Sunday, May 21, 2006

No Hitter

I sat in a circle of women and we shared stories from our childhood. We talked about being hit as children, how it affected us and the way we choose to parent. Most of us in the circle were disciplined by spanking. Most, if not all of us felt it was abusive. I felt that being "spanked" as a child destroyed my sense of trust and also affected my adult life. For instance, I have found that as a young adult I often put up with more crap from people than I really should have, avoided confrontation and was afraid to speak my mind. Some years and a stack of self-help books later, I realized the source of my fears, was able to set boundaries and speak my mind.

A wonderful mama-to-be (due this summer) shared her story, and her's touched me so deeply that I asked permission to write about it. She too was disciplined by hitting and here's the rest of her story:

She said, "You know how you have a childhood memory that you can never forget?...Well when I was 9 years old, my father apologized. He told me that back in Vietnam that is how they disciplined and that was all he knew, but since we moved to the U.S. he learned to do things a different way and he was sorry for hitting me. Now as adults, we're like buddies".

I wish all parents would have the guts to apologize to their children for mistakes that they made. Denying or pretending that it didn't happen by not discussing it doesn't make the memory, the hurt or resentment go away. I feel parents should validate their child's experience just as this father did as it demonstrated respect, compassion and love. He showed that he was human, imperfect, but with a willingness to grow.

At a baby shower last weekend I met a woman with a babe 3 months younger than Satch. I noticed that he was gently touching his mama's hair. I remarked, "That's so sweet...he's so gentle. Satchel still tugs quite hard". The woman replied, "Well he used to do that too, but I kept smacking his hand and eventually he stopped".

I felt as if I caved in on myself. I could never do that. I believe that hitting is abuse. I would never want my son to distrust me, to resent me, to fear me or to feel any of the confusing emotions that consume you when someone who "loves" you physically hurts you.

(I asked my husband about his childhood. Though he doesn't remember much of his childhood, he said that was disciplined by "spanking" until the age of six. His parents became Dr. Spock-ers.)

Over the years I've read many books in an attempt to mend old wounds and for personal growth. I believe the information has enabled me to be a better parent.

Here are some gems for dealing with your childhood "baggage":
And some wonderful books on discipline:

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posted by Wendy at 6:56 PM


Blogger julie said...

I'm not sure what to say....... I feel like you're around me for a reason... like we were meant to be friends and kindred spirits... I'm lightyears behind you but I'm running as fast as I can to catch up... Promise we'll always stay in touch no matter what. I know I will need your guidence wisdom and soothing tone too many times. I am struggling with the vicious cycle of abuse as well and although I never ever hit... I know sometimes my words sting just as much. My frustrations as a mother can cloud my intentions and for that I must contniue to work on breaking the cycle.

1:43 PM  
Blogger pinkcoyote said...

w-i honestly don't know how you keep your mouth quiet when around people like this woman who slapped her child's hand. the story breaks my heart. i can't imagine what it would be like to spank my child in a premeditated way like this. this is also a reason why we downsized our home so i could stay home with miles-my family are spankers in that sense and i couldn't bear leaving him with them for care to have something like that happen. oh god. we've talked a little about this before-it always strikes such a cord in me: that so many can discipline their child (especially before a year old) using fear to curb a behavior when there are so many gentle alternatives! i had a cousin who worked for a daycare, and when i was pregnant she told me that she'd told one of the little boys that if he didn't use the potty the potty monster was going to get him. can you imagine the lashing i gave her. she is now pregnant and plans to attachment parent. young people who don't know and those who defend their parents fear tactics continue to parent unacceptably. *deep breath pixie*
thank you and all of us who care so much for our babies that we are committed to breaking our parent's legacies...


4:22 PM  
Blogger Nikki B said...

I had a neighbor who when her daughter did (or didn't)do something she would use fear tactics... she wanted to come visit us across the street... this mom didn't want to walk her over (she was almost 4 at the time...) she told her... You can't go over there... they've put out the porch monster!! When the lights on on the front porch it's because the Porch Monster is out! Poor thing refused to come in the front door ever again! I was so angry at the mom.. pure laziness! Yet she parented like this continually! I can't imagine what goes on now "/ it frightens me to think of it... the last time I visited with the little girl, she was 9 and thought she was "fat"... her mom has her in cheerleading, gymnastics and something else... FAT this child is not... and her mom wonders why my daughter can't spend the night... ? HMMM... lets just think?! Porch monsters! UGH... potty monsters... BLAH!

4:03 PM  

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