Friday, December 14, 2007

Children Do NOT Come With A Guidebook

When I started this blog, I didn't really know what to expect. I thought I might "meet" a few nice people. Laugh at some funny stories. I even dared to hope that I might end up with some new friends out of this, people I could email with and really get to know on a more personal level. Didn't ever occur to me that I'd occasionally be letting the entire internet get personal with ME.

One of my "daily reads", Amy at Memories and Musings of A Mommy, has become one of my favorite reads. She's insightful and intelligent. Plus, she seems like a mommy that's got it all together. One of the things I like best about Amy's blog is that she doesn't just post drivel. (Not that most of you do..... lol... and if you do, well-- I'm actually pretty sure you do it intentionally!) Which is why one of her latest posts intrigued me so much.

Spare the rod and spoil the child?

Years ago, parents were able to discipline their children in whatever way they saw fit. Often, that discipline included spanking. I can't even count how many adults of my acquaintance when I was younger would talk about "picking out their own switch". These days, its a very terrifying prospect to admit to anything harsher than a time out, for fear of your actions being construed as child abuse. And NOTHING scares me more than the thought of losing my children in ANY way. And yet, there have been times I've found myself in the (unenviable) position of deciding to spank or not to spank.

My boys have not always been the easy, loving children I've painted them here. (I know, that comes as such a surprise to all of you out there!) And I've not always been the patient, kind, understanding mama I am right at this moment. I have an unfortunate combination of a quick, often vicious temper, and a rather short strand of patience. These qualities make parenting with love and logic quite a challenge sometimes. However, because I ADORE my boys, the often herculean effort is made to remain rational when they are not. I am not perfect, and my boys instinctively know which buttons to push and when. Bug, especially, has been my challenge as I've mentioned before.

With my boys being so very different from each other, the discipline styles have -- out of necessity -- been different. Jock has always been the type of personality that responds well to warnings, and minor punishments such as time-outs when he was small. Bug isn't so fortunate. He's inherited the same unfortunate combination I suffer from. Combine that with ADHD and what we suspect is some form of a sensory disorder, and it is a recipe for meltdowns. It helps that I can understand that, so when I'm able to remain calm I can generally calm him down and he and I talk things through.

I notice I've said a lot, but not answered the question. Do I spank my children?

The answer is not a simple yes or no. If it was, I'd have to answer: Yes, I have. There have been moments with each of them, after all other punishments and disciplines had failed (more than once, I might add), that I felt it was the only option left to me. Was it effective? At those particular moments in time..... the answer would be: Only sometimes. And it depended on the child. Almost always with Jock. Rarely with Bug. Any sort of physical contact with Bug during those meltdown moments was painful for him both emotionally and physically. At those times, I sat with him on his bed, holding him in a hug on my lap, rocking him and singing softly until his tears and tantrums were spent. Sometimes that took just a few minutes. Often, that took a lot longer. And on rare occasions, that took a couple of hours. There were times when Coach had to come and relieve me, because you simply can't hold your child when he's at his breaking point without getting close to your own.

There is a difference between spanking and beating your child. As it was mentioned on Amy's post (I'm sorry.. I don't recall if it was Amy herself, or one of the comments), if you take pleasure or feel justified, I feel its gone beyond a mere spanking. There is a certain truth to the old saying "This hurts me more than it hurts you." It should ALWAYS break your heart as a parent to inflict any pain, no matter how minor or temporary, on your child. ALWAYS.

My boys are older now, and the disciplines have changed. We no longer even consider spanking as an option. First, there is something patently absurd about spanking a teenager. Second, as the boys have matured, they are better equipped to think things through. Now, we find that the best punishments are ones they have had a hand in designing themselves. The most effective has been giving up something important to them. Something that THEY have chosen as important. It has helped to establish a lasting connection in their minds that their actions have consequences.

I thought this would be a difficult subject to write about, and I wasn't wrong. My parenting style differs from many others out there. And even though my kids are older now, and we don't really face this issue any longer, I'd love to know how each of you tackles this situation. *** Here's the people who have tackled this sensitive subject before me:

Miche does not spare the rod

Jo-N wants to be her children's best friend.

Tot's Mom spares the rod and believes in patience.

Huckdoll spares the rod and believes there are more effective yet gentle ways to discipline than spanking.

Kelly at Ordinary Art has a three-step approach that does not always work but leaves tiny tushes mark free.

OhMommy has spanked and never will again.

Amy spanks when necessary.

The Sports Mama found it depended on the individual child and the situation.


1. Go to your blog.

2. Post about the topic.

3. Give me the hot, hard, and heavy linky love

4. Copy the last paragraph above and add your name and discipline style.

5. Post that paragraph onto your blog, including links. (Yeah, you will want to sharpen a pencil and stab it in your eye at this point. But, isn't that half the fun.)

6. Go to the five people you have tagged and leave them a comment to know they are now, it.

7. Sit back and let the comments roll in.

I would really be interested in how these people tackled this subject:

The Burgh Baby's Mom

The Kidzmama

Karen at The Rocking Pony

Karen at Lyrics of My Life

and Lunanik at Secrets of A Black Heart

***Please, don't be shy about leaving me a comment. All I ask is that you be respectful. It takes a lot of courage to post something so personal for the entire world to see. I am not asking to be judged, as I will most certainly NOT judge you for your personal style of parenting. If you can not refrain from being mean and judgemental, I would ask that you please NOT leave a comment here today.


Shellie said...

I loved this, finally a thought provoking meme. I will not only be gentle, I will be validating. I think Love and Logic is the goal. Occasionally, and frankly the less frequent the better, a little tush warming is understandable. Might I say that most of the time I don't spank. My mom said to me once, that she thought the saying to never spank your child in anger was silly, because no one spanks their child because they're happy with them. I told her I had never spanked in anger, only in utter desperation. ( I only had one kid at that point.) I have since spanked on occasion out of utter desperation and anger, but it has mostly been a complete wash-up. I feel horrible about it, they resent it, and they get more hostile. Real big help. But about 3.2 times, it shocked them into the realization that they were out of line and it worked. I also have ADHD kids with sensory issues so I can totally relate. My opinion, build up an arsenal of better options and self control techniques and only spank 3.2 times in a childhood. :) P.S.I found you through the Burgh Baby

Karen said...

Well I guess I'll refrain from commenting since I'll be talking all about this at my own blog.

Burgh Baby's Mom said...

This has been a topic of discussion in my house lately. I'll have to share where we're currently at sometime in teh next week.

Stella said...

Excellent post.
Do you mind if I cut and paste to avoid having to do mine. You've done yours so well! ;)

The Sports Mama said...

Shellie, welcome to my place! And thank you for your comments!

Karen and BB's Mom, I can't wait to see what you guys have to say on this topic.

Stella, thank you!

Wonderful World of Weiners said...

Sorry about the TRACEY with an E - I am bowing my head in shame, Tracy with NO E!!

Isn't that pic great?

I think it makes today's entry "complete!"


Anonymous said...

Wow, this is a challenging one. I'm not feeling quite up to it today, but I'll try to post on it soon, and I'll let you know when I do. Thanks for the tag!!

Amy said...

Thank you so much for the kind compliments. You are very sweet!

You did a good job on this post. I love how you address the difference between your children, and how discipline changes because of those differences. I commend you for taking the extra time to address Bug's needs, and addressing them with love and patience.

KIDZMAMA said...

There's a fine line to walk in the blogging world. Say what's on your mind, try and make some friends that relate to you, but don't get too attached, this is the internet people!

That said, I think you did a great job here. Honest and well thought out. It's a sensitive topic for most people.

I will post my meme over the weekend. Thanks for thinking of me!

The Sports Mama said...

Karen, take your time. As I said, no pressure. But I am interested to see what you have to say.

Amy, I meant every word about you! :) Its never made sense to me to discipline them the same, when I can't treat them the same. They are unique individuals.

Kidzmama, thank you. It IS a difficult subject to write about for the entire internet to see and judge. I look forward to seeing your perspective!

Lightning Bug's Butt said...

I guess I'll have to visit Amy, what with such a glowing endorsement!

Rachel said...

You did wonderfully!! Amy tagged me on this one and I want the time and the space to be able to do this properly, intelligently and make it worthy of the topic.
I am going to tackle this monday.
You did a wonderful job. Thank you.

The Sports Mama said...

LBB, she's great! And you read ME, so you're obviously not against mommy blogs... lol...

Rachel, I saw that she tagged you as well, and I can't wait to see your perspective. Thanks for thinking I did ok. It was definitely a tough one.

AnGlOpHiLe FoOtBaLl FaNaTiC said...

I found you via Burgh (whom I love). I generally have my sound off as I don't like most people's choice of music, but obviously you are an exception to the rule. I love all 80s. And, I'm sitting here looking at your play list debating whether or not just to leave you on & turn you up. I seriously LOVE your choices.

About spanking: I do when necessary. I was spanked & my hub was, too. My child would not have done well with time outs. I have hated every single pop, but now that my son is more conscious of his choices, just saying 1...2... & he whips into shape. I like the 1,2,3 use of spanking as it gives the child the option to correct their behavior. And, when I do need to reinforce these days, I generally just tell him to give me his hand and gently spank it. I would challenge anyone who thought every method worked for every child.

Chris said...

Honestly, I have never laid a hand on my kids. I don't think I ever could. How can I tell them, "Don't hit your sister. We DON'T hit in this family."...and then spank them? Nope, not happening here.

The Sports Mama said...

AFF: Welcome! Glad you found me, and I hope you'll visit often! Counting didn't work for us, as really all it did was teach my kids to count. And that for some reason I could never mean it if I threatened to stop at 5. *sigh*

Chris, that is a concept we struggled with. I can honestly say that the spankings were few and far between, and as I mentioned, not with Bug for a multitude of reasons. I genuinely applaud and admire parents who have more patience than I, who have found methods that work well for them.

Flea said...

I spanked when necessary, and sometimes when not necessary, unfortunately, but, like you, there's a point when they're just too old. Yay. And not all of them needed that kind of discipline. My youngest, the ADHD child, was the recipient of most of the spankings. Most of the time, when I was removed from my anger and let him know why I was spanking, made sure he understood, it worked.

I'm also a counter. I learned, at some point, to get up and start walking toward them if they didn't switch gears after "one". When they saw me moving, I usually didn't have to get past two. If they knew I was serious and had a vested interest in what they were doing, they tended to listen. I still have to do that with the 10 year old.

Parenting is such hard work. And our kids make sure that we do our job, don't they?

Flea said...

Y'know, this topic reminds me vaguely of another topic making the rounds right now: do you do Santa with your kids? I feel like a real loser when responding to those blogs. He was real in our house. But a lot of the moms on other blogs either don't do Santa or treat him as a fun little story. What's the world coming to when your opinion makes you feel crazy?