Listen to this article by Chris Stranger

Healthy human contact, thee ability to love and comfort one another, especially our children.

How did we lose it? How did it affect me as a human being?

Government policies, Residential school, Day school, and CFS just to name a few.

My own personal experience with day school started the belief that abuse was discipline!  The very first day of school the teacher asked me, “Chris, come up here.”  I went to her desk, was told to pull down my pants and was strapped for no reason. Even if there was a reason, I didn’t deserve that. I figure I was used as an example to place fear in all of us! I became silent and separated from the other children, with no friends. Became suicidal at the age of 6, and it was the aloneness that caused me to think that way.  Only reason I’m alive today is because I didn’t know how to end my life at that time.

I also came from a family that beat us when we made a mistake as a child because that’s how they were taught. We were allowed to play as children, but not allowed to make mistakes without consequences. Sometimes we were even beaten for hurting ourselves or others by accident. Nobody comforted me when I needed it as a child, not because they didn’t love me, but because they didn’t know how to show me.

There were many times as a child I needed comfort with just a hug, or to be asked, “What’s wrong?” It didn’t happen because nobody knew how to provide a hug.  I say, “Just a hug” but that hug would have made such a difference in my life, especially as a father!

I only knew to beat my boys for any mistakes they made and believed it was discipline! I was beating them for being children, and a lot of times even worse than I had been beaten!  I’ll call it mistreatment as children, because that’s what it was. No child deserved what we got, and none of my children deserved what I gave them!

As a father I couldn’t even hold my son in my arms. I could only feed him and change him, never hold him, talk to him, or even look into his eyes.  I had 2 boys and I never held them in their lives. I didn’t play with them when they asked and didn’t comfort them when they needed it. All I knew was physical, mental and emotional abuse and it wasn’t because I wanted to be that way, it was the only way I knew. I thought it was discipline!  That was unhealthy human contact.  When they were 8 and 10 years old, I would go to bed every night with these thoughts, “I wish I could have treated my boys better today, or I wish I could have told them I loved them!’  It was such a lonely feeling. I wasn’t only making them suffer, I was suffering myself.

I have since learned to hug and say, “I love you!”  My son was 15 years old when I finally gave him a hug and told him I loved him. Without hesitation, he hugged me back and said, “I love you too dad!”  It felt so good to finally have healthy human contact with him. I do not have to suffer anymore, and my family does not have to suffer because of me.  There is nothing better than giving and receiving a hug from the ones we love.

Healthy human contact needs to start at birth!

Written By: Chris Stranger | NNADAP Co-Ordinator

Peguis First Nation National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program (NNADAP)