We were at Sean’s mom’s house the other night for dinner and there was some other family over as well. One of the children (not ours) is 2.5 years old and we’ll call him child A. He wanted something that the other child, 3 – 3.5 years old, we’ll call him child B, had. They had been scuffling on and off all evening, and while there at been lots of “no hitting” and “be nice” statements made by the adults, they had mostly been left to be, interacting how they were with each other. There had also been mention by one of the mothers that child A & B had clearly watched too much of the Avengers. Their play indicated that they had picked up some ideas/actions/behaviours that were influenced from something and the avengers comment made it seem pretty clear to me, that that was exactly where the influence was coming.
Anyway, child A hit child B. Child A’s dad pulled him away (not roughly) and told him hitting isn’t nice, we don’t hit, etc. Child A was actually using his words, and I could clearly make out him saying, “I want it” again and again, while swinging his arm back and forth to hit his dad. He was clearly frustrated, but I thought that it was pretty great at 2.5 that he was able to communicate that. He wasn’t throwing a full blown tantrum, but expressing his frustration in a way that seemed very in line with toddler behaviour. The dad of child A continued to give him messages about not hitting, asking if he’d like it, etc. Then he stood up and spanked his kid on the bottom.
I was, in all honesty, shocked. I don’t spank my children and never have. I decided when I was a child that adults hitting children was fundamentally wrong and I have held steadfast to that belief ever since. I got up and left the house. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to contain my anger at this so called “lesson,” so I felt it was best to remove myself from the situation altogether. I went to the car to sit for a few minutes and seethe at the injustice of it. Sean came out and we chatted about it, as he knows how strongly I feel on the matter and he expressed how shocked he was too, coming from these particular parents. It was completely unexpected from them.
I criticized and cursed the lesson that parents think spanking will teach and it actually does. A child learns that they can’t hit another child, they’ll be punished for it, and they can’t hit an adult, as they’ll be punished for that too. However, an adult can hit a child, and it’s perfectly okay. And I’m so NOT okay with that.
Adults are supposed to protect children, always. Adults are supposed to guide them, yes, and discipline them (teach), yes, and children should have an opportunity learn through natural and logical consequences. And while I don’t want to tell people how they can or can’t parent their kids… I will declare that I think it’s a terrible parenting method and if you want to do right by your children, you will look into something that might be a little more effort now, but will be completely worth it for the mutual respectful relationship you will have with your kids in the long run.
I also criticized the television viewing habits of families. How complacent parents are at times, setting their children down in front of the television without any thought as to what is on it. We haven’t had cable in our home for about 8 or 9 years. I realized pretty early on in this whole parenting experience, what a drug it is, and how I didn’t want my children to be addicted to it. How I didn’t want their beautiful imaginations affected by something we could so easily avoid or for them to push the boundaries of what they are able to watch, becoming numb to sex and violence at an early age, and not even realizing all the terrible stereotypes perpetuated on the screen, just blindly buying into them. I knew none of this would do for my family so we made choices to help safeguard our children’s childhoods.
I think not hitting our children should be instinctive. I think that more families should stop letting the television/media erode their family unit. I think we need to look at our choices as parents and ask are they really working? Are we really seeing the results we want? And do we feel good about those choices and results?