it. I freaked out, disciplining your kids shouldn't leave a mark like that or any mark. I know her parents love her and that everyone has their own parenting style, but the idea that both me and one other person knows about this and that he isn't okay with it either tells me that this probably isn't okay. I told her that if things ever got really bad she could come to me. That she should come to me, but I'm not sure I should leave it for things to get worse. I don't want to betray her or her family, but I'm very concerned for her. What should I do?

Sounds like the father has anger issues and is perhaps volatile and on edge and easily triggered into anger. Possibly father is very stressed out..

It's easy to get angry back and say he shouldn't do that, and even call the authorities and "punish" him back by fining him or jail time; however such an approach doesn't work and just reinforces the idea that the only way we know how to solve dicipline problems is by punishment and rewards.

The way that does work is much different. Basically it requires a philosophy change from "Crime and Punishment" to the new philosophy of "Crime and Healing."

Father needs to be healed. He has anger issues. He's stressed. His life is out of balance. The solution is to re-balance his life. I've heard of "Anger Management Classes" but I belive that's the wrong approach. (It's sort of like having a class in exercise where you sit and talk about exercise, instead of actully exercising.) There may be an anger support group he could join. They work because you begin to feel accepted and a part of the group. Humans, like animals, like to "herd" together. It reduces stress (and I suppose in cave man days it increased one's chance of survival.) Being in such a group, feeling accepted by others who understand and sympathise with you, one starts to begin to accept oneself as is, which is another step towards healing.

Mindfulness Meditation, and Mindfulness motion exercises such as Qi-Gong or Tai-Chi are also very effective ways to reduce anger. Those relaxing exercises help move the brain away from living on the edge towards a more resilient, calm, compassionate nature.

Anyway, that's a basic outline of the overall strategy that works. We nurture people back to health, because punishing someone back to health doesn't make any sense.

If we repeatedly experience compassion and nuturing then over time we eventually become more compassionate and nurturing ourselves.

Sorry I didn't give any specific "This is what you should do" answers. I just broadly point the way. To help friend, one thing that works is listening. Listen without trying to fix, because the listening itself is the cure. Actively listen to her, be someone she can confide in and trust, and she'll feel much better after she's had a chance to tell someone her story. 


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