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  • Handling criticism for not spanking

    At about the time that API was putting its Summer 2008 AP in a Non-AP World issue of The Journal of API together, I was talked with API Co-founders Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker about the part in their book, Attached at the Heart, discussing ways that parents can handle criticism of their AP choices.

    I am among those parents who have received criticism, from relatives, church members, pediatricians, strangers in the grocery store, and the list goes on and on. The criticism, thankfully, has died down since my second child joined the family - I guess people think that if I have two kids, I must know a little something about parenting...or maybe I just learned to tune the critics out.

    Lately, I've been receiving criticism from members of my church, specifically those of the older generations, about my lack of spanking. Yet, these same people comment on how happy and loving my children are!

    It irritates me to no end to hear people go on and on about how spanking is the only effective way to discipline, but then when I point out how my family uses positive discipline, they don't want to hear anything of it. I'm not berating them and accusing them of child abuse...just trying to explain the flip side of the coin. For a long time, I've learned to just ignore these pro-spanking critics, but now, they've become more brazen and are confronting me with my lack of proper "discipline," aka spanking. I really enjoy this church, but to be honest, these in-your-face pro-spankers are starting to push me away.

    The problem is, I can't just switch churches to get away from them. While my mom has long given up the argument, other relatives haven't and seem to enjoy trying to get me into a spanking debate with them.

    So, how are you able to deal with the outspoken pro-spankers in your life?

  • #2
    Honestly, I don't feel discipline in our family is a topic for debate for anyone outside of my family. I generally counter these comments with stating that I don't believe physical violence solves much of anything, and leave it at that. My family mentioned spanking when I was first pregnant with my son (they spanked us and seem to feel it is ok). I informed them of me views and when they pressed I told them that I guess it would just have to be some great experiment in child raising that my husband and I will have the luxury of doing, because WE will be the parents. This made them laugh and we were able to move on.

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    • #3
      how i would LIKE to handle it is w/NVC: something like "i hear that you are concerned about my children. you want them to be brought up with discipline. thank you for thinking of us".

      but what i usually say, and it ends the conversation is "i believe spanking is contrary to scripture."

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      • #4
        I'm just beginning my AP journey and have just started getting some unsolicited feedback in this area (my daughter is 8 mos old). I admit I have a really hard time taking it gracefully or using NVC like PaxMamma suggests. I've been hearing things like "I'm not talking about whaling on the kid, but there's absolutely nothing wrong w/ a very light tap." My response idea to that is: "I'm confused, if it's such an inconsequential tap like you describe, how can it be so much more productive and necessary than NOT doing it?" And then sharing the methods you DO believe in. But it sounds like you are already doing something along those lines. I'm not sure how the best way to handle it in the context of your particular church/faith is, but I don't think there is anything wrong with just expressing that you are not interested in discussing the issue - then changing the subject and ignoring any attempts to engage you in a debate. OR - using humor.........When you hear: "Well we all did it w/ our kids and they turned out fine", You can say: "Well I'm setting the bar a bit higher than fine for my children" - if you say it playfully w/ a laugh it will get the message across without sounding rude. No one has ever had a comeback for that one yet! (Not that you should necessarily care about sounding rude - after all THEY are oblivious to tact! Why is it OK for them to offend YOU?)
        Last edited by Juleen; 12-23-2008, 02:30 PM. Reason: reworded something

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        • #5
          Hi Rebecca,

          Thanks for the support. I have such a hard time coming up with comebacks at the time. (I always think of them hours later.) But I like your idea of saying that it's a "great experiment" that is my privilege to do.

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          • #6
            Hi PaxMamma,

            Well put, well put. Unfortunately, one of the outspoken critics is the pastor's wife, so hmm.... I use NVC with her, but do cut to the quick with "against Scripture" with other people who I think are open to the idea that discipline doesn't have to be punishment.

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            • #7
              Hi Juleen,

              EXACTLY, why is it OK for them to say something to me?!? I also had to say something about the idea of disciplining (beyond modeling, distraction, and redirection) with an 8-month-old...let alone punishment. I saw someone slapping the hand of her 9-month-old once b/c the baby was fussing a little, and my sister-in-law snapped at her 6-month-old today for spitting out some baby food. Yikes!

              I did forget to mention with my first post that I grew up in home where spanking was used, and I've had to work hard to change that mindset in myself. VERY HARD WORK. So, it's especially annoying to me to hear from other people how I should be spanking or punishing, because I've worked so hard to change from thinking that way.

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              • #8
                I hear what you're saying about trying to educate about what to me seems like very basic knowledge of child development re: discipline - never mind responding to the whole "you'll spoil her w/ all of that holding!" school of thought. I try very hard to come across in a way that people will actually hear what I am saying instead of provoking a defensive response, but I do get overwhelmed at the ignorance, for lack of a better word!!!!

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                • #9
                  criticism for not spanking

                  Pax Mama,

                  You had mentioned that scripture is against spanking. How would you respond to someone who quotes the Proverb that says "spare the rod and spoil the child" ?

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                  • #10
                    my quick response is, "how does that mean to hit your kid?" but then i'd offer a better insight into what "rod" means, for those who'd insist don't spare the rod means to hit. the word rod here is the same exact word david uses in Psalms 23 "thy rod and thy staff they comfort me". if the rod is to be a tool of comfort, how would this be done by striking? also, if you know anything about sheperds, the "rod" that they used was a 7ft. long pole. surely, the writer does not mean that you should take a 7ft. long rod and hit your toddler w/it!

                    you can find more info here, please know these are NOT API endorsed sights and may contain info beyond the scope of AP:
                    http://www.stophitting.com/index.php?page=religion-main and
                    http://aolff.com/?page_id=9

                    hth,

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                    • #11
                      about that

                      the Proverb that says "spare the rod and spoil the child" is actually referring to discipline NOT hitting with a rod. To put it in words that are easier to understand, a parent that fails to correct and train a child will spoil him. But a parent that does correct him/her has his future in mind. This comes from the Dakes study Bible.
                      Plus what sane parent is hitting their children with a rod? My goodness. I wish people that find it necessary to throw scripture at others would offer an explanation afterward.
                      Just my thoughts on the subject.

                      To clarify, "the people" I am referring to are the ones criticizing Rita.

                      Please do not let the people at church get between you and God. We go to church to receive Gods word. The Devil will use anybody to get you to stop going. Even the very people you fellowship with unfortunately. They may not even realize that they are irritating you. In their minds, they probably feel they are being helpful. You know what works and what don't work when it comes to your children. Now on the other hand, if you asked for her advice that would be different.

                      There is no harm in listening to advice, it's up to you to use it or toss it aside. Just my opinion. I hope that I have not offended anyone.
                      Last edited by lilms-mom; 02-05-2009, 05:57 PM. Reason: more thoughts

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