OHMYGODNOSHEDIDN’T. That’s what you’re thinking, right? Well, just hold on a minute.
Everyone, and I mean everyone has different parenting styles. Even people who aren’t parents.
And because of that, everyone has an opinion on how you raise your kids. No parent likes this. Ever. I see post after post online from fed-up parents begging others to stop judging them. But I’ve also mostly seen parents get mad at non-parents for judging them. But that’s actually kind of understandable.
If you’re not a parent (or a guardian or nanny or very involved aunt or uncle or — you get the point), you don’t know what it’s like to drag a screaming child behind you by the foot as you’re simply tying to do the grocery shopping so, you know, they don’t starve to death.
And since you’ve never gone through this, it’s easy to think ‘Wow, that person must be the worst parent on earth if they can’t control their child and resort to dragging them by the foot.‘ Because you don’t understand. You don’t know that, just maybe, this particular child has never once acted out in public but just came from the doctor where they got a slew of shots and they are just not pleased right now. And there is no possible other time for the parent to buy food because of their schedule.
You might not know that this parent has tried literally every single other way to calm their child and/or finish shopping, but after years of trial and error finally deducted that foot-dragging is the only way to ever get anything done. You might not know that once the child gets home he asks to be dragged again, because he actually thinks it’s fun but just wasn’t in a good mood at the moment you saw him.
But I get that you judge. Because we always seem to have a lot more to say about things we don’t understand. Before I had kids I thought I would be the most amazing, wonderful, perfect parent in the world. My children would never act out in public because I would teach them not to. Duh.
And then I helped raise Nate’s oldest two kids and realized it wasn’t that easy. But I still thought, ‘Wow I am so never ever going to spank my child — and therefore my child will be much better behaved.‘
So, my problem isn’t with those of you who have never been there before. I get it. You should really back the fuck up and let parents parent their children, but my beef isn’t with you.
It is, however, with other parents who tell people how to raise their kids.
Come on man. You’ve been there. You’ve seen it firsthand. And I’m not talking about what kids do or how to deal with them. I’m talking about the whole every kid is different thing that everyone always seems to forget.
Because guess what? Every kid is different. When my son was born I was like ‘Oh shit, this is nothing like any of the other kids I’ve helped raise.‘ (And if you’re wondering — there were Nate’s two oldest and I was once a nanny to five, not to mention all my friends’ kids, so I do have a bit of experience.) (I’m also not saying I raised them, I’m saying for a decent amount of time I was a big part of their life and contributed to their upbringing, or at the very least helped in some way or another.)
Before he was born, I had everything perfectly planned out in my head. Then he burst into the world all headstrong and adorable and nearly every single technique I relied on flew out the window. I had to start over from scratch.
And my next kid will likely be his or her own little person, with his or her own personality and will respond to different teaching techniques and rewards and discipline.
So when people tell me (because they have) that they had 7 children and not one of them ever made a scene out in public, I tell them to go fuck themselves. There’s pretty much an equal 1/3 chance of three things: they’re lying, they never took their kids anywhere, or they just got really lucky. Maybe their 8th would have been the one to do things on her own terms.
Either way, my child is not one of theirs. I am not the same type of parent they are. My family is different, my child’s brain and my brain and our personalities and every single thing about my child and myself are different from everyone else’s.
I’ve given you all that super long introduction because of this: I hit my child.
When I was pregnant, I swore I would never spank or use physical discipline at all. And I tried really hard to stick to that. I did everything all of my child psychology books told me to do (from college, not from pregnancy). And while he was still a baby, Holden was perfect. Like, seriously perfect. He slept through the night and only cried when he needed something and was so friendly.
Then the toddler years came. I tried all the ‘acceptable’ parenting methods. But my spunky boy would not stop smacking me. In the face, on the arm, on my boob, upside my head. I got whacked every day. And bitten. And kicked. And headbutted. Oh, the headbutting.
Anyway, time-out did not work. Calmly explaining to my child why and how he hurt me did not work. Trying to channel his anger towards other things did not work. Nothing worked.
Then one day I remembered a story my stepmom used to tell me — I was about 3-years-old, she was doing the dishes, and I just walked up to her and bit her butt. Hard. So she turned around and bit me back. I never bit anyone again. (Okay, that’s a lie — but not until I was a teenager and I thought it was sexual or something, but we won’t get into that.)
I realized that, quite possibly the only way my son would understand the pain he was causing was if he felt it himself. So if he smacked my arm, I would give him a little slap back on his. If he bit me, I would bite him. If he pulled my hair, I would pull his.
I never did any of these things hard, just enough for him to realize Hey, that doesn’t feel good.
Soon, he would literally stop himself — he would cock back to hit me, notice what he was doing, and then put his arm down. My technique may not coincide with yours, but it works for us.
My son is still happy. He still loves me and plays and has fun and is healthy and smart.
Every now and then, because he’s in his traumatic threes, he hurts me on purpose. So I do it back.
The other day, my dad heard everything that happened. He came up to me and told me I shouldn’t hit my son. He told me I should talk to my therapist about it.
I understand his concern. But honestly, the first thing that came to mind was ‘Excuse me if I don’t want to take parenting advice from someone who raised me.’ I was fucking nuts. I was a spoiled brat who acted out and eventually turned to drugs, dropped out of school, and sold her body for money. I love my dad, but I specifically remember how I used to feel about him — his distance and demeanor. I hated him. I didn’t even know why I hated him, but I knew it was more than an angsty teenager hate. It was real.
Obviously, I’ve gotten over it. But it took a long time.
So no, I won’t take parenting advice from you. Even if your children turned out perfect. Because my child is not yours. And I am not you.
And yes, I hit my child. Because it’s what works for us, so he can understand his actions. I do not abuse him. I teach him.
You are more than welcome to raise your children how you see fit without my judgment (unless we’re at the playground and your kid is being an ass to my kid and you do nothing, but let’s not talk about that now). Let me do the same.
Facebook: Nonsense & Shenanigans / Twitter: @nonsenanigans
This is a seriously taboo subject, but I’m not here to judge — how do you feel about spanking, or a little pop here and there? Do you think I’m wrong? Do you think that we all grew up being spanked and we turned out okay? Let me know!