Parenting After Abuse

Welcome to Right-On with HFG Happy Families Support Network Inc. (HFG)

HFG is a not-for-profit support group that provides ongoing support to women and children who have experienced abuse

HFG is a free support group for women and children who have experienced abuse, run by women who have experienced abuse

The topic for today is – Parenting After Abuse

You experience a wide range of emotions during & after domestic abuse that affect your relationship with your children

During domestic abuse you experience fear, guilt, shame, loss of confidence as a mother and feel powerless to protect your kids

Living with violence, threats of violence, and the inability to control your own life affects your behavior towards your kids

During & after abuse you are very lenient with your kids & worry about what will happen if they misbehave around the abuser

You stop disciplining your kids because of the abuser’s threats to call CAS and tell them you are abusive

You give your kids whatever they want because of guilt about the abuse and your lack of energy and inability to cope

As a result of domestic abuse, you can’t control your anger at the abuser and sometimes turn that anger on your kids

As a result of domestic abuse you had difficulty maintaining structure and routines

As a result of domestic abuse you worry that your kids will start treating you as the abuser does

How do you change all the behavioural patterns and ways of parenting that formed as a result of domestic abuse?

Start by talking to your children, depending on their age, let them know that domestic abuse was not their fault or your fault

Tell your children that domestic violence is not okay and you don’t deserve to have it in your family

Remember you don’t need to give your children details of the abuse instead focus on how the abuse affected your kids

Tell your children that there is nothing they or you could have done to change the abuser or prevent the abuse


Tell your children that now that you no longer with the abuser that you all need to work on healing

Tell your children that now that you no longer live with the abuser that you need to learn new ways to be a family

Tell your children that now that you are no longer with the abuser you will be learning new and healthier ways to parent

Tell your children it’s important for them to talk to you about their feelings about the abuse. Let them know you’ll listen

Tell your children that you are sorry they had to see/experience domestic abuse and let them know you will help them to heal

Your kids may not want to talk about the abuse, say it’s no problem, blame you, become abusive or try to be your protector

Be patient & talk to your kids about the abuse & their feelings regularly. They hear you, they just need to process their way

If your kids need it, take them to counseling to help them heal from seeing/experiencing domestic abuse

Parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the world – and if you are a parent, you know that this is true

However, parenting can also be the most rewarding job you will ever have

The most important task now is positive parenting and how it will help both you and your kids heal after domestic abuse

You want to try and counteract all the negative effects domestic abuse may have on your children

You need help now, to learn about positive parenting and building healthy relationships with your kids

First step is to remove yourself & your kids from the domestic abuse situation & work towards providing a stable home

Remember that as a parent you have the greatest influence on your kids, so get started on positive parenting & be patient

You need to work through your own healing process in order to help your kids heal from domestic abuse

Remember to keep your behavioural expectations in line with the age and developmental level of your kids

Parents who use an overall democratic parenting style with kids of any age may find they have less conflict

Here are some tips for positive parenting:

  1. Model expected behaviours – what you do must match what you’re asking your kids to do or they will be confused
  2. Positive reinforcement – catch all the great things your kids do and praise them, let them know how proud you are
  3. Set and maintain limits – follow through and be firm. This may upset you at first but the stability will benefit your kids
  4. Realistic expectations – your 8 year old should not be expected to behave like a 14 year old
  5. Consequences – teach your kids that there are consequences for every action, some will be good and some not so good
  6. Example 1 of consequence – if your kids make a mess, they will need to clean it up
  7. Example 2 of consequence – you haven’t finished your homework so you can’t go to the park with your friends
  8. Routines – create new routines & stick to them to maintain stability. Your kids will be comfortable knowing what to expect
  9. Body language – pay attention to body language; you kids will be watching your
  10. Make sure what you say to your kids with your mouth matches what you say with your body
  11. Time outs – use time outs as a chance to learn from a mistake. Discuss the behaviour and other ways things to do things
  12. Problem-solving – give your kids room to try and figure out minor problems on their own. Don’t hover
  13. Important lessons – allow your children to make their own mistakes and guide them in correcting these mistakes
  14. Apologize – say you’re sorry when you make a mistake, no one is perfect. Your kids need to see and learn that
  15. Make sure consequences match the behaviour, be clear and use a firm voice. Yelling says you’ve lost control
  16. Choose your battles. Don’t go at your kids for everything at the same time, start with the most important lesson
  17. Remember to tell your kids you love them on a very regular basis. You can never say it enough
  18. Remember if you give respect to your kids you will get respect in return

Be prepared for your kids to test the limits, this is normal. Be consistent and firm with your expectations

Be patient and loving towards your kids. Show them that nothing they do will make you stop loving them

Be consistent with consequences for behaviours. Give lots of hugs & kisses. Find time to laugh and play with your kids

Change Is a Process, Not an Event It is important to keep in mind that making a change in your life is difficult & takes time

If you would like more help with positive parenting after abuse, please contact us at

Thanks for joining Right-On with HFG

We look forward to seeing you next Wednesday October 8 for our weekly Right-On conversation

The topic for next week is – Dealing with your Family Lawyer

Please email your questions and comments to

If you would like more information on the HFG support group please email

Have a great day! HFG Hugs!!


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