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Last night Christine knocked a glass off the table and it broke. All of the girls started crying immediately. I thought they were just scared because of the sound. Then both Christine and Hailey got up and started to pull their pants down. I just watched them. I didn't know what they were doing. They were both sobbing really hard and Amy was crying too but wouldn't look at me. I finally asked them what they were doing and Hailey told me that they were bad and to please do it. I asked her what she wanted me to do. She told me that she pulled her pants down so it would be faster. At this point I knew they expected me to hit them, but I wanted to talk about it since it came up. But they wouldn't talk to me and they wouldn't pull their pants back up. Hailey just kept saying to hit them so they could put their pants back on. I told her that I don't hit, and she was sobbing even harder. Finally I didn't know what else to do so I spanked them both. I didn't do it hard and I know it didn't hurt, but I couldn't think of anything else to do. Then Hailey told Christine she was done and she put her pants on and ran out of the room and Amy and Benny followed. Hailey just stood there with her pants down. I pulled them up for her, and turned her around to face me. She wouldn't look at me and told me that she still needed one more whipping. It was like the kid was in a trance and hitting her was the only way to break it. So I swatter her butt one more time and then she looked up at me.
In the past, if any of the kids acted out or made a mistake (because she certainly didn't break the glass on purpose), that child and all the kids older got hit. The youngest got it once, and then each older child got one more. So if Benny had a fit, Benny would get one smack, Amy would get two, Christine would get three, and Hailey would get four. Always with their pants down and with a paddle. I asked Hailey why the older kids got punished too, and she said because it's their job to make sure the babies behave.
I just wanted to cry. How can anyone think this is okay? Where did my sister go so horribly wrong?
I told Hailey that I wanted our house to be a no hitting house, and that meant for everyone. I won't hit them and I don't want them to hit each other. I said we will think about other ways to work on behavior that isn't good (I didn't say bad) and that all of us together can come up with ideas. I told her I loved her and didn't want to hurt her or make her cry. I then gave her a hug and called Christine in to help me clean up the glass. I told Christine that I know it was a mistake, and I want her to help me pick it up (I just had her hold the dustpan). I told her that this is a no hitting household and she's not going to get spanked for making a mistake.

I don't know if I totally screwed up or not. I know I shouldn't have hit them, I KNOW I shouldn't have. But I couldn't figure out any other way to get them to snap out of it. It was like they took leave of their bodies for a minute. Like they just pulled their pants down, checked out, and would be back when it was all over. I couldn't get them to look at me or to talk to me or say anything but to do it. And once I did swat them (it wasn't hard, I swear) it was like everything was okay again.
Is this normal? Were these kids abused? What ELSE do I need to look out for? And how do I establish no hitting when they clearly expect, even seem to want, to be hit?
 

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How confusing. Sit them all down and have a talk. Say that you are new at being a mom, but you know that you don't want to hit. Tell them that that is the LAST spanking they will ever get. Explain that you will not hit them again- NO MATTER WHAT. It will take awhile for them to believe you, but this might be a good opening to a dialog.

hang in there.

-Angela
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by KHalton
Is this normal? Were these kids abused? What ELSE do I need to look out for? And how do I establish no hitting when they clearly expect, even seem to want, to be hit?
I would say definitely these children have been abused. I would be FLOORED, like
if a child took down their pants and ASKED to be hit. That is NOT normal! I kind of understand wanting to get them to "snap out of it". DS has nightmares, and he's only 11 months old. We don't know why, but he will scream and scream and cry, and when we pick him up and hold him he is still asleep- he has no idea he's even being held. Sometimes the only way to wake him up is to try to get him to drink some cold water, which will make him cough if he's really worked up- then he wakes up and calms down. It sounds mean, but I can't just let him scream on and on- which he would do until someone helped him wake up.

I think the children need to be evaluated immediately by a professional. Asking to be hit is just NOT normal behavior, and the girls' reaction to a glass being broken was way over the top, IMO.
 

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I tihnk you did just fine. I think the way you handled it was very good. I have to get going somewhere. Take care of yourself.
 

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I'm so sorry that you're having to address such a painful and confusing situation as this.

The short and blunt answer to your question about whether or not these children have been abused is yes. They seem like they "want" to be spanked because that is how they have been taught is the proper response in order to address their feelings of guilt/shame about doing something wrong. Even if that something is not anything that most of us would consider to be a "bad" act. They feel like they cannot be forgiven for what they have done without the spanking.

Angela is right about the first step you should take. Talk to the girls at a neutral time about the spanking. Make it clear that this is something that will not be happening ever again. You are going to probably need to get some counseling for these kids. The older ones especially will have a difficult time adjusting to their loss of responsiblity for the younger ones. Their response to the spankings is a somewhat similar response to that of a self-injurer. That person only feels release from their feelings of shame, rage, and pain through the completion of the self-injury. Find therapist that specializes in child abuse issues.

These girls are very lucky to have someone who cares so deeply about them in their lives. Please keep us informed as to how things are going.
 

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They do not want to be hit. They want resolution to the problem. They have just been conditioned to think that the only way they can reach a resolution is by "paying the price"

I would definatly explain to them (even if you are afraid they will not understand) that there are new rules in your house. For this specific example I would explain that with our new rules we don't spank but we all have to sit still while the glass is cleaned up (safety). I would definatly talk to them about why the glass fell and broke and what we can all do to prevent it in the future. I know from experience that a 6 year old and a 4 year old can be exhaustive about reminding everyone that their glass is too close to the edge


They have been conditioned to expect physical punnishments (and like you mentioned) they just wanted to get them over with and would not really accept no for an answer. You just have to tell them no in advance.

The time to address this is when they are not expecting to be punished, it is hard to learn when you are vulnerable, upset, and expecting a beating. Sit them down and talk to them about rules (I know it can be harder with younger ones). In our house, rules go for everybody even adults (i.e. nobody can hit anyone else).

It will be hard at first and I would probably work out a substitution punnishment for the mean time because they will be a lot more likely to understand that. For now their programmed reaction is "Accept the punnishment and get on with it" and it will be a lot easier to substitute something more appropriate. My ultimate goal would be education rather than punishment, but that will take time. And it may be easier to quit gradually rather than cold turkey.

It sounds like you have some sweet kids who are aching to do what is right. Hang in there.
 

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what you're describing is so sad to me. that they "checked out" makes complete sense...who'd want to be full aware of their senses and surroundings while being beaten? i know i wouldn't. (ETA: i'm talking about their *expectations* becuase of their past experiences, not what you did)

i think that you should have a talk with them when all is going well, before they've "checked out" again...tell them that they will never ever ever EVER be spanked in your home again, and then follow through. even if this happens again in exactly the same way...with the "checking out" and pulling down of pants...do not hit them. ever ever again. because i KNOW you don't want to, as you've said. they are obviously creatures of habit, and you need to create a new habit. habits can only be formed with consistency so you need to be consistent in your NOT hitting of them, kwim?

the next time this happens, i'd literally just sit there and wait with them...tell them in a quiet, non-anxious voice that you won't hit them, that you love them, that it's gonna be ok, or whatever feels right in the moment...and tell them that you'll sit and wait as long as they need you to for them to relax and pull up their pants. in this case there was broken glass so you obviously don't wanna hang out *right there* but i'd pick each of them up and move them to a safe space where you can wait indefinitely.
: hang in there.
 

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I haven't read the other posts, but I'm so sorry for both you and them!!!
(Tears in eyes.) Do not beat yourself up over having given them taps on the bottom. You are new at this, and you just didn't know what to do. Start a mantra in your house that hands are for hugging, not for hitting. Get them books about the subject and read to them. Have them act out what to do and what will happen in the future if a doll or a teddy bear breaks a glass or spills juice. Let them color and arts and craft it out. Break something "by accident," say you're sorry, and then have them all run and hug you and help you clean it up. And then reinforce, reinforce, reinforce. As I said, start with three rules in your house or less, and perhaps no t.v.. You will surely keep encountering things that need to be undone with these kids that will give you plenty to work with. And know that there are people who sooooo support and care for you here. What you are undertaking in incredible.

Faith
 

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Kathleen, you did fine. Baby steps. Your whole relationship with these children will be built with baby steps. You know what your goals are (no hitting, respectful relationship) now you just have to baby step in that direction. Once the children realize that you're really not going to hurt them (this may take a while), you'll have a whole new ballgame. It may be challenging for a while, and they may test your limits a lot (does she really love us? will she really not hit us?) and then you will reach a situation where they know you respect them by setting limits, and by that time you will know them better and be able to really make your relationship blossom.

You are doing a fabulous thing for these children. You did the right thing, and you will continue to do the right thing. Hugs to you.
 

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It sounds like a really tough situation. I agree with everyone else - you did the best you could in the situation, and just have to plan ahead for the future. Let them know what will happen if they are in trouble, or have an accident. I'd definitely see about getting counseling for them.

Good luck!
 

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I just wanted to add that you did a great job. What a confusing time for these girls!

I think in order for you better to explain your stance could you find a way to play it out? Maybe get baby dolls and you have one and your baby does some "bad" thing. Look shocked at first (you know play it up) and then say to baby," oh, I know you didn't mean to do _______. It was an accident. how about we clean it up and then __________" Don't know just thinking of different ways you could present the issue to them.

Or even you do something "bad" and have them help you figure out a solution so that every one comes out ahead.
 

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You did just fine, Kathleen. What a confusing and tough time for the children and yourself. You are bound to make some decisions here and there over the next while (and possibly throughout the entire time you are a parent) that you regret or wish you had done differently. I think you have a really good instinct about taking care of these sweet children. What a tough life they had before falling into your lap. I definitely think you could use a child therapist, family counselling, and plenty of time, love and hugs until the children adjust to being with you.

I got so many tears in my eyes in both this thread and the one where you talked about how the children came to be with you. Wow. I really appreciate the person that you are, trying so hard to be a good mother to these children.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by janebug
mama, you did fine. i just want you to know that.

you have great instincts.
:

I don't have any additional advice, but I just want to tell you that you are doing a great job.
 

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Wow, Kathleen. You are a natural mama. You handled the situation fine, and now you know something you need to talk to them about at another time. I think all of the above suggestions are great. You might also post a sign of house rules, with number 1 being "No hitting." Post as many copies around the house as you need, read it to the kids (all of them), and then when this situation comes up again, you can point to the sign and tell them that you cannot spank them because one of the house rules is no hitting. Sometimes a visual really helps, even for pre-literate kids. They'll know what the sign says. They'll memorize it like they do story books. I'd post your other rules, too, that you mentioned in your OP.

These kids are so lucky to have you. They are truly blessed in life now. I read your blog . . . I'm astounded. You are already doing an amazing job with these kids, giving them what they need. I have so much respect for you and how you are handling things. You really are a natural mom.
 

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I'm way behind in line, but you are doing a terrific job. The best parenting advice I ever got (and I've read ALL the books - I'm kind of obsessive about stuff like that...), was to trust my instincts. And I'll tell you, they haven't steered me wrong once.

Your gut is a powerful compass and it sounds like you're really tapped into it. Just trust yourself and you'll get a grip on this sooner rather than later (I'm not sure how many of us who have *chosen* to have children feel like we really have a grip...KWIM?).

I think you've gotten a lot of great suggestions, so I'm not gonna blabber on, but I want to pat you on the back again and tell you I think you're doing super.
 

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Oh my! You poor thing! And the poor kiddos!!

I think it's important to remember that they may not snap out of it for a while, and with considerable therapy.

They only understand that spanking means it's over. I totally agree with Alegna - tell them it's the last spanking they will ever get no matter what. I expect they will be confused and possibly act out more. Some reasons for that I can think of off the top of my head...

They are hearing for the first time in their lives that getting hit is not normal, so to believe you they must begin to feel the depth of the abuse they took.

They can't comprehend resolution without the hitting, so they don't understand another possible "next step" in escalation yet. (I still struggle with this and I'm 32.)

The dread before the hitting can sometimes be worse, and they want it over with!

It's important that they get loved through this. Also, therapy good.
 

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Agree with all of the above AND:

keep in mind that what has been ingrained in those poor kids mind, was being ingrained in there for significant amount of time. It make take way more than just stating "we don't hit" - once, twice or trice.

They might 1) not hear you at first, because as you said they are "in the zone" 2) when they finally hear you, they might not believe you 3) when they finally believe you, they might not internalize it yet. So it might take many times for you stating your ground - "We (or I) do not hit"

But - you can do it. Your heart is in the right place.

Hugs to you mama. You have gotten big and noble responsibility now. Please post as much as you need - we would be happy to support as much as we can.
 

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wow, kathleen. i went back to read your previous GD post. i cannot express to you how sorry i am for your loss, and for the kids' loss.
such trauma all at once.......blessings to you all. i don't know if it's any consolation during this trying time, but so many folks here are thinking of you and sending love and empathy your way. i am amazed and grateful that you are here, seeking information. this is the absolute best place for it! i only discovered mothering about 2 years ago and have received life-changing advice/information. please come here often for support, venting, questions and research. i am so glad you're here.

many, many hugs to you, your nieces and nephew.
 
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