How to respond to DS when he sees a cousin being spanked - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 09-06-2012, 12:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We will be going a week long beach trip with my in-laws in two weeks.  We had a picnic with the same in-laws this weekend where DS's 2 year old cousin was spanked for not sitting down on her chair.  DS observed it (everyone did) but did not comment on it and I didn't say anything either.  It was a very quick event.  Cousin/niece was not sitting down.  my SIL told her to sit down, and the next thing I knew SIL was out of her chair spanking the girl saying "Sit down!" with gritted teeth.  The girl seemed completely unfazed by the spanking and just got down from the chair and walked away.  They were sitting at a separate table and there was alot going on but I looked over at DS who was sitting next to me and he was observing what happened. 

 

My concern is that since we will be sharing a beach house with SIL/BIL/Niece and MIL/FIL for a week, I'm sure that spanking will occur again.  How can I explain to DS that we don't spank without putting SIL on the defensive?  Should I address it ahead of time without DS bringing it up?  I usually wait until he comes to me with a question or concern about something before I address it.   That way, I can read his state of mind about it from how and when he asks about it. 

 

My instinct is to say, "In our family, we don't hit people for any reason.  Hands are for hugs and high-fives.  We are gentle with the people that we love."  Is that sufficient?  I'm sure that if I say this around SIL, she will get defensive and try to start an argument about it. 

 

I want to be clear about not hitting because DS has started trying to hit me when he's angry or frustrated that I'm setting limits or saying no.  Whenever he tries (or succeeds because he's fast), I say "gentle hands, we don't hit people that we love.  If you can't use gentle hands, you may go to your room".  This usually works because he hates to be alone.

 

Thoughts and advice? 


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#2 of 14 Old 09-06-2012, 03:49 PM
 
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Personally, I would wait until he had questions and answer them then.  What you have planned to say sounds fine ("In our family... hands are for hugging and high fives...") although I would be cautious of implying that those who spank don't love their children.  That could spill over inadvertently into SIL/BIL don't love Niece.  That would really ruin the vacation, and probably your relationship. 


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#3 of 14 Old 09-07-2012, 05:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the input, Kchara.  That's my concern...that anything I say will seem like an indictment of their parenting.  Granted, I don't agree with it, but I don't want to ruin the vacation by making a big issue out of it. 


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#4 of 14 Old 09-07-2012, 06:20 PM
 
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I think you'll be OK if you stay away from the last part - you can just say things like, "We don't do that in our house." and leave off the "people we love" part, you know? If he asks why you don't do it you can say that you don't think it's  a good idea, or that you use other ways, and again leave off "because we love you" or "because it's not right to hit someone you love (which I know is true, but then could lead to the awkwardness you're trying to avoid).  I would just be matter of fact, that you don't do that, he doesn't need to worry about you doing that, and you're sorry if it upsets him and it upsets you too but different people do things differently, and if he finds it upsetting I would just leave the room with him without making a flounce about it.  Saying you don't do it and don't agree with it, without the added evaluations about love or gentleness (again, as true as they might be), will suffice to explain to him, without wrecking the vacation. 

 

I have found the "I don't agree with what they're doing, but different people do things differently" works very well to show the kids when I don't approve of things, but want to stay away from the sticky judgmental-ness than can come with giving opinions on issues like this. 


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#5 of 14 Old 09-07-2012, 06:21 PM
 
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And I'll just add UGH to have to be around that during a vacation - doesn't sound very vacation-y to me.  Bleh.


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#6 of 14 Old 09-10-2012, 11:57 PM
 
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"My concern is that since we will be sharing a beach house with SIL/BIL/Niece and MIL/FIL for a week, I'm sure that spanking will occur again."

 

That sounds like it could get stressful.


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#7 of 14 Old 09-11-2012, 12:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It will be.  I have such a hard time accepting our parenting differences.  I know that people are raised in a myriad of different ways and most people come out ok in the end.  But it's really hard to see the extreme differences between DS and his cousin and not want to chalk it up to parenting.  My in-laws as a general group drive me batty.  To have to deal with the normal craziness on top of what I consider bad parenting decisions....bleh!  And to make it more stressful, I have to leave in the middle of the week with the nursling to go home because my work won't let me be gone an entire week when I was just off for 3 months.  So DH will be there with DS alone.  I trust DH to uphold our parenting choices, of course.  But I don't know how far out on a limb he'll go defending our choices to DS if I'm not there to be a second voice.


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#8 of 14 Old 09-14-2012, 05:50 PM
 
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I would come out and say I don't feel comfortable with them hitting their child in front of me or my son. That simple. If they do not oblige, I would not stay with the
I wouldn't give a chance for my values in my family to be corrupted.

Much like I wouldn't allow a husband (or wife) to hit their spouse in front of me or my child.

Sometimes that's the road you have to take as a mother.
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#9 of 14 Old 09-19-2012, 06:07 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kchara View Post

Personally, I would wait until he had questions and answer them then.  What you have planned to say sounds fine ("In our family... hands are for hugging and high fives...") although I would be cautious of implying that those who spank don't love their children.  That could spill over inadvertently into SIL/BIL don't love Niece.  That would really ruin the vacation, and probably your relationship. 

 

This is what I have done when in this situation in our extended family. The in-laws we were dealing with feel as strongly about their approach to discipline as we do about gentle discipline. I just didn't want to open that degree of conflict in a small space with lots of children around. I explained to our children that different families do things differently and that sometimes we agree and sometimes we disagree and I try to do what I believe is best in our family. 

 

It is hard when this comes up, there is no way around that.

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#10 of 14 Old 09-21-2012, 01:34 PM
 
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I think I would avoid the "people we love" part in general since you don't want him to think its OK to hit people he don't love.   When its my house I will say "this is a no-hitting house" to anyone who seems heading toward spanking.  In your situation, can you all agree to hand discipline of all children in private?  Surely they realize there are differences between you and them, and they may want to avoid the corresponding question from their child ("How come I get spanked and cousin doesn't?").  "We do things differently" or "Every family is different' ends up being a necessary phrase in lots of situations with parenting in a community -- I've needed it for discipline, media choices, clothing choices etc.  Might was well start now.

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#11 of 14 Old 09-21-2012, 08:06 PM
 
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My daughter didn't get spanked.  But, both of her cousins were spanked often.  I am one who doesn't think spanking is abuse, and i'm fine with it for others.  But, sometimes, this went beyond a spanking, and into abuse.  I guess extreme anger was the right word.  My SIL would almost "snap" and it was scary to all of us.  

 

Anyway, my daughter always knew that it was different in cousin's house, and that It just wasn't what WE do.  I don't think we ever discussed it much, she just could tell.  Partially because kids are pretty good at picking up our feelings, and she could sense that  I was not comfortable seeing it.  

 

If I HAD needed to discuss it, I would  have done it in private with her.  But, I was more concerned with my daughter telling her cousins what I thought.   She was their Mom, and the only Mom they would ever have, want or need, and I was not going to insinuate that she wasn't a good mom.  I never wanted my daughter to feel like I thought I was the better parent.    Her cousin's feelings were very important to me.  I was willing to sacrifice a little confusion on my daughter's part to spare my niece and nephew's feelings.  (I grew up being told my Aunt V was a trampy idiot, and 45 yrs later, I still think that about her...and it's not really that true...she didn't deserve to be talked about that way by my parents...but, I still can't shake the image)

 

Children aren't oblivious to spankings.  Most have some exposure to it at some point, and they know pretty young that you aren't going to spank, so I don't think you have to worry about his fears, as long as nobody is threatening him.

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#12 of 14 Old 09-26-2012, 02:48 PM
 
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Sigh. I guess wait until you get questions and answer as you suggested. I don't think I could vacation with parents who spanked routinely for some infractions. My sister and BIL spank their kids but it is really rare and always done in private and for big, big transgressions.  

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#13 of 14 Old 09-27-2012, 01:09 PM
 
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We're the first with kids in the family, so DD is alone for the moment and won't have family exposure to spanking, BUT, we have friends that she does spend a lot off time with (their youngest is our goddaughter), and holy moly do they spank!  I grew up being spanked, I studied psych/behavior in college, I train dogs for a living using positive reinforcement - I know that any compliance I had for my parents was out of fear, and I don't want that for my kids.  DH was belted, and he's got some temper issues so I definitely do not want to go down that road with him bc he needs to learn to control his own temper to lead by example.  Anywho, DD is only 10mos so she's still in the redirect phase, but our friends who spank have 4 chidren who are deathly terrified of them and they are PROUD to tell people that!  The oldest boy, 10, wanted to ride his bike down the street to a friends - just for asking he got a stern lecture and warning about wht would happen if he didn't return promptly and threats of spanking and going to his room.  Poor kid just asked a question.  I alwasy feel incredibly awkward when they punish their kids bc it's never a quick swat, their mom is super intense yelling and grabbing and she hits hard.  So I'm sure there will be a time where my daughter asks about them spanking and I'll have to explain.  Currently I'm working on a speach for the IL's and my own parents about why we will not be spanking our kids and expect them to follow our rule as well....

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#14 of 14 Old 09-27-2012, 06:52 PM
 
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"Everyone's different, and every family has different rules and different ways of going about things."

 

I would say something like that, if asked.


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