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DH Refusing to Commit to No-Spank Rule

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 

Hi all!  I'm at a loss for what to do at this point.  I recently started going to yoga 3x/week, which are my first consistent outings since DD was born 1.5 years ago.   I recently returned home from class to have DH tell me he "actually had to use the belt today" on DS (4.5 yo).  I was SHOCKED!  DH really is not one to resort to spanking, and I was under the impression that we had committed not to spank after we each digressed a couple of times a couple of years ago.  Since then, my mind keeps going to the thoughts of "If I leave kids with him for very long, he may resort to this punishment again".  I refuse to leave them alone if there's even 1% chance of a repeat.  I explained my feeling about this and requested that he commit to not spanking, but it has spiraled into this big mess of him refusing and me sticking to my guns about it.  It is 100% wrong in my mind, and I cannot let this happen.  I have no idea why he is holding on to this need to have this (option to spank) as an option.  He claims to have no plans or intentions to spank in the future, but will not make a promise.  Am I being unreasonable to need this promise for my own peace of mind?  He is an amazing father in every way, and almost always uses beautiful GD with the kids when I am present.  That's why I was SO BAFFLED that a BELT was even considered!  I've turned it over and over in my mind and read numerous similar posts.  But I can't seem to find the right solution for us.  THanks for reading and any advice.

 

A quick preemptive response for some expected replies:

 

1.  He is not open to counseling.

2.  He is not interested in materials I offer for reference about parenting.

3.  He is the sole breadwinner, I am the SAHM with no savings of my own and no family in town- meaning a separation of any kind is pretty unlikely.

4. To further #3, I feel that a divorce would lead to more alone time for him with kids, since some sort of joint custody would happen.  This is likely to escalate stress which could trigger further punishments of this sort.

5.  We live in TX, so there's no way of making spanking (even with a belt) look very bad, and I would never wish to cast that sort of "abuser" claim against him.  He most certainly is not.  

post #2 of 35
That is TOUGH! I feel for you and completely understand the dillema. All I have to say is that I would not be comfortable leaving my child if I felt there was a chance of her being spanked. The one thought I have to offer that may help is to ask your DH if he wants his kids to be afraid of him. I would hope not and maybe it might reach him to think of his children beind scared of him rather than feeling like he is there to love and protect them. It sounds like he's not open to discussing this and I would honestly say that I would not give in until an understanding was reached. Some things are simply not negotiable. I hope you get more input and advice soon
post #3 of 35

He used a belt on a 4-year-old? I'd set him down with the pediatrician for a talk. Have the doctor tell him that's unacceptable if he won't listen to you.

post #4 of 35
If he won't commit to not using corporal punishment, refuses to read anything about parenting or attend counseling and you won't consider divorce, then I guess there is no other option than to not leave them alone with him.
post #5 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by womenswisdom View Post

If he won't commit to not using corporal punishment, refuses to read anything about parenting or attend counseling and you won't consider divorce, then I guess there is no other option than to not leave them alone with him.


Yeah, pretty much. Although how long will this really be sustainable?

 

BTW, to me using a belt is more serious than "spanking," not that I agree with either. The pediatrician might be a good start, as a PP suggested. Can you speak with your doc yourself about your concerns, and then ask if you can bring in your husband for an explanation of why this kind of physical punishment is bad for kids?

 

What would happen if you sat your husband down at a time when your child was asleep and you were both calm, and you said something like, "I need to address the spanking and hitting issue with you again. It hurts me to think of anyone hurting our child, especially you. This is something I feel very strongly about. Our child definitely needs discipline, but I don't feel that physical punishment is effective or OK to do. Let's read about other techniques and agree on a system together." Do you think he would be receptive to that?

post #6 of 35

I would not leave my kid anywhere where there was even a remote possibility that someone would hit her with a belt.  What would be his reaction if you told him if he refuses to promise not to hit, you won't leave the kids alone with him?  At least he would know there's a serious problem - maybe he's not taking you seriously?

post #7 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by mnj77 View Post

I would not leave my kid anywhere where there was even a remote possibility that someone would hit her with a belt.  What would be his reaction if you told him if he refuses to promise not to hit, you won't leave the kids alone with him?  At least he would know there's a serious problem - maybe he's not taking you seriously?

 

The OP doesn't own the kids and so does not have the right to tell their father that he can't be alone with them.

 

OP, have you discussed the incident with your DS?

post #8 of 35

I'm heading down a similar path with DD who's 15mos - I won't spank, but I know for a fact DH is not against it as he himself was belted as a kid.  My parents did spank me, but the thought of taking a belt to ANY kid, regardless of how 'bad' they were...wow.  You can try and explain it from a science based perspective if he's receptive to that.  Behaviorally speaking pumishment does work - BUT only in the moment and there is NO consistency or expectation of reaction that can be repeated and proven.  Punishment yeilds unpredictable results bc different personalities will respond differently.  Your LO might be a sensitive kid, in which case it can make him become reserved and afraid to try new things out of fear of the punishment.  A strong-willed kid might just start to yell and hit back when they get older, or in the case of my DH, he just went behind his parents backs and did everything he could get away with - he was a horribly rotten kid and he still has his moments as an adult where I just stare at him dumbfounded by what he does!    And so the main problem is you just don't know what the end result will be.  You could end up with a respectable adult who lets it roll off his shoulders, no harm no foul, or you could be unfortunate to have a child who grows into a less than stellar adult who resents authority and tests things beyond the home.

 

As for "ownership" of the kids - spanking with a hand in most states is discipline and unless you leave marks there is little recourse.  A belt on the other hand is like the difference between assault and battery - one is hands only the other is use of an object as a weapon.  Two adults engaging in this behavior would be arrested.  To take a belt, spoon or any other object to a child is for all intensive purposes child abuse.  So if someone hits my kid with a belt, DH included, you bet I'd be telling that person they wouldn't be spending time along with my kid.

post #9 of 35
What was your DH's upbringing like? Was he spanked as a child? Was he fearful of his parents? How does his childhood affect his parenting? I feel like these are questions that really need to be addressed with a therapist or at least guided by a good parenting book (Healing Parents has a section on examining the attachment patterns we learned as children & repeat with our own children)... but I know you said he'd not likely be open to these things. Can you sit down and talk about it and try to start figuring out where this is coming from?

Since all the other options are already ruled out, I don't know that you can really get anywhere until you start to understand what's behind his refusal to commit to that rule. I would sit down and just let him talk... don't interrupt or correct or argue anything, just work on trying to understand. Repeat back what you hear him say so that you're sure you understand correctly. And then build off that. There can be so many things behind spanking... a lack of better options, feelings such as powerlessness, anger, fear, frustration, inadequacy... repeating childhood patterns, correcting faults he sees in his own upbringing, worrying that his children are not being respectful, etc. What does he view as a reason to spank? He said he doesn't plan on spanking but he doesn't want to rule it out... so what kinds of situations would compel him to do it? Can you discuss alternatives for those situations? Can you come up with a plan for him to ask for help when he feels overwhelmed, or like spanking is the only viable option?

And in the meantime... find a friend to watch the kids during the day so you can get some time to yourself where you won't be worried about their safety. No, I would not leave them alone with DH until/unless you have reached a better understanding/agreement with each other.
post #10 of 35

Along with all the other suggestions, I'd take all the belts out of the house.  If somebody in the house can't be trusted to use them in a responsible manner, then maybe all the belts need to go away.  Yes, it's a bit of a petty reaction, and it certainly isn't a complete solution, but if somebody was using alcohol irresponsibly, or medication irresponsibly, or whatever, I certainly wouldn't leave those lying around, so in this case I'd go buy a pair of suspenders, and not leave any belts lying around.  It would be a far more reasonable action than belting a 4.5 year old.

post #11 of 35
Thread Starter 

Thanks to all of you for your replies!  After a very intense 2-day email/text exchange, we settled it.  It very nearly ended our marriage, but he made a promise, and amends.  It is no excuse, but he is a Taurus through and through.  He perceived my diplomatic request as a threat and an accusation, then stood by his guns on principal of being unwilling to concede to my "attempt to dominate".  Finally, he decided our relationship was over, slept on it, and came back with major apologies and a promise to never spank or use physical discipline.  As I mentioned, he is almost always the very model of a perfect GD father.  He was, quite literally, blinded by his own misplaced pride and stubbornness.  Again, thank you all!

post #12 of 35

Would it be possible for you to take over all the reigns in the discipline department? And, if something happens while your dh is watching the kids I would just have him do emergency maintenance and then turn the issue over to you when you get back.

post #13 of 35
Thread Starter 

I actually did tell him I would not allow them to be alone together without the commitment to not spank or strike the kids in any way.  that was probably what set him off the most, and nearly ended the marriage.  He threatened legal recourse and even began to yell in front of the kids...  in the front yard!  It's a good thing that his anger almost never gets the better of him in that way, or the marriage would be over.  He is typically very reasonable, calm and diplomatic, thank goodness.

post #14 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mnj77 View Post

I would not leave my kid anywhere where there was even a remote possibility that someone would hit her with a belt.  What would be his reaction if you told him if he refuses to promise not to hit, you won't leave the kids alone with him?  At least he would know there's a serious problem - maybe he's not taking you seriously?

I actually did tell him I would not allow them to be alone together without the commitment to not spank or strike the kids in any way.  that was probably what set him off the most, and nearly ended the marriage.  He threatened legal recourse and even began to yell in front of the kids...  in the front yard!  It's a good thing that his anger almost never gets the better of him in that way, or the marriage would be over.  He is typically very reasonable, calm and diplomatic, thank goodness.

post #15 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mittsy View Post

Would it be possible for you to take over all the reigns in the discipline department? And, if something happens while your dh is watching the kids I would just have him do emergency maintenance and then turn the issue over to you when you get back.

As much as my alpha side would love this, it would not be a welcomed solution.  We mostly parent from a "let each do their own" perspective, since it's typically not too opposing.  This was a very rare incident (last spanking was around 2 yrs ago, i think).  Since I am the SAHM, I am the one handling discipline the majority of the time.  

post #16 of 35
Thread Starter 

Well, I had an ending update composed, but it seems to have disappeared.  After very nearly ending our marriage over the issue (stubborn Taurus DH held his ground,and thought we should separate, too), I finally got the commitment and many apologies and concessions.  I can forgive and forget, as I know his head and heart are good, gentle, loyal and kind.  Sometimes he just hears things all wrong, and it bristles his fur.  

post #17 of 35
That's a wonderful update. I'm so glad to hear that it was more of a misunderstanding or ego related statement rather than his genuine take on parenting. I bet your marriage will be stronger in the end now that you have ironed out this issue and peacefully resolved it to both of your satisfaction.
post #18 of 35

I am glad , things are back on track 

 

I am sure you would like a better way to get the message to dh than using a ' perceived threat '  .  Using a belt is a behavior or at most  one solution to a problem 

A discussion not about the belt but your dh's concerns would help 

 

I have noticed that you sometimes use CP on ds what's up ?   we want him to put his concerns on the table 

Once we have his concerns on the table , you can put your concerns on the table and then brainstorm solutions that are mutually satisfying 

post #19 of 35
Thread Starter 

Just another quick update on this thread:

 

DH made good on his promise not to spank, but I did suspect he used the belt as a prop to get cooperation, as in a nonverbal threat.  That was discussed, and he revised his vow to not use CP, and also not use threats of any kind regarding CP.  

 

He also is now open to counseling, so we are setting up an appointment right now.  I really hope it helps.  WHile he has made huge strides in his disciplinary approach and relationship with DS, he and I are still on shaky ground.  I realized it was a problem when it took me 3 WEEKS and another MDC thread just to figure out how to approach him about the perceived threat.  I realized I was leaving too much unsaid, in general, to keep the peace around here.  His triggers are few, but very strong.  One wrong word or stepping in at the wrong moment can make for a disastrous day or week, in terms of our family dynamic and household morale.  Even though major blow-outs were only happening 2-3 times per year, it also coincides with my willingness to be assertive.  I think things would have been a lot more unpleasant had I not learned to keep my damn mouth shut.  Moving forward, I am no longer willing to keep my damn mouth shut, but need to make sure he and I are both equipped to "fight fair" and not turn into a silent but hostile environment.  Fingers crossed that counseling will help us work through this.  Feeling ever grateful that he is so loving and compassionate in his relationship with the kids.  Those relationships are the most important, regardless of our future as a couple.

post #20 of 35

OP:

 

You say he is so great, but if he was, he would respect your strong feelings about something or be willing to compromise.

 

1. Take a belt to DH's a$$.  Wait until he is getting out of the shower and go for it (no kids present, obviously).  It will solve absolutely nothing, but I just like the idea of it.  I think he is old enough, personally.  

 

2. If you don't like this idea, withdraw a large sum of cash from an account and hide it.  Tell him what you have done, and that the next time he uses a belt on your child the cash will get spent on something creative.

 

2. Don't leave him alone with the kids.

 

3. Make no apologies and offer no discussions.  This is a control issue for him, obviously.  

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