What to do if someone spanks their child in front of you? - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-06-2010, 01:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I was at a group playdate and after repeated threats, one mom pulled her 2 1/2 year old's pants down and spanked him. Luckily, my child did not see, but what do I do in this situation? I understand people have different discipline styles, but I really don't want my child to witness violence like that. It seems like spanking is the chosen discipline with other moms as well. How would you approach the topic without offending the moms?
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Old 02-06-2010, 02:13 AM
 
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Find a new playgroup.
I wouldn't want to be around people who hit their children.
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Old 02-06-2010, 02:22 AM
 
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Originally Posted by kiara7 View Post
Find a new playgroup.
I wouldn't want to be around people who hit their children.
That's what I would do also

Joanna WAHM to DS 10/2007
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Old 02-06-2010, 02:30 AM
 
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Originally Posted by kiara7 View Post
Find a new playgroup.
I wouldn't want to be around people who hit their children.

Tina - mama to DD1 10.75yrs, DD2 6yrs, DD3 2.5 yrs & baby due in June 2015 and wifey to DH.
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Old 02-06-2010, 02:35 AM
 
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Hehe well this happened to me (extended relative reunion type thing) and I'll tell you what I did. I made a snide remark about violence, got into a terse argument w/ the person and then stomped out the door in tears.

The person doesn't do it (in front of me) anymore.


But that's family...and that was my involuntary response, not my planned ideal.

If it's a playgroup I would probably have just picked up my child and left immediately. And never gone back. And never answered another email or phone call.

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Old 02-06-2010, 02:35 AM
 
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Wow. Umm. I guess what I'd WANT to say and do is probably loads different than what I would ACTUALLY say and do. Because I tend to cry when I see that sort of thing, which makes my 'angry eyes' much less effective. Sigh.

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Old 02-06-2010, 02:42 AM
 
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Find a new playgroup.
I wouldn't want to be around people who hit their children.
I agree.

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Old 02-06-2010, 02:49 AM
 
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Wow, she pulled his pants down and spanked him on what? his bare bottom? Yikes! WTH? How highly inappropriate!

When my children were much younger and we were in a moms club, one day at a holiday party, one mom got very angry at her 2 year old for spilling a paper plate full of cheddar bunnies on the floor and grabbed her and spanked her numerous times.

My daughter was 3 and immediately started crying out of fear. I grabbed my daughter and took her away from the area and said I was sorry she was so scared, that some parents think it's okay to "hit" their children when they are upset, but that Daddy and I didn't think it was okay at all. My daughter was very relieved, even at such a young age.

Regardless, I never did mention it to the mom (as she knew very well that I and my closer friends would never hit a child) but she never did that in my presence again. If I had just left the club, there simply would never have been another such playgroup I could have joined to make up for it. The good thing was there were a large number of moms there who were AP and did not believe in hitting children, so that helped.

In your situation, I would think it would be best to talk to the leader of the group (if it's a moms club type of group) and tell her that you felt that the entire situation was very inappropriate (focus on the bare bottom, perhaps?) and that you would like it if the leader could send a message to that mom asking that such behavior never happens at a playdate again. Some clubs have bylaws that preclude violence at playgroups, so she might well have gone against the rules. If it's a smaller, less formal group, then it might be best to leave it, but unless you talk to the leader (who might be nearly as appalled as you), you won't know, right?
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Old 02-06-2010, 02:50 AM
 
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It is hard to say exactly what I would do as I have never witnessed anyone spank their child.

I would want to (and may) get very upset and physically intervene and then I would phone the police as spanking is illegal were I live. If DS was with me and I could not intervene I would leave with DS and call the police.

I also might ask the person to stop hurting their child and then I would offer to watch their child while they went to calm down.

At the very least I would immediately leave with DS and never go back or have any contact with that person.

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Old 02-06-2010, 02:57 AM
 
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That's a rough situation. I don't think you can approach the topic without offending them. Their belief is almost certainly that they have the right to spank their children if they want to and you don't have a right to comment on it. I would find another group if possible. If you're in an isolated area or don't have many friends or family locally, then I'm not sure what I would do, because I do think it's really important for kids to get out of the house and be around other kids, but I also think having to hang out with people who spank in front of you really sucks.
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Old 02-06-2010, 03:48 AM
 
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Originally Posted by kiara7 View Post
Find a new playgroup.
I wouldn't want to be around people who hit their children.
Ditto that, I don't like to see that or have my kids see that.

Jen 47 DS C 2/03  angel.gif04/29/08/ DD S 10/28/09 DH Bill '97.

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Old 02-06-2010, 05:02 AM
 
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Is this a structured playgroup or is it just a meeting of moms?

I attend a structured playgroup with my son twice a week and spanking and other negative discipline is a strict no-no. However, several parents who see no problem with spanking have joined the group and a few of them have spanked at the group. I am reporting the issue to the centre organizer as I do not want my son to witness negative discipline and it makes me feel icky, especially when we pay to attend.

If it was just an unorganized mommy meeting I may just stop going or I may say something. It would all depend on the mindset of the fellow moms and how well I knew the woman in question. If it was a one off bad day event it isn't a reason to stop going or really say anything but if it is her parenting philosophy something would need to change (i.e asking that if she is going to use negative discipline that she not do it infront of the other children or finding a new group.
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Old 02-06-2010, 06:18 AM
 
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I'd find a new playgroup. I wouldn't want my kids around it and honestly, I think speaking up is only going to make it private, not stop it. (which is going to keep my kids from seeing it....but given the sheer number of people in the world I'm a firm believer that there would be another group of moms somwhere that I'd rather spend my time around.

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Old 02-06-2010, 10:42 AM
 
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I'm not as offended by parents spanking (mostly because of the culture that I grew up in), but I do think it is completely inappropriate to spank children at a playgroup. Especially if that parent is fully aware that there are other parents at the group who are against it, and would not want there children witnessing it.

If it makes you so uncomfortable and your goal is to shelter your child from all violence, then I would find a new playgroup, or talk to the other moms and see if they agree that any spanking should be done out of sight of other parents and children. If you're in a mixed playgroup, I don't think it is right to interfere with how another parent chooses to discipline their kid, but it's also not right to subject other families to that behavior against their will.

For me personally, I don't plan to shelter my kids from everyday injustices, because I think it's better to explain to them that not all parents and children are the same, and they don't all get treated the same way. I won't be able to get my cousins to stop spanking, but I can explain their behavior to my kids (as age permits), and tell them why I choose a different path.
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Old 02-06-2010, 11:04 AM
 
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The way I see it, you have two options. Avoid the situation entirely, or confront the parent. Staying silent (or just talking to your child about how you don't agree with spanking) models that the appropriate thing to do when you witness someone vulnerable being hurt by someone who is stronger and bigger than they are is to mind your own business.

The only time I've run into this was while having dinner with family (thankfully my kids weren't around right then). We didn't visit there anymore for awhile (they were welcome to come to our house, where I have no problem enforcing a 'no hitting' rule), and they eventually decided not to spank anymore. A playgroup is a bit trickier, I think.
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Old 02-06-2010, 12:09 PM
 
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You could try ACE'ing them- Acknowledge (Gosh good things these kids are cute huh), Compliment (your little boy/girl sure is cute and what a personality s/he has), and Educate (You know I used to spank but found I was spanking over and over for the same stuff and it was never getting any better. So, I went to the library and tried - insert whatever book you want - and really things are going so much better.)

Leaving is easier, but sometimes people don't know any other way to do something and if you frame it right you can help a child and his Mom!!
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Old 02-06-2010, 01:48 PM
 
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You could try ACE'ing them- Acknowledge (Gosh good things these kids are cute huh), Compliment (your little boy/girl sure is cute and what a personality s/he has), and Educate (You know I used to spank but found I was spanking over and over for the same stuff and it was never getting any better. So, I went to the library and tried - insert whatever book you want - and really things are going so much better.)

Leaving is easier, but sometimes people don't know any other way to do something and if you frame it right you can help a child and his Mom!!
That! Our neighbors, very caring and loving parents, use to spank their daughter. One day, my son was acting up in front of the step mother. He was ignoring me and refusing to stop jumping neat the dog (small delicate dog). I called him over and had him sit next to me in a chair until he was ready to listen.

We call it "time to calm down" not a time out. I told him to take 10 deep breaths and then we talk about what he was doing. She was surprised I didn't spank him. We started talking about why I didn't spank or use more punitive methods of discipline. Since my son has severe ADHD, but is fairly well behaved, she thought there might be some validity to what I said. She borrowed some books and we talked about different ways to parent. They no longer spank or threaten her with spanking. She is a much happier kid and they are much happier parents.

Also DS's CP, when he was small, use to spank her kids occasionally. She was never negative with my son, she was very loving and firm. She was also the only person, outside of DH and I, that my son talked to. He had a severe speech delay.

Even though, we had very different child rearing ideas, she was a great childcare provider. She never spanked her kids in front or around my son. She eventually stopped, she uses a more positive form discipline. My son loves her and her kids, she still watches him five years later. She was really the first person he was able to connect with outside of our family. She's actually the first person he called by name.
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Old 02-06-2010, 02:20 PM
 
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It would depend on the type of day I was having. I would either ask the mom to hit her kid in private because the crying spoils the happy atmosphere or I would leave immediately if I was to drained for a confrontation. I think that it would be a good idea for you tobring the subject of hitting in front of other people up with either the leader or the whole group and just say that you would like to suggest that when people feel the need to spank or yell at their kids that they do it in private so it doesn't spoil the happy and peaceful atmosphere.
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Old 02-06-2010, 02:50 PM
 
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You could try ACE'ing them- Acknowledge (Gosh good things these kids are cute huh), Compliment (your little boy/girl sure is cute and what a personality s/he has), and Educate (You know I used to spank but found I was spanking over and over for the same stuff and it was never getting any better. So, I went to the library and tried - insert whatever book you want - and really things are going so much better.)

Leaving is easier, but sometimes people don't know any other way to do something and if you frame it right you can help a child and his Mom!!
This.

I might also wait for an opportunity to talk (in a VERY relaxed manner) to the child once mom calms down (assuming of course she doesn't mind a relaxed chat with her kid). If the child were near us for example or came to say hi to me as I was talking to it's mother. Sometimes a mother who's too angry to talk, will welcome your help, and she might even learn something. Especially since this happened in a playgroup where a bunch of children play together or a daily or weekly basis.

Unfortunately, people spank. And some do it in public. Finding another playgroup won't stop your child from possibly seeing this from another parent doing spanking a different child.
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Old 02-06-2010, 03:06 PM
 
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If you want to be in the playgroup, I would call the mom and make it about you.

You don't want your daughter to see her spank her son because you don't think your daughter is able to understand that action the way an adult will. (And this is a while lie while also being completely truthful, that is to say, of course your daughter doesn't have an understanding of the cultural and historical background of corporal punishment, etc.) You're afraid she'll start smacking her little friends. Or you are just getting over a problem with her smacking people. Or she's been smacked by one of her little friends on playdates lately and you're afraid she'll pick it up. WHATEVER. Would she mind not doing that at playdates any more? You really hate to ask but ... Make it like when you ask someone not to bring peanut traces to playgroup. You really feel bad about the inconvenience but would she mind.

She probably will say yes and there you go. And you're not attacking her, yet she will know that you don't spank. Maybe she doesn't know anyone who doesn't spank? Maybe it will open a dialog? Maybe she doesn't know what else to do? But wait for her to come to you.

I know hindsight is 20-20 but you might have pulled her aside at threat #1 and said "Oh please don't do that, would you please not, my daughter will start crying" or another social lie like that.
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Old 02-06-2010, 05:05 PM
 
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I agree on both parts. I grew up spanked, as did my cousins and friends. I chose not to go down that road. Partly because I don't like it and partly because I'd be afraid of spanking out of anger.

The problem is, you can not shelter spanking 100%. BUT pulling a child's pants down and spanking repeatedly?? I think this parent took it way over the top. Scares me what would happen if the child ran into a road or did something over the top. The parent was spanking out of some extreme anger... and that is scary

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Originally Posted by TaoLele View Post
I'm not as offended by parents spanking (mostly because of the culture that I grew up in), but I do think it is completely inappropriate to spank children at a playgroup.

For me personally, I don't plan to shelter my kids from everyday injustices, because I think it's better to explain to them that not all parents and children are the same, and they don't all get treated the same way. I won't be able to get my cousins to stop spanking, but I can explain their behavior to my kids (as age permits), and tell them why I choose a different path.
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