Parenting Perspectives: Moms mull punishment principlesMy mom thinks I’m a bad mom. OK, that’s an unfair exaggeration. But it is how I felt after she told me I’m too permissive with my 2-year-old.
By: Sherri Richards, INFORUM
My mom thinks I’m a bad mom.
OK, that’s an unfair exaggeration. But it is how I felt after she told me I’m too permissive with my 2-year-old.
Let me explain. We spent two nights at my parents’ house for Thanksgiving. Eve had plenty of “moments,” especially when the expanded family was there. She tore apart the sea of advertising inserts, tried to smack my face when I took them from her and shrieked at the dinner table because her gravy was too hot.
Each time Eve had a tantrum or misbehaved, my sister-in-law, who has a teenage son and a 20-something son, commented how she would give Eve a swat on the butt. As we were preparing to leave and Eve refused to put on her socks, sis-in-law started clapping her hands loudly, to simulate a hard spanking.
My mom, on the other hand, stayed mum. I’ve appreciated the way she keeps opinions to herself but wondered if she agreed. I called her on Black Friday and asked if she thought we let Eve get away with too much.
“Yeah, I do,” she said.
I’d hoped she’d say no. That she’d understand that Eve’s routine had been broken, her nose was stuffy, and she had to vie for attention with her baby cousin. That Thanksgiving Eve wasn’t Everyday Eve.
“You need to add some teeth to your discipline,” Mom told me. To stop a tantrum, she’d turn a kid over her knee.
I don’t spank Eve, partly because of how I was raised. The way we parent as a society also changed. Time-outs and counting tactics now fill our parenting toolboxes. Parenting experts tell us that diverting the child’s attention or allowing the child to regroup in a time-out chair are more effective as discipline.
Mom believes the spankings she gave her four kids were needed. She used them judiciously, and they brought results, she said.
“I realize things are different now,” Mom said later. When you’ve lived as long as she has, you see trends, she said. “At some point, I think it will swing around.”
She’s sure she did the right thing raising her kids because she’s proud of each of us, she said. A screaming Eve, upset because I wouldn’t let her touch the blender, put an ironic end to the call.
After we hung up, I was determined to be a disciplining mom with a well-behaved child. I got her to play quietly with blocks by herself. A few minutes later, I told her it was time to go potty.
“No,” she told me.
I’ll spare you a description of the next 15 minutes. Let’s just say my husband returned from Black Friday shopping to find a sobbing mess of a wife on the bathroom floor and a pantsless daughter who had yet to go potty. I told him we were raising a terror.
After a couple days, I’d regained my parental confidence. I saw my daughter for what she is: 2 years old.
I tolerate tantrums more than the mothers who came before me, but I don’t give in to the crying fits.
“It’s your kid,” Mom told me. “Everybody has to do what they feel is right.”
While we may disagree about spanking, we agree on that point.
Sherri Richards is mother of a 2-year-old daughter and is an employee of The Forum. She’s also “Top Mom” at http://moms.inforum.com.