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Is choosing NOT to smack undermining my authority?

(142 Posts)
amyntomsmummy Fri 15-Apr-05 21:44:44

Hiya
dd (now 4) and to a certain extent ds(2) for some reason or the other, lately seem to be goin bonkers with me in the house despite firm convetional disciplinary tactics e.g. time out, bottom step, rational talking to (which all do sometimes work)...
Ive always gone by the thought that i'd rather die than ever see any of my kids go through pain, so smacking to me was a NONO! And this has been despite many times when the temptation to lay my hand upon a few little bottoms has been great! I would only beleive in smacking the bottom though, (never damagable hands, legs,arms...)
dh is a bit of a smacker when he needs to be but I feel this is sometimes the only thing the kids seem to respond to and dh has a MUCH bigger grip on the kids behaiviour than I do. I feel with me,
especially with my daughter, she feels that mummy is powerless because she never has a detering last resort. I.e. my authority is being undermined because I dont smack.
After long thinking I think that im right not to want to put my child through 'real pain' but I feel that a little discomfort on the cute, soft thing she sits on, is really not 'pain' but instead might probably be good for her in the long term.
Have others felt that they are powerless to their children unless they become as firm as I am thinking? Tell me your thoughts pls xxx
Jessica

chipmonkey Fri 15-Apr-05 21:50:41

I think that your trouble lies in the fact that you and your dh have differing approaches. He smacks, you don't. No matter what form the discipline took the inconsistency would mean that he is in effect, undermining your authority. I don't personally agree with smacking as I think that it sends the wrong message. It makes it OK for them to hit each other and other kids.

chipmonkey Fri 15-Apr-05 21:51:52

Just read over my post and I think I sound very bossy and authoritarian. Sorry! I'm not really like that!

jamiesam Fri 15-Apr-05 21:58:48

Am inclined to agree with chipmonkey about 'if it's ok for mummy to hit me, it's ok for me to hit other people'. I know that sounds horribly symplistic and will probable haunt me in years to come, but for now...

Ds's are 3 1/2 and 21 months, so I am just behind you as it were. I know that ds2 gets away with a lot more than ds1 and am probably storing up problems for later on. For now, ds1 is responding very well to star chart which we started using around 6 weeks ago.

However, dh and I do have same approach, broadly speaking, to discipline. I think at the moment, we'd both take the view that we'd lost control of ourselves if we hit ds's.

merrygoround Fri 15-Apr-05 22:10:27

Can't explain why, but I feel that the logic is not right. You feel you have no "bottom line" (no pun intended) because you don't smack, but surely you still have the ultimate authority, which derives from your children's desire to have your attention and praise. Nothing hurts a child more than feeling that their beloved parent is displeased with them. I am no expert, but my gut feeling is that sticking with your other forms of discipline in a really calm and consistent way - and not neglecting all the vital positive reinforcement stuff - will ultimately be every bit as effective (and more so IMHO) than smacking.

paolosgirl Fri 15-Apr-05 22:27:52

That's OK if your children are actually bothered by whether or not they have your praise and attention! Ds - as I've said many times before on MN, is a bit of a challenge - and if he is in one of his 'moods' he honestly could not care less what affect he has on the rest of the family.
Without wanting to resurrect the smacking deabte, I think you are probably best to go with your gut reaction, and if you don't think smacking is for you, then thats probably what you should stick with - if that makes sense. In no way does that undermine your authority.
Just one final point. As a child who was smacked (and still has a fantastic relationship with my mum, with no lasting psychological damage!), I knew perfectly well that it was wrong to hit other children because my mum had smacked me. I don't really think that arguement stacks up.

Hulababy Fri 15-Apr-05 22:33:57

The only think I would say is that I think it is best if both parents have the same approach to disciple (IME anyway). I don't smack, but neither does DH. I find the consistency is important.

ionesmum Fri 15-Apr-05 22:36:12

I'm another one who thinks smacking is wrong. It works by making a child frightened and humiliated (esp. on the bottom and esp. in a girl from her daddy.) I don't see how a child can find that loving in any way, and all they learn is that hurting others is how to get what you want.

I think that you are right that you are undermined, not because you don't smack but because your dh does. In fact, this probably undermines both of you, because I guess you end up with a 'wait til your daddy gets home' type situation, which is unfair - by then your little ones have forgotten why they've been told off, and daddy becomes the big tough nasty one.

With my three year old, if I really need her to do something then she gets told once nicely, once sternly, then she gets a warning. Sometimes it can be that I will pick her up and carry her to where she is refusing to go, other times I warn her that she will lose a toy or a privilidge. If she doesn't do what I ask, then I follow through with whatever I have said I will do. It has to be immediate e.g. if she is misbehaving at the table, she doesn't get a yoghurt. I got this idea from seeing how they are disciplined at dd's preschool. DH and I have agreed to use the same approaches, so that whichever one of us is in charge she gets a consistent approach. We are careful not to name call - so we say that she has done something naughty, rather than is naughty, IYSWIM. If she is just acting up or whining, we ignore her, or say that we can't hear her unless she uses a nice voice. Distracting is another thing that works with her; she hates getting out of the bath so we turn it into a game by hiding under her towel. And of course we give her loads of praise and attention when she is behaving well.

I don't particularly want to be pwerful over my children. I want them to co-operate with me. Every now and then we have to be firm about how they co-operate, but generally dd1 does so of he rown accord.

I've found some books really useful: Raising Happy Children, the books by Steve Biddulph, and the Positive Discipline series of books, all from Amazon. Also got som eideas from Little Angels on the telly

Does your dd go to school or pre-school? How do they discipline?

paolosgirl Fri 15-Apr-05 22:41:16

ionesmum - I was never, ever frightened or humilated by a smack on the backside from my mum!!! My dad had a far, far worse approach. He ignored me. For hours and days sometimes. A quick smack is not the worst thing you can do, believe me, as someone who knows.

Caligula Fri 15-Apr-05 22:45:16

Jessica, this thread was posted twice, and I replied on the other one. Here's the cut and paste of my twopenceworth:

Yes, I felt that for a while maybe about a year ago. I felt that I hadn't really got enough control over the kids, and everyone around me was encouraging me to smack them.

So I did. And after about a month, what I found, was that their behaviour was no better than when I didn't smack them. So I borrowed the Christopher Green book, Positive Parenting, from the library, and I signed up for a parenting course. This was extremely helpful as it made me realise that I hadn't been as consistent as I thought I was being previously.

Now the kid's behaviour is much much better, and I feel far more confident and sure of myself as a parent and my discipline methods. Have you thought of doing a parenting course? I made some very nice friends from it, and I really enjoyed it. It was well worth the effort.

HTH.

merrygoround Fri 15-Apr-05 22:47:46

Caligula, where do you find parenting courses?

Caligula Fri 15-Apr-05 22:52:04

I happened to find one at my local mother and toddler group, because the woman who runs it is keen on them and organises them for her local course. The materials we used were from the Family Caring Trust. Hang on, will try and find a website.

Caligula Fri 15-Apr-05 22:54:59

Here we are

family caring trust

I think if you call them, they may be able to give you the names and numbers of people who run courses in your area? Couldn't swear to it though.

vv2005 Fri 15-Apr-05 22:56:01

To be honest, you shouldnt worry Jess about the problems you are going through, were ALL mothers, so weve all been through the same things!
I feel you should try to get a way of making youre children feel you are not to be run over and mean business by using the tactics and working with your dh more. Dont just use the tactics he uses because he does, do what you feel is right.
All though it may at time really not seem it, most parents smack, though they may not seem to openly say it. I smack when I feel its neceeassary . If you do choose to smack though, i reitterate, do it only on their 'BOTTOMS' nowhere else, this way thus making sure no lasting damage will occur.
I feel maybe instead of punishing too much, you should instead try to work along with your kids and make them not want to disobey you as much as they seem to.
But understand at the end of the day, they are only 4 and 2 years old, so dont expect them, at the same time, to behave like adults!

ionesmum Fri 15-Apr-05 22:56:53

paolosgirl, what you are saying is that negative attention is better than no attention. Surely positive attention is best of all?

When I was a teenager me and my mate were caught bunking off school. She got a smack (which really was a tap - to be hard enough to hurt a teenager it's assault) and bunked off again the next day. I was grounded for a week. And I didn't bunk off again.

jamiesam Fri 15-Apr-05 22:59:22

There is a MIND house just the road from me which runs parenting courses - see if anything near you? (Are very cheap and seem to vary between daytime with creche and evening courses)

ionesmum Fri 15-Apr-05 23:01:45

Also check out the parentline website.

www,parentlineplus.org.uk (sorry, I'm a berk when it comes to links )

soapbox Fri 15-Apr-05 23:03:36

vv2005 - I really disagree with your most parents smack comment

Most of the parents I know don't!

I think its horrible to smack a child - if you did something that annoyed me and I smacked you in the face, I think you'd be more than a bit put out wouldn't you!

Why should a child be a target of violence when they are our most vulnerable members of society?

Frankly people who smack always make me think that they are too lazy/stupid or whatever to think of an alternative punishment. Lazy parenting/bullying whatever you want to call it springs to my mind every time!


And yes thats a very opinionated statement but I'm just being honest - thats exactly what runs through my mind, every time!

ionesmum Fri 15-Apr-05 23:04:42

BTW my mum was an expert on not talking and ignoring. Her record was six months, when she read my diaries and found some stuff she'd rather not have known about. I was 14. So I know all about being ignored.

ionesmum Fri 15-Apr-05 23:05:59

I agree soapbox. What's with this, 'only on the bottoms so it does no damage' stuff? Wtf?????

saadia Fri 15-Apr-05 23:13:36

I don't agree with smacking at all, even though I did once in anger smack ds1 on the bottom. I regretted it immediately and vowed never to do it again. I felt absolutely horrible. I just don't see how anyone in a calm and rational frame of mind could bring themselves to do it.

Having said that my mother smacked us when we were kids and although we were scared of it at the time, we always were and still are very close to my mother and really adore her. But I just don't think it achieved anything except create fear.

vv2005 Fri 15-Apr-05 23:14:55

Ionesmum I have to disagree with your quote below about smacking.
^"It works by making a child frightened and humiliated (esp. on the bottom and esp. in a girl from her daddy.)"^
Your whole point about smacking 'bottoms' as being humiliating and especially when it happens to a girl from her dad, i have to say is completely untrue.
The bottom is the natural place one would expect to smack on a child because it is padded, soft and contains NO major organs. The parental use of smackng on the tushy goes back quite far back and when used appropriately, should not cause a fuss.
It is a whole different ball game to say that you may not agree with the concept of smacking and i will accept that if u do.
There is nothing dubious in a loving parent (even a father) smacking the rear of his child whether it be male or female.
Im not sure whther you are saying that girls shouldnt be smacked on their bottoms from their fathers because of a 'sexual' angle to it or something else but remember were not talking about random men in the street being allowed to smack another random female posterior when he pleases (of which would obviousely be crude and innapropriate)but we are just talking about 'children' being being smacked by a member of their families when they are little.

vv2005 Fri 15-Apr-05 23:20:58

-but soapbox, i understand what you are saying, but do you really think tapping a child is 'violence.'
I feel saying that is making a mockery of all the people who have really suffered actual 'violence.'
As for this 'do or do not most people smack,' im only quoting from the figures in opinions poles. Yes, i too know many who dont or are opposed to smacking, but understand from the opposite perspective

ionesmum Fri 15-Apr-05 23:21:08

vv2005, no, I don't mean it's a sexual thing in the sense that it's abuse on the part of the father. I mean that the bottom is private, something I was taught from a young age, that people do not touch without permission the parts of your body that are covered by a two-piece swimsuit. As a child I would have been horrified if my dad had smacked my bottom, but I had no qualms about sitting on his lap etc.

Bottoms may be well-padded for smacking. They also have the advantage of not being visible once a child is dressed.

There is also a long tradition of caning, using a strap, washing mouths out with soap....

ionesmum Fri 15-Apr-05 23:24:49

vv2005, I form a lot of my opinions based on the experience of my cousin who was smacked. Then it became hitting with a belt. Then a ruler...you get the picture. She has suffered 'real violence'. And she will not so much as let her dh raise his voice to their kids. And he knows that the moment he so much as gives a 'tap on the bottom' he is out - not that he would ever do so. Their approach to parenting is much like ours and their kids are a pleasure to be with.

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