Saturday, February 11, 2012

Do You Dare?

This is a  hot topic, very controversial and I know it, but I have never shied away from controversy. Do you discipline your children? If so how do you do it and when do you do it? Or do you just let your child do what ever they want with little guidance from you on how to behave with others?

I ask for two reasons one is it is really fresh in my mind, I was out with my husband this afternoon and we stopped in to a little cafe in town. We heard her before we saw her and we heard her the entire meal. There was a 2 year old child screaming at the top of her lungs and everyone was trying to pretend it did not bother them. Everyone but me, I said rather loudly...that never happened with my children. Nor will it happen with any grandchildren when they are out with me. I am unsure if the family heard me over their pint sized siren. After they tired of it themselves they put the child on the floor and she immediately started to run everywhere screaming her little head off. When she approached me I gave her my best mommy you better stop it look, she stopped dead in her tracks and stared at me. I put my finger to my lips and said shhhh. Where she THREW herself on the floor and had an all out old fashioned tantrum. I had heard about tantrums and seen them on television and in movies. I had never seen one in person, arms and legs flailing and the shrieks were incredibly louder she turned so red I thought she may hyperventilate, and wickedly I thought if she did she may pass out and be quiet. I was pretty startled and I looked at the family they were CHUCKLING! If I didn't know before that confirmed it. This child knew no discipline, they had taught her that she could do no wrong and that she was able to do anything she pleased even if it made everyone around her uncomfortable.

When the mom finally picked the still flailing child up and walked into the other room with her, the Aunt said she's horrible what happened to her she used to be so well behaved and sweet. Grandma said "oh shush there is nothing wrong with her", Aunt: " are you blind?" Yeah was she blind and deaf? HOLY COW!

I thought back to my grandmother who raised me and her mother Grandma Francis, if I had even had the inkling to do what this child did, I would have been 1) bopped on the head by my Great Granny's cane and 2) escorted out of the room by MOM and you never wanted mom to escort you out of the room....EVER. We were disciplined she could take us anywhere sit us down and know when she got back we would be sitting right where she left us, often singing Sunday school songs with a crowd around us. It's not that we were scared of her,  she took the time to teach us right from wrong and what would and would not be tolerated.

I taught it to my children also, as a young mother I used to listen to Focus on the Family and I listened to Dr. Dobson talk about daring to discipline your children, he was a believer of spare the rod , spoil the child. And he encouraged parents to take up the mantle and be loving, guiding and authoritative. I had tried time out and all sorts of alternative reprimands. They were okay but not very effective he said not to spank with your hand, but to use a paddle like a wood spoon and that you should never spank a child so hard you hurt them. That the spanking should be proceeded by you talking to the child and letting them know calmly why you were doing what you were doing and if you were angry you should wait until you weren't. He said that the kid would know and remember when the time came. After you needed to let them know you weren't angry but that the unacceptable behavior would not be tolerated and that they would receive spankings if they should do it again. So first I called social services because I did not want to be turned in for child abuse. They told me that spanking a child IS OKAY as long as you were not BEATING them. No hitting them on the head, face , torso, only a spanking on the bottom with out hitting so hard you left marks. One swat per year of age was acceptable. Okay so armed with this information I bought some wood spoons. One day I laid down for a nap with my son and awoke to snap, whack snap, whack snap...what in the world? I followed the sound and there was my precious little 2 year old out the back door breaking my spoons. I decided right then and there not to use anything but my hand, I remembered my mom with her belts and other implements of torture that she used to hand out justice in our home, how I feared and hated them. I didn't want to do that to my children. I still spanked but never like that again.

With my kids I used a mixture of punishments, kids are going to misbehave, they will try it once and it all depends on how you handle it on if they will do it again. Before it even got to the throwing themselves on the floor I would grab them by their arm and move them to the corner, instructing them to stand there until they could behave I had tear stains on my corners that grew with the child, I couldn't bear  to wipe them off preferring to keep the memory of my willful child learning to bend to my will. When they were too little to stand they sat, not for long but long enough and often they got a pop on the bottom before the got sat down.
I spanked in public also, a grab of the arm and a pop on the butt does a lot to get a child's attention. Most times all I had to do was grab their arm give it a squeeze, bend down and whisper in their ear in a mom menacing tone do you want to go to the bathroom with me? Nooooooooo then stop it! And they did. I rarely had to spank and spanking was only a last resort, they hated the go to your room and wait for me. The wait was the worst.

When they were angry and wanted to show their displeasure with something I said or did they liked to stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp all the way up the stairs and SLAM their doors. When that was done I would call them down stomp, stomp, stomp followed by a surly what-t-t-t-t-t-t? Testing the water and I had to show them that I am Mighty Mom with all Power to make them do as I pleased, and it pleased me to not have them stomp! I would make them try it again and if there was a stomp or a bump, down they came, over and over and over until they walked up the stairs like they were walking on pillows and softly closing the door behind them. Now don't get me wrong they were still mad but not disruptive. They had the right to be angry  and they could vent in their journals all they wanted, but they were not allowed public displays of anger towards us not around me anyway. It only took my son a few tries to finally give up on his rights as the boy child in the home, my daughter Ms. Princess was much harder to quell, I never quite broke her of any of her bad behaviors.

When my son turned 16 he stretched his man muscles a little and got mouthy with me. We got in an argument and the more angry I got the louder he got, when I had enough with out thinking I pointed and said  ENOUGH GO TO THE CORNER! When you can talk to me in a decent manner THEN and only then can you come out! And he went....he stood there for an HOUR and I let him. When he left the corner we never talked about it. A couple years ago I said you know you didn't have to stand there that long...and he said Oh Yes I Did! But he respected me enough to do it and that's the point. Will your 16 year old go to the corner when they are told to? My son did, my daughter never would. I could take them anywhere and not have the public scene but my daughter was much more willful and still is, she liked to challenge me and see if she could bend me. I had to use a lot of tough love on her. But it all paid off  and I have a lovely respectful daughter that calls older people sir and ma'am and for that I am very proud.

So how do you do it?

Foot note I welcome opposing views however I will not tolerate nasty notes to me or anyone else that may respond to this post. Parenting is hard and everyone does it differently. I am not saying that you are wrong for not doing it like I did, there are somethings I would like to go back and have a do over, every parent has them. My children like to tease me and laugh at some of the ways I handled things, but they never said I was wrong or that I was abusive. There is a huge difference between loving discipline and abuse.