Mothering Forum banner

freaked out by friend's discipline

1809 Views 36 Replies 29 Participants Last post by  bellona
Yesterday, my friend, her DH, and 9mth old DS came to visit us. I already knew that their views on some things are very different from mine but, WHOA! During their visit, her DS grabbed for a magazine while sitting on his father's lap. His father promptly "popped" (their term, not mine) his hand and said NO. He left it within his reach and the baby grabbed for it again, at which point he repeated that. He repeated it 4 times until he finally cried. Later, the baby was "whining" and he popped his leg and said "stop whining", twice. My DH and I were appalled! I felt so sorry for the baby and could hardly contain myself from saying something. The only reason I didn't is because this is a very long standing friendship that I don't want to lose and her DH doesn't like me much anyway (he thinks I'm far too crunchy granola). What can I do? I really don't want this to get in the way of my friendship, but it just sickens me to think about it.
1 - 20 of 37 Posts
I think that you should have a private converstion with your friend. Maybe she doesn't realize how wrong this is and that they are only teaching baby to hit. If she refuses to listen, I think that you may have to let the friendship go, because nothing is so important, that your family should have to be exposed to that.
I know that is a hard choice to make, but can you really keep watching it? And do you really want your family to watch. It had to make you all very uncomfortable in your own home.
Best of luck.
That would be a deal breaker for me. I'm sorry you had to see that. Kudos to your for keeping your temper. No way could I have seen that kind of treatment and kept my mouth shut.
omfg. wow. i wish i had some advice other than "drop kick the friend to the curb" but that's not very helpful.
i'm sorry...
See less See more
I probably would've walked over and "popped" that "man" in the crotch for hitting a baby! What a loser. Tell your friend to either stop abusing/letting her husband abuse her child in your presence or find a new friend.
Hitting any child is abuse, but hitting a baby is even more so! Maybe if you talk to your friend about the fathers "ways" of dealing with the baby, it sounded like he was doing the abuse, she may dislike it as much as you do and just doesnt know how to stop it..... however you bring it up,. make sure you do it gently, knim? Putiing her guards up will not help her understand where you are coming from......

nak, sorry
See less See more
Honestly, there is no way I could witness that and not say something. Approach your friend and tell her how you feel and if they continue to "pop" their 9 month old I think you should let the friendship go. Easier said than done but the way they are treating their child is wrong on so many levels.
Didn't read all replies, but I imagine mine is minority opinion.

No one abuses anyone in my home. Ever. No matter what they call their actions, or who they are hurting. It's assault, and my home is a place of peace.

I would either put my body in between the father and baby, block the father's hits, or remove them from my home. That is, if I could get involved in the situation before DH, who would completely immobilize the guy in a matter of a couple of seconds.

You need not feel apologetic for being viewed by that man as "too granola". And I'd never let what he thinks of you have any determination about how you deal with this.

I hope your friend can see what it happening for what it is and change it. Unfortunately, I can never keep friendships with mothers like that. Not just because it's so hard to be around, but that I just can't maintain a relationship with someone who so fundamentally harms (or allows harm to) their child. They aren't people I can connect with in a mutual way. And it's always sad.

I'm very sorry you're experiencing this. It really sucks, and I hope you find a way to at least find peace about it - whatever happen with your friendship...
See less See more
Sometimes people don't know that there is another way to "discipline" their children... they only do what their parents, grandparents, etc. did to them. So, perhaps offering a book on Gentle Discipline might be a welcome gift. No matter what "discipline" method one uses, most parents need advice from others on certain situations... so it could offer an alternative. I really like Hillary Flowers book "ADventures in Gentle Discipline" as it's very real. No Mom/Dad is perfect. Also... recommends MDC

I wouldn't mention the incident... but would just say, I just got this book, was reading it... and loved it... so thought I'd give all of my Mom friends with young kids a copy.

Another option which may be more their style (although may not be viewed necessarily as GD, but more gentle than hitting on the hand) is 1-2-3 Magic. Basically, you just count to three and then institute an appropriate consequence.... such as a removing the toy, etc. Key that most discipline books mention is that one can't really expect to have any form of discipline until a kid is old enough to 2-3 years old. Might open their eyes.

I'd also try to model GD when they are guests in my home. So magazine incident, I'd remove the magazine. Whining....I"d probably say something like.... "Oh 9 month old is right... we shouldn't be ignoring such a wonderful young child and go over and play with him/her." or offer some pots for him to bang on or whatever.
See less See more
Wow, I don't even really know what GD is... I'm here more to listen and learn, am parenting my 10 month old by gut instinct at the moment--and my gut instinct coils in revulsion at what he did. In my case I think the shock and horror on my face would have been readily apparent to my friend. If not I certainly hope I would have said something.
Well that is a really hard situation. I can understand not wanting to risk your friendship with the mama. But, do you think you could see that friendship continuing? What about in the future if every time you see them the father or mother does the same kind of thing, or worse?
I agree with the pp about talking to the mom and maybe offering her a book to read. Or next time you see something like that you could suggest things that have worked for you in the past. Or say "Hey you know, I was reading this great article about child development. It described normal behaviors and how curiosity helps children learn. Maybe I could send you a copy"
good luck

I don't think I could witness that (or allow my family to), either.

ALso,if they feel that 'popping' a baby for the innocent act of wanting to touch and explore things is okay, I would bet that once the baby is older, they will feel that 'more than a pop' is necessary and okay (you know for the bigger 'transgressions')

Hitting is not okay, no matter what they chosse to call it. I agree with others, perhaps they do not know of other ways, but I would not want that to go on in my home. That poor, poor baby.
Probably your best bet for changing things for that baby and for any to follow in that family would be to stay connected and model better parenting every chance you get. I like the idea about cooing over the baby when he whines. It demonstrates a different way of responding.

I think American society in general has an unpleasant undertone of of being unreceptive and rejecting to children who are simply asking to have their needs met. We aren't supposed to 'spoil' them and so forth. That's the paradigm in our heads and it takes actually seeing happy connected families doing it a different way before many of us can even understand that a different way is possible.

One of my friends has a pretty typical 3 yo boy. She's a good and kind mother, but she gets stressed and falls into that pattern of constantly correcting him, to the point where the only feedback he gets is negative. So what does he do? He works hard at getting feedback from mom, just like all kids. But since the only picture in his head is that of misbehavior and getting in trouble, THAT is what he does. It's self perpetuating.

When we're together I never say anything about her parenting style, but I just try to show her a different way. I jump in with positive feedback before he has a chance to misbehave again - and at first it's almost like he doesn't know what to do with it. But after sticking with it a few times, it starts paying off as he responds. Then she relaxes and starts to contribute as well, which just makes the whole experience happier for all of us.
See less See more
A 9 month old! What are they thinking? Not that its acceptable at any age, but that poor babe dosen't even understand why!

I would tell them point blank, there is no hitting allowed in our house.
My brother and his GF are the same with their 22 mo old daughter. He isn't so bad as his GF is. I've never witnessed my brother hit her but he just verbally gets on to her usually in a calm manner. But his GF always jerks on her or pops her hand or butt for the least little things. His GF once put their daughter in time out (she was 15 mos old then) for 10 freakin minutes while visiting my moms house at the same time I was, and I said something about how it was way too long, and it ticked them off. She had taken a toy from my daughter (who is older and didn't care) and that was it! She was acting like a normal 15 mo old. She shouldn't have been in time out for more than 1 minute if they really wanted to use time out. So, needless to say, I haven't said anything else to them about their choices of discipline even though I know they know I disagree with them.
See less See more
My thought exactly, a 9mo. OMG! Probably wanting to explore the colors of the magazine.

Honestly though, I could not continue a friendship with a family so different from mine. To me, every time my children would be around that family, I would be concerned they were learning things like hitting.

In fact, I was just reacquainted with a friend from high school and I had considered asking her to meet for a playdate considering our children are so close in age. But, during our conversation, she mentioned smacking her 2.5yo - deal was off. No way will I subject my 2.5yo ds to seeing THAT when I don't have to. I'll make other friends.

Sorry mama that I don't have any better advice. I wouldn't have done anything more than you did during their visit, except maybe ask to hold that babe and then get some magazines, pans, and spoons and let the baby play and away from dad's hands.
See less See more
I have a large sign on my living room wall that says "child safe zone, no spanking". If it had been me, I would have stepped in between the baby and the dad and demanded he stop hitting his child. If he couldn't resist abusing his baby, the friendship would be over. I probably would've called police as well.
A real friend would want to know if something is bothering you. If she's a friend, she'd want to know the truth about your feelings. Sadly, it probably won't make any dif. w/dh (but it just might!), but really, in good conscience, how can you not say something? If we don't speak up for those who can't speak for themselves, who will? I'm so sorry you have to deal with this. If you remain friends, I can imagine not speaking up will be harder than simply voicing your concerns in the beginning.

See less See more
I'd also like to throw out that perhaps your friend doesn't agree with her husband's method of disciplining. There can be disagreement between parents on discipline methods. So, by offering a book... or even just modeling a different behavior... she may open up about that. Then perhaps you can explore ways together on how to get her husband to use a more gentle approach.

Throw out tips... like when my son was maybe 9 months old... he loved to get into cupboards and drawers. So my Mom emptied out a whole big cupboard and filled it with tupperware... pots.... a basket... some big jar lids.... and called in Sami's cupboard. He was thrilled. Loved to go into his cupboard... and rarely went in the others. We didn't have the space in our NYC apartment to offer up a whole cupboard.. but made a basket of things for Sami and put little protection thingies on the other cupboards. No big deal.

I didn't know a 9 month old could whine... but at 2.5, on the rare occassion my son becomes whiney... I usually ask him to explain why he's frustrated or whatever. Sometimes he's just tired, so I offer that why don't we go lie down on the bed and talk about whatever is bothering him. Usually a bit of cuddle time solves everything.
See less See more
I wonder if they'd read the Pearl's? They basically advocate this kind of discipline for very young babies. Or maybe they're just really uninformed.

If your friendship can't withstand you saying something about this very important topic, it might be worth losing the friendship over. I would have a talk with the mom first about gentle discipline ("you know, ever since I started doing xxx, it's really helped us") and maybe a book.

I'm generally not one to step in and criticize someone's parenting, but in this case, 'popping' a 9 month old is abusive!
I would probably ask 'why are you hitting her for doing what a normal 9 month old does?' and go from there. My bottom line would be that we do not hit in our household. So what if he thinks you're too crunchy. Who cares?

I would also MODEL for them moving the magazine. "Oh here, let me move the magazine so you're not tempted. Here's a great spoon for you to have." They may need some basic child development info as well.

dw, mom to T age 4 and M age 22 mos.
See less See more
1 - 20 of 37 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.