After reading some of the comments on my post from Thursday - and discussing the topic with my friends - it dawned on me that I should write a follow-up post clarifying a few things.
Most importantly, I don't condone hitting children.
Now, I'm not going to lie. I have doled out a spanking before - like the day that my children opened the door and let their naked baby brother out who ended up wandering far off down the street. But in my opinion, they were LUCKY that the worse thing to happen was a spanking to their bum and a bedtime at 5:00 PM.
My friend Debbie and I discussed the topic of discipline during our walk this morning. My friend's position is that a parent should never, ever strike their child. Sure, she has had many situations where she could wallop her boys, but she didn't. Because how can you teach respect to a child when you are hitting them? And once you start hitting - it becomes a very slippery slope of where the "spanking" might stop.
As much as I'd like to believe that I am a "controlled" spanker, I know that's not true. Whenever I have spanked our kids - I have done it because I was frustrated and lost control. There has only been one situation where our kids acted up and I told them that they were going to get a spanking and they needed to wait for it. And let me tell you, those 10 minutes leading up to a quick spanking were absolute TORTURE for our children. The wait was far worse than the actual spank.
When I was a child growing up, my mother had something that she called the "BLOOD SPATULA." I don't recall my mother ever hitting any of us with that spatula, but I do remember her yelling, "I'm going to get the BLOOD SPATULA!" and we would all run and hide. Whatever bad behavior we were doing - would cease as soon as mom would reach for her spatula that we envisioned would splatter our blood across the walls.
It was both the worst, and greatest, mind game of all time.
(I can just imagine my mother falling off her chair as she reads this, while thinking, "Oh No! She's telling the world about my Blooood Spatula!!!" How much do you want to bet she leaves a comment denying it's existence? And, I'll bet that my Aunt Grace leaves a comment denying the day that she broke a wooden spoon over my cousin Margaret's head. What made that situation particularly tough was that Auntie was actually aiming for Lisa.)
While I do believe that there are times when nothing gets a point across as efficiently or effectively as a swat on the behind, I'm never happy about it. Especially when I read parenting blogs that rave, "We don't hit people that we love and respect."
Oh. Well Then.
I must not love and respect my children.
In hindsight (no pun intended), with the one "controlled" exception noted above, the only time I've ever spanked our kids is when I have lost my patience. Likewise, the only time I've ever screamed at them is when I've lost my patience. When I reach a certain level of frustration, I resort to this crazy primitive beast, that pounds on their chest. But you know what? I think it's NORMAL that I act that way when I'm provoked.
Consider this: Humans are highly evolved animals. And when I think of animals in the wild, I think of lions and tigers and bears. Animals that have been known to not only bite their young, but eat them whole.
Why do you think that is?
When I wrote about losing my patience a few years ago, I was criticized harshly. "Shame on you for not having the same control you require of your children."
That's an excellent point.
Because in reality, when I am feeling calm - and controlled - I am much better able to handle children that act up. But I'm not always in control because I'm not perfect. I admit it. But I also try my best to improve it, every day.
Being a good parent is such tough work.
It takes patience - control - consistency and stamina.
Regarding Rebecca at the pool (and the boy at the beach), the parent should have removed the child at the EXACT moment they started acting up. I am convinced that if the parents had swung in to action fast to stem the outburst, the kids never would have been so out-of-control and violent.
Soo, the primary point I was trying to make in my post on Thursday is that a parent needs to establish themself as the alpha leader in a family. A parent, NOT a child, is the one who runs the show. That doesn't mean that you need to HIT them, or SCREAM at them.
It means that you need to be in control.
Every so often, I go a little overboard with the drama, in an effort to show the children that there is a very fine line between gentle mom and the CRAZY mom that emerges if they push me too far. If they are fighting over toys, I might pick up all the toys and put them in a trash bag and toss them in the garage for a week. I've been known to leave an event, immediately after we've arrived because children are misbehaving. I frequently do time outs until they calm down and apologize for their poor behavior. And for what it's worth, I do time outs for me, too.
And well - there are those times I pound on my chest and yell.
Because regardless of what any one might think, I think it's good that my kids are just a little bit afraid of me.