I don't have any children, and I've never spent enough time being responsible for children to know what it really feels like to be responsible for children.
Thus, I have no idea what it could potentially take to reach a breaking point and start breaking a child. I'm not excusing this behavior, mind; it is never OK to hit or otherwise abuse a child. But I'm going to give people, particularly the two Utah couples who recently have been charged with murder for systematically abusing their adorable 4-year-olds, the benefit of the doubt and assume there was some sort of buildup to the fatal abuse, as opposed to just plain villainy.
It's a stretch, sure, but for the sake of discussion we'll do it.
Anyway, never been in this situation, though I have gotten angry at some really stubborn dogs before. But I once was in a situation where I saw fear in the eyes of someone for whom I did have responsibility, and that experience is heartbreaking. I looked into this person's face, this person who I had grown to love and whose weaknesses I knew and whose well-being I felt a personal responsibility for, and I saw abject fear looking back at me.
I knew this friend wasn't afraid of me; there were other issues and I just happened to be there when these moods came on. But I still couldn't shake the awful feeling of knowing that someone was afraid of me, afraid I was going to get violent and cause pain, afraid I was going to betray her, afraid I was the villain.
I swore to myself right then and there that I never wanted my children to be afraid of me. I never wanted them to think I was going to hit them, scream at them or use ugly, violent words.
Children shouldn't be afraid. OK, maybe they're afraid of the monsters under the bed or in the closet or the creaking noises an old house makes or clowns because of those horrendous masks that come out every Halloween. But they should never be afraid that the people who are supposed to protect them for everything are actually the monsters.