Parenting --Teens/Discipline

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Question
My 22 yr old daughter is mother to my 2 grandchildren, ages 2 & 5, and a 4 yr old stepchild. In many ways she's a caring & loving mother, but I disagree with their discipline methods. Very early in our marriage, my wife and I decided spanking served no logical purpose, but our daughter has been convinced by her husband that spanking is fine. In some ways he is great at treating my grandson like a son, but I'm torn apart when I hear he's been spanked. He's a typical 5 yr old boy in most ways, but he is extremely intelligent. Recently, in general conversation (not complaining), he said "Bob works out a lot and is very strong, so I wonder why he hits me as  hard as he can when he spanks me. When I asked what he did to make Bob think it was worthy of hard spanking, he said "I don't really remember, but I can't think of anything I could do to deserve to be spanked that hard." Later, both my wife and I were in tears. This has to be destroying him in so many ways. Our daughter always claims he's playing us and it's not bad. She's wrong. What resources can I use to get her to see that spanking must stop now? Throwing study results and such at her don't seem to do much. I need her to see what the future holds for him and for their relationship, because I know she greatly values her mother/son relationship. Thanks for your time.

Answer
She IS wrong. You are right.

This is really a tough one, and I thank you for asking, Ed. Sadly, I'd just do the same as you, and give her things to read, like this: http://www.naturalchild.org/jan_hunt/tenreasons.html and this: http://www.yourtango.com/experts/kim-olver/10-reasons-why-spanking-never-good-id and the 1,300,000 other results I got on google saying the same thing, for a myriad of reasons.

Spanking is never good. A big person smacking a little person is always bad.

My big red flag here is that HER son is being spanked by his step-father. Nothing is mentioned about the four-year-old, HIS child, being spanked.

In my experience, step-parents can never effectively discipline their step-children, because somewhere inside, the child knows he is not his "real" father, and he will only grow deeper and deeper resentment toward that "other" parent. This is bad in so many ways, as often the biological parent is not a good person. The child, though, idolizes the missing parent, and this can cause a boatload of issues once the kid is old enough to act out, run away, or try to live with the former parent. This happens time and again. Recently I recall reading of a boy who smuggled himself onto an airplane as he went to search for his biological father.

Certain cultures or religions believe it is wrong to "spare the rod" but those days are long past. Study after study proves the fallacy of corporal punishment against a child.

In my own extended family, our sons wife's niece went to court against her stepmother and became an "emancipated minor" leaving the family to support herself away from them at the age of 16. She didn't like being spanked or treated unequally to the children who came after her. Perhaps you could ask your daughter how she'd feel to lose her son forever in ten or eleven years? It happens. This girl is now 22 and has still never spoken to her family since she left. She says she never will, because they didn't care enough to learn to treat her like an intelligent human being when she was their daughter.   

The scars from spanking are not left on the body, but on the soul. They cannot ever go away.

Have you ever asked her why her husband is incapable of a civil dialogue with her son? Why is he resorting to violence? (It IS violence; make no mistake.) Does it make him feel in charge, or like a big man when he can swat a five-year-old? What happens when this boy is 9, and has a baseball bat? Violence begets violence. Is that REALLY what he wants to teach his stepchildren?

You may want to look up parenting skills classes in her city, and suggest they both attend. Offer to pay for them if they cost money, but I think most are offered free through state social services.

You might also point out that ANYONE who witnesses this child abuse (for it IS child abuse if he is ever hit hard, or ever hit in anger, or ever hit with any object, or ever hit when the stepfather has been drinking or taking drugs.) Even if someone just hears a spanking and crying through the walls, they can call Child Social Services, and her husband will be put into jail faster than she can call a lawyer. The costs associated in fighting a child abuse charge are reason enough for any intelligent parent to find a better method of learning to LOVE their children. A teacher, neighbor, school counselor, or friend could call authorities ANY time your grandson is "disciplined" and no reason they give will ever convince someone in the juvenile justice system that a five-year-old ever DESERVED to be spanked.   

You or your wife should not hesitate to call if you ever feel he is in danger. I know it is tough, as you know her husband will probably lose his job, his standing in the community, etc. and having your daughter discover it was you who called would hurt your relationship.

I see so many cases of disturbed adults who came to hate the parent who didn't protect them from an abusive parent. It is happening to your daughter right this very minute. That she refuses to see it is a reflection of how badly she wants to make her marriage work, but allowing him to continue swatting her son is not the way. Her husband needs help. He needs counseling. Perhaps he was abused as a child, but that is no reason to continue the dysfunction into another generation, particularly on a child who is not his to hurt. We do not hurt the ones we love, we help and build them, that both may be edified.

When someone sees another spanking a child, do they think, "Yay! Let the kid get what he deserves!" No. They think, "What is wrong with that abusive bully who is hitting a child half his size? How can I stop him?" Is that what she wants people to think of her and her marriage and children?  

Marriage counseling can really help.  

Parenting --Teens

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My own dysfunctional youth in an alcoholic family helped me decide to raise my children with love, acceptance, and honesty. It must have worked. We`ve got terrific kids. Those I've answered on this site usually feel I've been helpful in their unique situations. Our world is so much better when we lift instead of crushing. Every child is worth more than any bank can hold. If I can help at all, it will be in teaching both parent and child of their own personal value to humanity, and how to punch through the noise of the moment to find their greater purpose. Together, we can all make a better world.

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