Friday, September 7, 2007

Spare the Rod

You ever heard the phrase, "Spare the rod, spoil the child"?

This has been on my mind a lot lately.

My mom was yelled at and hit as a child. She tells stories of how the nuns rapped her knuckles with rulers and her mom slammed her fingers in the window. My dad remembers the paddle in school. My mom vowed never to hit us. And she did pretty well with that promise, she slapped me once when I was a teenager, and lookihng back, I'm pretty sure I deserved it. My dad didn't make any promises one way or another and the occassional spanking was not unheard of. Once he got mad at me for intervening in a fight between my parents and my brother, he grabbed my arm hard, which wouldn't have been so bad if he hadn't popped the stiches that I had just gotten from a minor surgery - the scar is hideous. Although my mom didn't hit, she could say some god awful things and she lectured forever. I remember her following me into the basement to continue a fight and even waking me up in the middle of the night to yell at me. My brother jokes that at times he wished she would just hit us and get it over with instead of lecturing for hours.

So, my daughter and son are 7 and 5. An age where they have a lot of control over their actions and words. At times they can be very disrespectful, rude and out of control. At times, I slap them. I'm so embarrassed to admit this and feel like such a hypocrite when I tell them not to hit. How do I explain the reason. Far away from it, like now, it feels like a loss of control on both our parts. In the heat of it, though, it feels like the only way to get their attention after trying to reason calmly. This only came up this past year. Something about the sassing and outright disregard for rules triggers it.

So, I'm curious what did you experience growing up and how did it color how you parent?


Sierra said...

Spanking was not too common, but it did happen up until I was about 10. I'm not opposed to spanking if it works. The problem is that we have tried it and it doesn't. I was just thinking about it today and realized that Kaia doesn't even cry anymore when we swat her. Either it doesn't hurt, or it does and she doesn't make the connection and just looks at us all confused.
I find that it is hard to spank in love and not anger and I really don't like that. I am terrified that it will escalate and have gotta find another way to get through to her. Any ideas?

Squish said...

I've had a lot of mixed emotions after posting this. Mostly I'm embarrassed about even resorting to hitting/swatting/etc. It comes from a lack of clear boundaries and/or deliberate crossing of those boundaries. It worries me that maybe my daughter seeks it out for the attention, good or bad.

yertle said...

When I was little (less than high school), there was a lot of anger in my house. The one I remember most is when my dad got really, really mad at me and grabbed me and ran upstairs in our tri-level house and threw me on my bed. I was scared to death. He seemed so angry and out of control. The sad part is, that I do not even remember what I did, I just remember the fear, and I know that at that moment I decided to never get angry since it was too scary. It took therapy for me to feel comfortable with my own anger again. But all I remember about that time is how out of control it all felt. Myself included -- I remember kicking a hole though my sisters door once. Something that seems totally out of character for me now.

Those memories have made me go the other way. I absolutely do not want to hit my kids or scare them that much. But I know there is a fine line, and it is OK for them to know that I am angry with them. There are times when I need compliance for their safety or for my own sanity. When I find myself on the edge, I try to focus on me -- take deep breaths, give myself a time out before acting. It is hard though, and I know my issues now are different since Lucas is a beginning talker.

As a teacher, I also noticed that if I took care of things in the classroom -- took the time to build relationships, checked in on students to make sure they weren't bored, were getting the attention and help that they needed, then discipline wasn't a big deal. I try to remember that with my own kids, but it is hard since it is so constant and there are times when I am tired and frustrated. I have noticed that when things start to go badly in our house -- I lose my patience, Lucas acts out, it usually is because I am feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and busy and can't focus on being present with my kids. I struggle with this every day, but try hard to find compassion for them and myself and to see them more as students who I need to teach how to live and be. And I try to get in the moment for some quality time. It always makes me feel better when I can manage it.