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Discussion Starter #1
My oldest and dearest friend is coming to stay with me for a week. We haven't seen each other for a year, so I'm excited! also nervous. I am really trying to emotionally prepare myself for this, but I could use some support/advice.<br><br>
A little background: My boys are 17mos apart 4.5 and 3yo. Her boys are 17mos apart 27mos and 10mos. Because of this similarity, my friend often seeks me out for advice. However, she is quite opinionated and freely voices her disapproval of certain things, which I don't mind because it shows how open and trusting our friendship is. She is a very stern mom. She spanks for things like hitting by her 2yo or smacks hands for touching off-limits items. She's also just not very "warm." iykwim.<br><br>
The last time we visited, I had a 2yo and 3.5yo. We were at her house, and she witnessed my parenting style, which in all honesty was sometimes just lazy because I was on vacation and trying to visit with my friend. She called me out on a time when I asked my 3yo to do something and he said NO, and I just blew it off and carried on in my conversation. She said she will never let her kids talk back like that. And if we had been at home, I would have been more thoughtful about this and probably would have reacted differently. So, I'm trying to prepare myself for this week. We will be at my home, and who knows how my kids are going to behave with all of these people in the house! If they are off the walls because we have visitors, I am going to be really frustrated if she's judging my parenting based on their behavior and my reaction to it. I'm also extremely concerned about my kids witnessing her harsh reactions and possibly spanking of her 2yo.<br><br>
Help! I would love nothing more than to just be the mom I usually am and let that bear witness to GD. But what do I do when she is not GD? Close my mouth or ask her to take it somewhere else? And I have a 3 and 4yo, they act up, how do I defend GD when it looks like it apparently doesn't work?
 

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I would tell her that you don't want your children to see any spanking or smacking at all, that if she really has to do that it has to be out of the view of your children. You will still probably need to talk to your children about how some people think hitting kids is ok , but you don't and will protect them.<br><br>
What are your goals as a parent? My goals for my DD are for her to be able to make good choices, including behavioral ones and for us to have a good relationship with her. Acting out as a 3 or 4 year old doesn't mean my discipline isn't working because avoiding all annoying normal preschool isn't one of my goals. As your kids get older your friend will be able to see that non violent parenting works really well, especially since spanking causes aggression and more acting out. Here's just one study <a href="http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1983895,00.html" target="_blank">http://www.time.com/time/magazine/ar...983895,00.html</a> .<br><br>
On a personal note, a friend of ours that knows a few families with kids used to make comments to us about the use of spanking and how his other friends wouldn't tolerate certain behaviors our DD had. Our DD was a very busy, kind of wild little toddler. She's still high energy at 4.5, but she's polite, considerate and usually pretty helpful. The kids from the other family don't behave as well as they did as small toddlers and our friend has completely stopped saying anything about our discipline style.
 

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It sounds a little to me like you are concerned about what she thinks of your parenting choices. Is this the way you want it to be?<br><br>
As far as the non-GD parenting in front of your kids, do you think that this could be a teaching sort of moment about how different people live in different ways?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
The thing is that if it was just that I parent my way and she parents her way, it would be fine. But it seems that my friend is one who will pick out one thing that I do and say, "SEE, IT DOESN'T WORK!" That's all. I'm more in defense of GD than in my personal parenting. If I were to try to explain my methods, she isn't one to have an open mind about it, and I am not good at apologetics.<br><br>
As far as the teaching moment...I suppose it will have to be. I just don't want my kids to become alarmed when they see another mom hitting her kid because he was "bad." I just think that would be really confusing at their ages. But of course, if it happens it will have to become a teaching moment!<br><br>
I'm mostly just concerned about tolerating her behavior in silence. Having her discredit GD. And my kids seeing her non-gentle ways.
 

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I would tell her she is right, your kids are not obeying you all the time, because that is not your goal. Gentle Discipline is a long term investment. First time obedience is not important to you. Your goal is to foster a positive responsiveness to you from your child. That takes time. Your goal is a child who gladly responds from a place of self discipline and self motivation. That is not achieved overnight. Tell her you are not interested in motivating your child with fear of punishment--which certainly works well in the short term, but undermines your goals as a parent.<br><br>
Assure her that you could force obedience from your child if you wanted to do that, because it is easy to control people through fear and pain. It works, and you don't like why it works, and will not use it with your child.<br><br>
A good analogy is this: What if there was a pill you could give a typical child which inhibited their ability to disobey. When they took the pill, they were chemically forced to be compliant. If you used that pill, and your child obeyed, would you consider that a discipline success?<br>
Hitting a child is a lot like an obedience pill. It produces a chemical reaction, a fear response, which directly impacts behavior. If the pain is strong enough the resulting fear and avoidance to pain will typically produce swift results. Fearful children usually obey quickly. If you just want obedience, fear and pain work. At what price? For what reason? Gentle Discipline is concerned with building cooperation in children without paying the price of fear based behavior. It is just a completely different approach, which you cannot reconcile with the results of fear based behavior. Gentle Discipline addresses the whole child, and is not solely concerned with immediate obedience to parents. Cooperation and respect is very important to GD, and behavior changes are important too, but we don't use fear to make it happen. It usually takes longer to change behavior in the short term with GD, but in the long term you install a habit of positive respect and cooperation that absolutely does work and creates positive changes without fear and violence.
 

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I'm confused as to how it is she can tell you how you're wrong and you can't say anything about how she's wrong???? I don't understand that dynamic. She sounds kind of bossy.<br><br>
Personally, I would just come up with a catch phrase that you can fall back on whenever she challenges your authority as a parent. "This works for us" or "I don't believe in hitting" or something similar and just repeat it until she moves on to something else.<br><br>
You're going to have to set some kind of boundary and it sounds like that is going to be difficult for you, since she has routinely called you out on your parenting already. The power dynamics of the friendship seem unequal and that is going to be hard to correct.<br><br>
I hope it works out.<br><br>
V
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Heartmama--thank you, that was a great pep-talk! I will have to re-read it before she gets here! Sometimes, it's nice to go back and remember why we chose GD.<br><br>
Violet--you're right, there is a weird dynamic. I am the type of person who is not good at debating on the spot. I need time to gather my thoughts, better in writing. She is very quick to speak and when speaking to me, I don't feel like she is berating me or anything, rather she's just proving herself right and defending her choices based on my apparent "failures." In the past, the dynamic never bothered me because I was never passionate enough about a subject (that we differed on) that her opinion truly mattered. But after you have kids, of course, the mama bear instinct takes over and now we have two fierce mama bears with differing opinions. But I'm still not argumentative enough for her! I COULD tell her she's wrong, and actually I have told her I thought it made no sense to spank a child for hitting. Which was huge for me. Because I am not usually one to criticize another person for anything, let alone parenting choices. I guess I just don't want this one thing to be a looming cloud over our whole visit.<br><br>
Thanks mamas...it's helpful just to talk it out.
 

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My name is Heather, too!<br><br>
Anyway, there's also the whole "Hey, when did I ask for your opinion on how I parent?" You can say it with a smile.
 

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You could tell her before she gets there that you realize you both disagree about parenting styles and your methods are not up for discussion or criticism at all. Also you don't want to model arguing as a good communication choice for your DC. I would also tell her that any spanking, smacking or threats can't not be seen by your children.<br><br>
I agree with heartmama completely. It also might help if you had a rehearsed reply about what your parenting goals are.
 

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You know, it sounds like you are very close with your friend, why not have this discussion with her ahead of time? Tell her you're aware that you each have very different ways of parenting, that the kids will likely act different since this is an out-of-the-ordinary event for them, that you hope she will still respect you as a mom even if your kids are off the wall (and vice-versa). This would also be a good time to mention you are not comfortable with your kids witnessing spanking and discuss with her alternatives for the trip (whether that's another form of discipline or taking the kids elsewhere to be spanked).<br><br>
You said she is your oldest & dearest friend, and I think this could be an excellent opportunity to strengthen that bond by discussing your parenting differences & feelings openly & non-confrontationally.
 

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If she tries to call you on something then I think you should tell her that you know you both have different ideas about how to parent kids and you remember how worried you were about everything when your first son was her oldests age, but that you have grown up a lot as a parent as you have gained experience and you aren't going to get bogged down in the little things. I have found that it helps to say that you actually are fine with your child expressing an opinion or refusing a certain request and they knew that because they know you well, but if they do something you aren't fine with you will address it.
 

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I agree with upthreaders that say you can address some of the concerns before hand - just don't make it a debate about who has the better style.<br><br>
If she criticizes you during the visit, again tell her that you have different parenting styles, and that's that.<br>
If she hits her child in sight of yours, take your kids to another room, let them know what's going on if necessary, and remind your friend (away from all the kids) that she needs to take that elsewhere.<br><br>
I spent a few days with a friend who was not very GD, and basically when there was any issue we just went to different areas and dealt with the kids privately.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>heartmama</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15414289"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">...A good analogy is this: What if there was a pill you could give a typical child which inhibited their ability to disobey. When they took the pill, they were chemically forced to be compliant. If you used that pill, and your child obeyed, would you consider that a discipline success? ...</div>
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Well, it depends on the side effects and duration. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink"> It has been <i>that</i> day, can you tell?<br><br>
I think that in your home you have every right to ask her to not use physical discipline in sight of your children. Be polite about it but it is understandable that you do not want them to witness that in the safety zone of their home.<br><br>
Of course, sometimes children say it best. We were at a playdate (first time with this family) when my son was about 18 months. The other boy (same age) did something and his mom slapped his hand. My mouth hung open. My son looked, got wide eyed, turn and ran to me and just clung to me. She asked what was wrong and I explained that he had never seen anyone hit before. I have never seen her do that to any of her children again.
 

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Before she comes, I would set limits. Tell her that she is not to hit or mention hitting her children in front of yours. And if she needs to hit them, it must be done outside of vision or ear shot from your children. And that your children are not to see a child who is sad or crying because they've been hit. I would tell her that if she crosses those lines they will have to leave immediately.<br><br>
Personally, I would not be friends with someone who thinks it's OK for an adult to hit a small child. That would be an insurmountable difference.
 

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Well, if spanking a kid worked at all then she would have only had to smack her kids hand one time for touching off limit things and then never again. Or spank her kid once for being "bad" and never again. Spanking does not work. I guarantee she can spank her 2 yr old and he will commit the same "crime" again within the day or two.<br>
I was spanked as a kid, and so were many kids I know, and none of us were obedient in the least. Although we did learn to get sneakier with our disobedience.
 

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It sounds like this is something you should talk to her about before she comes, if she is going to be in your home.
 

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I understand where you are coming from as I am naturally a shy person who does not like confrontation. However for the sake of your kids you have to stand your ground on the issue. What I would do is tell her <i>before</i> she comes that 'spanking or physical discipline is not allowed in my house/ In front of my kids/ Only in closed rooms where others are not witness to it (whatever you are comfortable with) I hope you are okay with that."<br><br>
Even if you yourself do not spank, your boys seeing this may try to mimic it being so young and only understanding that she used it and 'got her way.' It might lead to them displaying violence with you or each other to see if they can get away with it. That is something you do not want. If you get a bit frazzled during debate I would practice what to say beforehand. A lot of previous posters had a lot of good advice on that.<br><br>
I really wish you luck on this!
 

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"What's done to children, they will do to society". ~Karl Menninger<br><br>
Plain Talk About Spanking<br><a href="http://nospank.net/pt2010.pdf" target="_blank">http://nospank.net/pt2010.pdf</a>
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks for everyone's interest and input. The week has passed, and as it turns out, spanking was the least of our troubles. There was only one incident where she spanked and it was the very last minutes of their stay when all the kids were wound up and her 2yo kicked my 4yo in the eye. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad"><br><br>
Before she came, I told her that all of our kids could possibly be out of sorts with all the excitement and change of schedules, and I said something to the effect that she shouldn't feel any pressure for her kids to be on their best behavior and that I was not going to expect mine too. I know she wants her kids well behaved in front of other people, but when you're staying with other people for a week, it's pretty much impossible for a 2yo to be well-behaved all the time. When we were together, it was her verbal attacks that caused me to cringe. The eye rolling every time her 10 month old whined about something. She called both the 19mo and the 2yo "psycho" at least twice each. And it was just because they were upset over something. She said the baby was "a jerk and mean" because he would grab the hair on my dog or pull on his mom's hair. I tried many times to get her to just relax and ease up. The only thing that really worked was if we switched kids. A few nights I would do bedtime for her kids and she would do mine. She had ultimate patience for my kids, but none for her own. I totally understand that feeling, but it didn't help me to not feel utterly sorry for her children. I can't imagine what it will be like when her kids are 3 and 4 with minds of their own and words to match hers. I'm a bit brokenhearted. Several times she asked me what an appropriate "punishment" would be for this or that. For instance, My 4yo stuck my 3yo in the hand with his fork <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/irked.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="irked"> (he kind of swiped it at him when 3yo was irritating him) It was an act of annoyance and really an accident. What I did was send my 4yo to his room while I consoled my 3yo and then I talked to 4yo about what he did. I asked him to check on his brother, apologize and he did. I could tell by her reaction that I did not appropriately "punish" him.<br><br>
Thanks for listening if you've read this far. It's nice to vent to people who live on the same planet as me!
 

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Interesting that she is patient with your children and not her own--it does sound like she deeply believes her kids are a reflection of her own self worth, and if they are not good enough, neither is she--people do tend to unconsciously project fears about themselves onto their kids, so if she thinks her own kids are 'psycho' and 'mean' I wonder if those are things she fears people think about her? That is a different issue than just not being patient or tolerant of kids in general--some people just don't do well with kids ever--so maybe just being her friend is all you can do. I try to praise the parenting of people like her at any opportunity--point out some great quality in her child and imply what a great job she did fostering that in her kid (even if it's happening in spite of her rather than because of her?).
 
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