Child abuse vs. Parental abuse
The other day at a store I saw a mother and child at a checkout. The situation was tense and the rising tone of their voices began to elicit attention from other shoppers. Suddenly, the woman reached out and slapped the other spitting "you B**** " into her face.
If you have not already guessed, this is not the story of a woman and toddler but of a woman and her 12 year old daughter.
I have heard many arguments for and against corporal punishment. Many people equate the act of spanking with child abuse no matter the incident in question. They argue that to raise a hand to a child who is smaller and weaker is always abuse. On the other hand I neither see nor hear this response regarding children in terms to their parents . Abuse of a parent should be no more acceptable than abuse of a child. Children of any age should be taught early it is unacceptable to strike, slap or call a parent names,
There are scores of article and forums on the net that discuss the dangers of child abuse. Many feel that to ever raise a hand to a child is abusive while others contend that it is an appropriate time honored method of parenting that yields results. It is not my purpose to defend spanking as a routine form of discipline. However, I see older children and teens regularly whose behavior would be considered abusive except for their size or age. I've seen children slap, hit.or punch an adult publicly with no repercussions. I have heard children call their mother's names that would shame a sailor and yet there are no lengthy articles or debates concerning this behavior. Furthermore, I have never seen DSS called in because a tween or teen has struck a parent. What I do see is parents that are literally afraid to discipline their child and instead resort to begging or bribery in public places for fear of DSS. I have heard of children as young as 6 threaten their parents they will call DSS and file an abuse report in order to blackmail a parent into submission. This type of behavior should illicit the same type of public response as child abuse reports. Parents need to establish authority early and quickly if it is going to be memorable. Now, I would never abuse a child, however, I refuse to allow them to be abusive to me either. I also realize the importance of establishing myself as an authority figure to my child.
I feel not setting clear and irrevocable boundaries is irresponsible parenting. After all as parents we are charged with the responsibility of teaching our children acceptable behavior and respect for authority. When a child is 16 and refuses to acknowledge authority routinely skipping school or staying out after curfew many places now have laws holding the parent responsible and who then may be fined or sent to jail for the deeds of their progeny. If a child is allowed to be abusive or disrespectful at five I can guarantee this behavior will continue in life. We must teach them there are consequences to their actions and the earlier the better. The fact is that certain behaviors are not tolerated in society towards authority figures. When a child becomes older if they were to strike a police officer there would be serious consequences and in the same manner as a parent you are the authority figure to your child extreme aggressive or disrespectful behavior to a parent cannot be tolerated. When it does happen it is the parents responsibility to bring it to a quick and final end and ensure that we do so in a manner that will remembered. If a parent has no authority over a 6 year old, I can guarantee they will have no control over that child when they are 16. On that note I do want to point out that I do not promote the use of force in all situations especially very young children. Two-year olds throw tantrums and in the midst of a full blown tantrum they may accidentally strike a parent, this is not an incident for strong measures. The situations I am discussing are instances in which a child purposely strikes a parent or resorts to name calling.
There will be those of you who disagree with me, and those of you who agree. From the beginning of time parenting styles have been as varied as parents themselves. I read articles all the time in which parents waif between promoting their parenting methods and attacking others for theirs. This is simply sad, as parents we need to help each other by supporting more and criticizing less. My purpose in this is to simply say that there are no absolutes in life or parenting and to present the other side of this argument. I do not promote corporal punishment to be used routinely, however I do feel there are those rare occasions it is appropriate and even warranted. There may be many out there who have parented without ever being forced to this extreme measure. Personally, I am the parent of six children, most of which are adults now. Of my six only a few were ever disciplined in this way while there are also a couple of the children who never were. Situations vary as do children's temperament. What I did do though is to establish in no uncertain terms that there were acceptable ways in which to treat me and unacceptable ways to treat me. I would not tolerate being treated in an abusive or extremely disrespectful manner by my child.Breaking of that one explicit mandate would result in a quick and immediate response.
My motto with the kids was
"There are few rules here but .. those are non-negotiable!"