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Grandmother smacking my 3 year old

(21 Posts)
purpleowllove Thu 04-Dec-14 09:25:43

Hello there, I recently picked up my 3 year old son who seemed quite withdrawn and upset from his grandparents house. As we were driving home I could tell he was not right and I asked him if anything was wrong and he told me that his grandmother had smacked him on the bottom after he was hiding under a table, this she had not told me about and I felt very angry because it's not her place to punish him in that way. He was very distant and I could see that he had a lot of hurt in his eyes. We had a lot of cuddles when we got home and the following morning he was still talking about it and upset so it must have been quite an impact on him. Earlier when I picked him up she had told me he was mis behaving and acting like Jekyl and Hyde (in front of him) which actually made me feel uncomfortable - he is only 3! He is currently toilet training too so it's a huge thing for him to go through and he does lash out a bit out of frustration. My approach is to put him into time out on the stairs until he is ready to apologise. I have to go away soon to visit some relatives abroad and won't be taking my son on the trip and now am worried to leave him for 3 days. I did speak to my husband who said he would have a word but I am still really angry about it and know that if I raise the subject it will cause a stir and they help out so much and I cannot afford alternative childcare. I am not into smacking my kids at all as I was often smacked as a child and am still scarred by it now. Not happy today sad

StockingFullOfCoal Thu 04-Dec-14 09:30:24

I would go fucking nuclear about this. My MIL fortunately doesn't do smacking, DH & I don't have kids of our own yet anyway, my exMIL doesn't do smacking either, in fact she barely raises her voice, and its one of the reasons I trust her 100% with my kids. I am NC with my own "mother" due to abusive childhood and she doesn't see my kids. My DDad and DStepMum don't do smacking either.

How fucking dare she lay a hand on your child. Sorry but I wouldn't leave my child in her care unsupervised for even a few minutes after this.

CogitOIOIO Thu 04-Dec-14 09:30:49

Don't leave it to your husband for goodness' sake. Cause a bloody stir!!! Stand up for your child and stand up for yourself. You're allowed to say that you don't agree with smacking and that it shouldn't have happened. They should respect your wishes. Just because they are doing something for free, doesn't give them carte blanche to do what they like.

GoatsDoRoam Thu 04-Dec-14 09:40:29

know that if I raise the subject it will cause a stir

Raise the subject. Cause that stir. Because if you don't, your boy will be smacked again.

Lweji Thu 04-Dec-14 09:51:27

Without going nuclear at this point, could you discuss with her other forms of discipline (and discipline is not only about punishment)? Would she be receptive at all?
You could talk to her about the effects you observed on him and ask her even if she doesn't agree to at least respect your choices regarding your child. It might be a good time to fully discuss the reasons for not smacking and so on.
I have no idea how old she is, but smacking is still considered acceptable by many and these things must certainly be discussed when planning and agreeing to child care.

If she does kick a fuss and refuses to agree to no smacking, then you will need to consider alternative child care. As in your OH should stay at home to compensate (that should spur him into action).

TheHermitCrab Thu 04-Dec-14 09:58:01

know that if I raise the subject it will cause a stir

Of course it will. Another adult assaulted your child. Simple as.

It's not about being for or against smacking a child, because even if you do, that doesn't give any other relative the right to do it or not. Ever.

She hit him, and she shouldn't have. Whether she was as a child or not, or she deems it normal. Not her child. So yes, you need to cause a stir about it, your child is more important that you worrying you're going to have a tiff with the grandparents.

cdwales Thu 04-Dec-14 10:39:48

I agree with the comments above but I would add something else! It is about your son - he sounds rather like mine. He is talking about his experience!!!! This is pure gold and boy you need to listen and deliver and revisit to gain/keep his trust. So many children - boys especially - simply do not feel able to talk about these things. Sadly this has been revealed by the extent to which children have not been telling their parents about paedophile assaults...
So yes G'ma needs to be told that 'we DO NOT physically chastise' and you need to agree with her what sanctions she does have available. If she knows that the lines of communication are open she will probably comply because obviously if she doesn't she can't have her grandson! My son is now 19 and still speaks frankly to me and trusts me - it is such a blessing and because he is so sensitive he is potentially vulnerable to depression like me and being able to talk is vital...
This will blow over and will be gr8 for your relationship with your son.

BarbarianMum Thu 04-Dec-14 10:39:58

Have you ever told her you don't allow smacking? If not then you need to tell her, and agree what forms of discipline you are happy for her to use (she will need some).

If she already knows you don't want her to smack him, or if she won't take you seriously, then you can't leave your son with her. And if she finds him hard work then leaving him with her for 3 days simply isn't fair.

LovesPeace Thu 04-Dec-14 10:46:17

I think that as long as you are expecting the grandparents to provide free childcare then 'it is her place to punish him in that way'.

You could ask nicely if she'll change the punishment in line with your own ideals, but she's from a different generation so may not adapt.

The bottom line is that if you don't like the grandparent's free childcare, pay for someone more in line with your and your husband's expectations.

TheHermitCrab Thu 04-Dec-14 10:52:11

Really, people have to instruct beforehand whether they have a smacking or no smacking policy??

Even if I did smack my child on the bum every now and again I wouln't expect that any other family member would hit my child unless instructed not to.

It's not something you say to people "babysit my child, oh and by the way, don't hit them"

TheHermitCrab Thu 04-Dec-14 10:53:11

I think that as long as you are expecting the grandparents to provide free childcare then 'it is her place to punish him in that way


nicenewdusters Thu 04-Dec-14 10:54:26

Absolutely you should tell her. You can be perfectly reasonable about it. I would focus on the way your son behaved and was feeling afterwards. Don't pull any punches though. She wasn't worried about your son's feelings when she hit him, so you needn't be overly concerned about hers in this situation.

If she acknowledges that this isn't the way you "punish" your son, and agrees not to do so herself, then hopefully problem solved. I think it would be a good idea however if afterwards you sit down with her and your son. You can talk about the fact that granny knows we don't do hitting, and that it won't be happening again. He needs to know you've taken him seriously and sorted things out. My worst fear would be that she would do it again, tell him not to tell you and then he's stuck in a really hard place.

I wouldn't leave it to your husband to have a word. My gut instinct is that it will be minimised, he'll want to protect his mum's feelings, and you might be portrayed as an over protective mother.

Riverland Thu 04-Dec-14 10:55:16

Agree strongly w cdwales. Tell her you don't do smacking, and tell her kindly, and tell her gently and firmly, and tell her in front if your son. Tell her it's against your rules to hurt people or intimidate people in any way and explain that people now realise that it is abusive to bully physically.

Let your son know he is safe with you. This has to be changed, otherwise you can't leave your son with that person at all.

KatieKaye Thu 04-Dec-14 10:58:48

I'd want to talk to her first and find out what she has to say about the incident.

Then make it very clear you do not allow smacking and about your time-out way of dealing with things. If she doesn't agree never to smack again then you've got to let her know how important this is to your family.

worldgonecrazy Thu 04-Dec-14 11:01:20

You need to speak to her, and you also need to discuss alternative forms of discipline. Depending how emotionally mature your child is, the naughty step may not work either, especially with a strong minded child. Time out can work too, this is where you take your child away from the situation and sit quietly and calmly with them until they too become quiet and calm.

Grandma also needs to learn on rebuilding trust with both you and your son.

Your husband needs to step up and deal with it too, not minimise it. Plenty of older grandparents don't use smacking as a form of discipline, so I don't think age is an excuse either.

If she and your husband refuse to change then you will have to look into alternative childcare, with everything that entails, and your husband will just have to suck it up.

BarbarianMum Thu 04-Dec-14 11:42:46

TheHermitCrab grandparents aren't just anyone. My mum smacked me, she probably would have smacked her grandchildren occasionally if I hadn't made it clear that that wasn't acceptable to us (she wouldn't have smacked me if she believed it was the wrong thing to do, after all).

She wouldn't dream of smacking a random child. She's not an abuser, just someone who comes from a time when the occasional smack was perfectly acceptible and common parenting practise. She has always respected my wishes re her grandchildren and is quite framkly ridiculously indulgent with them anyway.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Thu 04-Dec-14 12:04:59

Smacks are a quick way of "punishing" an action where words would do.

Ask her what was his behaviour that led up to this. If you don't want her smacking him, say so. Talk to her, adult to adult. Say to her you believe nothing good comes out of hitting your child for discipline. That he could end up thinking, to cause pain is what big people do to children when they're cross because they are bigger and they can.

If she shrugs it off or won't say she'll not do it again you have to rethink your childcare.

TheHermitCrab Thu 04-Dec-14 12:15:19


I am quite aware grandparent's aren't just anyone.

If it's not your child it's not your child, I would never dream of making a decision to hit anyone's child except my own. Isn't anyone's place to and in my opinion there shouldn't have to be that kind of conversation before hand. "oh by the way, please don't hit your grandchildren"

The excuse of being from a different era is silly in my opinion. I was smacked as a child, but it would never ever occur to me to discipline anyone else's children except my own in the same way.

skolastica Thu 04-Dec-14 12:33:02

Having been unfairly smacked as a child, I would see red and would probably already have had very strong and clear words that no one ever ever ever smacks my child. Smacking on the bottom is also very deliberate, which makes it more of a violation.

On a more proactive note, it possibly also shows that she felt discipline was needed and was at a loss as to how she might do this, so resorted to 'the old favourite'. You might discuss together what happened, and what you might have done differently and therefore, what approach she might take in future.

BarbarianMum Thu 04-Dec-14 12:39:57

Well clearly we don't agree. I think its fairly normal for a people to alter their behaviour based on their relationship to a child. My mum also hugs and kisses her grandchildren, and gives them sweets. She wouldn't do the same to a neighbours child.

I also think the 'different era' is important. It's not whether she was smacked as a child that's important here, its whether she smacked her own children. Very many people did 30/40 years ago (and it was not that unusual to smack other people's children then either).

Anyway, I still think it is worth the OP having a conversation with her mum/MiL just in case she doesn't subscribe to your pov (although I'm sure many people would).

zippey Thu 04-Dec-14 12:58:00

It sounds as if your child has been emotionally affected by the hitting. I would look at make it explicit to him that hitting is not allowed, that you wont accept it, and that you will protect him.

I would ask grandma to apologise to him and you, its the only way to show him that you will not stand that sort of behavior.

For those who don't see anything wrong with this behavior, would you say the same if it was the child hitting the adult?

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