I met another crunchy mom who lives near me a few weeks ago. We live in a NOT crunchy area, so to find another mom who is in to some of the same things was great. We have been meeting in public places like the park for the kids to play, and we talk, and we are starting to get to know eachother a little bit. The other day we ran into eachother at the store, talked a little bit, and my 3 year old was acting cranky. I mentioned that my 3yr old had a really short nap that day because she had a hard time falling asleep. She replied "Oh yeah I really had to beat my older 2 kids today, they kept screwing around and wouldnt go to sleep! I even got out the spoon and beat them with that!" (her kids are 2 and 3.5yrs old btw)
I kept waiting for her to laugh and say "just kidding!" but she didnt, I was so shocked once I realized she was serious, my mouth was literally hanging open and I could not come up with a single thing to say, I was just blown away! She saw my shock, and said "Oh, Yeah, we believe in spanking!" My mouth hung open for a bit more, then I managed to get out "Uhh we don't", and then I just grabbed my daughter and we walked away and I havent talked to her since! I just dont even know what to say to her! She actually acted PROUD that she spanked her little kids with a spoon! I am literally still in disbelief that another mom who seemed so cool and "alternative" could be proud of something like this.
So, I would like to know, what is a somewhat quick thing that I could have said back to her that would have maybe made her think, or understand, or.... SOMETHING, I just need some outside perspective I think. And, if we do see eachother again, should I just not mention what happened? Or do I bring it up? I'm not sure I even wish to continue our friendship.... :/
Well, what you would say would really depend on what your goal would be... kwim? Are you looking to shock her? Educate her? Maintain the relationship? (clearly this wasn't an issue for you it sounds like)
Keep in mind that the spectrum of crunchiness encompasses a BROAD variety of things and some people pick up on some of those topics and run where they're completely under (or un) exposed to others. Case in point: I'm heavy on food, gardening, breastfeeding, cding and homeschooling. Ask me about politics or environmentalism and I'm completely lost. Seriously. They just don't register with me. I'm sure there are others.
When you consider that so many people were raised being spanked or beaten and turning out to be (what they consider) good, law-abiding citizens and may never have seen GD (vs. permissive parenting)--it's not hard to believe that some people just really DON'T know alternatives. It's not like the media has presented it. It's not brought up an awful lot.
If you feel like it's a relationship worth salvaging because you connected on so many other points and you're that isolated from "like minded" people, then next time you see her, I would say "Hey--I'm sorry I flaked out like that last time we were together. I was just really, really stunned by your perspective on spanking. For me, it's really a violent thing to do to a child," and see how she responds. If the goal is to preserve the relationship and hopefully educate her, tread carefully. I advised a client once to "treat everyone like someone else's 2yo" and I think that's kind of the way you'd want to handle this. You want to be gentle with her feelings. You want to help her to understand what you're saying and feeling. You want to understand what she feels and needs.
And be ready with a book recommendation for her. Or a website link (I need one to hand out if anyone has one). Something that really speaks to transformation that might help her understand where you're coming from and how she could help her kids in a way that doesn't make her feel like a criminal for simply not knowing.
Heather - Wife , Mommy & Health & Wellness Educator, Speaker & Consultant
Let me guide you to find the food and lifestyle choices that fit your family...
Thanks that is good advice! You know, I dont have any website links (besides mothering) or books to share, I've honestly never read much at all about GD, I just dont believe in spanking.... I could use some help myself with discipline sometimes, or maybe self control, because I tend to start screaming when I get really stressed (and then feel like an idiot and a jerk 5 minutes later). I am by no means perfect, but how this girl talked, I knew she was proud to be a spanking parent.... Maybe she hasnt been told about GD, IDK, but jeez it just seems so obvious to me, and especially how far she is taking it, to actually tell me that she BEAT a child with a spoon that is that young??!
Maybe thats part of my problem- I've read litte pieces of info here and there about spanking being damaging emotionally to the child, but I couldnt tell you any info or specifics if asked, I just think its wrong, so I couldnt educate her if I wanted to! I guess that's why I asked, I didnt know if the educated/informed mama's would have a smart response as to the damage she is doing or what. I think what you said for next time I see her is a good response. Do you have any comments for what could have been said in the moment?
She and I did have some things in common, but we didnt click so well that I would ever be her best friend. In fact I thought she was a little judgemental of me and my beliefs that differed from her own. I never really cared about our differences that much until this spanking thing.
Sorry everyone, I'm thinking "aloud", or rather typing what I'm thinking :) I know some of this doesnt relate to my original post. Thanks again :)
Well it does relate to your OP in that it says a lot about how much you'd want to vest into the friendship.
I think if it were me (admittedly a convert to GD) I would ask "What else have you actually TRIED to help your kids behave" and if she says "I've tried everything" I would ask "Like what?" and then probe deeper into where she got her information to help her (since it would obviously be a change from what was modeled for her) and go on from there.
It's really a monumental mental shift for someone who fully believes in spanking to move to feeling that it's harmful. For some parents, they're too wrapped up in their own stuff to really get there. Spanking their kids is quick and easy, it was done to them and they're okay so they assume that any backlash in behavior is just part of how it works. For other parents, they see the pain in their kids and don't WANT to spank but aren't really equipped with the tools to do something else--and to be honest, I don't find the majority of parenting books to be great at educating a parent on GD in a tactical, hands-on way in addition to supporting a parent to understand the child's behaviors and where they're coming from. The Positive Discipline series is the one I refer out to a lot but even that doesn't go into a child's mental state. It DOES at least give some hands-on tactical techniques on managing behaviors without hitting a kid but it's not giving the parent a lot of education/guidance on identifying their own mental state in the process (since avoiding spanking means having a handle on your own emotions, and control issues). Maybe someone here has a good book reference because to be fair, I haven't read the majority, I'm sure. And frankly, most of the books I've read--I've read maybe the first few chapters and finally gave up knowing they were so NOT going helping me and my kid. The good ones, I get a chapter in and already have things that I can incorporate and see change...kwim?
"Well, did it work???" jk
I was spanked as a child, and my parents were spanked when they were children. When I have asked my family about it they try and justify it, kind of indignantly but mostly guiltily. (As in, 'I was so caught up in the moment, I didn't even have time to think. Then afterwards I felt horrible'") I don't know what I would have done or how I would have felt if they seemed at all proud about spanking. To be honest, I was incensed to find out that my family has a history of hitting each other- one generation to the next, and so on.
Heatherdeg your advice is very sensible and takes both perspectives into account, that is commendable. I probably would have done the same as OP and never looked back! But there could be something shared and maybe even something learned if approached delicately, as suggested. Maybe ask the mama if she gets enough time away from the kiddos to engage in activities for herself. Maybe she doesn't have enough support and is constantly overwhelmed.
I really liked the book 'How To Talk So Your Kids Will Listen". My DS is only 2 1/2yo, but I try a lot of the techniques. Even when I feel like it isn't helping him, I think it helps me to not take things so personally and stay more even keeled. That is the only reference I can think of ...
I've been in your shoes. My son's friend's father hits her as a form of discipline. I told him I don't believe in using violence in the guise of discipline with kids. He just rolled his eyes at me. I haven't cut him off but have severely limited my interactions. Yesterday, we actually spent some time together - both families. I learned his wife doesn't believe in hitting but she's a bit of a mouse when it comes to standing up to her husband. We got onto the subject and I really had a heart to heart with him. She mentioned that their daughter will hit their father but not the Mom and it really bothers Dad. I told him that she's only doing what he has taught her. I get they both have medical issues (so does my husband and I) and I get that he has a short fuse but he needs to find a more effective way of parenting because now the daughter is starting to lie. I sent him a study that shows that kids who receive corporal punishment tend to lie a great deal more than children who don't. He thought it was bunk until I told him that our son tells on himself! With that my son walked up very upset because a kid was bothering him so he pushed him and then he felt bad. I excused myself to help facilitate an apology (my son has a speech delay). When I got back, Mom had an evil grin on and I could see the wheels were working in Dad's head. I told DH that it may be a good idea to spend a little more time with them so he could get some ideas on better parenting techniques (us and a few other families).
Maybe you can reach out to her and tell her you are sorry for your abrupt exit but that you were quite shocked that she hits her children - especially with a spoon. That you don't believe in using corporal punishment and why. That maybe, if she is open to it, can have a dialogue about why you and your partner have made the decision to use creative discipline and natural consequences (if you use them) and how it has worked for you.
"Maybe thats part of my problem- I've read litte pieces of info here and there about spanking being damaging emotionally to the child, but I couldnt tell you any info or specifics if asked, I just think its wrong, so I couldnt educate her if I wanted to! "
What stands out for me in what you have written is that it sounds like you are following your heart in regards to the way you are raising your child. If something doesn't feel right to you deep within, you don't want to do it. I have a 9 year old son, whom we have never spanked, and who I really enjoy hanging out with. What I found very helpful for me was coming across people / ideas/ books/ mothering etc. that seemed to resonate with what I believed in my heart. There are lots of things out there. I thought I would just name a couple of books and websites that I found quite helpful in affirming my own thoughts and feelings. You could look at these and see if anything resonates with you. Both books are fairly short reads, but full of love and respect for children. The first one is Jan Hunt (author of The Natural child) She has a wonderful website called http://www.naturalchild.org/ On the top there is an area that has "articles". These include her articles and articles by others. You may wish to click on some of these such as attachment parenting, or gentle guidance, etc. and explore. The other one was a book called Connection Parenting by Pam Leo. Her website says she has been ill and I have not heard much about her over the last few years. However her website also has some wonderful articles. Her website is http://connectionparenting.com/ Again if you feel inclined, check out the articles and see if there are any that speak to you. Both of these women were very helpful to me. I often find myself browsing through these types of websites for inspiration, ideas, benefits, the science etc. that help me affirm my own inner wisdom.