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Indulgent Grandma Rules this Roost

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Dear Annie: I am 26 and a single parent to a 3-year-old girl. I love my daughter more than anything in this world. However, in the past few months, she has become a brat and a monster, doing everything she can to test me.

Due to recent financial problems, we had to move in with my mother until I can finish my degree and get a job. No matter what discipline I use, nothing works because my mother undermines me. There is no consistency in what is right or wrong. My mother always gives in to her every request.

Once in a while, I will spank my daughter, but only on very rare occasions. I would never hurt her. My mother, however, cornered me and gave me a lecture on how awful I am for spanking my child. Yet I can clearly recall being spanked by my mother numerous times when I was little.

Mom often questions my parenting in front of my daughter and then treats me like an 8-year-old. I am enormously grateful that she opened her home to us, but I can't be an effective parent when she constantly undercuts my authority. How can I get her to keep her child-rearing opinions to herself and allow me to make the parenting decisions for my child? — Texas

Dear Texas: While we agree with your mother that discipline does not require spanking your daughter, we also understand how difficult it is to raise a child when an indulgent grandparent rules the roost. First, have a sit-down discussion with Mom when your daughter is asleep. Get her to acknowledge that a lack of discipline is not healthy for her grandchild. And you can compromise by agreeing to use different forms of discipline other than spanking. Create rules you can both abide by. If that doesn't work, bring Mom to your next pediatrician appointment, and ask the doctor to speak to her. And please, find other living arrangements as soon as possible.

Dear Annie: I am a typical 20-year-old college guy.

About five years ago, on the way back from a family vacation, my brother got carsick. Since then, he constantly complains about stomachaches, gets nervous about everything and never travels. He's been to various doctors, but all of them say nothing is wrong.

He doesn't have friends anymore. He works once a week and says he's "too sick" for a second job. He sits in his room playing computer games all day. I want to motivate him, but whenever I try, he turns the argument against me. I see how much it upsets my parents. They are trying everything they can, and honestly, none of us knows what to do anymore. Can you help? — Concerned Brother

Dear Brother: Your brother has anxiety issues that have not been addressed, so they have become worse over time. In addition, he may now be suffering from depression. This is not to say he isn't also using his anxiety as an excuse to avoid responsibility, but it nonetheless can be crippling to deal with. Your parents should get a referral to a psychiatrist and then insist that your brother make an appointment and be evaluated. There is medication for anxiety disorders, and the sooner he can be helped, the better.

Dear Annie: "Scared Sister" said she was afraid whenever her sister, "Louise," had to drive at night, because her vision was impaired.

My 22-year-old son's night driving was scary. It took two separate visits to the ophthalmologist to discover that he had congenital cataracts. It affected his depth perception. He was very clumsy as a little kid and had a lot of bruises. It was unnerving to be questioned by the school principal about child abuse. Despite multiple eye exams, the cataracts were not diagnosed until recently. Maybe "Louise" has the same condition. — Accused Mom

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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Comments

86 Comments | Post Comment
LW1 - Wow, there are lot of issues here.

1 - Your daughter is three. She is going to be noisy, annoying, bratty, and will test your limits. Refrain from publicly calling her "a brat and a monster". She is a child.
2 - (IMO) proper discipline does include pain (spanking). If you don't do it to hurt her, then why do you do it? No matter how hard you do it, it's humiliating for the child and unnecessary. Find other ways to discipline.
3 - You are living with your mother, presumably for free, who is home with your daughter more than you are. Unless you can get your mother on board to be more of a consistent parent than an indulgent grandparent, your only options are to put up with her, or to find another place to live.

Obviously the ideal situation (until you can afford your own place) is to work WITH your mother to find a set of rules you can all agree on, and how to enforce them. Tell her you understand she is a grandmother and likes to spoil her granddaughter but that because you are away every day she has to be "substitute parent" and will have to work harder while you are living with her. Then perhaps do some research and buy a couple of parenting books that you can read together to use as a base for your consistent parenting to ensure a happy, healthy family.

LW2 - I agree with the Annies. You yourself probably can't help but you and your family together may be able to. He definitely sounds like he needs help.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Zoe
Tue Aug 9, 2011 9:20 PM
LW1- I get the whole grandparent undermining your parenting, try to do what Annie suggests or try to find another situation.

However I need to adress something, You're child is 3 and therefore testing her boundries, this does not make her a monster. It makes her a normal child. I have an almost three year old and he's hit that recently but I would never call my son a Monster. Yes he drives me bonkers sometimes using that kind of lanauge to decribe your child could leave subconcious issues in your child.

Sorry for getting on my soapbox but this type of thing annoys me.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Yoshi Mama
Tue Aug 9, 2011 9:47 PM
LW1-
"How can I get her to keep her child-rearing opinions to herself and allow me to make the parenting decisions for my child? "
By moving out. If that is not possible for the moment, then I'm afraid you have to put up with her, and it would appear that rent she demands out of you is abdication on your parenting while she retains total control. Do keep in mind your child is going through the "no" stage, which is quite bratty. It will be made worse by conflicting caretakers. The Annies and Zoe had constructive suggestions. Spanking is rarely an essential part of disciplie, so do please refrain from doing it, even if your mother did it on you.

Comment: #3
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Tue Aug 9, 2011 9:59 PM
LW2's brother may be suffering from agoraphobia. The recommendation to get him a referral to a psychiatrist is right on--there are treatments available with proven success.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Bear
Tue Aug 9, 2011 11:10 PM
Wow! The Annies are amazing! Without any type of medical degree or background, and simply by reading a third-party accounting of a person they've never met, they can diagnose an anxiety disorder, even going so far as to advise that the son's parents "insist" he see a psychiatrist so he can get anxiety medication.
Good Lord! Do you have any idea how many physical and mental illnesses present the exact same set of symptoms described here? Could it be that he constantly complains about stomachaches because he really DOES have them? It's equally possible that these stomacheaches, which could be caused by anything from food allerigies to Crohn's diseaase to alcohol abuse, give the poor guy chronic diarehea. Hence, he is afraid to travel far from home and gets "nervous" about doing anything in case he has an accident and embarrasses himself. Hence, he has no friends. He could have been too shy to mention this problem to the doctors, so they wouldn't have found a problem. That's just one other possible scenario, and there are dozens of others.
One of my sons used to complain about having a stomachache just before school every day. The first doctor I took him to just assumed he didn't want to go to school, and told me to make him go. The second doctor I took him to actually took the time to listen, and after some tests, found the morning stomacheaches were the result of a physical problem. His first clue? My son had stomacheaches on the weekend too!
Bottom line, Annies--stop pretending you can diagnose medical or mental health problems. Stop telling people they have anxiety issues, depression, hormone imbalances, low testosterone or are going through menopause. The fact is that you have no clue, and pretending to be an authority in these matters is irreponsible and frankly, downright dangerous. Let's hope the guy you've just advised needs a psyciatrist and anti-anxiety meds doesn't have a stomach ulcer or polyps in his colon.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Jane
Wed Aug 10, 2011 2:11 AM
LW1 - I agree with everyone here who says your daughter isn't a brat or a monster...she's 3! That behavoir for a 3 year old is normal. My nephew is 4 1/2 and I remember him going through that. He still acts like that at times. My neice will be 2 in November and she has started the "No!" and "Mine!" stage. It's all normal.

But your mother undermining everything is not helping the situation at all. I would do what the Annie's suggested and try to talk to her after your daughter is asleep but something tells me she won't listen and doesn't respect you as a mother. Find out if your school has a special program that offers assistance to single parents (mine did). Or, can you possibly live with someone else until your degree is complete? If you must stay with your mother and she refuses to respect your boundries as a mother, then you have to put your foot down as much as possible and put up with it until your degree is complete.

LW2 - You didn't say how old your brother was. If he's under 18, your parents need to call a psychiatrist. Something is wrong with him. But if he's over 18, I don't think you can force him to go. Try talking to him and hopefully he will realize that he needs help.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Michelle
Wed Aug 10, 2011 2:36 AM
LW1--I disagree with the Annies and other child worshipers that misbehaving children should never be spanked. A sound smack on the rump of a child in the throws of a tantrum is not dissimilar to a sound slap across the face of a hysterical adult. Anyone who believes this is amounts to abuse is being patently ridiculous. As for your mother, she's treating you like a child because in her eyes you'll always be an eight year old who needs constant direction and guidance, including how to raise your own child. Moreover, as a grandmother, she feels she's entitled to spoil her grandchild which further undermines your authority and constantly paints you as the heavy in the eyes of your child. My advice is to do whatever is necessary to find your own place. If that means cutting back school to part time while you work part time and live with a neutral roommate, so be it.

LW2--Your brother is clearly suffering from undiagnosed anxiety attacks. He may also be borderline agoraphobic. I'd seek the services of a good psychiatrist who specializes in such issues. Of course if your brother refuses to go, there's not a lot you can do about it. My question is, who is enabling him to sit in his room all day and play video games?
Comment: #7
Posted by: Chris
Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:29 AM
Hey Chris, please consider yourself "SOUNDLY" SLAPPED across the face!!! Aaaaa, now we BOTH feel better, NO??
Comment: #8
Posted by: Clare
Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:40 AM
*confused*
The guy developed an anxiety disorder from getting carsick one time on a family trip? That hardly seems traumatizing. I could understand that it might make someone reluctant to go on long car trips, but to shut off from the world in normal every day life the way this guy is doing?
Comment: #9
Posted by: Alexandra
Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:45 AM
On the letter writer who wants to spank her three year old.

Where to begin? As the actual parents of 3 year olds can attest a three year old isn't "testing" you when they act up--or rather, the test is one that you fail when you start to spank them for ordinary three year old behavior. Babies and toddlers have one job and one job only: to learn, to explore, to develop their brains, to develop reasoning capacity. They can only do those things by walking, talking, grabbing, pointing, asking questions, experimenting with their answers. Read any book on brain development and you will be astounded by the work that baby and toddler brains are doing as they suck in information from all around them, especially complex social information.
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Both babies and toddlers can become exhausted from this work. This can sometimes lead to states that seem uncontrollable--I've had them with my second daughter when she simply couldn't be calmed down and needed to scream herself to sleep after a long day of travel and excitement. If a kid who seems out of control is just fine after a nap you need to realize that children's time and energy need to be constantly monitored and controlled to prevent breakdown, but once breakdown occurs spanking or other forms of violence don't teach the child anything except when they are hurting or confused that people larger than them will hurt them further.
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So for Chris's version of "hysterics" slapping and spanking don't make any sense (and nor does shouting). If you want to each a kid to be self regulating as to emotion and its expression you have to model self regulation, calm, and language use for that kid.
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For anything short of total nervous breakdown you should still prefer to use reason and words because, again, you are modeling for the child the adult ability to think before action. Know that the child will still need to explore, to act out, to be defiant, to experiment with the word "no" and continue to be the adult in the relationship.
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Its very likely that the girl is experiencing difficulty with her mother as part time caregiver because the mother has now realized that spanking wasn't really necessary, or sees it as unnecessary now while the daughter (who is under more stress) is under a strong feeling that she needs to be in control of something, even if its just a three year old. This is an unhealthy situation. Both Grandmother and Daughter need to sit down, read some parenting books *together* and decide how they are jointly going to deal with the common issues that arise in joint caregiving. The daughter should move out as soon as she can but it would be nice if instead of leaving out of frustration she and her mother could work out some good mode of communication because she is still going to want and need to maintain a good relationship with her mother over parenting issues.

aimai
Comment: #10
Posted by: aimai
Wed Aug 10, 2011 5:33 AM
Yes, LW1, you have to move if you want this to stop immediately. You may have to live in a crappy one bedroom and sleep on the couch. You may have to team up with another single mom (NOT a new boyfriend, LW!). From firsthand experience, it's hard to live with relatives and have them not interfere with your parenting. If it's not an option for whatever reason (I suppose there must be some situation this would apply to) or this is a mutually beneficial relationship and you don't actually want to leave right now, you'll have to lay down the law and tell Mom that you are the parent and absent actual abuse, she will need to stay out of it. If it's that she wants to spoil Baby, give her parameters, like grandma can give her sweets/buy her toys/let her skip her nap only on weekends, or she doesn't have to do any parent stuff like baths and doctor's visits while babysitting (you will take care of that), but she does have to adhere to your rules. By three, your child can understand the delay if the punishment for misbehaving doesn't come until after you get home (though spanking wouldn't apply here, it's pretty much only effective if the child directly associates it with the behavior-see below). And tell her she's free to disagree with you on this, but never in front of your daughter. Assure her that if she follows that rule, you will at least hear her out. You may thank her and ignore her advice, but at least listen. I have a feeling that that's what this might be about anyway. It sounds like you need some help here, and in her misguided way she's trying to give it to you. You should appreciate that more than giving you a roof, because parenting a three year old alone is hard, and if your line of thinking is that your daughter is a brat that's acting like a three year old just to spite you, you're struggling. You just need to get on the same page and shift it from a hostile takeover of your parenting duties to a co-op, because she may have a lot to teach you. There are a lot of possible issues under the surface here, but it's clear that if you and Mom can cooperate, your daughter will benefit.
As an aside, I'm going to have to side with Chris here, at least with qualifiers. Spanking isn't a solution for every problem with every child, but there are times that it is appropriate when used, as Chris indicated, as a tool to get the child to focus or to create an immediate negative association for a small child. For example, we used to live by a major road, and one day when my daughter was about two, she snuck away while I was attending to my older child and I caught her standing at the edge of the sidewalk about to step into the road. I snatched her up and issued one swift, hard swat on the (diapered) bottom, open handed. Between the snatching and the swatting, she got the message-and so did I, because we both worked harder to keep her within her boundaries after that. A long conversation wasn't needed, all she needed to know was road=bad. She's not particularly moved by spanking itself(I've seen her skip away from one), but she doesn't like the concept much-not that it's really an issue anymore. If you're a decent parent and use the occasional spanking appropriately when a child is young, I believe there's rarely a need to spank past when the child becomes fully verbal, about four or five for most kids. Said daughter is seven, a potentially very bratty age, and I don't remember the last time my husband or I spanked her, adn I don't think of her as bratty at all-I rather enjoy her spunk. The problem is that some people use spanking as their primary discipline method or to teach their child "Don't make me mad" rather than "What you did has consequences." That's where it becomes dangerous, and I think that's why so many people err on the side of caution and espouse the opinion that spanking is bad no matter what. The problem is, some parents go too far and don't want to spank but don't know how to discipline at all without it, and from a young age their child respects nothing, including them. If your child never sees you as an authority and an expert on The Way Things Are when they are little, they won't listen when they're too old to spank effectively. If your child's disposition allows you to parent without spanking and still build that authority relationship to keep your child safe, more power to you. Natural consequences are better, but in situations where that's not possible, like the street or with a hot stove, a spanking can serve as an appropriate substitute for a child that isn't old enough or wouldn't learn through verbal instruction to be afraid of that situation. That's the key: make your child afraid of the situation, not of you.
Comment: #11
Posted by: Nichole
Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:01 AM
Yes, LW1, you have to move if you want this to stop immediately. You may have to live in a crappy one bedroom and sleep on the couch. You may have to team up with another single mom (NOT a new boyfriend, LW!). From firsthand experience, it's hard to live with relatives and have them not interfere with your parenting. If it's not an option for whatever reason (I suppose there must be some situation this would apply to) or this is a mutually beneficial relationship and you don't actually want to leave right now, you'll have to lay down the law and tell Mom that you are the parent and absent actual abuse, she will need to stay out of it. If it's that she wants to spoil Baby, give her parameters, like grandma can give her sweets/buy her toys/let her skip her nap only on weekends, or she doesn't have to do any parent stuff like baths and doctor's visits while babysitting (you will take care of that), but she does have to adhere to your rules. By three, your child can understand the delay if the punishment for misbehaving doesn't come until after you get home (though spanking wouldn't apply here, it's pretty much only effective if the child directly associates it with the behavior-see below). And tell her she's free to disagree with you on this, but never in front of your daughter. Assure her that if she follows that rule, you will at least hear her out. You may thank her and ignore her advice, but at least listen. I have a feeling that that's what this might be about anyway. It sounds like you need some help here, and in her misguided way she's trying to give it to you. You should appreciate that more than giving you a roof, because parenting a three year old alone is hard, and if your line of thinking is that your daughter is a brat that's acting like a three year old just to spite you, you're struggling. You just need to get on the same page and shift it from a hostile takeover of your parenting duties to a co-op, because she may have a lot to teach you. There are a lot of possible issues under the surface here, but it's clear that if you and Mom can cooperate, your daughter will benefit.
As an aside, I'm going to have to side with Chris here, at least with qualifiers. Spanking isn't a solution for every problem with every child, but there are times that it is appropriate when used, as Chris indicated, as a tool to get the child to focus or to create an immediate negative association for a small child. For example, we used to live by a major road, and one day when my daughter was about two, she snuck away while I was attending to my older child and I caught her standing at the edge of the sidewalk about to step into the road. I snatched her up and issued one swift, hard swat on the (diapered) bottom, open handed. Between the snatching and the swatting, she got the message-and so did I, because we both worked harder to keep her within her boundaries after that. A long conversation wasn't needed, all she needed to know was road=bad. She's not particularly moved by spanking itself(I've seen her skip away from one), but she doesn't like the concept much-not that it's really an issue anymore. If you're a decent parent and use the occasional spanking appropriately when a child is young, I believe there's rarely a need to spank past when the child becomes fully verbal, about four or five for most kids. Said daughter is seven, a potentially very bratty age, and I don't remember the last time my husband or I spanked her, adn I don't think of her as bratty at all-I rather enjoy her spunk. The problem is that some people use spanking as their primary discipline method or to teach their child "Don't make me mad" rather than "What you did has consequences." That's where it becomes dangerous, and I think that's why so many people err on the side of caution and espouse the opinion that spanking is bad no matter what. The problem is, some parents go too far and don't want to spank but don't know how to discipline at all without it, and from a young age their child respects nothing, including them. If your child never sees you as an authority and an expert on The Way Things Are when they are little, they won't listen when they're too old to spank effectively. If your child's disposition allows you to parent without spanking and still build that authority relationship to keep your child safe, more power to you. Natural consequences are better, but in situations where that's not possible, like the street or with a hot stove, a spanking can serve as an appropriate substitute for a child that isn't old enough or wouldn't learn through verbal instruction to be afraid of that situation. That's the key: make your child afraid of the situation, not of you.
Comment: #12
Posted by: Nichole
Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:01 AM
Re: Nichole

That was an excellent post, Nichole. I've started using dots at my line/paragraph break to make the text more readable when it gets to that length. Creator's site seems to collapse text that you are trying to break up appropriately and just runs everything together, which makes it hard to read a long piece.

I'd like to draw other readers' attention to this very important point in your post:

**Natural consequences are better, but in situations where that's not possible, like the street or with a hot stove, a spanking can serve as an appropriate substitute for a child that isn't old enough or wouldn't learn through verbal instruction to be afraid of that situation. That's the key: make your child afraid of the situation, not of you.**
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Communication with a child has to be at that child's level. Physical punishment, like screaming and verbal abuse (all forms of getting a child's attention) are also ways of building pathways in the brain. You are always stimulating a response: fear, reason, hope, pleasure. You actually need to be just as careful with bribes as with punishment.
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I guess what I'm saying is that it takes a whole lot of work to raise a child. This isn't about whether you "get respect" or not from a child as some kind of "authority figure." Its whether you are raising someone who is capable of becoming, in their turn, a responsible, thoughtful, adult who doesn't need to refer to authority figures.

aimai

Comment: #13
Posted by: aimai
Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:35 AM
Re: Jane

I agree with everything you said, but I find it interesting how people complain when the Annies are too specific in their diagnosis but they also complain when they are too vague in their responses.

Re: Chris

I was a pretty well behaved child and I was not punished in any way very often (a stern look was usually enough). However, I remember every single time I was spanked on the butt or given a whack upside the head. I don't remember the pain (I don't think it was done very hard); I remember being physically hit, that it was humiliating and that it always seemed worse than I was doing (like not listening, make a mess, turning on the tv without permission, whatever). How can you teach your child that violence is not an answer if you turn to it for punishment? Or, worse, to use it to associate pain with behaviour that you don't like (such as crossing the road).

Re: Alexandra

Sometimes the catalyst for mental disorders that lie just under the surface can seem small and insignificant.

Re: Nichole

"That's the key: make your child afraid of the situation, not of you."

Children should be afraid of bogey men and thunderstorms, not of life.
Comment: #14
Posted by: Zoe
Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:39 AM
LW 1- You and your mother need to get on the same page as far as behavior. Consistency is crucial, or else your poor little girl will always be testing her boundaries and probably getting in trouble. Just make simple rules (with your mom, then write them down) for different scenarios...maybe 2 or 3. Then you repeat them before, during, and after you enter that situation. Examples: In the car- 1) get strapped in and don't unstrap while the car is moving 2) no screaming or shrieking. Explain that she has two car rules to keep her and everyone else safe. Have her repeat them back. Offer feedback and praise. In the restaurant- 1) keep your bottom in your chair 2) use your indoor voice 3) be nice to the server. Nothing vague like "use good manners" will work. Be specific and again, offer praise. Failure to follow the rules? Take her outside. Explain that she did not follow ___ rule. Tell her why that rule exists. "When you scream in the restaurant, other people can't enjoy their food. Can you try again?" If she can't comply, get your food to go and leave. It's ok to be angry, but make it clear that you are angry with her behavior, not her. This takes CONSISTENCY, but you will have a little girl who will behave and be very proud of herself. I am an early childhood teacher and mom to 3. It's an easy system and it works. Oh, don't bribe. You want her to do right because it's the right thing to do, not because she will earn a treat. An unexpected reward after an excellent job is ok, but make it random and use praise the rest of the time. Good luck!
Comment: #15
Posted by: Stephanie
Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:44 AM
Re aimai: "If you want to each a kid to be self regulating as to emotion and its expression you have to model self regulation, calm, and language use for that kid."
It couldn't have been said better than that.
Chris - have you ever seen adults going around slapping people who don't behave how they should? If we don't deal that way with adults, why is it okay to do that to kids? I don't believe spanking has any long-term disciplining benefits. It just teaches kids that it is okay to hit someone, especially if that someone is physically weaker than them. And I come from a culture that sees nothing wrong with spanking.
I myself have a 3 year old and can completely relate with how frustrating it can be when a child says NO to everything and throws tantrums if they don't have their way. My son went through that phase (still does sometimes) and I felt myself losing it. Then I read a book that uses counting techniques to discipline a child. On the face of it, it was simply counting to 3 to give the child time to stop the bad behaviour and follow it with consequences if they don't. Something that really struck me when I read that book was that most times when a child throws a tantrum, the parents/grownups also turn into tantruming adults (was true for me at least). When nothing else works, they start yelling, threatening, losing their own calm and using lots of words that don't make any sense to the child in that moment. According to the book, the key is to keep your cool, use less words and not show any emotions. I could not believe how well this worked for me. Once I realized it and worked on staying calm, I was able to handle the situation in a much better way and my son actually started listening to me.
The LW is in a difficult position but it is no different than two parents having different ideas about parenting. She needs to talk to her mother and make sure both of them come to an agreement about disciplining the little girl and stay consistent.
Comment: #16
Posted by: Jasmine
Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:45 AM
LW1 - Stop spanking you kid. I'm not going to go off on spanking vs. not spanking. I was spanked as a kid...twice. For a good reason. If it's part of your daily routine then stop it. I would suggest you move out but even if you did your mom would probably be you day care provider so that's not a solution. As much as I am loath to admit it the Annies may be right. Sit down and discuss this with your mom. If it continues you may have to either learn to deal with it, or find other arrangements.

LW2 - The Annies are full of crap. Your brother is a total slacker who has figured out a good gig. You parents are fools and your brother knows it. They need to put his ass on the curb and you need to not worry about it unless you're going to help them put his ass on the curb.

LW3 - Thanks for sharing but what's the point? Scarred Sister knew Louise had a visual impairment. This issue was getting her to stop driving not get her vision checked. I may be wrong though because I don't really remember the letter, but thanks for sharing anyway.
Comment: #17
Posted by: Rick
Wed Aug 10, 2011 7:17 AM
Re: Jasmine

I can't resist coming back to tell you what a great post you've written! Your insight that a child's tantrum often turns into an adult caregiver's tantrum is so true for so many aspects of childrearing. Counting to ten is as good a discipline for adults as it is for children. Using your indoor voice, or lowering it to catch a child's attention, is as good for situations of escalating confict as it is for kindergarteners and kindergarten teachers.
..
This whole discussion reminds me of something which I've written about before so forgive me if this is a repeat here. I was bathing both of my (very small) daughters in a very big jacuzzi tub. The toddler, who must have been three and a half or four(?) and the baby (barely standing at that point) were fooling around and I couldn't get the baby to sit still in the water. She was very slippery and I was getting very frustrated and finally I hauled her out of there and I gave her a swat on the bottom. She began to cry and my older daughter demanded to know why I'd hit her. I explained that I was afraid that the baby would hurt herself wriggling around in the water to which my older daughter replied, very slowly as though to a moron:

"I see. You were afraid that she would hurt herself.And.So.You.Hit.Her." I still crack up when I think of how stupid it sounded, when she put it like that. What would have been different if I'd just leaned over the baby and said "if you can't sit still you have to come out of the bath right now?" and then I'd just hauled her out, toweled her off, and put her to bed? Would I have had to swat her bottom? Would I have gotten compliance? I didn't actually get compliance with my request after the swat on the bottom because at that point the entire situation became about the spanking and not about the bath. She cried and was frightened and chastened, sure, but I'm not sure she had the slightest notion that it was for wriggling in the bath or that she could connect it to the next bath. I probably spent more time soothing her and helping her get over her fright at my hitting her than I ever would have if I'd just calmly taken her out and dried her off.

aimai
Comment: #18
Posted by: aimai
Wed Aug 10, 2011 7:20 AM
So this mother hits her child, but says she would never hurt her? Spanking is hitting! DUH!
Comment: #19
Posted by: Mary
Wed Aug 10, 2011 7:33 AM
re LW1 - I actually agree with Chris and Nichole. Spanking is a last resort tool a parent has available to discipline children. As Nichole stated, there are qualifiers. Sure we start with verbal warnings, timeouts, and loss of priviliges. Spanking should not be done in a fit of anger and it is a measure that should only be taken after a child has exhausted numerous other discipline measures, repeating the same behavior over and over again. Finally, the child should be warned that spanking will be employed if the action is repeated. Once I give that warning, I follow through with it so my children know that I mean what I say. Knowing that if they receive this warning, it surely will happen is often enough of a deterrent that the spanking doesn't actually have to take place.

Just this past weekend, my two year old daughter was in rare form. We were attending a convention and she was understandably overwhelmed with amount of people, the commotion around her and the long day. She experienced sensory overload. I took her out as much as possible and allowed her to walk and talk and behave as a normal two year old, but by the end of the day she had had enough. I understood how she felt and why she behaved as she did - but her behavior was entirely unacceptable - she slapped her brother hard across the face, she bit me, she tried to jump out of my arms in a temper-tantrum, which was dangerous because we were sitting in stadium style seating near the top row, if I was not holding on to her tightly, she could have easily fallen down to the row in front of her. She was flailing her arms and thrashing about - clearly not hearing a word I said. At that point, I very calmly slapped her leg - which got her attention. Then I got down to her eye level and very firmly told her that her behavior is not nice. I then told her to go to sleep. She immediately stopped the behavior, layed her head against my chest and took a nap. She woke up in a much better temperament.

Does she (or any of my children) fear me? No they don't. They all freely express themselves to me, just the other day one of my sons thanked me for always listening to him. My children - even the two year old are extremely articulate and we talk constantly. But, they know that they need to follow my rules for proper conduct and that if they don't spanking may be a disciplinary measure that will be employed. I also behave in a very loving manner toward my children with lots of hugs, kisses and affection. They are rewarded with positive reinforcement in the form of praise and priviliges for their efforts and I never spank when I feel angry.

Lastly, Zoe I do agree that spankings can be humiliating for children. But you know what, children who behave abominably bring shame and humiliation upon their parents. When employed in an effective manner, most children wise up and learn to avoid this last resort disciplinary measure by behaving properly.
Comment: #20
Posted by: sharnee
Wed Aug 10, 2011 7:45 AM
Re: sharnee

"But you know what, children who behave abominably bring shame and humiliation upon their parents."

I don't understand what the point is, here... Using that logic, it would be okay for a child to smack a parent who is acting like an idiot and humiliating the kid in front of their friends? A misbehaving child isn't bringing shame or humiliation to their parents, they are acting like kids. Parents should be prepared for this inevitable eventuality. The adult is expected to act like an adult and I have never felt that lashing out in anger, violence or with intent to cause fear (for example, why Nichole spanks her kids), pain (why Chris advocates slapping children) or shock is contradictory to using one's grownup words. A light, attention-getting swat on the leg or bum, akin to a poke or tap, is one thing, but an actual spank, slap or hit is another entirely.
Comment: #21
Posted by: Zoe
Wed Aug 10, 2011 8:01 AM
Oops, that sentence got away from me.

I meant that:

"I have never felt that lashing out in anger, violence or with intent to cause fear (for example, why Nichole spanks her kids), pain (why Chris advocates slapping children) or shock is OK, and is actually contradictory to using one's grownup words."

To expand upon what I said, I also don't think that "you humiliated me in the restaurant? oh yeah? drop your pants, now it's YOUR turn to be humiliated" is a very good thing to do to your kid.
Comment: #22
Posted by: Zoe
Wed Aug 10, 2011 8:05 AM
To be fair, Chris didn't advocate "slapping children". He simply pointed out that a quick swat on the butt can be a most effective means of getting an unruly child's (much like an hysterical adult's) attention quickly and succinctly. You can change the language to suit your needs, Zoe et. al., but not the intent. And to be frank, I think he's spot on. Today's kinder, gentler parenting style is going to be the death of us all -- we will end up with a generation of adults who neither fear nor respect consequences because, after all, why should they? "Oooh, I was naughty so you're going to *speak* to me again??" Oh NO!
Comment: #23
Posted by: Cher
Wed Aug 10, 2011 8:26 AM
Re: Cher

Maybe I misunderstood what Chris was saying, but he was comparing spanking to a "sound slap across the face" of a hysterical person. To me, that describes a pretty hard slap because the pain is what is needed to "snap" the person out of their hysteria, no?

He didn't say "quick swat" - so who's changing the language, now?

If you're talking about a quick swat on the butt to redirect attention, then fine. That's okay in my books because it's not to cause pain, shock, fear or embarrassment. It's just to say "hey, over here, pay attention to me" and then you dole out the verbal warning/consequence ("stop doing that or go to your room"). But that's NOT what spanking is and that's not what Chris was referring to.

And let's keep our perspective, here. Not slapping/spanking our kids isn't going to be the "death of us all". I know many children who were respectfully raised without violence and they are just fine. I know children who were spanked (not beaten), and they are fine. I know children who were spanked and they are holy terrors as adults. I know people who weren't not spanked as kids and are irresponsible adults who play video games all day and steal ketchup packets from McDonalds. So much more goes into forming a person's personality and behaviour than whether or not they were spanked as kids.

I DO believe in kind, gentle parenting that is reinforced with solid rules and boundaries, and consequences (NOT physical) when those aren't followed. Maybe my kid will be the next Hitler?
Comment: #24
Posted by: Zoe
Wed Aug 10, 2011 8:38 AM
LW1 - I agree that a three year old is not a monster or a brat. Your daughter is THREE. What are you expecting from her for crying out loud? Have you read any articles or books on child development?

Maybe your mother's indulging her because she's trying to make up for her own remiss parenting or to balance out your being too hard on her as it is. Just sayin'.

As for the spanking, a psychologist we talked to gently told my husband that spanking only teaches a child that the ones who love you will be the ones who hurt you. We had used spanking previously as a "last resort" method of discipline, but once we got our eyes opened that this is how our children saw the spanking we stopped immediately.

When we recalled back on our own childhoods and the times our parents used spanking, we realized not once did we think gee, that taught us a lesson, we'll never do that again. It taught us to be angry at and scared of our parents.

In retrospect spanking NEVER taught our children anything - it never made them stop the behaviors that were a problem, and most likely because they didn't make the connection. It just made them angrier with us in the same way our parents made us angry and afraid of them. Taking away privileges, time outs, and other natural consequences have ended up being far more effective.

Please also bear in mind that moving in with your mother may be a big upheaval for your daughter. YOU can process those things fine because you're an adult, but it's possibly turned your daughter's world upside down.

I think your best solution if you don't want your mother interfering with how you parent your child and you're not interested in changing how you do things is to move out. Yes it's hard out there, especially as a single parent, but it's do-able. Consider finding some roommates willing to split the rent and reaching out for public assistance... and yes maybe also consider finding a job, even if it's the night shift at Wendy's, whatever will help you support yourself and your daughter. I've been in your shoes and it's really tough, but I also truly believe you and your daughter will feel much better and you'll have a sense of accomplishment if you can get out from under your mother.

LW2 - I really don't know what to say on this one because I don't think the connections you're seeing are necessarily the whole story. I will agree that your brother needs to be seen by a professional, if for nothing else than to rule out whether your brother's behaviors really are psychologically based or if he's just learned to be a master manipulator.
Comment: #25
Posted by: PS
Wed Aug 10, 2011 8:40 AM
Maybe I'm just in a grumpy mood, but the first two letters really annoyed me.
LW1: “a monster and a brat… doing everything she can to test me”? Really?? SHE'S 3!! I seriously doubt she's conscientiously “testing” you, and that's rather extreme to call your own toddler a monster. Maybe she's such a brat, because you're not disciplining her correctly. Spanking alone isn't going to teach a child anything… do you explain why you're spanking her? Or do you just spank with no explanation? Do you try other methods, or do you just throw up your hands and say ‘Mom will undermine me anyway!”?
I want to chalk this up to grandma just being a nosey grandma, but the fact she actually calls her child a brat and monster, is a red flag.
LW2: This is a weird letter (sorry for the judgment!) What does the car sickness have to do with anything? Maybe he caught a parasite…? Sounds to me like he's just a slacker whose family is enabling him, because of his “sickness.” Also, how old is this kid? Is he still in high school?
Comment: #26
Posted by: Casey
Wed Aug 10, 2011 8:41 AM
I never studied childhood development like my friends did in college and high school. I knew some trivial things like the "terrible two's" and teething is hard, colic is harder and diapers are stinky. I knew some big things like breastfeeding is good and SIDS happens. All in all, we were stunned when the hospital let us take our child home. My husband said it, "I can't believe they're letting us leave with her! We don't know shit". We figured everything out along the way, most of the time it was fun, sometimes it was scary and sometimes it was a big ol' mess.

Fast forward and the terrible two's were pretty easy and I thought I was home free. "I have such a GREAT little girl" I thought smugly. Yeah right. Being humbled is soooo humbling.

Three and a half is HARD. I was so caught off guard by the metamorphosis of my sweet girl into a child that didn't agree with anything, didn't know what she wanted and had energy like an energizer bunny. I had to go out and buy my first childrearing book. It said the "half" years are the hardest, starting at 18 months. I looked back and realized it was true. Eighteen months was all about, "I want to do this myself". Two and a half was dominated by trying to negotiate with me over EVERYTHING, albeit sweetly, but three and a half was off the charts awful. Tantrums, negotiations, ignoring me, pestering me, and all while running away from me, carrying scissors.

Once I armed myself with this book, I began to understand what was happening and stop looking for gypsies to sell my daughter to. LW1 is a student, which when I was a student (single and childless) I was frustrated by the feeling of waiting for my life to begin. I can't imagine adding single motherhood to the equation. With the addition of a saboteur mother.
One thing about your Mom, LW1, she may have guilt about the way she raised you. Which is a possibility of why she is behaving against you. My own father acts strangely at times, especially when I do something with my daughter that he used to do with my sibs and I. Growing up, my father had little patience, a short fuse and still loved us, and I have no desire to remonstrate him for any of it. He did the best he could and I would not have wanted any other father, then or now.

My older sister lived with my parents for a while after her divorce. Her children were troubled, messy, unruly, and insolent at times, like a lot of kids. My mother would confide in me all the things that irked her about my sister's parenting skills. My Mom did her best to back off when she wasn't' wanted, be there when she was needed and provide a home. I never told any of my siblings about the confidences my mother shared with me, that was between us. If you have siblings and are on good terms, now is the time to enlist their help.

This can be fixed, or it can be swept under the rug. You can spend less time at home until you can move out. My advice, get a book specifically about three year olds and take deep breaths and pray. This will only last a little while, then it will be gone.
Comment: #27
Posted by: Chelle
Wed Aug 10, 2011 8:46 AM
Re: Cher

How old are you? Do you have the faintest idea who was raised with "kinder, gentler" parenting and who wasn't? How long the movement to treat children as reasoning human beings has been going on? (Hint: Montaigne's father was doing it in the 1600's).

Oddly enough people have been beating, abusing, and "disciplining" their children for thousands of years and we have *always* had adults with behavior problems--not because they never learned to fear violent consequences but because when you teach people that violent consequences follow on everyday behaviors you teach people that violent consequences are nothing to fear. We lock people up every year for violent offenses, punish them with horrendous prison conditions and the recidivism rate in this country is incredibly high. If violence, punishment, anger and abuse were deterrents you'd expect to never see a former prisoner reoffend. That's simply not the case and never has been. People to whom evil are done do evil in return. People who are raised in violent, authoritarian settings simply have a very high tolerance for violence/pain/suffering. If you are meeting a lot of people for whom ordinary social conventions, social controls and social mores are not enough you are meeting people who were not raised to value other people and their needs and wants. You aren't meeting people who were raised with too much affection, understanding, and reason you are meeting people who were raised with too little. They just waited until they could be the ones doling out the punishment, or were big enough to escape it, rather than learning to value the underlying system of social life that produces harmonious families and societies: love, generosity, reason, caring.

Successful parenting does not require the threat of violence to achieve its goals anymore than an ordinary dinner among friends and family require a gun on the table to keep people from snatching seconds. Love and the desire to please those who love us are as natural, and more effective, ways of handling the minor problems of childhood.

aimai
Comment: #28
Posted by: aimai
Wed Aug 10, 2011 8:51 AM
Zoe, if your kid turns out to be the next Hitler, it certainly WON'T be because of your parenting style. You sound like an extremely responsible parent with very sensible techniques. I have absolutely no doubt that you are a terrific mom! Peace, girlfriend! I just wanted to weigh in, and I didn't want to see Chris villanized since I happen to see his point.

And I stand by my statement: Tomorrow's adults are being ruined by today's parents. Back in the day, we were AFRAID to break rules because we feared the consequences, and that's what kept us on the straight and narrow. I'm not saying the principal of my son's grade school should be allowed to paddle children as a punishment (mine was, way back in the dark ages), but let's be honest with ourselves. A good firm talking-to is about as effective as... well... it just ISN'T! (this is me, running out of steam...)
Comment: #29
Posted by: Cher
Wed Aug 10, 2011 8:51 AM
@Zoe - Really? Do you honestly believe that I meant that parents spank as a tit-for-tat one humiliation in turn for another? No. What I am saying is that yes an untrained child who behaves poorly brings reproach on their parents. I doubt that you have never seen a four or five year old throw a fit in the mall and shake your head along with every other adult witnessing the event and think, "that mother needs to DO something about her kid!" I guarantee you that mother sees those looks and feels shame.

I am not advocating public beatings, lashings, or stonings. To spank a child you need not pull down their pants and definitely you don't do it in front of a room full of people to humiliate your child. But, after repeatedly speaking to your child about the same behavior over and over again in a short period of time and afer exhausting numerous other means of discipline - a verbal warning, a timeout, loss of privileges, etc.... than a spanking is an acceptable last resort and I do not believe that parents should be ashamed of employing this method of discipline in a thoughtful manner.

In my opinion, I have seen so many egregious parenting mistakes that had nothing at all to do with physical discipline. For instance, last week we went to Ikea. One of my sons ran over to a bunk bed with a slide attached and immediately began climbing up so that he slide down. I ran right past a little girl who was just about to climb up and I very nicely brought to his attention that the little girl was there first and he needed to wait his turn. He got down and apologized. The mother looked at me like I was crazy and said, "He was just being a kid, he was excited. It is ok, she can wait". I know that she meant well, but instead of teaching her daughter to be assertive and reinforcing the fact that people need to be courteous to each other; she reinforced my son's rude behavior and taught her daughter to be a passive doormat.

Every child does not need that form of discipline. As you said, you were well behaved child and so was I and in most cases, so is my daughter. Often giving her a timeout, talking to her and asking her to apologize for her behavior are enough. Both of my sons often respond to these types of measures as well more often than not. But there are times when both of them willfully engage in inappropriate or destructive behavior. Yes they are just being "boys" but it is my job as a parent to teach them how to behave properly. In doing so I will employ whatever discipline methods are most effective and quite frankly, spankings are certainly not off the table if it is the thing that makes my point clear.
Comment: #30
Posted by: sharnee
Wed Aug 10, 2011 8:54 AM
erratum: A good firm talking-to isn't ALWAYS effective. I don't mean to imply that I condone spanking as a means of discipline -- I don't. But under certain circumstances, it can be the most effective, and believe it or not the least painful, way of getting an extremely important point across (i.e., staying out of the busy street, sticking forks in the light socket, reaching for the bottle of bleach, etc.). Sometimes negative reinforcement is a great tool, and it shouldn't be confused with child abuse.
Comment: #31
Posted by: Cher
Wed Aug 10, 2011 8:58 AM
@PS - I was a pretty good kid - at least easy to redirect. I was rarely spanked. However, my mother was verbally cruel and often found harsher than necessary discipline methods that did not including beatings. Sometimes, I actually wished she would beat me because when I was growing up the only kind of abuses that were recognized were physical and sexual. My point is that spankings again, done in a thoughtful manner can actually be far more gentle than other forms of discipline that I have seen.
Comment: #32
Posted by: sharnee
Wed Aug 10, 2011 9:05 AM
Re: Cher

Heh, well, I'm not a parent yet. Who knows, I may devolve into using "the belt" during the terrible twos ;)

I still do think you're off track. If violence worked on kids then it should never be needed more than once, but that's not the way it is. The problem with "kids today" (which, by the way, adults have been saying for every new generation) isn't that they aren't being spanked. There are lots of causes but I think chief among them are sedentary lifestyle, parents too busy (both parents working) to spend a lot of time with their kids (e.g., family dinners which have been shown to be very important), kids with too much independence (computers, text messages, etc, that are difficult to monitor), and an increase awareness (as in, kids were brats in the day, it just wasn't talked about - like teen pregnancies, they were not admitted to if it was at all possible to send the girl off to "summer school" for a few months.)

Re: sharnee

I was partly being facetious, but that was part of your point, right? Otherwise why link the two concepts?

Just because people give parents nasty looks for not disciplining their kids, doesn't mean mom should devolve to hitting. I would MUCH rather see a parent say "Billy, you are not listening and you are bothering the other customers, we're going home and you're going to your room," instead of spanking the kid because people are giving her looks.

Some people give nasty looks to breastfeeding mothers but they shouldn't stop feeding their babies in public, after all.

To be clear, I don't think that the odd spank ruins a child. I just believe that because it is a form of violence with an intention to cause pain, shock, fear or humiliation (it has to cause at least one of those, otherwise why would you do it) and therefore has no place in raising a human being that you supposedly respect and love.
Comment: #33
Posted by: Zoe
Wed Aug 10, 2011 9:07 AM
Speaking from experience, I was ordering from a mall court chinese restaurant when my first full blown panic attack hit me. I thought it was scary heartburn or food poisoning from the msg fumes.

For a few years after that, I had the twinges of a beginning panic attack whenever I was around a mall court chinese restaurant. Now I'm fine around them, but only rarely order from them, I have to be in a full rant craving for chinese food and only a little time before I go there. I've admitted before that I have issues.

I think the Annie's are right on the money. And there is one thing about being an advice columnist, they read a lot of letter and know a great deal about human nature. They understand motivations, fears, conflicting emotions and they give people a road map to plow through their problems, or at least get started. In addition to being advice columnists, they have families, friends and people they HAVE to deal with, (like everybody else) and they might have picked up a thing or two along the way.

As for me, I can spot anxiety at fifty paces with great accuracy. Given the time I have spent in therapy, school and work, I have picked up some experiences that are often stranger than fiction. I don't give my opinion unless asked for it. Except here. I give my opinion freely, take it or leave it.

Anxiety is hell. It robs you of hope, happiness and health. I used to weigh ninety-eight pounds for years. I could eat whatever I wanted and didn't go above 100 pounds. When I tackled my anxiety, I put on fifteen pounds like THAT, the only thing I could figure was that anxiety can be a real calorie burner in some people. I'm now 150 pounds, but I am more muscular now than I was then, but I also have a lot more fat. If I could go back to 98 pounds and the price would be the return of anxiety? I wouldn't do it.

Get help for this young man. And sooner rather than later.
Comment: #34
Posted by: Chelle
Wed Aug 10, 2011 9:07 AM
personally, I think spanking is for lazy parents who don't want to take the time to explain the reasons particular behaviors aren't acceptable. They don't even hit you in bootcamp and they're teaching you to be a soldier
Comment: #35
Posted by: brunner
Wed Aug 10, 2011 9:11 AM
Sharnee, you are sooo lucky. I love, love, love IKEA. I could spend all day there. Unfortunately, the closest one to me is five hours away. WAAAAAHHHH!

You can feed a family for under 15 bucks. If I eat meatballs though, I have to have a soda with it, or I get wicked heartburn.

And Zoe, not all kids are easy to direct. I baby-sat my friend's son this weekend. When he get really excited or has been told "NO", he runs on all fours like a gorilla. Try working with THAT.
Comment: #36
Posted by: Chelle
Wed Aug 10, 2011 9:13 AM
...unless of course you're talking about stealing BACON. In which case all bets are off...

And brunner, I believe the things they do to you in boot camp FAR outweigh the occasional spanking. Talk about scarring for life!!!

Hey -- this participating in the conversation is fun! I'm going to have to try this more often! :D
Comment: #37
Posted by: Cher
Wed Aug 10, 2011 9:17 AM
Re: Chelle

Oh, I never said I didn't think it was challenging :)

I think you should have kicked that kid in the head. Obviously he needed to be snapped out of it and needed the pain as punishment for humiliating you and also that would teach him to fear the ground because what if there was glass there? Kids need to associate pain with things the could possibly be dangerous.

I kid, I kid. I do think that there is a challenge in raising and disciplining a child without resorting to violence, but that it's worth it in the end.
Comment: #38
Posted by: Zoe
Wed Aug 10, 2011 9:20 AM
@Zoe - I linked the two "humiliations" together to make the point that when a child goes undisciplined, everyone loses. I would never spank my child in the middle of the mall or in front of their friends. My intent is not to humiliate them, although they may feel embarrassed. My intent is to make the point that I will not accept said behavior. Period. I think it is laughable that people equate spankings (not talking about belts or switches from a tree) with violence. Children these days see true violence on TV, even in cartoons and movies geared toward young children on a daily basis as entertainment (Did you ever see "Home Alone", "Baby Geniuses" or "Baby's Day Out"?). This is the violence we need to shelter or children from. Teaching them how to be decent human beings by asserting parental authority is becoming more and more rare.

In addition, communication is key. I "check in" with my children often to make sure that the feel that their voices are heard, that they feel loved, and that they get what they need from me. So far, from what they tell me from the things others tell me they say about me when I am not around, my children are happy and well-adjusted. I don't think those rare spankings have been detrimental to their overall well-being.

The bottom line is that ss long as a parent is not abusing their children, than no one else has a right to tell them how to raise their children.
Comment: #39
Posted by: sharnee
Wed Aug 10, 2011 9:25 AM
Re: sharnee

"when a child goes undisciplined, everyone loses."

I agree with you there, we're just on different pages when it comes to discipline. I see discipline and punishment as two different things and I don't feel the latter is a reasonable reaction when it's a physical reaction.

If spanking isn't violence, what is it? You are using your physical strength to administer physical force on a child with the intent to cause pain to some degree (again, I'm not talking about an attention-getting swat; I'm talking about a real spank - you do something bad, you get a small dose of pain, and you stop doing the bad thing - that's the idea of spanking). That's violence. It's not the same thing as a murder or war, but it's still violent. At least when it's on TV or in a movie it's portrayed as something bad people to as opposed to something your parent who loves you does when you are being bad.

I get that you are defending your own use of physical punishment (which I agree - isn't ruining your kids or anything), but you are probably not the norm. If you are using spanking as a last resort that follows all other manner of non-corporal discipline, several warnings, and only once you yourself are calm (never in anger), I bet it happens very rarely. I still don't think it's OK, but that's not the picture that LW1 is painting. This is a mother who is stressed, frustrated and angry and is using spanking regularly (more than once in the past few months) as discipline because she is stressed, frustrated and angry with a child she calls a brat and a monster in a public newspaper column. This is how a lot of spanking is administered and I find it hard to believe that you are advocating this.
Comment: #40
Posted by: Zoe
Wed Aug 10, 2011 9:40 AM
Lw1 Move Out! And I disagree that spanking makes you a bad mom. If it does, then I will happily join you. Spanking is not abuse, and anyone who says it is is an idiot and/or never raised children. Your mom is an idiot for not having the common sense to know that YOU are her granddaughetr's parent, so what you say goes. She's free to disagree with you, but if spanking your daughter or even popping her on the mouth when she bites, spits, cusses, or talks back to you are what teaches her not to do those things, then so be it. Your mom needs to but out. I'm a parent of 2, and am absolutely sick to death of hearing how spanking is abusive. Guess what? Coddling and stroking a child's ego doesn't work either. Children have to learn that certain behaviors are unacceptable. Good luck.
Comment: #41
Posted by: Emily
Wed Aug 10, 2011 9:50 AM
Texas: Don't feel guilty about spanking. It's not like your smacking your kid all over the house. All the people out there who are so against spanking probably also don't say a cross word to their child. These people are the reason kids are so out of control these days. Give children so much power at such a young age they are bound to do no good with it. But these idiots want to be liked by their kids. It's pathetic. It is your responsibility to raise a happy healthy child and unfortunately boundary issues can be hard to deal with. Make sure your child knows that you are the boss of her not your mother. Ignoring your mother is the only way to deal with her. Pretend like she never even tried to interfere. Your daughter will take your cue.
Comment: #42
Posted by: Diana
Wed Aug 10, 2011 9:54 AM
I'm choosing my words, especially the qualifiers, very carefully here.

One of the many good reasons that spanking should be used rarely or not at all is because children at all ages model behavior, and using violence (and often when the parent is obviously *angry*), does indeed make it more likely that the child will learn that violence is an acceptable way to deal with negative situations. It has also been shown to be ineffective in instilling long-term morals, and often simply teaches children to be sneakier -- in other words, you aren't changing the behavior entirely, just making the child hide it from you. (Which can create other complications if the child feels they can't trust their parent implicitly).

As for the "painful environmental situation", if you spank your 3 year old to stay away from a hot stove, are you really then going to let the child around a hot stove unattended? Of course not. The spanking doesn't actually teach the lesson at all, because within a day or so the child is just as likely to try it again. And the toddler doesn't become scared of the stove, they become scared of their parent.

Looking at all the evidence in the aggregate, there is nothing *special or unique* that spanking can provide as a disciplinary or teaching tool that cannot be found in non-violent methods. (There's no "added value" in choosing spanking, in other words). The *only* difference is the violence/pain aspect of it, which I agree may not have any negative consequence, but it sometimes *does*. The question then, is that a risk that is worth taking when figuring out how to discipline your child?

And that's why I say at the top, that I believe spanking should be used "rarely" or "not at all".

The real issue I have with parenting today isn't that parents don't spank (which is fine!), but that many parents don't discipline *at all*. (And this is again, speaking generally, not speaking about any individual parents). Parents seem less engaged, in general, with their children than in decades past -- perhaps because most two-parent households have both parents working, but for other reasons as well (child raised by TV and internet, for example).

Speaking from my personal experience, my mother did spank us occasionally when we were little. One time, when I was about 5 or 6, she used a wooden spoon to smack my arm. When she finished and put the spoon away, I went to the drawer, took out the spoon, and then smacked her with it. This was a huge eye-opener for my mom, who later said, "I understood what I was teaching you, and I didn't like it."

Physical punishments ceased in my family after that point, and most people tend to think I'm reasonably well-adjusted. I certainly don't touch hot stoves, anyway.

Regarding the LW, the issue here is to have a disciplining strategy and to stick with it. It really is the lack of consistency that is the biggest part of the problem (although as I'm sure you can tell I'm not thrilled with the spanking, either).
If the LW simply CANNOT move out in the near future, than she is going to have to meet her mother halfway, and the two of them need to come together and agree on a *consistent* system of discipline. Bringing in a pediatrician or a counselor if the mother is still not on board might help.

But unfortunately, as long as she is living under her mother's roof, the mother may continue to undermine the LW and there's not much LW can do (aside from moving out). So LW may want to compromise a bit JUST as a way to get LW's mom to agree to a consistent system (just as two parents living together would also have to do). For the child's benefit, until LW can move out.
Comment: #43
Posted by: Mike H
Wed Aug 10, 2011 10:04 AM
@Emily, @Diana, I think you're making a mistake in logic here -- one can indeed suggest that spanking is not good for a child, but that doesn't in ANY way mean the child isn't being disciplined in other ways. It's not a "spanking or nothing" world.

But I do agree with you both to a degree -- parents do need to provide guidance and discipline and to be authority figures to their children. I don't believe that spanking should be involved in that, and if it is, it should be extraordinarily rare -- but I do believe that firm discipline is necessary.
Comment: #44
Posted by: Mike H
Wed Aug 10, 2011 10:06 AM
@Zoe - Just as you have a strong belief as to whether or not you feel spankings are appropriate prior to having children - so did I. I am not defending myself or my behavior because I don't believe I have anything to defend. I am making a statement about a conscious choice that I make and that I knew I would make long before I ever had a child.

I think that you are clouding your view of LW1 because you have such strong feelings about spankings. She did not say she spanks regularly, she wrote, "Once in a while, I will spank my daughter, but only on very rare occasions. " The exact same thing that I said. I did ignore the fact that she called her child a brat and a monster because from what I read she is frustrated and did not mean it in the sense that many of you took it. I didn't comment because even though I have compassion for her, calling your child such names in indefensible.

That said, I think that there are quite a few parents who thoughtlessly smack, spank or beat their children out of anger and irritation. I think that is wrong. But I also think it is wrong to "talk" to your child when you are angry. Making any form of discipline emotional sends your children a message that your love is only conditional upon their behavior. When my children behave in away that upsets me, I take a moment to collect myself then, when calm I 1) talk to them, and 2) employ some form of discipline. If the infraction is minor, I may even let them chose the "punishement, ie, "ok you've had a verbal warning and a timeout. Now would you like to lose dessert or tv time tonight?" I do this becasue I want to make sure that when I say something I will not cut my children or wound them with words. This to me would be far more damaging to their psyche as well as thier relationship with me than a simple spanking.

And yes, using weapons against your child - a switch, a belt, what-have-you and giving them 40 lashes is abuse in my opinion. Bending your child over your knee after explaining to them why they are being spanked (then spanking on the behind two or three times with your hand) to me is not abuse.

I think there are far more parents who subscribe to my beliefs regarding spankings than you are aware. In my circle of friends - across numerous socio-economic backgrounds more of them believe in thoughful spanking as a means of discipline than those who don't. I also know some people who spank for every minor infraction. I have seen how this can breed angry and defiant children.

Lastly, I love how you are comfortable with violence for comedic effect though. That is funny to me - because violence against a "bad guy" should also be wrong, but our society picks and chooses what is acceptable. My children do not take turns "spanking" each other for fun, but they do try to reinact "funny" violent scenes from movies because it looks like so much harmless fun.
Comment: #45
Posted by: sharnee
Wed Aug 10, 2011 10:07 AM
Re: Mike H

I thought your post was excellent!
Comment: #46
Posted by: Zoe
Wed Aug 10, 2011 10:09 AM
Re: sharnee

'She did not say she spanks regularly, she wrote, "Once in a while, I will spank my daughter, but only on very rare occasions."'

True, but it's happened more than once in a few months (her words), and her mother has noticed at least one occasion. At best, she's spanking her daughter once a month. At worst, her definition of "once in a while / rarely" could be once a week. Is that how often you spank your kids?

"I think there are far more parents who subscribe to my beliefs regarding spankings than you are aware."

Unfortunately, I don't think that parents spanking their kids is all that rare...

"Lastly, I love how you are comfortable with violence for comedic effect though."

What can I say, my dad was John McClane and I watched Army of Darkness when I was about 10. And now, as an adult, I strongly resent my parents for the 2-3 occasions that I was spanked or hit and yet am fully aware that fiction is fiction.

"That is funny to me - because violence against a "bad guy" should also be wrong."

Agreed. I don't believe in torture, death penalty, or any sort of physical punishment. Because I believe it's wrong and also because I don't see much evidence that it works as a deterrent. If it did, no one would go to prison more than once, no one would commit a violent crime for fear of the death penalty, and no child would ever need to be spanked more than once.

"My children do not take turns "spanking" each other for fun, but they do try to reinact "funny" violent scenes from movies because it looks like so much harmless fun."

Kids have been wrestling each other and playing with guns and swords since long before violent movies were invented! They know it's not real and barring tragic accidents (gun related, spontaneous fatal injury from a fall, etc) it's normal and harmless. How is it not MORE harmful to have someone you love - your parent - inflict actual, physical pain on you because you pitched a fit in a restaurant or broke a dish because you weren't careful?
Comment: #47
Posted by: Zoe
Wed Aug 10, 2011 10:23 AM
TO: Accused Mom
I used to complain "Do those folks see that much better than I do?" as cars would speed by me... especially in rainy conditions. I, at the ripe old age of 43, was diagnosed with cataracts. I have had both eyes 'fixed' and can now see just dandy. Cataract surgery is a quick, painless way to regain your vision. I highly reccomend he be checked.
Sign me...
I Can See Clearly Now
Comment: #48
Posted by: Louie Louie
Wed Aug 10, 2011 10:49 AM
@Zoe - I think you are inferring. The mother of LW appears to be constantly undermining her parenting so sure she will comment on the spankings no matter how infrequent. Grandparents often do tend to contract amnesia.

While you may be fully aware that fiction is fiction, my very bright six year olds still have blurred lines. They will often ask me if some fictional animal they saw on a cartoon is real. It is only in the last two years or so that the began to fully understand that cartoons themselves are make believe. I remember the few spankings I received as a child. I am not upset by those memories. The memories that upset me are those ugly verbal lashings that made me feel worthless and unloveable. I would take a spanking over that any day.

Again, you are missing my point. I spank for willfully defiant, much repeated behavior. I do not spank for a broken dish - most of the time children feel bad enough about that type of mistake that I put my efforts in reassuring them that mistakes happen rather than disciplining. I also don't spank for a simple temper tantrum because these are usually the result of the child already being over-wraught or emotionally distressed. If we were at home when my daughter had her melt-down, I most likely wouldn't have slapped her leg because there would have been no eminent danger as a result of her falling out.

"Kids have been wrestling each other and playing with guns and swords since long before violent movies were invented! They know it's not real and barring tragic accidents (gun related, spontaneous fatal injury from a fall, etc) it's normal and harmless."

Really? This is harmless? Sorry, but no I don't think so. It is dangerous and it desensitives children to true violence. In fact, prior to modern times, children were encouraged to learn such aggressive behavior because they would need those skills as adults (i.e., hunting or they were expected to become soldiers). In addition, parents of those generations did not separate the various forms of violence - they disciplined through lashings and beatings, much harsher than you find today. Even in my mother's generation, my discipline techniques are too lenient and "weak" for many that I know.

When my children play fight - which often turns in to real fights with children - I redirect them to some other activity. They are aloud to let their energy out by playing at the playground, swimming in the pool, participating in organized team sports. Not play fighting or playing with toy weapons.

What my children learn is that there are proportional consequences for their actions, both positive and negative.
Comment: #49
Posted by: sharnee
Wed Aug 10, 2011 10:49 AM
Re: sharnee

The problem is a good number of parents *don't* use spanking thoughtfully as discipline. Many end up using it in explosive anger, as their way to express anger when things have gone on too long, or progress it to outright beatings while still labeling it as "spanking" so they can say it's okay. Also, when parents do it in anger, that ends up being the impression left on the child is well, they're hitting me because they're angry, not they're hitting me because I did something wrong.

I think *especially* when there are unresolved issues surrounding things going that wrong or if a parent is too tempted to lash out in anger, then spanking shouldn't be allowed. For us, knowing that we cannot resort to that anymore, even if only as a "last resort," has helped us slow down and think through how to respond, and we've been able to come up with consequences that are not only more effective, but more relevant.
Comment: #50
Posted by: PS
Wed Aug 10, 2011 10:54 AM
Re: sharnee

I am indeed inferring, as I think many of us do when we comment on these letters because they don't give us the exact info. My response would be different if said "I spank exactly once every three months" versus "I spank about once a week". I don't know - so I'm assuming that, based on the narrow time frame as well as the anger and frustration I detect in her letter, that she spanks regularly (more than once a month) and that she does so in anger or frustration.

"Again, you are missing my point. I spank for willfully defiant, much repeated behavior."

I get your point, and as far as spanking does, I'd say you are pretty close to the "harmless" end of the spectrum. But you indicated that you agreed with Chris, who believes in a sound spank or sound slap to the face when a child or adult is having a tantrum or is in hysterics, and Nichole who spanks her children without warning to cause them to fear stoves and roads, which is what I find particularly distasteful.

"When my children play fight - which often turns in to real fights with children - I redirect them to some other activity. They are aloud to let their energy out by playing at the playground, swimming in the pool, participating in organized team sports."

Right - I mean that it's normal that they will try because they are boys/kids and kids will wrestle and play fight. It happens in the animal kingdom and we are part of that kingdom. It's also normal that kids will pitch fits, have tantrums, embarrass their parents and push limits. Often it's about redirecting them to a move constructive behaviour and explaining the world to them. Lead by example and all that. Kids too young to understand the difference between stories and real life shouldn't be watching violent programs at all.
Comment: #51
Posted by: Zoe
Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:01 AM
Re: Zoe
How can you teach your child that violence is not an answer if you turn to it for punishment?
I was spanked as a child. Not only did I create associations bewteen the actions that caused the punishment, but I have never been a believer in violence. I have never been in a fight and I believe that there usually are other ways of solving problems, and I've never hit anyone, nor do I believe it is ok for anyone to hit me. Just sayin'. My sister and brother and my cousins turned out the same way.
Comment: #52
Posted by: kristen
Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:13 AM
Zoe, you are a riot.

And no, I was not humiliated by this child. Rarely do I get embarrassed or humiliated by children. There are times when I cringe, but mostly I sigh or roll my eyes. A few times I have hidden my face when my daughter has done or said things in church that resulted in laughter at my expense. It's all good.

I forgot to mention, this particular child likes to make an "OOOOH OOOOH OOOOH" bark when he does this. I can't help but just stare when he does this. It's stunningly bizarre. He made donkey noises as a toddler. That was cute.

His mother spanked him with a wooden spoon when he was potty training. His defiance and anger is off the charts now. His mother ignores him or laughs it off when he is truly naughty but berates and spanks the stuffing out of him when he annoys her. My husband and I are stumped when it comes to him, there is no telling his moods. He'll switch from lighthearted and joking to all-out rage with no warning. While smacking my daughter, he'll tell her NOT to touch him. When I confront him about the hitting and yelling, he runs away from me in gorilla mode. The first time he did that, I stood there watching with my mouth open, WTF?

I count loudly, "ONE... TWO... COMING UP ON THREE... THREE" and my daughter snaps to. She knows she gets a spanking or loses something of value if I get to three and she hasn't complied. Half the time, I don't have to tell her what she is doing wrong, she knows already and is testing me to see if I call her on it. When my daughter and this boy play together and they both misbehave, I start counting and they shape up by three, but the boy is holding his backside and checking to make sure I'm not behind him with a wooden spoon. That is sad. I haven't spanked my daughter in more than a year now. It's the threat of a spanking that does the trick.

This other mother has told me I look like an idiot when I count in public. I didn't become a mother to look like a hero to strangers. I knew when I got pregnant, that I would look like an idiot on a regular basis after the baby came. I don't care if strangers think I look foolish when I count, it works. I attribute her embarrassment to an overblown sense of competition and vanity.

And to think, the boy's mother admonished me once because I said to my daughter, "No, little love, we don't do that". It got back to me that she made fun of me in her mother's group (which I was snubbed from) by saying, "no, little love, stop playing with the fork and the toaster", "no, little love, put the gun down", things like that. I don't find that funny, but I do feel vindicated when I look at the differences between our children.
Comment: #53
Posted by: Chelle
Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:19 AM
Re: kristen

I'm not sure what I said that you're responding to, but either I misspoke or you misunderstood because I am pretty clearly NOT condoning violence as punishment...

Re: Chelle

My mom likes to tell a story about me saying the F-word as a toddler on the bus (I didn't learn it from her!) and people giving her mean looks. She laughs about it now but I bet she was embarrassed back then. And now I curse like a sailor! Just kidding ;)

The poor kid sounds confused :( It's sad! Poor little dude. I grew up with counting too so I don't think that parents look stupid when they do it in public. Stern looks, followed by counting, followed by a time out. I rarely got step 3. I hope my kids are as easy-going as I was as a child!

What's wrong with saying "no, little love, we don't do that"? I don't get this woman. I think you're right about the competition and vanity.
Comment: #54
Posted by: Zoe
Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:30 AM
@Zoe - You may be right regarding the LW. I don't know, I didn't read it the way you did. If you are correct, then her mother had every right to speak up. But from her tone, I related to her as a person who is essentially a child trying to raise a child. At twenty-three, I was not nearly as mature as you are. I didn't know how to stand up to my over-bearing mother back then and most of the time ended up appearing to be a child shouting "I AM AN ADULT" while stamping my feet and poking out my lip instead of simply behaving in an adult manner. Fortunately for me, I did not have children until I was married and in my early thirties. I can only imagine living with my mother as a young single mother. I say this to say, I feel and understand her frustration and her inability to express her boundaries appropriately. Because I see her this way, I don't see her as a bad mother who beats her child - I see her as someone who uses a discipline method that she may not fully understand and needs some lessons in maturity.

" Kids too young to understand the difference between stories and real life shouldn't be watching violent programs at all." That is my point... there is violence even in children's programming. My children only watch kid's channels and under my supervision. We do movie nights together as a family. Kids movies have violence. Baby Geniuses is about a baby who uses martial arts against adult foils. Disney movies like "Lion King", "Kung Fu Panda", and all the rest have violence. Just because a cuddly little Panda is the one doing the butt-kicking doesn't make it any less violent and even more dangerous because it makes fighting seem cute.

I agree with Chris' premise that spanking is a discipline method that parents can employ when necessary. I agree with Nichole in that there are qualifiers when employing that method of discipline. As I stated, I do not spank without warning and only as a last measure to correct willfully defiant repeated behavior.

Before I had children, I could see that parenting is difficult. Now that I actually have children, I see that the task is infinitely harder (and more rewarding) than I ever imagined. Quite honestly, I never knew the capacity to feel love was this great - I couldn't have fathomed it. I think we do all parents a great disservice and make a hard job much harder by criticizing them for how they are raising their children. I truly believe that most people do the absolute best that they personally can armed with their level of knowledge and abilities. Quite frankly, short of any form of abuse, we as a community should really stop being so judgemental.
Comment: #55
Posted by: sharnee
Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:41 AM
It's all very well for someone to say they "don't believe in violence." (Is that like not believing in Santa Claus?) If you mean violence is rarely the answer to a problem, I'd agree. But sometimes it's the only answer. A fellow I worked with once said "All I know is that war is evil." And I said, "Sure - there wouldn't have been a WWII if we'd just let Hitler have his way." War is the violence that happens when nothing else will stop the behavior we don't like.
But we're talking about spanking, not war. One person referred to spanking not being "allowed." Allowed by whom? Government again? A swat on the behind to get an errant child's attention when all else fails is not violence and is not abuse. And it's not the same as whipping with a belt or humiliating pants down spanking. Anyone who tries to "explain" to a toddler why their behavior isn't acceptable deserves the frustration. I don't mean they have to be spanked for not understanding, they have to be physically removed from the temptation. Or the room where they're putting on a display of temper.
Family anecdote: When my aunt was a small spoiled child, she was given to tantrums. One day, our great-aunt was baby sitting her, and the youngster decided to throw a tantrum. The great-aunt calmly got a glass of water and threw it in the child's face. That stopped the tantrum and didn't hurt her. Startled and breathless, she said "what did you do that for?" Great-aunt replied calmly, "You were having a fit. When people have a fit you have to get them out of it." That was the last time in family memory that that child threw a tantrum.
BTW, anyone who thinks all child psychologists are against spanking should check out John Rosemod. He's refreshingly common sense, even if people get hysterical about what they THINK he says.
Comment: #56
Posted by: Maggie Lawrence
Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:44 AM
Sorry, that should be "John Rosemond."
Comment: #57
Posted by: Maggie Lawrence
Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:47 AM
@Zoe

I expected people here to turn someone who might smack an unruly child on the butt when necessary into a horrible parent and a child abuser who beats the child black and blue at every turn. Puh-leeze people! Use common sense. Please allow me to clarify. Actually, when I advocated spanking, I DID in fact mean a quick smack on the butt so let's clear that right up. Furthermore, I would only take such action as a means of quickly getting the child's attention and making it clear to the child that what it is doing is unacceptable (e.g., throwing a tantrum in public, running into traffic, grabbing a hot stove, etc.) or dangerous and and therefore employ the slap as a means of associating negative consequences to the behavior. A three year old is not an adult and therefore has little knowledge and cannot be reasoned with as one would reason with an adult. (Are you reading Jasmine?) As for slapping a hysterical adult, it's the abruptness and shock of the slap, not the pain that gets the persons attention and snaps him or her out of hysterics. It's the same effect with smacking a child on the butt.

Okay, next point. The occasional swat of a child for the aforementioned reasons is not the same as using spankings as a routine means of discipline. I agree that never works and causes more harm than good. Same as eating cake for dinner every night; it's easier but has long-term consequences. However, using physical discipline to get a young offspring's attention or to associate negative consequences with dangerous or unsafe actions (things that could affect survival) is commonplace in nature. Anyone who has ever observed the interactions of a litter of kittens with their mother knows she will bite, scratch, push or drag kittens as a means of teaching them to survive on their own. I guess that makes mother cats child abusers...
Comment: #58
Posted by: Chris
Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:50 AM
Re: sharnee

Agreed. And I hope I didn't give the impression that I'm actively judging your parenting. Since I don't know your kids I couldn't judge anyway but mostly I'm just discussing it because it's one of those topics that everyone has an opinion on.

Re: Chris

Oh, come one. I never said that period bum-swatting is abusive or horrible parenting. You said "sound spank" (likening it to a "sound slap across the face") which comes off as sounding pretty harsh. May not have been what you meant, but it's what you said and what I addressed.

Mother cats don't scratch their kittens or really bite them ("nip" would be more appropriate since it's not hard - doesn't break the skin). And also hamsters sometimes eat their babies so let's not take all our parenting methods from our pets :P
Comment: #59
Posted by: Zoe
Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:58 AM
@Zoe - No, not at all. I enjoyed today's discussion and I did not feel upset or take anything you said personally. Likewise, I hope that I did not offend you.

@PS - Agreed, both on the front that spanking or any form of discipline for that matter should not be done in anger and that the discipline should be relevant to the action for which the child is being disciplined whenever possible. Also, I do not think that I would use any form of physical punishment on a child with any form of a developmental disability. Because even if the disability is mild, I am not sure the child would be able to relate that form of punishment to the behavior for which they are being corrected.

@Chelle - I loved the line about how you stopped looking for Gypsies to sell your daughter to. You are funny! Not to gloat but I live 20 mins from one Ikea and 40 from another. Ok, I was gloating, lol. The kids love that place - and so do I. Winning.

Comment: #60
Posted by: sharnee
Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:28 PM
They are building a new Ikea in my town that DWARFS the old Ikea - which has always seemed pretty big to me! I think the new one is eight times the size! I find it exhausting to navigate that store - luckily there are 50 cent hot dogs for fuel

Re: sharnee

Nope, I wasn't offended at all.
Comment: #61
Posted by: Zoe
Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:44 PM
@Zoe

You come on! You're picking apart every word I say and splitting hairs in what I see as a desperate attempt to make your flimsy point more valid and appear "right." We disagree and let's just leave it at that, okay? I'm not going to engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed person.
Comment: #62
Posted by: Chris
Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:56 PM
Re: Chris

Easy there, pardner :P This is the internet, I don't have the benefit of tone of voice and body language to go on; all I have is your words. The words you used came off meaning something harsher to me than what you meant, which is why I responded to your response explaining why my initial response to you was what it was. Sort of like how you took what I said and turned it into me saying that spankers were horrible, abusive parents even though it's not what I meant. But I'm not going to call you stupid for doing so because I know that a typed comment on the internet may not come off exactly as I intended to when I wrote it.
Comment: #63
Posted by: Zoe
Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:02 PM
Re: Zoe
I should have put quotations around my copy and paste and noted the post #.
In #14 you said "How can you teach your child that violence is not an answer if you turn to it for punishment? Or, worse, to use it to associate pain with behaviour that you don't like (such as crossing the road)."
I'm clear on the fact that you are not a proponent of spanking, and that's ok. I'm not saying I am either, but I don't think spanking a child, even as regular punishment, which is how it was for me as a child, teaches a child that violence is an answer.
It did not teach me that, or my siblings, or my cousins - none of us have ever even leaned in the direction of violence. In fact, pretty much all the kids I grew up with turned out pretty darn good and we were all spanked. I also did associate the punishment with the transgression.
I also was not afraid of my mom unless I saw her coming get the wooden spoon - but by then I already knew what I'd done wrong.
I'm not getting on your case for your beliefs regarding spanking, but I disagree with the general consensus that spanking teaches a child to be violent. I really believe the there are other more pervasive things in this modern world seeping into their consciousness that is teaching them violence is , ok (and has little to no consequence) or even exciting.
Comment: #64
Posted by: kristen
Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:08 PM
Re: kristen

Ahh, I see now. You'd think I'd recognize my own words, heh!

Sometimes when I speak I do so in absolutes ("spanking = bad violence!"), but I know there are shades of grey in there and that lots and lots of kids were raised with various levels of spanking and lots of them turned out just fine. I also know there are kids who were not spanked who are badly behaved boors as adults. And while I am completely against spanking as discipline I don't think that the odd swat or spank automatically makes someone an awful parent. That goes for all sorts of things like giving toddlers fast food, allowing TV in bedrooms, being too strict or not strict enough - it takes all kinds of people to make a world and I can't expect them all to be exactly like me.
Comment: #65
Posted by: Zoe
Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:18 PM
Re: sharnee

"Also, I do not think that I would use any form of physical punishment on a child with any form of a developmental disability. Because even if the disability is mild, I am not sure the child would be able to relate that form of punishment to the behavior for which they are being corrected."

Exactly, and that's another one of the primary reasons we stopped. It made things worse because as smart and as high functioning as our son is, he didn't make the connection between the actions (chronic misbehavior issues) and consequences (swat on the bum) because he simply couldn't, and it left him upset and confused. He probably just saw it as our switching between Jekyll and Hyde personalities for no discernible reason.

Using relevant discipline, pointing out natural consequences ("See, that's what happens when you're not gentle with kitty. Now she doesn't want to play with you AND she scratched you because she didn't like that") and explaining things out at his level has been sooo much better. Ditto with pointing out GOOD results of his behavior and focusing on his positive traits. He loves, loves, LOVES praise, so we use that as a teaching tool whenever we can.
Comment: #66
Posted by: PS
Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:25 PM
Chris - Yes, I am listening! Don't get me wrong. I am not one of those people who yell abuse at a butt-swat. Spanking just doesn't work for me (and my son) and I don't see any use for it. Every child is different and maybe it works well for other people, like Sharnee has shared today. But what I found with my son was that my temprament determines his behaviour to a great extent. I did spank him a couple times when he was 2, and when I did that, he became even more aggressive and adamant, would start hitting me back and then it would turn into an endless power struggle. However, if I diverted his attention or calmly talked to him about it, he was more likely to listen and comply.

I also realized that the only memories I have from my early childhood are the ones when either something bad happened (fell down a staircase, scared of the dark) or the one time I got spanked by my father. I had loving parents and a happy childhood, but the one thing I remember from when I was a toddler is the one time my father raised his hand on me. I don't want my son to have his first memories of Mommy spanking him when he grows up. And when I say spanking, I don't even count a swat on the butt. That is not spanking IMHO, but then I'm coming here from a completely different place than the others. That said, why would I do something to my child that I don't want him to be doing to me or others and think it is okay? Real spanking does have some long-term consequences and is disrespectful to the child (they are little adults and have a self-esteem too).

aimai - Thank you! That is an interesting story. Children look at things as black or white and they say it like they see it. There's a lot grownups can learn from them.
Comment: #67
Posted by: Jasmine
Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:36 PM
@PS - Yes, I can see exactly your point. "He probably just saw it as our switching between Jekyll and Hyde personalities for no discernible reason." I think this is true of most children with disabilities as well as very young children. And while I stand firm in that I do not see spankings as being inherently wrong, I think all children benefit greatly from this form of teaching about positive and negative consequences for their behavior. This to me is a routine part of parenting and I don't usually associate it with discipline because it is a part of our normal conversations. Eg. , "My teacher gave me a great job sticker today!" "That's great, baby. You worked hard and your teacher recognized your efforts, don't you feel good about yourself?!" or the reverse, "My teacher told me to stop talking today". "Well I hope that this will help you learn to be quiet and pay attention in class from now on so that your teacher can be pleased with your efforts."
Comment: #68
Posted by: sharnee
Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:45 PM
@Jasmine - It has been a while since I have seen one of your posts. Glad to see you!
Comment: #69
Posted by: sharnee
Wed Aug 10, 2011 2:04 PM
I am adding some serious fire to the LW1 discussion.

For starters, three year olds CAN be monsters and brats, especially if caregivers (parents, grandparents, whatever) don't use appropriate discipline. Don't know how many time I've been someplace and listen to mommy say over and over and over and over and over..."Johnnie (or Janie), please stop doing that. Mommy will have to spank you if you don't." Johnnie or Janie doesn't stop, won't stop because Johnnie or Janie knows Mommy WON'T spank. Or do anything else to curb undesirable behavior.

If LW1 is to be believed, her efforts at discipline and structure are constantly being undermined by the grandmother, so there's a good chance the three year old IS a brat and a monster.

There's a difference between spanking and beating a kid. I got numerous spankings as a child (every one of them deserved, I might add), and never did I hate my parents for longer than the tearful, "I hate you!" that usually ended with my throwing my arms around the parent's legs and sobbing for comfort two seconds later.

Nor do my children hate me for the times they got spanked. Which wasn't many. usually didn't have to. I found the convention of giving to a count of three to stop (or start) a behavior worked quite well most of the time. If I did get to three, they got at least a swat. Including in public. They tended to be very well behaved in public.

Granted, I didn't have to behave with serious behavioral issues, I was fortunate to have healthy kids with no serious emotional/mental/behavioral issues. But they were also taught to behave.
Comment: #70
Posted by: Pat Lang
Wed Aug 10, 2011 2:13 PM
What a great discussion all round!

I have one more thing to add. Some posters complained about a perceived failure of "lots of parents" to discipline their kids and I heartily agree that this is a problem. I see tons of badly behaved children out there, or kids who are just boring, undisciplined, lazy, rude, etc... The thing is--I don't think the parents are "failing to discipline them" so much as its the case that the parents *actively like that kind of child.* People get what they pay for in life. If you put your time and energy into being a family of people who are loving, giving, and thoughtful absent severe mental illness that's what you are going to get from your children. If you are selfish, competitive, angry, agressive that's what you are oging to get from your children. Some people absolutely love that--they love it in themselves and the love it in their children. Parents, too, are frequently ill disciplined, lazy, rude, greedy, etc... What we are talking about are anti social/anti community behaviors--the child acts up in public, is grabby, rude, etc... These are all problems for people outside the family, or outside the private sphere of the home. But it ought to be clear to us, if we look hard at most parents we know, that people are pretty satisfied with themselves, their parenting, and their kids (at least until the child's bad behavior becomes drugging and wrecking the car). That stuff never comes out of nowhere.

In that sense I don't disagree with Cher, upthread, who thought that "kids these days" aren't very nice. But I do disagree that this is anything different than in previous generations. The fact of the matter is that parents these days aren't all that nice--people routinely cut in line, cheat on their taxes, stiff the waitress, cheat on their spouses, cheat on tests, take the last cup of coffee without refilling the pot, etc...etc...etc... That has nothing to do with punishment or not punishment when they were children it has to do with being raised to be a selfish person by other selfish people.

Sharnee's stories about raising her kids, my own experience, the experience of the teacher/child development expert, Jasmine's posts are all basically saying the same thing: it takes a whole lot of love and forethought, calm and attention to raise one child, let alone more than one, successfully. There are no shortcuts and there is no "magic bullet." But you also don't really need the spurious "authority" granted by striking your child in order to get his attention/compliance. Children love their parents, they want their attention and they want their approval. Using love, approval, attention to get compliance from your children isn't some kind of weak kneed last resort. It is probably more effective than using violence.

People here have spoken about how the memory of a spanking (if it was rare) can haunt an adult. But if we were really getting to it the memory of a cruel word, or a parent's dissapointment, can be almost as sharp. I'm not arguing that we should resort to verbal abuse to get compliance. I'm just trying to point out that the reason that those incidents hold such a strong place in our memories is because they are so salient, so powerful, as tools of learning.

aimai
Comment: #71
Posted by: aimai
Wed Aug 10, 2011 2:17 PM
Re: Pat Lang

I think everyone has acknowledged that kids can totally be bratty and make their parents very frustrated, but it really says someone when a parent openly and in print calls their 3-year-old child a monster as though the kid is doing it on purpose on some deep, cruel level. She's three.

"Johnnie or Janie doesn't stop, won't stop because Johnnie or Janie knows Mommy WON'T spank. Or do anything else to curb undesirable behavior."

Agreed - but I don't think that no spanking = no discipline what-so-ever. Non-spankers don't just let their children run around like hooligans, they use other methods of punishment. Those that don't are doing their child a disservice by letting them get away with acting bratty. But if a kid is saying "mommy mommy mommy" over and over again to be annoying, I don't think a reasonable reaction to that is to physically hit them.

"the usually ended with my throwing my arms around the parent's legs and sobbing for comfort two seconds later."

I guess I see something wrong with that picture that others don't. A child shouldn't be reduced to sobbing and clutching their parent's leg for comfort on a regular basis because they were spanked. It's good that you didn't fear or resent your parents for it but there's got to be a way to communicate to your child that "this is bad behaviour, if you don't stop you will receive a consequence" that doesn't leave them in tears, desperate fpr comfort.

Then again, I was sensitive child.
Comment: #72
Posted by: Zoe
Wed Aug 10, 2011 2:38 PM
Your advice to the carsick sibling was way off - please recommend that a medical doctor run some tests before some psych prescribes "anti-anxiety meds," which will open up a whole other can of worms. Maybe the brother ate something that had a parasite in it; maybe he picked up a bug which he cannot get rid of; maybe he developed a food intolerance after eating too much of a good thing while on vacation - there are literally dozens if not hundreds of real medical possibilities. I have noticed this column is entirely too quick to jump on the psych drug bandwagon, and it has got to stop.
Comment: #73
Posted by: Miniver
Wed Aug 10, 2011 3:59 PM
Miniver:

Let's hope that any doctor worth his/her salt wouldn't just prescribe something WITHOUT doing tests first. It's been going on for 5 years now, someone upthread suggested that the disorder/illness was already there, but the car trip brought it to the surface. Entirely reasonable.

I just reread the letter and it says that the young man has already been to several doctors and they find nothing wrong. Hmm. Makes you wonder.

As for spanking, if done in a reasonable manner as a last resort, it should not be a lifelong scar for the child. Abusive words do much more damage than a proper spanking ever would. How many times have I heard an abused wife say that she would rather he just hit her and get it over with instead of beating her with his words? My kids and I have been emotionally scarred with verbal abuse and it does not go away.

There's even a Bible proverb that says, there exists one speaking thoughtlessly as with the stabs of a sword. How true.

Comment: #74
Posted by: jar8818
Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:21 PM
LW2: Just because a doctor says there's nothing wrong with your brother doesn't make it so. All that means is that this doctor doesn't know what the problem is. Has your brother seen a Gastroenterologist? He could have Crohn's, which would explain why he has constant abdominal pain that came on suddenly after a vomiting incident and has never gone away. I'm not saying he has Crohn's, only that it's fairly common for it to go undiagnosed in young people for years. He may never want to go anywhere because he doesn't want to risk being away from a bathroom. A young man may not want to discuss a thing like that after years of being told that the only thing wrong with him is in his head. I say your family should reconsider getting him some medical attention.
Comment: #75
Posted by: LouisaFinnell
Wed Aug 10, 2011 5:44 PM
Thank you sharnee. Things have been pretty busy in the last few months. I have been coming here to read the BTL comments sometimes and it is always refreshing to read through these discussions :)
Comment: #76
Posted by: Jasmine
Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:00 PM
Regarding letter writer #1, I bet the situation is more that the grandmother is trying to shelter and protect the 3 year old from the mother's batty and "angry" parenting techniques. You cannot be an effective parent if you think you're child is "a monster." I'm sorry, but there is no excuse for calling your child a monster. And I bet that comment sets the whole tone for this mother's attitude for her child. I have two kids, a 19 year old boy and a 12 year old daughter and we've gone thru all the terrible twos, threes, teenage years, etc. And no matter how much they may have tried my patience, I never considered them monsters. Of course the mother is going to put a good spin on the situation so she looks like the great parent who's just trying to do a good job. But I bet reality is that the grandmother is simply trying to show her how to truly be a "good parent."
Comment: #77
Posted by: Su
Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:25 PM
Re: Emily -- If we did to adults what you're advising us to do with kids, we'd be arrested for assault. Why is it not the same for our children??? Hitting a child, whether it's thru spanking, popping them in the mouth, whatever.... is abuse and it's wrong. You can rationalize it however you want but it's still wrong. It simply teaches the child that you can use violence to solve a problem or if you make someone mad, they can hit you, or you can hit those who are smaller than you. It teaches them to be afraid of the one person who they should be able to turn to when they are in need or in trouble. It makes no since to use spanking or smacking children in the mouth as a disciplinary measure. It does not work. It doesn't teach a child to stop the behavior. You're an idiot (since you like that word apparently) if you think it works. All it does is make the child sneaky so he won't get caught. It makes them hide their tracks and keep you from finding out they did something, that's all. It fills them with anger and hostility so they will then treat people (and their kids) the way you treat them. It doesn't explain to them WHY the behavior is wrong or why they shouldn't be doing something. It teaches them violence. Plain and simple. And it makes them feel that they deserve to be hit when they are wrong -- not a good thing. If you are successful in scaring your child enough or hurting your child enough that they avoid the behavior that caused the violence upon them, the negative repercussions seriously outweigh anything you hoped to gain. Spanking, smacking....all manner of hitting a child teaches one thing and one thing only: violence is acceptable.
Comment: #78
Posted by: Su
Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:46 PM
Somestimes, just the THREAT of a spanking can be enough. I have told this story before, so sorry for those for whom it's a rerun.

When my daughter was four, I was walking on a sidewalk of a boulevard busy enough to count as a highway. She had a balloon in her hand, she dropped the balloon, which flew away. There she is, running after the balloon. Luckily, I catch her by the nape of the neck before she's running off in the street with all the fast traffic there.
I'm breathing heavily in the after-shock. When I finally catch my breath, I wave a finger in her face and, in a low, angry voice, tell her:

" You do this to me again and I'm pulling your panties down and spanking you, RIGHT THERE AND THEN AND IN FRONT OF EVERYBODY!
- But my balloon, my balloon!
- There are plenty of balloons in the store. There are no more Brigittes in the store."

On the way back home, she was sulking. Didn't answer when I spoke to her. "Fine, I said, sulk all you want. But when you've finished chewing your curd, you'll see at the end of the day that I was right, even if you don't like it." She went on in brooding silence for a few minutes. She must have decided I was right because she started chirping like the usual little bird a few minutes later.

And then, there's the fact that every child learn differently and sometimes the shoe has to be on the other foot. One day when I was about 10 and walking on my way to school, wham! One slush ball on the back of my neck, dripping dirty, cold water down my back. As I'm turning around to see where this is coming from, wham! Another one smack dab in the kisser.

Why did you do that, I ask the kid - he couldn't have been older than five. You hurt me, I said. Well, it didn't hurt ME, he countered. Huh-huh. I just bent down and quietly gathered some slush and made it into a ball, which I then smashed on his neck. OWW-OWW-OWW, he howled, that hurts! Gee, I don't understand, it certaintly didn't hurt ME, I replied innocently. The expression on the kid's face was like the proverbial light buld lighting above one's head.

Yes, my response was violent - somewhat. But it worked. Like spanking sometimes does.

Let's keep things in perspective here: there is a difference between child-beating and the occasional spanking. Not to mention that there are times when a swat on the bum or a cuff on the ear is the only thing a toddler understands, especially if his hand is three inches away from the burning element - "How wonder how that feels" he'll be thinking. Right. Let's not find out.

Then, there's the story about the three brothers.

A father had three sons. To each in turn, he said:
Look. When I was a child, my father would beat me with a steel rod every time I didn't come home with straight A's from school. I'm not much of an intellectual and straight A's were pretty much out of my reach. I don't want to subject you guys to that, so all I'm asking is that you do your best. You yourself KNOW if you've done your best.
First son's reaction:
Gee, what a wise, enlightened father I have, not to do to me what was done to him! I'll work my ass off, hoping to make him proud of me.
Second son's reaction:
How is he gonna know anyway? Frrrt. I can say anything and he'll buy it, What an idiot!
Third son's reaction:
Hah! He says that, but it's a cop-out. He just doesn't care enough to spur me into action. God - I wish I had my best friend's father, who at least cares enough about him to beat him black and blue if he doesn't come home with straight A's!

The point I'm making is that different children react differently to different things and you can never know in advance. I frankly don't think two-three spankings during an entire childhood is going to traumatize children for the rest of their lives. Regardless of what you do and with the best intentions, there will always be the hyper-sensitive kid who interprets it in the worst possible way. Parents are not responsible for that, nor are they psychics to know in advance what will work and what will not. We can only do our best.

P.S.: If she thinks the girl is a brat at three, wait 'till she turns 11...

@Chelle post #27 & 53
Excellent, all of it Three stars, clap-clap-clap-clap, standing ovation!
" I give my opinion freely, take it or leave it." I'm taking it - I love you.

@aimai post #28
"If violence, punishment, anger and abuse were deterrents you'd expect to never see a former prisoner reoffend. That's simply not the case and never has been. People to whom evil are done do evil in return."
You're absolutely right, except for the exeption of born psychopaths. A kid who tortures cats at the age of 8 is not necessarily being beaten up - there is such a thing as evil demons.

"People who are raised in violent, authoritarian settings simply have a very high tolerance for violence/pain/suffering."
Or a violent allergy. There are unfortunately a lot of parents who went to the other extreme with their children because of that. And extremes on either side of the spectrum do the same harm in the end.

"Successful parenting does not require the threat of violence to achieve its goals"
It never did. As you said, Montaigne's father did it in the 1600s.

@Sharnee post #30
"I know that she meant well, but instead of teaching her daughter to be assertive and reinforcing the fact that people need to be courteous to each other; she reinforced my son's rude behavior and taught her daughter to be a passive doormat. "
I hope you told her that!

@Cher post #31
Exactly!

@Zoe Post #33
""Billy, you are not listening and you are bothering the other customers, we're going home and you're going to your room," instead of spanking the kid because people are giving her looks. "
The point Sharnee, Cher, Rick and others are making is that after THAT isn't effective, comes the odd spanking.

Post #40 "If spanking isn't violence, what is it? "
Everything is a matter of degree. Junk food is absolute crap, but a giant popcorn with fake butter and a giant flat soda once every month or so at the movie theatre is not gonna kill you. Someone blowing up because of the one rare incident pushing his/her buttons is one thing, the same person exploding like Mount Pinatubo day in and day out is another matter. Keep going with more examples of the same. Same song, second verse.

@Diana
"Ignoring your mother is the only way to deal with her. Pretend like she never even tried to interfere. Your daughter will take your cue. "
Hey - you may have a point. NOTHING works with every kid... but this will work for some. Thank you for the tip. It's worth a try.

@Mike H
"if you spank your 3 year old to stay away from a hot stove, are you really then going to let the child around a hot stove unattended? Of course not."
Hee hee. Attended as much as he can be, I can assure you that a toddler can find the three seconds when you're not looking and home in on them like bees to honey. You can't remove everything potentially dangerous from the home and you have NO IDEA how full of wicked plans a kid that age can be. Trust me on this - they move like lightning and you can't just sit there doing nothing but look all the time.

"And the toddler doesn't become scared of the stove, they become scared of their parent."
Unless the violence is a daily thing, the kid won't be afraid of his parent. He'll be afraid of the spanking, which hopefully may keep him away from the stove. Like I was. Children are REMARKABLY capable of sorting the grain from the shaff about stuff like that.

"There's no "added value" in choosing spanking"
Spanking, in my book, is only justified as a last resort when everything else has been tried, and therefore will not so much be a "choice" as a last resort.

"I don't believe that spanking should be involved in that, and if it is, it should be extraordinarily rare -- but I do believe that firm discipline is necessary."
Hey - we're on the same page about that!

@Maggie Lawrence
"But sometimes it's the only answer. A fellow I worked with once said "All I know is that war is evil." And I said, "Sure - there wouldn't have been a WWII if we'd just let Hitler have his way." War is the violence that happens when nothing else will stop the behavior we don't like."
Ah... as I always say: it takes two sides to make peace, but only one to make a war!
Gee, that was a nice, civilised discussion!

Comment: #79
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Wed Aug 10, 2011 9:47 PM
Re: Lise Brouillette>>Attended as much as he can be, I can assure you that a toddler can find the three seconds when you're not looking and home in on them like bees to honey.<<

When my son was 3 or 4, he was able, in the time it took for me to get out of the car and walk around to the passenger side to unbuckle him, to push in the cigarette lighter, pull it out, and stick his finger in it.

He was screaming bloody murder and refusing to let me put ice water on it. I finally grabbed his hand and forced it into a glass of cold water, which, of course, immediately made it feel better.

Then there was the time I heard a crash from his room. He'd arranged the drawers in his chest of drawers like a stairway and tried to climb it. It was lying on top of him, but he was unhurt, and thankfully it wasn't a heavy piece of furniture. He didn't do that again.

I came to understand why some people put their kid on a leash.
Comment: #80
Posted by: Joannakathryn
Wed Aug 10, 2011 10:07 PM
Re: Joannakathryn
There you go. I remember when these kid harnesses first came out and someone grew very scandalised at the sight of one and started berating the parents as if they were treating the kid like a dog. Which one do you prefer, a "dog" who's ALIVE or a dead "kid"?, I snapped. The mother gave me a look of gratitude. The kid was straining on the leash, by the way. Without it, he would have been out like a shot.

A leash in another thing I threatened kiddo with after the balloon incident, by the way. For her, threats were generally sufficient, but she was a quiet little girl - most of the time. Not all kids are. Remember the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes? My sister-cousin found that one absolutely hilarious because she could relate - she had TWO of them.

Comment: #81
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Thu Aug 11, 2011 4:37 AM
@JoannaKathryn and Lise - I prefer the word "tether" to leash :). My daughter has a backpack that looks like the same backpack that Dora the Explorer has, complete with the map. It comes with a mommy tether. She loves to wear her backpack and doesn't mind me holding the tether because then she can feel like a big girl and not have to hold my hand. We used it at the convention we attended last Sunday, every kid from 1 - 5 recognized it and wanted one for themselves. The parents asked me where I bought it. My sons also had such backpacks when they were her age and they two loved them.

Funny story - A few weeks ago, one of my sons kept jumping on the sofa as if it were a trampoline. The day before - he got a verbal warning, two timeouts, sent to his room, he lost dessert and finally he was sent to bed instead of enjoying movie night with the family. The very next morning, I caught him jumping on the sofa again. I walked over to him, got down to eye level and said in a very sweet tone, "I have already spoken to you about respecting our home, including using the furniture only in the way it was intended to be used. I am really tired of talking to you about this behavior. The very next time you jump on the sofa, I will let my hand do the talking for me." I did not end up spanking him because he didn't do it again. Fast forward to earlier this week - I got a nasty cold and I lost my voice. On Tuesday night, I was sitting in the living room with the children and I said, "Hey, it looks like I got my voice back!". My son (the one who had been jumping on the sofa) smirked at me and said, "That's great, Mom! But, I still know that if I get out of pocket, your hand will still be your spokesman". We all laughed really hard.
Comment: #82
Posted by: sharnee
Thu Aug 11, 2011 6:23 AM
@Su - "Spanking, smacking....all manner of hitting a child teaches one thing and one thing only: violence is acceptable."

Do you let your child listen to the radio? Do you allow your child to watch Disney movies? Do you or any family members own a gun (toy - what about a super-soaker- or otherwise)? Do your children play video games? All of these things teach children that violence is acceptable. Many parents who abhor spanking but allow other elements of violence, no matter how mild, in their homes are being a little hypocritical.

In addition to say that spanking is abuse is not only extreme, it completely negates the fact that prior to last 1-2 generations, spanking was the norm in just about every culture since the beginning of human history. Quite honestly, it still is common place is most cultures. Gee, I guess there were no loving family units that raised productive citizens until this outcry to stop spankings began.

Comment: #83
Posted by: sharnee
Thu Aug 11, 2011 6:46 AM
@Lise, regarding "children being able to sort the grain from the chaff" -- the reality is that this isn't always the case. Spanking is, at best, *neutral* when compared to other discipline methods, but it *can* create negative situations where the child does indeed fear -- or at least not trust -- the parent. And it may only be one or two instances of spanking that do that. Yes, children are resilient, but children also pick up on things that adults often don't realize they are picking up on. And the connections they make aren't always the ones we think they would make.

If there is already a solid ground of parenting -- bonding, trust, good age-appropriate communication, and consistency -- then you are probably right. But in the absence of even one of those items, the spanking may be interpreted much more negatively by the child than the parent intends, or even realizes.

@sharnee, what I just said above to Lise sort of leads into the "it was always done that way" argument -- it actually wasn't *always* done that way, but you are right, spanking was more prevalent in some cultures in the past. And yes, by and large -- *IF* all the other hallmarks of good parenting were in place -- the spanking didn't overly harm the child. But again, that doesn't mean it ALWAYS worked well -- you have generations of people abusing their children because "that's the way I was raised". Furthermore, there's nothing inherently *better* about spanking when compared with non-spanking disciplinary methods. Just the risk that the child might inadvertently learn that certain kinds of violence is acceptable.

I'd also point out that male violence against women was more acceptable in generations past, but that's an unlikely argument to support it today. (And now it also makes me wonder if that might have been somewhat linked to the child punishment issue as well).

Ultimately, there are many good arguments AND studies to suggest that, while it is true that spanking MAY not create long term problems for a child IF done in the right environment and for the right reasons, there is NO advantage to spanking over non-physical means of discipline. AND there is a risk of some children having negative outcomes from being spanked that are NOT present in non-physical means of discipline.

In some European countries, corporal punishment, even in the home, has been outlawed. (Sweden began in the 1960s and Norway in 1979, then many but not all European nations followed suit). This has NOT created a generation of wild children turning into wild adults. In fact, what has happened is that, after 20-30 years of these laws, the general polling in these countries suggests that adult attitudes changed dramatically; people realized that spanking wasn't the least bit *necessary* to raising good, moral, healthy, well-behaved children, and the populace *strongly* supports the ban on spanking in the home.

So, it's all about whether or not it's worth the risk to choose spanking as a disciplining option; knowing that it isn't necessary or essential to providing discipline to children, and also knowing that it may *sometimes* send the wrong message or create a longer term problem for a child.
Comment: #84
Posted by: Mike H
Thu Aug 11, 2011 12:22 PM
@Mike H - are you truly equating wife beating to a whack on the backside of an errant child? Sorry, but that does not compute.

Sure, spanking when done in anger can inspire fear in children. So can shouting. So can any other form of discipline that is employed in a manner that is intimidating. You can site studies, but I will bet that those studies do not adequately compare this method to other socially acceptable yet even more detrimental child rearing practices. I think it is important to understand that tyranny need not involve physical contact.

The bottom line is that when a parent puts thought and effort in to child-rearing and does not allow their emotions to take over when disciplining that child - the child will be happier and well adjusted no matter what techniques have been employed.

As I stated, I think that our American culture is very hypocritical in that violence is glorified as a matter of routine in our daily lives - violence that is gratuitous. When I see a society that is free of violent entertainment, guns, and other toy weapons then you come back to me and lets have a serious discussion about removing violence from our homes.
Comment: #85
Posted by: sharnee
Thu Aug 11, 2011 1:19 PM
@Mike H

"but it *can* create negative situations where the child does indeed fear" (...) "The connections they make aren't always the ones we think they would make."
Of course. But the parent is not a mind-reader, does not own a crystal ball to predict the future, and is not responsible for the kid's misunterpretation. ANYTHING can be misinterpreted and lead to fear, mistrust, trauma, neurosis - whatever. Go back to the Tale of the Three Brothers, post # 79.

In the absence of "bonding, trust, good age-appropriate communication, and consistency", then anything may be interpreted negatively and have dire consequences. Let's not make the odd spanking the villain that it is not.

"And yes, by and large -- *IF* all the other hallmarks of good parenting were in place -- the spanking didn't overly harm the child. But again, that doesn't mean it ALWAYS worked well" - NOTHING always works well...

And I realise where you came from with the example, but it was a very bad example... Male violence against woman is in no way, shape or form comparable to a swat on the boum-boum or even a full spanking.

Also, Mike, with all due respect... I do realise where you are coming from, really I do, since that's exactly where I was before I was a mother... And that is still where you are. Your opinions are in good faith and the principle is sound, but it's book talk. You have no practical experience. Like I always say, in between principle and practice, anything can happen, and usually does. I'm not saying that having a coupla toddlers in the house would turn you into a child-abuser, but you WOULD likely see that a swat on the bum is sometime exactly what an adventurous walking baby needs!

And Sharnee is right - unless you cut off all access to TV, movies, radio, Internet, even literature, and lock the kid in permanently so he doesn't speak to anyone ever, he'll be exposed to plenty of violence...

Comment: #86
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Fri Aug 12, 2011 2:38 PM
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