Ex using push-ups for punishment? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 18 Old 01-23-2011, 09:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I didn't know if this should be posted here or under blended families. Feel free to move mods if need be!

 

For the most part my ex and I have an amicable relationship.  We agree on lots of things, which I am so thankful for.  I have found out that he is making our DS (5) do push-ups for punishment (each "offense" has a number of push-ups tied to it, and if they aren't done than they go up).  I am not comfortable with this.  This feels punative and militant to me.  My ex is in the military.  He sees our son twice a month, for two nights each time.  I have given him countless books and I know we aren't the same people and we won't parent the exact same, but any suggestions on how to educate my ex about GD?  I have expressed that I do not want this to continue and have suggested books like Playful Parenting, How To Talk so kids will Listen, Connection Parenting.  But he won't read books, he won't take any classes, or read articles so I am at a loss here.  Any ideas?  I just don't know what to do.  My ex's viewpoint is "well, it WORKS".  My DS' viewpoint is "I just get through them so the number doesn't go up".  I guess this strikes a big chord with me as I grew up in a very very miltant household that used any and all forms of corporal punishment and I just don't even want a hint of that style for DS.  greensad.gif  


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#2 of 18 Old 01-23-2011, 10:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I was mulling it over some more and I am going to see if he will agree to a book club kind of scenario.  So both families read over the same book over a few months time and talk about things and implement them, etc.  So this way it is less about HIS parenting and more about working together to make both homes as healthy as they can be for everyone.  This may work to get everyone on the same page.  Would you start with Playful Parenting or Connection Parenting?  I am leaning towards Connection Parenting to start off with. Or is there another book or resource that I haven't heard of that is super awesome???


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#3 of 18 Old 01-23-2011, 10:54 PM
 
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That's such a good idea. If you guys communicate pretty well, talking about a book rather than each others' styles or specific situations could bring up questions and opinions that you didn't even consider. This is a good idea for all parents. Why not present him with a few books and let him choose between them?


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#4 of 18 Old 01-23-2011, 11:12 PM
 
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I also agree that the book club is a good idea. I would suggest, however, that your XH also be allowed to place his choice of materials in the "pot" for selection, as it were. Not that I agree with what XH is doing at all in this scenario, but I can see his point of view that his style of parenting is being disenfranchised, and so, his desire for power in the situation only increases. If he can find a book that embraces his beliefs, and you read it with him, you show respect for other modes of thought, AND have an opportunity to logically disagree with those tenets presented in the book rather than disagreeing with him personally. Therefore strengthening your own position and providing incentive for him to read your book choice, since you read his and discussed (read: refuted it) it with him .

 

I guess what I'm saying is hit his philosophy from both sides; convince that yours is right but also convince that his practices are truly damaging. Without attacking his practices personally.


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#5 of 18 Old 01-24-2011, 02:39 AM
 
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I'm sorry your DS is having to experience this! It sounds absolutely awful.

 

Since your ex is in the military he probably would like his son to be physically healthy and have a positive attitude to staying fit. I would think that using physical exercises as a punishment would be a good way to give your DS averse feelings towards them. (It is not the same as when they use this kind of discipline in the military - there the person who undergoes the discipline is an adult who has chosen to be there, and chosen the conditions that apply there.)

 

Do you think that kind of reasoning might work with him?

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#6 of 18 Old 01-24-2011, 08:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by MovnMama View Post

 

 

I guess what I'm saying is hit his philosophy from both sides; convince that yours is right but also convince that his practices are truly damaging. Without attacking his practices personally.



 I agree that we will get furthur if he can compare and come to the conclusion himself even (fx????).  It is just so hard because when I bring things like this up to him he deflects.  I have been bringing up books and classes for a while but he seems to get angry because he doesn't have time.  But he does have time, at least to read a chapter here and there.  I also bring up the fact that if we are joint parenting than this takes time and we have to make time for these discussions.  Sigh.  I am a little curious to see what books he may bring into it?



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I'm sorry your DS is having to experience this! It sounds absolutely awful.

 

Since your ex is in the military he probably would like his son to be physically healthy and have a positive attitude to staying fit. I would think that using physical exercises as a punishment would be a good way to give your DS averse feelings towards them. (It is not the same as when they use this kind of discipline in the military - there the person who undergoes the discipline is an adult who has chosen to be there, and chosen the conditions that apply there.)

 

Do you think that kind of reasoning might work with him?



 Perhaps.  He DOES want DS to have a love for outdoor physical activity (rock climbing, hiking). 


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#7 of 18 Old 01-24-2011, 08:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by citymagnolia View Post

That's such a good idea. If you guys communicate pretty well, talking about a book rather than each others' styles or specific situations could bring up questions and opinions that you didn't even consider. This is a good idea for all parents. Why not present him with a few books and let him choose between them?


I think this is great because he can take some ownership in it as well.  Like I said above, I am curious to see if he would bring any books himself, but I honestly do not think so.  He hasn't read or researched anything or talked to anyone so he doesn't have a core solid belief on discipline, just doing what those around him suggest.
 

But the thing that I don't get is that we GD'd when we were together when DS was very young...co-slept, agreed to no spanking, no punative punishments, etc. 

 



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 (It is not the same as when they use this kind of discipline in the military - there the person who undergoes the discipline is an adult who has chosen to be there, and chosen the conditions that apply there.)

 

 


I brought this up to him before because he called and was saying "DS WON"T DO PUSH-UPS!"  I was trying to get him to see that obviously Ds thinks the push-ups are not related and therefore he cannot respect that consequence.  He said that Ds needs to have consequences in life, that everyone has consequences.  I replied that push-ups are NEVER a natural consequence unless (like you said) one chooses to be in the military.   
 

 



 

 

 

 Thank you all fo taking the time to read and reply.  I do have a few books in mind.  He is in a big city so if there was to be a GD class offered this would probably have one.  I may get him to take one if I word it just right.  Have you heard of any GD classes? 


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#8 of 18 Old 01-24-2011, 08:21 AM
 
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Well, I guess it depends. I am not so sure this is a bad punishment. He is not hitting the child. I give extra chores. I mean, if he is saying 50 push ups and then stands there with his foot on the child's rear shoving him down, it would definitely be wrong. But if he says 5 push ups, and they can be a typical 5 yr old push up, then I see little harm. It might be a good idea in fact. (assuming he is not over punishing also)

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#9 of 18 Old 01-24-2011, 08:32 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Lisa1970 View Post

Well, I guess it depends. I am not so sure this is a bad punishment. He is not hitting the child. I give extra chores. I mean, if he is saying 50 push ups and then stands there with his foot on the child's rear shoving him down, it would definitely be wrong. But if he says 5 push ups, and they can be a typical 5 yr old push up, then I see little harm. It might be a good idea in fact. (assuming he is not over punishing also)


 

I agree. What is wrong with a push up?  Its not physically painful.  The child may not want to do them, but would a child getting punished want to go into a time out?  My DH used this tactic while teaching a young childrens group (6-10 yr olds) at church.  If they were acting up / not listening / talking out of turn he made them do push ups.  They respected him, did the push ups and then behaved.  I dont think it will work forever though, eventually the child will be able to do push ups easily and it won't be a punishment anymore really. 
 


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#10 of 18 Old 01-24-2011, 08:43 AM
 
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I would ask your ex what is goals are with discipline and what he hopes to teach your son long term. Hopefully this will get him thinking about the wisdom of using physical exercise as punishment. That seems counter productive to instilling a love of fitness and health. I would ask him what he hopes to do at ages 10, 15, etc. Does he think push ups are going to work if your son tries drugs or gets bad grades? In other words, he needs to think about the limitations of effectively connecting with his son and being able to guide him through discipline challenges. You have to lay the groundwork now. I have a 14 year old, I know.


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#11 of 18 Old 01-24-2011, 11:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisa1970 View Post

Well, I guess it depends. I am not so sure this is a bad punishment. He is not hitting the child. I give extra chores. I mean, if he is saying 50 push ups and then stands there with his foot on the child's rear shoving him down, it would definitely be wrong. But if he says 5 push ups, and they can be a typical 5 yr old push up, then I see little harm. It might be a good idea in fact. (assuming he is not over punishing also)


 

I agree. What is wrong with a push up?  Its not physically painful.  The child may not want to do them, but would a child getting punished want to go into a time out?  My DH used this tactic while teaching a young childrens group (6-10 yr olds) at church.  If they were acting up / not listening / talking out of turn he made them do push ups.  They respected him, did the push ups and then behaved.  I dont think it will work forever though, eventually the child will be able to do push ups easily and it won't be a punishment anymore really. 
 


Well, to me it just goes against what I am trying to teach my children:  that they are humans worthy of respect.  Making him do something physical against his will shows him that he can be lorded over because adults are...bigger?  It just doesn't sit right with me.  And the push-ups have nothing to do with the actions.  I believe that if a child is "acting up" it usually is a problem with connection, there is a root. Now, I am not saying that is always the case, as in the instance with GreenLea DH using it in a group setting, obviously the children were just excited and feeding off of each other's energy, and a quick fix was all that was needed. But in a parenting scenario forcing aything that is physical doesn't do anything for the long term but send mixed messages IMO.  It is a band aid fix that just works for short term.  My father was military and implemented militant punishment.  It only drove us (my brothers and I)away from our parents and gave us a childhood to heal from, not to grow on.

 

Even with small amount push-ups what is the point?  I don't want DS to feel he HAS to carry out ridiculous things for ANY adult, including myself. 

 



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I would ask your ex what is goals are with discipline and what he hopes to teach your son long term. Hopefully this will get him thinking about the wisdom of using physical exercise as punishment. That seems counter productive to instilling a love of fitness and health. I would ask him what he hopes to do at ages 10, 15, etc. Does he think push ups are going to work if your son tries drugs or gets bad grades? In other words, he needs to think about the limitations of effectively connecting with his son and being able to guide him through discipline challenges. You have to lay the groundwork now. I have a 14 year old, I know.


I like the idea of trying to get him to think of the future.  Thank you for the ideas of some thought-provoking questions!

 

 


 


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#12 of 18 Old 01-24-2011, 12:38 PM
 
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I'd recommend starting a book that's actually a bit more of a bridge between GD and mainstream parenting. One book that I like a lot but that is a good 'starter' GD book is: The Secret of Parenting by Anthony Wolfe. Your ex might like the subtitle: How to Be in Charge of Today's Kids--from Toddlers to Preteens--Without Threats or Punishment. It's GD, but very concrete. Connection Parenting and Playful Parenting are more theory, even though I like them both. There are other books out there that might fit the bill.

 

It might help your discussion to separate out the issue of 'discipline' from the issue of 'bonding' with your child. WE know that they're related, but many people need to brought around to this idea. So, if you can work on the idea that you can discipline your child without threats and punishments, THEN you can point out that it'll improve their relationship too. Many parents are very very afraid of having a child who's out of control. If you can calm that fear, you can get further.


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#13 of 18 Old 01-24-2011, 12:40 PM
 
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Making a 5 year old concerns me and I would think it would concern CPS as well. Acceptance of punishments have given way to teaching children to develop an internal sense of discipline for good reason. Punishment does not work.

 

"Punishment does not change in any manner whatsoever the underlying thought processes that produced the unacceptable behavior originally. The "badness" has merely gone underground. " http://www.naturalchild.org/sidney_craig/punishment.html

 

Jojobean if you are able to get your ex to agree to a "book club" If I were you I would consider myself very lucky. Hopefully something he reads in one the the books you suggest will result in an Ah Ha moment from him. In my case my ex wouldn't even take the time to read a short one to two page article or view a video. Never mind consider what the person was trying to get across. The reason was always "I don't have the time" I gave up and continued parenting my daughter gently and hope I am teaching her the skills to communicate effectively with her father.  Sometimes that is all we can do as mothers.

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It seems a little draconian to me...Along the same lines as the pp who suggested asking him what he would do in the future, really the reason I wouldn't try that method is because it sets you up for the ultimate power struggle.  Someday, DS might just refuse, and then what?  At least with a time out (which I don't use either), you can keep putting the kid back if they get up and eventually they'll give up.  You can't force a kid to do a push up.  I generally try to avoid power struggles, and if I do get into one, I make sure I can win :)


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#15 of 18 Old 01-24-2011, 01:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Making a 5 year old concerns me and I would think it would concern CPS as well. Acceptance of punishments have given way to teaching children to develop an internal sense of discipline for good reason. Punishment does not work.

 

"Punishment does not change in any manner whatsoever the underlying thought processes that produced the unacceptable behavior originally. The "badness" has merely gone underground. " http://www.naturalchild.org/sidney_craig/punishment.html

 

Jojobean if you are able to get your ex to agree to a "book club" If I were you I would consider myself very lucky. Hopefully something he reads in one the the books you suggest will result in an Ah Ha moment from him. In my case my ex wouldn't even take the time to read a short one to two page article or view a video. Never mind consider what the person was trying to get across. The reason was always "I don't have the time" I gave up and continued parenting my daughter gently and hope I am teaching her the skills to communicate effectively with her father.  Sometimes that is all we can do as mothers.


I get the same answers usually "not enough time" which is so frustrating.  I am hoping by involving everyone that (me, DP, XH and his fiance who I actually like a lot) it will bring us to a point where we can have conversations?  Sigh.  Have no idea if it will work.  HUGS for you mama.  Your daughter is lucky to have an aware mama like you.  And thank you for the great quote up there, it is sooooo true!
 

 



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It seems a little draconian to me...Along the same lines as the pp who suggested asking him what he would do in the future, really the reason I wouldn't try that method is because it sets you up for the ultimate power struggle.  Someday, DS might just refuse, and then what?  At least with a time out (which I don't use either), you can keep putting the kid back if they get up and eventually they'll give up.  You can't force a kid to do a push up.  I generally try to avoid power struggles, and if I do get into one, I make sure I can win :)


I have given this thought too...where does he go from here?  What does he do when DS refuses, which he will?
 

 



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It might help your discussion to separate out the issue of 'discipline' from the issue of 'bonding' with your child. WE know that they're related, but many people need to brought around to this idea. So, if you can work on the idea that you can discipline your child without threats and punishments, THEN you can point out that it'll improve their relationship too. Many parents are very very afraid of having a child who's out of control. If you can calm that fear, you can get further.


That is a good point.  I will see if our library has that book.

 

 

Thank you all for your responses, they have given me a lot to think about.
 


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#16 of 18 Old 01-26-2011, 06:46 PM
 
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Have you looked into DVDs?? I know that my DH would not read a book, but I did get him to sit down and watch a few parenting DVDs.  We had the Alfie Kohn one... 1-2-3 Magic (I know...I know... but it was a big improvement for him)... and Alan Kazdin's.  There are a bunch of NVC parenting lectures on YouTube too. :)

 


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#17 of 18 Old 01-26-2011, 07:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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YOUTUBE!  I cannot believe that I didn't think about that! I think that might actually work, I could watch it first and then send it to him....

 

So far the dialogue between us all has been...weird, the past few days.  Hopefully things will normalize a bit and we can move forward, hopefully before DS goes over there next weekend.  I think I may even start with the youtube idea first, send him a link over the weekend or something.


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#18 of 18 Old 03-01-2011, 04:23 PM
 
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Wow! I searched for info. about this topic and am so glad I stumbled upon this discussion. I could have written the first post myself.  My two boys visit their father who lives on the opposite coast just a few times each year.  They just returned from a week's visit and told me that if they left the toilet seat up, or "dribbled" on the toilet seat he made them do push-ups or sit-ups.  I was floored-  These are two very well-behaved 8 and 10 year old boys who have had to handle a lot in their lives (divorce, cross-country move, etc).  I have always been concerned about ex's ability to handle situations with the boys that aren't perfect- so far he's been very lucky and hasn't ever had to deal with "discipline" issues.  Wouldn't you know, he's ALSO in the military.  Not only does this go against EVERYTHING I've worked for as a parent (logical consequences, developing responsibility for actions, etc.) it makes me worry about what his reaction would be if there was truly a moment of 'bad" behavior from the boys.

 

Another piece of this that is disturbing is that my 8 year old has weak muscle-tone, and has had both PT and OT services when he was younger.  Does this particular piece seem to make this physical punishment even more disturbing?

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