The moment when your kid gives you sass, knows they are wrong, and yet, stands their ground. Even after you say, “You better not be fresh to me again!” and they retort with some other sassy comment that you just want to let your hand fly. We have all had that moment, when you have milliseconds to decide what to do. Do you continue your fight verbally? Do you send them to their room, and when they don’t go, literally pick them up and carry them there against their will? Or do you let the hand fly? (I suppose I could have an entire blog post about the split seconds we have to make these decisions, as it appears to be a challenge for mothers all it’s own!)
My mother smacked us. I don’t have any ill feelings towards her whatsoever. I don’t think that there was ANYTHING wrong with it. It was never to hurt us, it was to instill the fear necessary to get us to listen. Am I brainwashed? Nope. I am firsthand evidence that how my mother chose to discipline us worked. Now don’t get me wrong, she didn’t resort to smacking us all the time. It definitely escalated, depending upon the crime. And often, my oldest sister paved the way for the other two of us. We knew what to do and not to do to set our mom off and avoided it based on the repercussions the eldest got. Over time, usually “the look” was enough to send us packing, retaliating, hiding, and begging for mercy. It worked. I find myself to be an upstanding, responsible citizen, and I know right from wrong.
I’d like to think that I have “the look” down pat. My kids see it, and although they might be too young to completely understand what lies within it (utter and complete annoyance, frustration, and disgust), they are starting to understand what might come next: time out. Isolation seems to be enough to get my kids back on track, as they are social kids and love being around others. So when the threat of being put in their room, by themselves, for an indeterminate amount of time, that is usually enough. When it’s not, I send them anyway, and many tears and shouting later (from them, not me), I get the “I’m sorry, mommy” and “I won’t do it again, mommy”. Even if it only lasts for a few minutes, they know I mean business, will follow through, plan to hold my ground.
Authority, however, you chose to do so, is earned. I can’t fault a parent for what they chose to do with their own kids. Have I swatted my kid on the tush lightly to simply enunciate my request/decree? Yes. Am I going to step in when another parent does something? No way! I heard a story once about a woman who was in a parking lot with her young daughter. Her daughter, after several requests to stay with her, took off. The mother ran over to her, grabbed her, and swatted her bottom, hard, telling her how dangerous it was. The little girl cried, of course, out of fear or pain or whatever. A bystander walked over to the mother, telling her that she shouldn’t hit her kids. The mother looked at the bystander, holding her daughter’s arm out to the bystander. “Do you want her?” the mother asked. The bystander was shocked into silence, and walked away. I remember thinking, wow, what balls that mom had! But good for her. Every parent has to decide what they need to do for their own children; no one can tell you what is right for your child. You are the one who is with them the most, knows their ins and outs, and quirky behaviors. If you chose to swat your kid, that’s your own business, no one elses. My jury is still out on it, believe me, but if the sass continues, I’m going to have to get creative with how I deal with it!