Monday, February 18, 2013

Beaten down

A few weeks ago, I unfriended someone for posting this to Facebook:
are what you got from your parents back in the day, when you
did something wrong. You hated them for this & said you
would never raise you [sic] kids that way.
So, while you're a successful professional, your kids are little
$hits. Wonder why?
It may not surprise you that I disagree.

Does it surprise you that I see what I consider to be advocacy of child abuse on Facebook kind of regularly?

This is not "give 'em a quick swat on a diapered butt" stuff (which, p.s., I also disagree with, but differently). This is otherwise mild-mannered people who use words like "whupping" and "beating" as descriptions of ways that it is desirable to treat children.

The folks who make these posts often suggest that they know it's not politically correct, or that they think they'll get some backlash (hm. Meditate on that word for a minute.), but they present their view nonetheless as if they have some moral obligation to tell the world about the superiority of child-hitting.

I don't always unfriend the posters. Often, they have other redeeming qualities, and I think there's something to be said for keeping a variety of perspectives around me.

This particular offender, however, is someone I hardly know and don't care a whole lot about. She did recommend my current plow guy, which was nice of her, but I don't think that's sufficient to keep her in my life. She (like me) is not a parent, though she is a passionate animal rights advocate. I can't imagine she'd stay quiet if someone advocated beating a dog. Which, also, I have never seen anyone do on Facebook.

So... does this happen to the rest of you? Do you want to burst into tears when it does?


Rick said...

I just unfriended someone on Facebook the other day because they were bashing the iPhone, so unfriending someone for advocating beating their child, doesn't seem that extreme to me. :) But at the same time, I had the "spanking" conversation with my wife the other day. We DON'T spank our kids (ages 7 and 4) but we feel that because our generation chooses, for the most part, not to spank their children, that our kids have no fear of their parents and as a result have no respect for them, which means they're often ill-behaved and have an unearned sense of entitlement. I see it all the time, all my kids' friends are the same way, walking all over their parents, demanding to be spoiled. We punish our kids all the time and that usually "rights" their behavior for a little while, but nothing kept me more in-line as a child as the fear of a good "ass whupping." So while I still refuse to spank my kids, I don't see a solution out there right now. But this also brings up the issue that we're raising our kids to be mediocre by giving everyone prizes for participating instead of rewarding kids for being the best and teaching us to strive to be the best.

bzzzzgrrrl said...

Do you think the generational difference that you see is beating-related?

I was never beaten, or threatened with it, at any age. In fact, I was never grounded, though that threat did exist — I just never earned it.

And you knew me in high school. Was I badly behaved? I bet I did less "bad stuff" than you did. I obviously misbehaved, and obviously was often no joy for my parents to have around, but in terms of scary-dangerous stuff, or antisocial entitlement stuff, I think, as far as I can tell, I turned out OK.

In general, I hate the exact kind of argument I'm employing right here: "I turned out OK" is dumb, because literally anyone can employ it to advocate anything, even if, in my mind, they did not turn out OK. Maybe if I'd been beaten as a child I'd be more ambitious, or married, or have some other measure of success that makes sense to someone.

But in addition to the basic objection to harming people, I have a hard time with the idea that it is desirable to have your children fear you, that that is the only way to get them to respect you. To you, does that seem like the naivete of my not being a parent?

I wonder, if you asked the nicest, best behaved, most respectful, least entitled folks you know, of any generation, whether they were hit, whether you'd find most of them were.

Anonymous said...

[LindseyW] I read a really interesting book about child development that said that "research indicates" (I did not investigate that statement further) that teenage rebellion is largely caused by a heavy reliance on fear-based parenting in childhood. If fear of physical punishment had been the only thing guiding their choices of right and wrong, they can easily lose their moral compass for a while as that fear subsides. The book focused on effective parenting as a parent expressing their needs and not backing down on getting their needs met but also hearing the needs of the child too.

Quick example: child heading out in winter without a coat. Parent says, "Don't forget your coat." Child disagrees. Parent says "I need you to wear a coat because I will worry about you all day and if you get sick I will have to take the day off of work to stay home with you." Kid says "but I hate my coat; everyone makes fun of it" Parent says, "How about a sweater and your fall jacket--that would keep you warm enough." and everyone is happy... in theory.

I think the point is that kids learn empathy and consideration for others' needs while also behaving. Rather than feeling beaten down (even without the use of physical violence if their feelings/needs are ignored).

My own belief is that if there is an increase in misbehavior today, it has nothing to do with beating. It is because parents are too tired and disempowered from a long work day to stand up for their own needs. Many modern parents in the example above would just say "whatever, you're going to freeze though!" and the interaction would be over with minimal energy expenditure.

If we want to get "way" into my thoughts on this, I think that the decline of good middle-class jobs (fewer small businesses, more Walmart employees) leaves workers feeling less valued, less worthy, and less likely to advocate for their own needs with their children. Not only are they tired from a hard day's work but they don't feel a sense of accomplishment, they just feel tired. "Behaving" is really about respecting the others around you. If parents don't really feel that bothered by living/working in an environment without respect, they aren't going to care if their kids are little monsters.

Joe said...

The fact is, there is no "cure all" for teaching the little ones to listen to their parents.
All kids will act up from time to time, and most kids will respond differently to various forms of discipline. Rick, you are absolutely correct when you say the "soft approach" is creating a generation of spoiled children. No question.
Am I an advocate of beating kids? Of course not. But in certain situations, as a LAST RESORT, a pat or two on the behind is simply a reminder that they're acting up and need to listen to Mom and Dad.
I don't do it to create an environment of fear, and I certainly don't threaten them with it. Taking toys and activities away is often a great approach, but again, it doesn't always do the trick.
For the rare occasion that calls for that pat on the but, it's always followed up later with a hug and a kiss and a reminder that we love them no matter what.

Rick said...

We're the same way, Joe. Always follow-up a good shout or whatever, with a hug and a reminder that we love them.

Lucy - I do think "beating" is generationally-related. Our generation more than any other, said we were going to do things differently. And I feel that my wife and I are good parents, teaching good values and before we had kids and we heard a kid screaming in a restaurant we said "Our kids will never behave that way." But they do. There's nothing you can do about behavior sometimes. Kids act up. Kids rebel, it's all part of being a kid and no parenting or generational changes can avert that. You just have to try and raise them the best you can.

But my parents never "beat me." I got spanked occasionally when I was really bad, but I never lived in fear of my father, but I did think twice before doing something I knew was wrong, but I knew it was wrong because my parents taught me the difference between right and wrong. They were good parents.

As for your parents, I think you're in a slightly different category with your folk being part of the clergy. I think there's an additional set of values and behavior that you were taught more overtly than most of us heathens.

I think our generation was the cusp of the entitlement generation. We started the slacker generation. We personally might have come out okay, but a lot of people from our generation are still mooching off of mom and dad.

Lindsey - I think that book is good in theory and i think what that book is advocating is great, but theories work for some people and don't for others. The coat example would never work with my 7-year-old. Sometimes there's no compromising with her. As I said at the top, I think we do the best that we can do and hope for the best and hope that our children make the right decisions. As the old adage goes, "we give our kids root and wings" and we gotta let them fly.

bzzzzgrrrl said...

You may be on to something with the clergy business, Rick, not so much in the "values" stuff (there's no "thou shalt not scream in a restaurant" in the Bible, any more than there's a "thou shalt not cut classes" or a "thou shalt not smoke weed." But I did grow up very aware that the things I did in public had an impact on the whole family; we were in a fishbowl, and I knew it.

Also, to be clear, I didn't mean to put any words in your mouth. My remark on fear was my reaction to your "because our generation chooses, for the most part, not to spank their children, that our kids have no fear of their parents and as a result have no respect for them." I didn't at all mean to suggest that your parents were not good parents, or that they were abusive.

Rick said...

I didn't think you did. :) I was just generalizing and I got that you got that.

Joe said...

And circling back to your original question, CMC: yes, it breaks my heart when people talk about "a** whippings" and more serious methods of discipline.
They're kids, after all. More important, they're miniature humans. They have bad days just like us. They get cranky when they don't get enough sleep, they get frustrated when things don't go their way, etc.
I think a lot of parents lose sight of that.
Patience and a lot of deep breaths are my best friends during those difficult episodes!

Mike said...

I would have been tempted to reply: "Your parents gave you 'a$$ whuppings' as a child and look how you turned out: a barbaric advocate of child abuse. Fortunately, anyone who takes your advice will go to jail -- ideally before they turn their children into people like you."