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"I hope I didn't offend you"

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

I need help in how to respond in this situation.  I was working in our church nursery this morning.  A mom brought in her boy who isn't yet 2 years old.  Before she left he was playing a threw a toy.  Not at anyone, just playing.  She spanked him 3 times and put him in the corner.  After she explained what he did wrong she left.  Now tonight I get a facebook message saying "I hope I didn't offend you.  I know you don't spank.  We all have different parenting styles."  I feel like I need to at least acknowledge I got the message, but I don't want her to think I'm fine with kids getting hit.  What would you do?

post #2 of 30

I would reply, "Abuse is not a parenting style." 

 

or "I was not offended, I was appalled. But don't worry, I won't spank you for it."

 

or, "We are all trying our best. I'm sorry that you have to resort to abuse, maybe some day you will grow out of it."

 

but I'm a snarky little bossypants with no friends so I wouldn't take my advice. duck.gif

post #3 of 30

That is truly horrible. I think I would report it to the pastor/priest/etc. and share with him or her how uncomfortable it made you feel. I don't know if you're Christian or not, but my Jesus is a gentle, loving Jesus who would NEVER hit a child. There may be an opportunity to start a parenting group at your church, something that helps parents to learn about natural, logical, nonviolent consequences. One thing I try to do is take a positive spin on negative situations. In this case, there is the opportunity to educate.

 

I might also post the Poem Children Learn what they Live. http://www.empowermentresources.com/info2/childrenlearn-long_version.html

post #4 of 30

Perhaps tellher honestly it really did make you feel quite uncomfortabl and then gently explain in a non judging way WHY you dont hit children. It could really be an opportunity to educate and open her eyes. Alot of parents spank because it is ALL THEY KNOW. I live in the south where parents spank simply on the basis that THEIR parents spanked.....I have changed a few friends discipline styles simply by talking and encouraging new techniques.

 

post #5 of 30

I would tell her that you were more worried for the other children than offended and go on to say that witnessing harsh discipline can be very scary for other children and can make them more fearful of staying in an environment where their parents aren't present.  While spanking may be what she prefers you were worried for the other babies in the room at the time and hope she will take her son elsewhere if she thinks the situation warrants anything stronger than redirection.  I would also add that she doesn't need to worry that you think she is a bad parent just because her child needs to be redirected to the ball area and leave it at that. 

post #6 of 30

All very good points. Much more mature and productive. 

 

Honestly I am so angry that people call spanking, coercing and shaming "parenting" that all of my maturity circuits have shorted out. 

post #7 of 30
Thread Starter 

These are some really good thoughts!  I am a Christian and I believe Jesus was a peaceful, loving person.  It drives my crazy when they try to use the Bible to justify their spanking.  It's not in the Bible!  Any more ideas?  Keep 'em coming. 

post #8 of 30

I have had similar conversations, and always the thing in the back of my mind is that I don't think Jesus would condone hitting children.  I don't think Jesus would have hit them.  I have not said that point-blank, because then the conversation (I think) would turn into "My interpretation of religion is better than yours" and I hate those discussions.

 

I have pointed mothers toward the Gentle Christian Parenting website, and Dr. Sears has a book about Christian parenting that I have recommended as "things that made a lot of sense to me".  That approach has not been ill-received so far. 

 

post #9 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by One_Girl View Post

I would tell her that you were more worried for the other children than offended and go on to say that witnessing harsh discipline can be very scary for other children and can make them more fearful of staying in an environment where their parents aren't present.  While spanking may be what she prefers you were worried for the other babies in the room at the time and hope she will take her son elsewhere if she thinks the situation warrants anything stronger than redirection.  I would also add that she doesn't need to worry that you think she is a bad parent just because her child needs to be redirected to the ball area and leave it at that. 



I agree with this. It's also about what the other babies/young children were exposed to and frightened by. I wouldn't want my 17month old DS to be exposed to this, especially at church, and that's my right as a parent.

post #10 of 30

I think it's interesting that she was aware that her "style" didn't really fit in there, and that she may have felt a little embarrassed by it.  Otherwise, why would she be apologizing for offending you?  So, maybe she's open to an honest response that may educate her a bit on other ways to discipline, as others have mentioned.

post #11 of 30

Does your church have a discipline policy? May be they should. May be it should include how parents are allowed to treat their own children while in the nursery.

 

I would be kind and gentle with her when you respond -- in a way, I think it is hypocritical to practice GD with a toddler but be mean and shame an adult. She's doing the best she can with what she knows. It would be nice if she could learn more respectful ways to interact with her little one, but she has a better chance of learning them if she is treated with respect.

 

I like One-Girl's response.

post #12 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by One_Girl View Post

I would tell her that you were more worried for the other children than offended and go on to say that witnessing harsh discipline can be very scary for other children and can make them more fearful of staying in an environment where their parents aren't present. 



I am more worried for HER child and what she might do to him in a private environment. While I certainly don't want my child to watch physical discipline, the long-lasting effects of watching are surely much less than the effects of a very young child being spanked for throwing a toy... or who knows what other age-appropriate behavior. I agree with the posters who advocate talking to the mother in a gentle, non-judgmental way. I might try empathizing with the mother and saying things like, "What works for me..." or "I read this book that gives good reasons for not spanking and offers other options... can I drop it off at your house later?" or "...I'd like to talk about what happened... can I take you out for coffee (or can we meet at the playground...) and talk?"

post #13 of 30

I would have been frightened with the kids!  I can't even hear strangers yelling because it brings back bad childhood memories.  I wasn't even the one usually getting hit and it makes me want to run and hide like a little mouse.  It brings back all the (verbal and physical) fighting my parents did when I was young and all the (mostly verbal) fighting that is still going on in my family.  I'd do anything to protect my son from growing up with the same fears I do.  Its been almost 10 years since my parents have been together and I still flinch when someone raises their hand near me.

 

If it were me and I had to come up with a response... "Its not exactly that I was offended.  I grew up in a house where people thought hitting was okay.  I know now that its not.  It damages the person doing the hitting, the person being hit, and anyone witnessing it.  Witnessing the physical way you responded to your child's behavior made me fearful for my child and for myself.  I don't want to expose my child to the behaviors that could cause him to be fearful or physically lash out at others.  I hope in the future you can be more considerate to everyone and find non-violent ways of communicating with your child.  There are other options and, if you'd like, I could help you locate some that will work for your family."

post #14 of 30


I think it's time to take this to the priest/vestry and discuss making sure that there IS a policy in place about what is and is not ok on church property.  If it isn't in place now, it should be. 

post #15 of 30
When our kids were in preschool at our church, they had a discipline policy that specifically stated that they would do XYZ, but that they would never use physical discipline. They also specifically asked that parents not use physical discipline while at church. They also offered to work with parents to help them learn new techniques for discipline. That was a direct, but non-threatening way to get the message acrosss.

I think your church needs a discipline policy for its nursery and religious education classes. I also like the idea of saying that you're concerned for the impression the experience will have on the children who witnessed this.
post #16 of 30

I work for a church.  Most churches have a discipline policy but they don't usually state how parents can discipline their own children.  Our church does ask that if their own child is in a group that they are a leader or teacher of that they follow the policy with their child.  Even though we agree that her choice to spank her child was not a good one, it is her choice.  What she did isn't illegal.  There is no need to involve the pastor.  I would just use this as a chance to to gently educate.  She is probably aware that she didn't make a good choice (b/c she apologized to you). 

post #17 of 30

Maybe you could find a really great bible study about discipline and parenting, then invite her to join you so she can see your side of what you believe.

 

I've been to two churches that taught a "Growing kids god's way" class on campus.   While most churches do not agree with it, there are a few die hard GKGW people, and I have a feeling that's where this lady got her ideas.  

 

I think the fact that she  emailed you shows that she is thinking about this.  It might be a good time to slowly bring her around to your side.  

 

There's nothing wrong with saying "I respect your parenting, and I'm glad you respect mine... I wasn't offended, but I was a little surprised"

 

Remember, there are people who think NOT spanking is poor parenting and abuse.  So, keep that in mind... it's not just the lazy parents who spank... sometimes, those parents are putting a lot of work and thought into their own parenting.  I wish more parents would listen to their hearts before deciding that the book they just ordered on Amazon is the best way to parent.

 

 

post #18 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by holothuroidea View Post

I would reply, "Abuse is not a parenting style." 

 

or "I was not offended, I was appalled. But don't worry, I won't spank you for it."

 

or, "We are all trying our best. I'm sorry that you have to resort to abuse, maybe some day you will grow out of it."

 

but I'm a snarky little bossypants with no friends so I wouldn't take my adviceduck.gif


lmao!!!

 

I actually love all of your responses.  thumb.gif

post #19 of 30

I think I would stick to acknowledging the message, she doesn't sound like she is looking for information on doing things differently. Unless you are okay with getting into a debate I'd stick to something like "Thank you for the message. See you Sunday!"

post #20 of 30

personally i would not reply on email. BUT i would use the fact that she emailed you to give her a personal one on one facetime reply the next time you see her. and i would go with the gentlest discipline to HER (gentle disciple applies to the offending parents, too, does it not? do we not forgive ourselves for yelling at our children from time to time? when we are trying to do better). i would go with some logical reasons why gentle discipline is a better option than spanking. i disagree that she doesn't want information on your side of the story. i would suggest that it's the opposite. she was thinking it over and came to the conclusion that she should apologize to you, since she knows you don't spank. it's the PERFECT opportunity for you to kindly educate her on the whys of your side. but do it face to face -- only then will you be able to tell how it is being received. and if you can contain your judgment of her for spanking, you will have the best chance to influence her interactions positively in the future. maybe you can even get her to ratchet it down a bit. who know? good luck!

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