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When you don't hit at all

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I just saw this come up in the 'taking kids to India' thread.

What is a good way to convey your sentiments to in-laws or family members who may not think anything of smacking kids on the hands or other hitting?

We don't use any form of hitting for our child. It is gentle discipline all the way.

Have any of you dealt with in-laws and been able to communicate to them that you don't hit, won't accept them hitting or yelling or empty threasts (well i gues this one is getting a little picky)

Just in general, I don't intend to have my son alone with them without husband or myself. how to politely tell them our way and that we won't tolerate anything else from them?

I don't think it's one of those things where I just want to wait and see because I don't want my son hit and then have to deal with the situation, I want to set the boundaries now.

thanks!
post #2 of 25
Do you know your inlaws well? Have you seen them hit kids before, or does your dh think they're likely to? Obviously I don't know them or your family dynamics, but I find it hard to imagine anyone hitting a child when a parent is nearby, and you say that's what you're planning on doing.
But, to answer your question, I would probably try to discuss early on in a very enthusiastic way how you "discovered" GD (by reading, talking to friends, on the internet) and what it entails, and how both of you are total believers!
I also think it might be easier if your dh would be initiating that conversation - they might take it more seriously coming from him (again, I don't know your family, just speculating).
Anyways, my point is to bring it up in a positive rather than negative way. They might surprise you and confess they've had doubts about their old ways
post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
I know them pretty well. I've seen my MIL and SIL with bumper stickers that say 'hands are not for hitting' and I've also seen my MIL strangle her adult daughter in anger- was really wierd since having seen Homer do it all those times on Simpsons- seemed very surreal. And I've seen SIL slap her daughter in the face so...

We are in the caribbean when they will be around and down there I've seen people swat at childrens hands and that kind of thing. Almost a no thinking kind of reaction. I'm just nervour he would reach for something and get a smack on the hand more than anything.

I really don't want to teach him that hitting is ever ok. He is so gentle at 18 months and I know it is because I have always been gentle with him.

My husband is a very quiet man and extremely non-confrontational (to a fault *sigh*) and I do not plan on pushing him to do things that are not comfortable for him so basically, if I want something communicated, even if it's his viewpoint as well, I'm going to have to be the one to do it.

Just wondering if other have had this come up. I know I have heard AA Moms say it is harder to be GD in their family and social circles because 'everyone' still 'pops' kids or smacks their hands, etc. Looking for how they've succesfully communicated to their families their wishes and had them respected.

If I act the way you are suggesting I already know the reaction, they think I'm a wierdo anyway (extended breastfeeding, babywearing, delayed solids, etc)
post #4 of 25
Quote:
He is so gentle at 18 months and I know it is because I have always been gentle with him.
I just want to address this because if he changes (and he will certainly change even if he does not become more aggressive), you need to know that it will not necessarily be because of your ILs. My child was very gentle, but she did start hitting at one point, and the phase still has yet to pass completely. We never hit her. Never yelled (screamed, yes, when she was getting into a life-threatening situation, but not yelling).

But to the original question, I would suggest putting it in an overtly cultural context for them:

"In my culture, we never hit anyone. I just want to make sure that he never sees anything that would cause him to learn to hit, because hitting is just considered so unacceptable in my culture and it would be a problem for us, socially. Every culture is different but he doesn't know that yet. Don't take this the wrong way but please let me be the one to discipline him."

I find that speaking to people in terms of culture and medical necessity is often more convincing than personal preference, and in cases like this, it's worth a slight exaggeration.
post #5 of 25
I think I would just let them know that if there is any disciplining to be done, it is only to be done by me or DH.
I would actually not put any cultural overtones to it as then it becomes more of a "culture war" and to be quite honest, condescending and self-righteous, because really, studies have shown that a majority of Americans spank, still. So that is not only an exaggeration but actually a lie (to say that it is not done in your culture).
post #6 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by grumpybear View Post
I think I would just let them know that if there is any disciplining to be done, it is only to be done by me or DH.
I would actually not put any cultural overtones to it as then it becomes more of a "culture war" and to be quite honest, condescending and self-righteous, because really, studies have shown that a majority of Americans spank, still. So that is not only an exaggeration but actually a lie (to say that it is not done in your culture).
I agree with this. I would take the culture part out of it, and just leave it at, no one disciplines my child but me.

And then follow through with the discipline-- don't leave your kiddo with people, ect.
post #7 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by grumpybear View Post
I think I would just let them know that if there is any disciplining to be done, it is only to be done by me or DH.
I would actually not put any cultural overtones to it as then it becomes more of a "culture war" and to be quite honest, condescending and self-righteous, because really, studies have shown that a majority of Americans spank, still. So that is not only an exaggeration but actually a lie (to say that it is not done in your culture).
THat's not true. America has more than one culture, in my view, and in MY culture, we don't spank. I literally do not know anyone personally that spanks.

I do not think that explaining things in cultural terms sounds self-righteous or condescending at all! After all, when I've visited other countries, that's how they've explained THEIR customs to ME, and also, when we had visitors. "In their culture, they do x, y, and z, so you should accommodate with a, b, and c."

In all my travels I've never found anyone to be anything more than curious about other cultures, personally. And that includes living with Pakistanis and Indians for months at a time. (Not together, though...)
post #8 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post

I do not think that explaining things in cultural terms sounds self-righteous or condescending at all! After all, when I've visited other countries, that's how they've explained THEIR customs to ME, and also, when we had visitors. "In their culture, they do x, y, and z, so you should accommodate with a, b, and c."
I agree (with the bolded) but in the example you provided where spanking is NOT part of our/your culture, that is very blatantly wrong. I understand that you consider yourself to not be part of the general culture in America (where up to 90% spank their toddlers) but just because something is not practiced in your circle, it does not mean that it is not part of the culture in general.

I find cultural differences very interesting too but in this case, the only cultural difference re: spanking in America vs spanking elsewhere is probably that in America, it is not done in public and is some sort of dirty little secret whereas it is just more out in the open in other countries.

So pulling the culture card in the OP's scenario seems very inappropriate.
post #9 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by grumpybear View Post
I agree (with the bolded) but in the example you provided where spanking is NOT part of our/your culture, that is very blatantly wrong. I understand that you consider yourself to not be part of the general culture in America (where up to 90% spank their toddlers) but just because something is not practiced in your circle, it does not mean that it is not part of the culture in general.

I find cultural differences very interesting too but in this case, the only cultural difference re: spanking in America vs spanking elsewhere is probably that in America, it is not done in public and is some sort of dirty little secret whereas it is just more out in the open in other countries.

So pulling the culture card in the OP's scenario seems very inappropriate.
Really?

Because that's how I explained it to my in-laws in a country that is very close to India (nearly borders it, and linguistically very close). This is a face-saving way to ask people to respect a rule without putting yourself at the center of it. It's about how to remain respectful to your elders while at the same time, asking them to listen to your advice on child-rearing.

Moreover, where I live in the U.S., when you spank your kid, if you do, you get some pretty amazed stares. I even saw in one public place a woman knock her kid in the back of the head and have store personnel ask her not to do that.

I don't care what 90% of America does. When I speak, I'm not speaking for America, I'm talking about MY PEOPLE, and my people do NOT hit their kids! And it IS a cultural thing.
post #10 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by grumpybear View Post
I agree (with the bolded) but in the example you provided where spanking is NOT part of our/your culture, that is very blatantly wrong. I understand that you consider yourself to not be part of the general culture in America (where up to 90% spank their toddlers) but just because something is not practiced in your circle, it does not mean that it is not part of the culture in general.

I find cultural differences very interesting too but in this case, the only cultural difference re: spanking in America vs spanking elsewhere is probably that in America, it is not done in public and is some sort of dirty little secret whereas it is just more out in the open in other countries.

So pulling the culture card in the OP's scenario seems very inappropriate.
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
Really?

Because that's how I explained it to my in-laws in a country that is very close to India (nearly borders it, and linguistically very close). This is a face-saving way to ask people to respect a rule without putting yourself at the center of it. It's about how to remain respectful to your elders while at the same time, asking them to listen to your advice on child-rearing.

Moreover, where I live in the U.S., when you spank your kid, if you do, you get some pretty amazed stares. I even saw in one public place a woman knock her kid in the back of the head and have store personnel ask her not to do that.

I don't care what 90% of America does. When I speak, I'm not speaking for America, I'm talking about MY PEOPLE, and my people do NOT hit their kids! And it IS a cultural thing.
Grumpybear makes a valid point. You may not care about the 90%, but, they make up the bulk of the culture where spanking is considered acceptable. You say you don't speak for them, but for all practical purposes, unless you make the distinction between your personal beliefs/culture and those of the majority, it is misrepresentation to state that your culture does not allow it. Your in-laws have no way of knowing that, unless they have other sources of reference which show your stance to not be a part of the norm.

OP, I hope you get this worked out.
post #11 of 25
But the point is NOT to give my in-laws an accurate representation of mainstream American culture.

The point is to find a face-saving way in which to get my way on this issue, which for me is a no-compromise issue.

Keep in mind that I'm not saying, "You need to do this because it's better." What I'm saying to them is, "I am bound to do it this way because of expectations by my family, cultural expectations. I cannot do otherwise. You are in the position of authority over me, your daughter-in-law but I'm asking you to listen to me because I'm talking about what my PEOPLE do, not my personal preferences."

I think it's very important to have this tool in cross-cultural communication. You could easily say that because in the U.S. it's never homogenous, that we can't say, "I need to do x, y, or z because of cultural expectations of me" and in some sense, that's true. I never NEED to do anything in the same way as someone from a much more homogenous country would NEED to do it (e.g. haircut on 1st birthday, wearing a charm bracelet, dressing a certain way to be modest, etc. etc.).

But it makes sense to use this because otherwise, the partner's culture overwhelms the individual and there can be no compromise. Their one thousand musts all get respected (happily) because they are musts, but my three or four "musts" (personal moral beliefs, health issues) could get rolled over because there is no way in their culture for a daughter-in-law to ask her MIL to listen to her about her personal opinions on morality or health.

The ONLY way to communicate those things is either family to family (impossible without us as translators, and makes a big deal over it anyway), or by me acting as an ambassador for my family.

Sure, I could say, "In my family," but on the contrary, this makes it sound like we think we're so special because we don't spank, kwim? Whereas cultures are just different and nobody can change them, so they can accept this without losing face to their DIL.
post #12 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
But the point is NOT to give my in-laws an accurate representation of mainstream American culture.

The point is to find a face-saving way in which to get my way on this issue, which for me is a no-compromise issue.

Sure, I could say, "In my family," but on the contrary, this makes it sound like we think we're so special because we don't spank, kwim? Whereas cultures are just different and nobody can change them, so they can accept this without losing face to their DIL.
Exactly what I meant when I wrote that, unless the distinction is made, the in-laws are under a mistaken impression about the "cultural" prevalence of spanking.

Sounds like a lot of negotiation/complication over power roles and authority establishment in the situation you describe, though!
post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
But the point is NOT to give my in-laws an accurate representation of mainstream American culture.
And this is precisely why I mentioned how this is condescending and self-righteous. By deliberately misrepresenting the pervading "culture", you are, in effect, taking advantage of your IL's lack of knowledge/ignorace of the American culture.

Why then would it not be possible to just say, "in my culture, the disciplining is usually done by only the parents"? To me, that seems to be a bit more accurate and less of a lie.

I guess my question is, how would you feel if your partner or in-laws kept on pulling out the culture card to justify practices that you don't agree on and then you find out later that it really isn't a culture thing but rather more of a personal preference issue with them?
post #14 of 25
1. They DO, because they think that what they do is what everyone in their culture ought to do.

2. I don't "keep on" doing it, I explain what I cannot change because it is such a deeply held belief.

It is just NOT a lie to say in my culture that we don't spank. I don't know how to communicate this. I am NOT a part of the mainstream culture, if 90% of America spanks. People around here generally do NOT spank.

My ILs have more than one culture in their country. They have at least five distinct cultures and when they say "we" they are referring to their own culture, not that of their nation-state.

They do not expect me to speak for the entire U.S. and I don't expect them to speak for their country.

My goal is not to communicate to them the norms of the U.S.

My goal is to explain WHY I need them to listen to me on this one.

And in MY culture, disciplining is often done by parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and caretakers.

I feel that you and I are from different cultures, perhaps, and that is why this is not really getting across. I don't see where you are coming from here, that you are so opposed to using culture as an explicite frame of reference for this kind of discussion.
post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
I don't know how to communicate this.
Yes, seems to be a communication matter. Not convinced, yet. But, at the end of the day it seems to work out for the purpose you explained.

OP, have you thought about how you want to approach this?
post #16 of 25
To the people who keep arguing that spanking is cultural in America because 90% of parents spank, please show me the people who think it's okay for kids to hit anyone. The point was made that the OP doesn't want her ds getting the idea that it's okay to hit since it's not okay for HIM to hit.

That said, where on earth do you get off saying that America is one culture? There are some things that can be considered "American culture" like wearing blue jeans and t-shirts all the time, but I'm appalled that anyone, let alone anyone here at MDC would advocate for having child beating be part of "American culture".
post #17 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post
To the people who keep arguing that spanking is cultural in America because 90% of parents spank, please show me the people who think it's okay for kids to hit anyone. The point was made that the OP doesn't want her ds getting the idea that it's okay to hit since it's not okay for HIM to hit.
I am not sure anyone has claimed that on this thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post
That said, where on earth do you get off saying that America is one culture? There are some things that can be considered "American culture" like wearing blue jeans and t-shirts all the time, but I'm appalled that anyone, let alone anyone here at MDC would advocate for having child beating be part of "American culture".
Nobody is advocating such a stance. But, the word mainstream is commonly used on here, which carries with it the implication that certain practices are the norm rather than the exception. Attitudes toward spanking being one of them. Acknowledging this fact does not mean someone endorses the same. There is a difference, which I hope you appreciate. The fundamental point of contention is that we all agree that there is not one mono-culture. Yet, for all practical purposes unless someone makes the distinction between one's personal/community beliefs/culture and that of the mainstream, for the uninitiated, it is one and the same. It is easy for those within the culture to make that distinction, but not for others who have no other frame of reference for those finer points of a culture, that are not part of the mainstream culture. Whew, too many 'cultures' in that last one!
post #18 of 25
Grumpy, can I ask where you are in the U.S.?

Because perhaps what we are talking about as "American culture" is different. I live in the Pacific Northwest.

People here do spank. Most do not. I have never seen a spanking in a store. I have seen one person hit their child, and there was an audible gasp throughout the area.

People are not spanking in secret.

Really, the majority does not spank here!
post #19 of 25
Thread Starter 
I came up with a script to use if we are going to be at a gathering where I think in-laws might be tempted to do some 'disciplining'.

"Spouse (saying his name of course) and I have agreed not to use any physical punishment to discipline our child. A firm 'No' is fine if I am not immediately available however either spouse or I will discipline our child"

For the record we use 'no!' so rarely that i think this will do the job since I won't be having family members care for him. I hope it gets the message accross that this is our decision, we have made it and that's that.

I wouldn't be tempted to use the 'this is my culture' thing because sadly it's not my culture though i wish it was and am hopeful that it may one day be, and that my children will be able to say it is.
post #20 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
Grumpy, can I ask where you are in the U.S.?

I live in the Pacific NW as well and I can say that among my circle (of friends and acquaintances), pretty much all of them spank/swat their kids. We may be the only family that doesn't. These are good families and families that love their children, they just happen to believe in swatting as a form of discipline.

DH is from the midwest and the same goes for his own circle over there, including his family (my IL's).

I've never seen any of these children swatted in public but it's been mentioned a time or two by the parents.

But that is beside the point. My "circle" may or may not be the prevailing (mainstream) culture. The point is, the mainstream culture of America does condone swatting or physical punishment of children.

sapphire_chan, no one has mentioned here that it is OK to spank children. The point being argued here is that it might be inappropriate to use cultural contexts in not spanking children because mainstream America does condone spanking.

Might be interesting reading...
http://www.libraryindex.com/pages/14...UNISHMENT.html
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