My principal facebook hangout group these days is Feminist Mormon Housewives, and scarcely a day goes by when someone, and often more than one person, relates how she was abused — physically or sexually or emotionally or all at once, or… or… and often by a family member, often by a parent, sometimes by a spouse.

It was the same during Midwest Pilgrims and Exponent II retreats: so many women told of their suffering betrayal and hurt and grief and violence. Being LDS doesn't seem to prevent abuse: it seems to happen among the saints at the same rate as elsewhere (and in fact, authoritarian groups such as LDS, Inc. and evangelical churches have a somewhat higher rate of abuse than other populations). I found it all mind-boggling when I first started hearing women's stories. While I guess I've come to expect such revelations when such topics are raised, the number of women who have lived through awful childhoods still astonishes me.

—And makes me grateful that I had such a normal childhood, a normal family. I got spanked, yes, and sometimes even with a belt (and in retrospect, I think it was pretty unfair of my mom — unfair mostly to my dad — to have resorted to the threat of "wait till your father gets home"), but I was never sexually abused, never beaten, never a victim of gross negligence. Surprising how rare "normality" has turned out to be among the friends of my youth.

The cycle of violence and abuse is tough to deal with. Far too many parents end up parenting according to the way they were brought up, though of course there are variations and differences, and with a lot of effort, there can be many deliberate differences. For example, my mom's parents quarreled and bickered endlessly, to the point where she was too embarrassed to ever have friends over. (And even as a small child, I did not like going over to grandma and grandpa's for that reason.) My mom was absolutely determined that she and my father would not act like that in front of us kids, and they did not. I rarely saw them disagree, and never saw them fight at all.

But there was and still is a little bit of a mean streak, I guess, in my mom. I think of how she would call my sister "the pimple farm"… to her face. I can't imagine saying something like that to anyone, much less a child of mine. —That said, Lord knows I yelled and said many things that must have scared or wounded my children, particularly when I was battling depression (sleeplessness and irritability, that was me). — Indeed, if I could go back and have a do-over, I'd yell less… and hug more. I came from a fairly undemonstrative family: although my parents — my dad in particular — were lovey-dovey with one another, we did not hug much or kiss much or cuddle or snuggle.

I wanted to be a more demonstrative mom than my mom, but I didn't succeed at that, I very much regret to say. So yeah — less yelling, more hugging, that's what I'd do if I could turn the clock back.

But to return to the original thought: I'm lucky to have grown up with good parents. Thanks, mom and dad.