or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Gentle Discipline › Grandpa spanked my 6yo.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Grandpa spanked my 6yo.

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
This whole situation is so heartbreaking to me.

DD spent the night with her grandparents last night, as she's done several times, and she woke up at 10:30 and cried to go home. I guess MIL tried to get a hold of us (she had the wrong number) and when she couldn't she tried to calm dd down. Fil lost his patience with her crying and spanked her, or "tapped her lightly" as MIL put it, and told her to stop crying.

DD then said to grandpa, "Why are you being so mean to me?" and he said, "Because you need to grow up and be a big girl and stop waking everyone up with your crying." DD then said, "Ok, I will try.." and went to bed alone and cried herself to sleep.

I feel sooo guilty and terrible about this. So far I am waiting to discuss it with dh before we talk to the inlaws, but when MIL told me the story I told her that wasn't acceptable, we do not ever hit under any circumstances and no one else is allowed to either. She apologized and said FIL feels like an "ogre" and asked that we please not confront him on this because he's going through a lot of stress.

I want to say no more sleepovers but I feel like that would be punishing DD. She loves them, usually. The only solution I've come up with is I've given her a small change purse with all my correct numbers in it for her to carry when she goes someplace. Hopefully that will solve the issue of not reaching us.

I talked to DD and she seems pretty calm about it, she seems to know that what grandpa did was WRONG and she didn't deserve it. I am not sure how else to handle this, though. My own guilt is enormous, I still can't believe MIL had our number wrong and that my baby cried for me last night and got spanked because of it!

sorry for the ramble, I had to get it out to people who understand.
post #2 of 22
How horrible for your little girl! I don't have a good answer... MIL let Ds1 CIO when she knew we're not ok with that, and now it's been a year and a half and we haven't let her babysit because I don't feel like I can trust her not to do something else that's unacceptable.

Hope someone's got a good answer for you.
post #3 of 22
I'm sorry, but when people do crappy things, yes, they get confronted on it, even if they're under stress. What the heck? I don't think you should go in with guns blazing, but I do think you need to let him know how upset and disappointed you are and that it's not to happen again.
post #4 of 22
I don't think I could feel comfortable letting my dd stay with someone who couldn't get hold of me, for any reason. That would just freak me out too much, almost more than what actually happened. If sleepovers at the grandparents were that important to dd, I think I'd have to be bunking down there, too; at least for a while. Poor baby. I do think teaching your LO to memorize a couple of rock-solid numbers is a good idea, rather than carrying them in a purse. What if she lost the purse? That would probably be my number one condition for her staying over there again, an absolute assurance that she could reach me.

Good luck with this. I know you don't want to make your dd lose out on something she loves because of something that was so not her fault. I would feel conflicted like that, too.
post #5 of 22


Wow. I am so sorry. I would have blown a gasket. Seriously! Who hits a scared and crying little girl?! And your mil sounds like an enabler. If it were me, I'd still let her have visits with them but, not stay the night. Maybe your fil can't handle having a young kid in his care that long (which is still no excuse!). And, if she is waking up during the night and crying to go home, then maybe she's not quite ready for that anyways. I'd also make sure everyone....daughter included, has your correct numbers when she is with them.
post #6 of 22
Oh man, I would need a cool down period for my mama bear claws to go away!

I don't think your DD is ready for sleepovers. FIL was super duper wrong, but he is old and quite frankly they just do crap like that when they are stressed/tired/did I mention old? I would give him a pass, but also not do sleepovers for a few more months. Everyone has time to move on and your DD would be a little older and more equipped to deal with it.

I would like to point out a positive. Your MIL tried to call you when your DD cried and said she wanted to go home. That is worth a lot. I left my DS, at the time just turned 3, with his grandma for the day and DS cried and wanted to go home, said he missed mama and papa, and instead of my mom calling me and telling me to come get him (a one minute car drive) she keeps him for hours and tries to get him to accept her as the comfort source instead. I will never forgive her or forget it. So kudos to your MIL. The mistaken phone # well that is pretty bad.
post #7 of 22
Stress can make people do things that are very out of character for them. If FIL has been a gentle and kind grandpa to her before this I might give him another chance to be with her, but only after I had talked it out with him extensively and felt convinced that he was remorseful and realized his behavior was inappropriate.

I also think that he owes her an apology. She needs to hear from him that he knows his behavior was wrong and he won't do it again.

I would probably be present for visits just to ensure that things go well until you are sure that he can controll his temper. It sounds like you have had a good talk with your DD and reassured her. I sure understand your feelings. There is nothing worse than feeling like our kids needed us and we couldn't be there for them. But, you have nothing to feel guilty about. You didn't do anything wrong and I'm sure your DD knows you would have been there for her ASAP if you had known she needed you.
post #8 of 22
This is a difficult situation and I'm sorry you're having to deal with it.

Six is old enough for kids to start understanding that grown-ups sometimes make bad choices and sometimes there will be authority figures in their lives who are much less than perfect. My sons have often surprised me in their ability to be philosophical about things like this, particularly if I don't convey the message that I think they've been victimized (even if in my heart I think they have). This is also an opportunity for you to convey through your words and actions that, even when they do things we really don't like, we still love our family members.

I agree with PPs that you (or perhaps more appropriately your husband, depending on your relationship with your in-laws) should reiterate your parenting practices to your in-laws. Ideally you would do this in a way that acknowledges the fact that they have successfully raised at least one child (your husband), so they didn't just fall off the parenting turnip truck. If you feel there is a possibility that a situation could arise that they will not be able to handle using the guidance techniques that you are comfortable with them using, then they shouldn't be left alone with your child.

I often forget that parenting young children is something that takes a lot of patience and that patience is like a muscle that has to be exercised in order for it to be available when you need it. Grandparents haven't had to exercise the patience-with-young-children muscle for a long time and they generally don't do it on a daily basis, so their "muscles" are probably pretty flabby. This is particularly apt to be a problem if you have "taken away" many of the tools they might think of as effective (and that were common a few generations ago), such as yelling, spanking, the silent treatment, yanking arms, pulling ears, etc., or if they will be caring for your child for lengthy periods of time or in the middle of the night.

Good luck and let us know how it turns out.
post #9 of 22
Oh, that sounds so awful!

I honestly can't get over the fact that your MIL was unable to reach you. Really? Have you changed phone numbers recently? How is it possible that she doesn't have your correct number? To me that is almost more disturbing than the spanking.

Regarding the spanking, I don't want to make you more upset, but I don't see how an adult who is so stressed out that can't refrain from spanking could do a "light tap", KWIM? Why didn't your MIL intervene--even if it was to take your daughter to another room so as to not disturb her husband?

I can't imagine allowing any more sleepovers without an acknowledgment from your FIL that he did something wrong--and an apology from him to your DD. If that happens, then I would consider sleepovers again. Otherwise, I don't see how your MIL can promise you there won't be a repeat of the incident.
post #10 of 22
honestly... i don't think I would let her go over for a while. When I saw the title I imagine a situation with an out of control kid misbehaving. Not that that justifies the spanking, but I remember my mom loosing control when things escalated while growing up. As a mom now, I sympathize. But hitting a little girl crying for her mother? No way. Your IL's are not ready to be responsible for her over night or extended periods of time.
post #11 of 22
Can you ask your FIL to say something to your dd, that he was frustrated/sleepy or whatever and he wasn't as nice to her as he wishes he would have been, but that he promises he wont ever hit her again?

I give your MIL credit for trying to call (assuming she is telling the truth) but....I am very surprised that your 6 yo does not know her phone number. I would teach it to her ASAP because that is a huge overall safety issue. Any child past 2 or so should know their address, phone number, parents' full names, etc.

Dont send your dd back for overnights until she knows the numner by heart, and FIL has talked to her and apologized and reassured her that it won't happen again, and she feels comfortable going back.

We are not totally GD, but I would be LIVID if someone else took it upon themself to spank my child for any reason, but even more so for feeling sad. that is really, really wrong. i'm glad the FIL feels bad about it, and if he feels that rotten about it, he knows he was wrong, and hopefully he will never venture that route again.
post #12 of 22
I would not let my child return for unsupervised time at the in-laws' house until two things happened: Grandpa sincerely and calmly apologized for the spanking and assured my child (and us) that it would never happen again, and my child(ren) were able to recite my and my husband's telephone numbers by memory. And even then I think we'd be taking a break from the visits for awhile. If Grandpa is under so much stress that he can't refrain from hitting a child who's scared and crying for her mother, he has no business being around defenseless little ones anyway.

Frankly, though, your MIL's asking you not to confront her husband about hitting your child disturbs me almost as much as the hitting itself. She sounds like a classic abuse enabler.
post #13 of 22
I'm so sorry. Your poor girl.

I think your FIL should be spoken to. He's an adult. I think he can handle a "confrontation" and discussion. Confronting someone doesn't have to be an argument and can be done in a calm manner. Mainly I think you should speak with him about this because his relationship with his granddaughter needs to be addressed. She deserves an apology and they would probably both feel much better afterward.

If it were me I probably would not feel okay about any of it until Grandpa and Granddaughter have mended things a bit.
post #14 of 22
I also think that he owes her an apology. She needs to hear from him that he knows his behavior was wrong and he won't do it again.
I agree.
post #15 of 22
Maybe your inlaws need some tools for dealing with kids. When I run into difficult discipline situations, I seek tools, such as books, articles and forums. Maybe the book "how to talk so kids can listen" or "respectful parents, respectful kids" or some articles by a someone you like could be good for them.

I wouldn't allow anymore sleepovers for a long time. If he's that stressed out, sleepovers just aren't a good idea.
post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
A couple things to clarify:

Yeah, we recently changed our numbers. We went from a landline to two cell phones, and I haven't taught them to dd because we are likely to change again very shortly. MIL must have misdialed or misplaced our numbers, which isn't unlike her - she can be a little flighty.

No, he hasn't been a kind and loving grandpa before now. In fact he usually ignores the grandkids completely, which is fine by me. I've always kept dd away from him and it hasn't been hard because he seems to have little interest in her other than telling us what we are doing wrong.

He will never apologize. He thinks he knows the only right way to raise children and that we are screwing up. However, until now he's never gotten involved with dd enough to "discipline" her. Most of the time when she or her cousin come over he goes to his friend's house.

Grandma, on the other hand, is a kind and lovely woman who is unfortunately completely subservient to her husband. Left on her own she spoils the grandkids with love and affection, so to speak. She would never speak up to tell him not to spank, which is unfortunate. I think she may be afraid of him, that's how it seems. I don't want to keep dd and grandma apart, but I can't trust her apparently. I really never thought anything like this would happen given grandma's doting on dd and grandpa's extreme indifference/lack of involvement.

I think dd is old enough to sleep over, however she never wants to again! She's been sleeping over and loving it for a couple of years. The difference that night was that dd is a night owl and her cousin, who sleeps over when dd does, went to bed early and dd was lonely and afraid and decided to come home. It's never happened before.

A lot of helpful comments, but thank you especially Acupuncturist.. that is the tack we've been taking - grandpa screwed up, lost his temper, it was wrong, but even grownups blow it sometimes.

As brutal as the whole thing has been, I am glad to report that dd doesn't seem traumatized. At least not as much as me! When she told her other grandfather (who is kind and gentle and dotes on her) the story she said, "and I did nothing wrong but grandpa lost his mind and hit me!". She doesn't seem shamed or like she feels she did anything wrong. She is getting A LOT of support from the adults in her life that it was wrong and Grandpa should never have done that - from relatives to friend's parents etc.

I will update once we discuss this, I am waiting until I am not so angry and emotional about it. I fully expect MIL to call and invite dd to sleep over this week, and I think that's when it will all come out. I regret that MIL will be hurt by this but I guess natural consequences are what they are.
post #17 of 22
It sounds like your DD has a healthy perspective on the incident, and an appropriate solution too. Just tell your MIL that your DD doesn't want to sleep over again.
post #18 of 22
So...just to get Grandma's position clear:

If a grown man is stressed and cranky we should all look the other way when his behavior gets agressive and violent, but when a SIX YEAR OLD CHILD gets stressed out and her fear interrrupts the sleep of the ADULTS in charge, they deserve a good smack on the bum...or well no, they don't DESERVE it, but no one will be asked to apologize if they get it?


I don't get that logic.

I believe I would be prone to spanking adults who spank my children, but then neither my parents nor my FIL, or my MIL would DARE do such a thing. FTR, I have seen my MIL do it to my nieces (I guess SIL has less of a problem with it than I do) and as a result neither MIL nor SIL will EVER be left alone with my kids overnight. I simply do not think MIL is right in the head. I have merely explained to her that I do think her levels of stress are appropriate for being in charge of small children at this time.

I think a similar answer would be fair for your ILs, since your MIL has clearly stated that the "reason" for his behavior is that he is under a lot of stress. Well, IMO, until he gets into a stress management program and learns how to NOT hit a child as a result of his stress, he foregoes his overnight rights as a grandpa. I am sorry she enjoys his company, but I bet she would enjoy it just as much with you there.

I also think it is too-bad-so-sad for MIL, but when she can grow a pair and stand up for her grandchild she can have overnight visitation again, until then? Not so much. Just my opinion of course.

Yes, adults do blow it, but even adults have to face the consequences for their mistakes. Being human is not reason enough to sweep bad behavior under the rug, or allow ogre-like behavior from a grown-up. If he can't apologize to his grand-daughter and MIL won't make him, they are in cohoots (no matter how lovely and cinnamon bun cuddly she may be, she is complicit in his behavior by not demanding better of him. Fear is no excuse for allowing a little girl to be terrorized...speaking as a once little girl who spent many overnights with a yelling Grandpa full of ire and his enabling wife who attempted to make up for it in chocolate chip cookies and walks through the meadow, I ASSURE you, it makes an imapct that cannot be measured in the moment.) and your daughter deserves supervised visits from now on.

Originally Posted by annettemarie View Post
I'm sorry, but when people do crappy things, yes, they get confronted on it, even if they're under stress. What the heck? I don't think you should go in with guns blazing, but I do think you need to let him know how upset and disappointed you are and that it's not to happen again.

I might even go one further and encourage your daughter to ask Grandpa for an apology. As much as you want to get in there and smack his head off, it seems this is really between him and her and she seems to understand that it's not her fault...so? I don't know. I might let her handle it. I think this might disarm him, and let him know unequivocally that she is a human being with rights and feelings. Maybe she could write it in a letter to him. She could state very clearly "Grandpa, I was very scared and lonely and sad and woke you up because I needed a grown up's help and you hit me for waking you up. You owe me an apology."

I only suggest this because my son and I got in a fight a few months ago, and I was dead set that I had every right to be the boss and put my foot down, and I was being really pig-headed, and I sent him to his room and while in his room he wrote me a letter (albeit in 5 year old spelling and giant letters) and he said, essentially "Mommy your yelling hurt my heart, please stop being angry and listen to me."

I mean how can you really not respond openly to that?!

If he doesn't respond to her direct request, I would encourage her to keep her distance from him, and frankly, anyone who makes excuses for him.
post #19 of 22
I may be overreacting because I can't stand my in-laws, but if my FIL spanked my child, that would be the last time he'd ever see my child again. There would be no more relationship. End of story. But that's me and my inlaw issues...

Now if my mother spanked one of my kids, of course I'd confront her on it. I would let her know just how NOT acceptable her actions were, and I'd impress upon her the fact that if it happened again, she would have a very limited and supervised relationship with my child after that. I would stop the overnights for a while, and take some of the PPs suggestions. I particularly like the suggestion that FIL apologize to your DD. From your description of him, I doubt it will happen, but it is a good idea. I'm glad that your DD realizes that it wasn't her fault and that she doesn't seem to be traumatized by it. Kids are resilent and bounce back from this stuff pretty well. You're doing a great job, mama.
post #20 of 22
I certainly wouldn't allow my child to sleep over at anyone's house I don't trust. Trying to force an apology from anyone makes no sense to me. If not given freely and sincerely, what value is there in it?
When there are issues with my ILs I let my DH deal with it, as I deal with issues with my family. As far as I'm concerned a lot of ill feeling can be avoided this way (assuming you and your DH are on the same page?)
Good luck with the situation- please give us an update.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Gentle Discipline
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Gentle Discipline › Grandpa spanked my 6yo.