I Hit My Child (GASP)

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!

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22 thoughts on “I Hit My Child (GASP)

  1. I was spanked here and there as a child and I am fine with it! We spank if one of the girls is extra-naughty but as a last resort. Don’t feel.bad!!! I am no childrearing expert, but for what it’s worth I don’t think you’ve wrong!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you=]

      Yes I do it after I’ve tried other things. Usually he’ll hit me once and I’ll ask him to stop, put him in time-out, etc. If he continues, I’ll do it back so he knows how it feels. The only time I do it right away is if he hits me REALLY hard and is being extra bad.

      And honestly, I think I’ve only really “spanked” him for one day — he would NOT go to bed for about a week; he kept coming out of his room and talking back and just being super bad, so I gave him a little spank on the butt every time he came out of his room for one night. I think he did it 3 or 4 times, and now he understands “Do you want to be spanked” means business so I don’t even have to do it anymore.

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  2. I don’t have a a child and neither have I raised one…but as a child I have been spanked a handful of times…and I don’t blame my Mom for it…the three of us were quite a handful for her I guess…and I consider it all to be a part of my childhood.

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  3. Great post! Just the other day, I was telling my friends how many posts I see about parenting. They always sound so judgmental. People so often throw out blanket statements instead of looking at individual circumstances. If your kid is healthy/happy, I say do what works!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! It’s so true — parents can be insanely judgmental. And, if my child is the exact same as yours and I am the exact same as you, judge away. But I’m pretty sure that’s impossible. It’s irked me so much over the last few years that now even if a friend just tries to give me some friendly advice I’m like “BACK OFF BITCH.” Hahaha.

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  4. You do what works. Physically disciplining your child is not abuse. To abuse a child is to injure him, lash out in rage, or terrify him.

    I’ve lashed out at my son in rage. He enraged me, and I responded by slapping him, hard. I have seen fear in his eyes. Not good. He still holds two occasions against me, especially the most recent one.

    By the way, it is best not to call me a fucking bitch or a crazy bitch. I just may slap you HARD. I played tennis in my youth. Still have a mean forehand and backhand. I know how to follow through.

    Honestly, though, there was a time when he was so out of control, so in the red zone, so destructive of his physical surroundings, that spanking him on the bottom was the only way to stop him and bring him down.

    I preached no corporal discipline before I became a mother. My views are far more nuanced now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, thank you! So many people have all these differing opinions and I’m like “listen people, I’m doing what works for my son and myself.” He literally thinks hurting people is funny, no matter how we discipline him or explain to him or whatever, UNLESS we show him WHY it hurts. And I don’t just smack him back and be done with it — I explain to him “This is what you just did to Momma. It hurt Momma. It doesn’t feel good. I don’t want to hurt you, please don’t hurt me” and so on.

      I think a lot of people can take spanking to the extreme. But I don’t think doing it now and then along with explaining and love is going to seriously damage anyone.

      I’ve kind of lashed out at my son. I’ll yell but then I’ll be like “I just can’t deal with you right now!” and leave the room or go outside. It’s my leaving that upsets him the most, but I think it’s better to take myself away from the situation before it possibly gets out of control.

      Everyone does their own thing, and we all (mostly) do the best we can. That’s what matters.

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      • I can relate to lashing out and then leaving the room to cool down. My son reacts as your son does, for he feels abandoned when I leave the room. He’s 14 now, and we still need to work on the dynamic.

        When I was in college I babysat a toddler biter. His parents would show no emotion and calmly explain to him not to bite (which didn’t work). I was shocked when he bit me, and yelled out reactively. He bit my hand hard as I was washing his face. To get my hand out of his mouth, I twisted it vertically and brushed it against his face. Basically, I lightly hit the kid as a reactive self-defense maneuver. He was shocked. He just looked at me with wide eyes and an open mouth. I didn’t hurt him. He felt no pain. Just shock. I then went on to act out and say repeatedly: “No bite person. Okay bite wash rag. No person. Yes rag.” He never bit me again. He continued to bite everyone else. Fear worked. Lesson, nope. Not ready developmentally.

        As to the laughing, when my son was a toddler he used to laugh when he hit or kicked. Preschool teachers thought that he was a sociopath, that I hadn’t taught him right from wrong, and they had the gall to say so to me. (Don’t get me started on that…) He laughed not because he found it funny, but because he couldn’t help it. He felt uncomfortable and laughed as a defense mechanism. My husband does the same thing. When our son used to hit or kick my husband (thankfully he’s outgrown doing so), my husband laughed, which infuriated both me and my son. But my husband couldn’t help himself; he simply couldn’t stop laughing because it’s his body’s way of coping with discomfort. Something to consider. Maybe your son doesn’t really think it’s funny. Maybe he’s laughing because he knows what he did was wrong, and he doesn’t know any other way to cope with his discomfort.

        Liked by 1 person

        • That could be a possibility. I sometimes get paranoid about his aggression because of his father (I’m working myself up to write a post explaining what actually happened, but for now let’s just say it was a violent crime), which is one of the reasons I work so hard on it.

          I really think he just does find it funny, which is our fault. We play with toy guns and we play crash and pretend to be superheroes and all that stuff, so sometimes I think he just doesn’t realize he’s really hurting us. He’s still young, too, and tends to find most things funny. He just made a new friend and when she gets REALLY mad and yells at him, he thinks it’s a game, cracks up, and yells whatever she’s saying back at her. He does need to be more socialized, but I’m working on that. Overall he’s a pretty good, normal toddler.

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          • Toddlers are toddlers. They grow up. Relax. Boys are more rambunctious (impulsive). I’m a feminist, but that doesn’t mean I’m blind to biological differences. Testosterone is powerful stuff, with positive and negative effects. As a straight woman, I’m quite thankful for the positive effects. ;-)

            Liked by 1 person

          • I just get normal parent-crazy sometimes. Like I’ll look at all of mine and Nate’s flaws and think “Why on earth did we bring a child into this world? He’s screwed! He’s going to get ALL of our imperfections.” But I know I’m doing the best I can and I’m pretty sure he’ll turn out fine. =]

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  5. Like you, I swore that I would never spank my children. How could I? I was enlightened. I was calm and patient. I was Mother Teresa. And then my son was born, and he was so good! Slept every night, hardly ever cried, sweet as sugar. Then he turned one year old, and I swore he had to be two–the terrible twos, you know. I could not control him. I could not get him to do anything I wanted. He WOULD NOT TAKE A NAP!!!!. He would hit and bite too. And then he would be sweet as sugar and I ate it up.

    But eventually, I realized: He needs a good spanking. And he got one. Hand to butt. That’s it. I felt better. He felt better. He was still a terror, but we seemed to understand each other better.

    Still, I felt I must be the worst mother ever and was sure I should never have any more kids. Then my daughter was born. Good as gold. Never did spank her. But if my first had also been like her, I’d probably frown at mothers who spanked their kids. So it’s probably good my first needed it. It’s kept me humble in the parenting department.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I just can follow the other comments – do not feel bad. Having received my fair share of spankings when younger (and believe me, sometimes I deserved rather the carpet beater than the hand :-) ), I cannot say it hurt me. In the long run, I mean. Children have to see where their boundaries are. Sometimes, when I see kids running around like crazy, trampling on their parents nerves, I wish I could actually spank them… But nooooo…. not here, in this country (and I get this – spanking strangers’ kids isn’t such a great plan). Even talking about it feels “illegal”. But hey… sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do. :-) The kids who receive a little hand-to-butt-contact from time to time usually grow up to be normal adults, and all say that it didn’t really hurt them. Apart directly after the fact, of course. :-) So it seems like an appropriate thing… and to all those who are totally outraged now upon reading this: raise your kids right, and be done with it. The world doesn’t need more megalomaniacs who throw a hissy fit when they don’t get what they want.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I actually spoke to my therapist and she said “You’re teaching him that when another kid hits him, it’s okay for him to hit them back. Try taking away something every time he misbehaves.” And I’m like “First of all, if another kid hits him and he tries other things first (like talking, adults, walking away, etc. — because that’s what I do) but the other kid still hits him, you’re damn right he’s allowed to hit him back. And, I tried the taking things away thing. He hit me because of it.”

      I’m confident I’m not ruining my son. He’s happy. I think that’s all that matters=]

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  7. I think a lot of the spanking/no spanking debate goes back to the motivation of the parent. If the parent is lightly spanking to instruct, teach or guide – as you are, the child will not be emotionally damaged – in fact he will likely react the way your son has, positively.

    Spanking, because of my childhood and my wife’s beliefs, was taboo in our home – but occasionally we both recognized the need for a light smack to the bottom of a child who simply would not listen until his attention was fully captured. I have three children, the youngest of whom is 17, and all three will tell you they plan to raise their own children – hypothetical at this point, thank God – employing the occasional smack on the ass technique when necessary.

    It sounds like you’re doing just fine to me.

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  8. Really great! Love it! And I so totally agree. I believe that every mom gets pushed to her limit maybe even over the edge. I’ve been there too and I hit my son once. I did regret it and I still do. But it was a reaction and it never happened again. He was pushing me. Really pushing me. Something he never did before and is not doing anymore ever since. And he threw something at me while I was just putting down his baby sister. I turned around and smacked him. Not hard. But I did it. I think I felt worse afterwards than he did. I will never do it again. I know it. And I don’t blame. I also think there is a huge difference between abuse and a spank out of a situation. There is a difference between hitting hard (overly hard) and spank.
    In any case: I will try my best to never get to this point again in my life. Thanks for sharing :-)

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