Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Me against the world

This post is an abrupt about face from my last happily dapply one. Today I'm writing you from the bottom of the dark damp pit that is anger, depression and alienation. Hello, my old friends. It hasn't been so long, after all?

The cause: the total misunderstanding that stemmed from one of Juliette's tantrums. Monday she tried to slap me as I was putting her in her high chair for her snack (which she didn't want). I immediately picked her wriggling body up and put her in the playpen in Remi's room (we were at his parents') and told her to calm down. I didn't hit her back. To me that seemed illogical to say, don't hit mommy, then for me to spank her. It seemed contrary to the message I wanted to send, that hitting is wrong.

Of course, she started wailing. She knew she was being punished. She started getting hysterical. So I went back in there and tried to talk to her and at one point did give her leg a little slap to bring her back to reason. But she continued howling. Remi heard about the whole situation from his parents and later said I should have spanked her right away. The insinuation was that I was coming off as weak and not in control of my daughter in the first place as she tried to hit me.

This of course is wrong. I know from reading parents' forums online that toddlers hitting their parents or others is quite common and part of this phase of their life where they "test" things out. It is important to react, I'm not denying that. And I did react, immediately, by putting her in time out. This is where I apparently differ from just about all French people. Because since said situation, Remi has been telling me that so and so agree with him that spanking would have been the best solution right away.

Now I'm not entirely against the occasional mild spanking but I'm totally against it becoming a routine way to punish. My pediatrician is in fact against it all together. It seems to me to be the easy way out for parents. No need to explain and reason with the child. Just the threat of the hand. It's not the only way to discipline your child, that's what I want to shout out! A child also needs to understand why what they did was wrong, to learn to say sorry, to realize during their time out that what they did has landed them in isolation.

It's just starting to get to me big time that I'm always (or nearly so) in the minority when it comes to parenting views around here. No one takes me seriously when I say that when a child doesn't want to eat that yelling at them and giving them the uneaten beans from lunch at snack time is NOT the right approach. Ok, I get frustrated like the next parent and get testy when I see Juliette pick at her food. But I'm trying to find the best way to get her interested in food without dunking her head in the bowl. (Rest assured, that's never happened).

And now it's the entire French population who seems to think that the parent who doesn't spank tout de suite (right away) is coming off as weak (see this article which does show there might be some cultural background for this). And will probably have a demon child at the age of 15. There was talk of having an anti-spanking law here (as in Sweden), but most people scoffed at the idea.

If I have to repeat it ten times a day, I will. I am NOT a weak parent. I'm not a perfect one, but I don't let my child walk all over me either. And I'm sure she'll grow up to be a sweet and lovely person, despite her toddler tantrums.


Lindle said...

You grew up to be a wonderful young lady with one of the kindest hearts I know, AND you were--at times--one inch away from your parent's wrath with your stubbornness and mouthing off. (Just visualize that photo of you in your dance leotards, hand on hip, scowling at the camera!!! You were about four years old.)
Babies grow up. Reasoning with them comes later, even though we try from the beginning to explain the difference between good behavior and bad behavior. You are going to make lots of mistakes parenting. Accept that. Just let her know you love her every day, even if she has had timeouts and tantrums, and your nerves are shot.

Amber said...

Mil, i'm sorry you're going through this but I can tell you (not having had a toddler yet, mind you) that you ARE doing the right thing. You are Juliette's mom, so you educate her as YOU see fit. Stuff the rest of the world if they want to disagree with you.

I have a four year old nephew who gets spanked ruthlessly by his parents. He's a smart alick, he's always wise cracking and smarting off to his parents, and their immediate reaction (sometimes ever after having wound him up!!) is to slap/spank/hit him. He has no idea what he did wrong and thus can't make proper behavior associations, so he carries on with the bad behavior and just learned how to duck the blows.

I swore to Jeremie that we wouldn't raise our child to be 100% spank-disciplined. I understand getting a child's attention as you mentioned, but I think that developmentally, it is far more beneficial to correct the undesirable behavior and reward the desirable one until you've eliminated said undesirable behavior.

I know it's really hard to block out the opinions we don't agree with (as you saw my rant last week!) but just have confidence in yourself that you know what you are doing and you are doing it right.

Jenenz said...

Hi Milam,

Don't lose sight that you are a kind loving person and wonderful mom. You know in your heart how you raise Juliette is the way.

As she gets older she will understand more. You have so much inner strength and standing your ground shows that.

We've never used physical punishment on E and she's turned out to be a great person. There are many ways to discipline and guide a child without physical punishment.

Hang in there. You know what is right and wrong.

Crystal said...

I don't really think I can weigh in on this issue because I don't have kids, but I think agree with the others in that you do what's best for you and YOUR kid and try not to let others' advice/criticism/opinions bring you down or make you doubt yourself. What worked for one family doesn't mean it will work for everyone, and I think the 'spanking generation' is over. Just watch Super Nanny...she nevers physically disciplines the children and they seem to respond very well to her communication techniques.

I can't even spank my dog on the butt when he's bad, so I doubt I could ever hit a child!

Anonymous said...

I don't spank either. I just don't see the point, and like you say, I don't want it to become the one parenting tool I can depend on. My husband has SCARS on his face from being slapped and falling into a radiator when he was a child! And no one seems to see anything wrong/shocking about it besides me!! Sigh. You are doing the right thing, you know it. Spanking is one thing that I won't budge on, like nursing my babies...

Mil said...

Thanks, everyone, from the bottom of my heart. You don't know how comforting it is to have your support on this.

Anonymous said...

Ditto to every comment posted. You are the most loving parent and JuJu will grow up to be just like you with your soft, sweet little heart.
I love you very much and stay strong,